Skip to comments.Student's death brings out theories, fears (Norman bomber-spin alert)
Posted on 10/09/2005 11:22:54 AM PDT by JustaCowgirl
NORMAN - University of Oklahoma officials, the Muslim community, students and others are waiting for the FBI to connect the dots in last week's public suicide of an OU student.
Joel Henry Hinrichs III, 21, was killed Oct. 1 in an explosion that officials say he caused not far from a packed Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
But the dots cannot be connected, at least at this point, said Stephen Sloan, a former University of Oklahoma professor who is alarmed that far-right extremist groups have taken to the Internet with conspiracy theories attempting to link the actions of Hinrichs to the Muslim community of Norman and to the Middle East.
The FBI has provided little information about its investigation but said last week that there is no known link between Hinrichs and terrorist or extremist organizations. But questions linger as to Hinrichs' intent before he died in an explosion while sitting on a park bench in front of the George Lynn Cross microbiology building about 100 yards west of the stadium.
"No doubt there are a lot of questions to be answered," Sloan said. "But it is unfortunately logical to think that he was trying to get into the stadium."
The terrorism expert said the size of the explosion indicates that it was designed to hit more than Hinrichs. He said it seems more than coincidence that this occurred on the Saturday night of a football game.
A student, Adam Smith, related last week that he learned from a ticket taker at Gate 6 on the north side of the football field that a young man had tried to gain entrance. The ticket taker wanted to examine the man's backpack, which prompted the man to sprint away, Smith said he was told.
The FBI reportedly has confirmed that its review of surveillance cameras in the stadium did not reveal that Hinrichs tried to gain entrance. However, OU President David Boren declined at midweek to say whether cameras are mounted at all entrances.
The FBI has kept mum about the explosive that Hinrichs used and declined to comment on reports that large amounts of explosives were in his apartment.
The explosion that killed Hinrichs also burned a large area around the bench. If the explosion had occurred inside the stadium, it could have killed fans, prompting the question of whether that was Hinrichs' intent all along.
A suicide note apparently has not been found. Hinrichs' father, who had conversations with the FBI, told The Associated Press that his son did not leave a suicide note.
Joel Hinrichs Jr. told the Tulsa World that he knew his son was troubled, but he had no idea he wanted to die.
"I would have been there within whatever the speed limit would allow me to be if I had any inclination that he was this unhappy," the father said from his family's home in Colorado Springs the day after the explosion.
It remains unanswered as to whether Hinrichs could have concocted the explosive device on his own, although there are no indications he acted with others.
Those who knew of him -- from his high school teacher in Colorado Springs to fellow engineering students at OU -- said he was typically a loner who sat by himself in the classroom. He was among the National Merit Scholars whom Boren has attracted to the OU campus.
His father told the Colorado Springs Gazette that at an early age, Hinrichs was fascinated with science. At the time of his death, he was a third-year engineering student at OU.
Boren has said it appears this is an "individual suicide," noting that Hinrichs waited until people were inside the stadium before he took his life.
University officials say they have no record of Hinrichs having a season ticket or purchasing one for the OU-Kansas State game.
OU Vice President of Communications Catherine Bishop added, however, that the university has no way of knowing whether Hinrichs could have purchased a ticket from someone outside the stadium, where many people typ ically sell tickets on game day.
Sloan said the public should note the fact that if Hinrichs did try to get into the stadium, he was stopped.
"If Hinrichs was turned away, that is a positive mark in terms of security awareness," he said.
While Hinrichs' individual actions are still being probed, the Islamic community of Norman is on edge, fearful that this troubling event is somehow linked to Muslims.
"Haven't we learned from the bombing of the Murrah Building (in 1995) in Oklahoma City, when the first reports tried to tie the bombing to a foreigner from the Middle East?" Sloan said. "But that proved to be false.
"It is much too early to render a full judgment," said Sloan, who regrets that some people already are convinced this is a conspiracy.
Hinrichs lived at Parkview Apartments, just a few blocks from the mosque of the Islamic Society of Norman. Also fueling the link to some kind of Middle East terrorism is the fact that Hinrichs' roommate, Fazil Cheema, is from Pakistan. Acquaintances of Cheema's say he is not a practicing Muslim and never attends services at the mosque.
