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Monday, October 17, 2005

If Joel Hinrichs Was Lone Suicide, Why New OU Stadium Security Measures, Evacuation Plan?

University of Oklahoma President David Boren said today that fans attending this Saturday's game against the Baylor Bears at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium will encounter tougher security measures and a new evacuation plan.

The Daily Oklahoman said Boren attributed the new evacuation plan to the possibility of severe weather or "the unlikely event of an emergency." Fans should arrive earlier than usual "since searches at the gates will be particularly thorough," Boren said in a letter to ticket holders. The letter described the new security measures and plans for distributing details of the evacuation plan, according to the Oklahoman.

Boren has insisted since only a few hours after the Oct. 1 detonation of a bomb that killed Joel Henry Hinrichs that the third year mechanical engineering student acted alone, was seriously disturbed and intended only to take his own life.

Boren and the FBI spokesman in Oklahoma for the federal Joint Task Force on Terrorism have also insisted that Hinrichs had no known links to Islamic or other terrorist organizations or activities.

A large quantity of bomb-making materials was found in the dead student's apartment and he tried to purchase ammonium nitrate two days before ending his life. Ammonium nitrate was a main ingredient in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma that killed 171 people.

The bomb that killed Hinrichs was made with a highly volatile compound that included hydrogen peroxide and is known among Middle East terrorists as "Mother of Satan." It is the same explosive used by Richard Reid, the "Shoe Bomber" who tried to blow up a commercial airliner following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Hinrichs died during the second quarter of the Sooners' game against Kansas State. He was sitting on a bench only a few feet away from three buses, including the Kansas State football team's vehicle, and about 100 yards from the stadium with a capacity crowd of more than 84,000.

Boren did not say - and apparently Oklahoman reporter Nolan Clay did not ask - why the new security measures and evacuation plan were needed if Hinrichs acted alone and had no terrorists connections.

Clay reported in the Sunday edition of the Oklahoman that Hinrichs father said he was told Friday by the FBI that his son left a one-sentence "suicide message" on his computer. The senior Hinrichs said the sentence included profanity but he could not recall the exact wording of what would likely have been his son's last written words.

The FBI had previously said no suicide note was found in Hinrichs apartment and it was not clear from the Sunday Oklahoman why the federal investigators now say the suicide message existed.

The "suicide message" and new security measures and evacuation plan have spark more questions among critics of the official explanation that Hinrichs was a lone suicide. Jason Smith of Generation Why asks "wasn't Hinrichs just a simple suicide? Why all the extra precautions in the wake of a lonely kid who decided 'to just quit living'?