Muslims who attend the mosque also say they are not aware that Hinrichs ever set foot in the mosque.
The quest for the truth, however, has been hindered by the fact that Cheema himself has not made himself available to the media since the incident occurred. He has left the apartment where he lived with Hinrichs, although he is still believed to be in Norman.
Acquaintances say that Hinrichs and his roommate have in common the fact that both could be called loners, and possibly ended up as roommates at Parkview because neither of them had other friends, so they were assigned to live together.
Tariq Alzoubi, a Muslim who has been part of the Islamic community in Norman for several years, said when he found out that the individual who died was white and not Middle Eastern, "I was not happy, but I was relieved. Then the issue came up that his roommate might be Pakistani."
Originally from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Alzoubi said Muslims have been on edge when something like this happens ever since Sept. 11, 2001.
"Before 9-11, I knew 30 Saudi students at OU; all but two of them left," he said.
"My only concern in all of this is that we stay away from collective punishment for something bad that happened here," he said.
Mick Hinton (405) 528-2465 email@example.com
"I'm still trying to figure out where Hinrich's mother is"
There was a divorce, after they came to Colorado from Illinois, according to a few hits I got on Google, back during the early part of the week.
Nothing to find on the father, specifically. You'd think a software engineer would pull a page or two.
Well right now the FBI are licking envelopes and sealing evidence! For their eyes only....move along...nothing important here....
Serving pork or Hebrew hotdogs at the concession stand?
Oh, I get it, Professor. The fact he was turned away makes mitigates all the explosives found, his pakistani roomate and his foolish looking beard. It also takes away from the fact that people bent on suicide usually dont do it with collateral damage in mind. Come to think of Professor, SD &STFU..
-Boren has said it appears this is an "individual suicide," noting that Hinrichs waited until people were inside the stadium before he took his life.-
Now Boren claims to know what the plan was. Fascinating study of supression going on here.
"The fact he was turned away makes mitigates all the explosives found, his pakistani roomate and his foolish looking beard"
That he was turned away because of heighted entry restrictions due to concerns over alcohol escapes attention, as well as the fact that he was allowed to leave unquestioned, which permitted him to attempt entry a reported two more times.
I notice that too. How very strange to put it that way.
Years ago, my son was hit by a car, and I got a phone call from a county cop telling me they were choppering him to Children's Hospital. I did not pay attention to the speed limit, or to the other rush hour traffic on I270, the Beltway and Georgia Avenue, as I passed cars on the left and right and drove several miles down the emergency lane (passing two MD State Troopers in the process and not getting even a double-take from them) to get to son's side.
PS: If the MSP had decided to chase me, they likely would have had to follow me to my destination. I was on a mission to be by my kid's side, and nothing was going to slow me down. The dad's response is at least, odd.
I noticed that too..
There is a sealed INDICTMENT connected to the Norman bombing? This is the first I've heard of it. Do you have more information?
"There is a sealed INDICTMENT connected to the Norman bombing?"
That's what was originally quoted instead of sealed warrant, now deemed a slip of the tongue.
"No... Never saw that guy before in my life" - mosque goer
"Of course. I assumed you hadn't." - reporter quickly leaving mosque after asking.
Here is the prof's resume..give me a minute and I can probably connect him to George Soros...lol
I just returned from campus.
If his car was an old beat-up blue Lincoln Town Car, then it is still in the parking lot. It has one of the roofs that was not metal on the outside but kind of a leather like material -- I cannot think what they are called.
As for video cameras, I found what looks to be a new one installed at the SE corner of the end zone where students enter and also a new one in the parking garage as you leave -- at least they look new as they are black and around here black turns into grayish looking with the dirt blowing around. Could not find any at Gate 1; Gate 2 had one but it was pointed at the back of the ticket office not the gate; Gate 3 and 7 -- couldn't find any but will go back tomorrow to see if walking around I can see more. Very few people around campus this afternoon and frankly didn't want to stand out.
Looks to me like the video surveillance in the stadium was for ticket offices where they would have money and tickets not for the gates. The student gate definitely has one today -- all nice and new looking.
Can confirm a lot of ME students in Parkview Apartments that love to stare. Parking lot is pretty full at the Islamic Center.
End of my report from OU!
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