Let's Connect the Dots on OU Suicide Bomber; UPDATE: Was Hinrichs Making an IED?
Here are what I believe are the three most important facts that have become public since Joel Hinrichs died last Oct. 1 when the bomb he made and strapped to himself detonated as he sat on a park bench near 84,000 people watching the OU-Kansas State football game at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium:
First, we learn today that one of the initial bomb squad investigators on the scene questions whether Hinrichs intended to kill only himself. Authorities found two to three pounds of the deadly "Mother of Satan" explosive favored by Middle Eastern terrorists in Hinrichs' apartment - far more than needed for suicide - as well as materials used in anti-personnel bombs, which is also characteristic of Middle Eastern terrorists. Hinrichs kept detailed notes about his experimentation with anti-personnel explosives in the weeks prior to his death.
Second, Italian authorities arrested three Algerian men with Al Qaeda links in December 2005 who were accused of plotting to stage attacks on ships, railways and stadiums in the U.S. Clearly, the possibility of attacks on American sports stadiums has received significant attention in Al Qaeda.
The link here to Hinrichs is the fact one of the men taken into custody along with his Pakistani roommate the night of Hinrichs' death was an OU visiting professor of Middle Eastern descent who had his suitcase packed and was scheduled on a one-way flight the next morning to Algeria.
Third, there are approximately 30,000 suicides annually in America. Hinrichs use of a bomb in a public place makes his case the most extreme of extreme outliers if his death is considered a suicide. In other words, the Hinrichs case simply doesn't "fit" the statistical profile of a suicide.
Short of a written confession, all of the evidence uncovered to date is circumstantial but these three facts seem most reasonably explained by some kind of terrorist connection for Hinrichs. The lone suicide scenario of the FBI seems the least reasonable.
If Hinrichs was not a lone suicide, then it is reasonable to wonder how many more "college students" there are among us who are willing to strap a bomb to their body and detonate it in a crowded stadium or other heavily populated area of a campus or nearby city.
It does make a difference. Especially if, like me, you have a son or daughter going to college.
Flopping Aces is connecting lots more dots, as he has from the beginning on this one.
UPDATE: What About Those Artillery Shells in Hinrichs' Apartment?
An engineering student, Joel Hinrichs had a long fascination with guns and explosives and the FBI officials found live ammunition and old artillery shells in Hinrichs' apartment, according to The Daily Oklahoman last fall:
"The younger Hinrichs had a long fascination with ammunition and bombs, his relatives and friends said. Inside his bedroom in Norman were several used metal artillery shells - the largest about 2 feet long. He had belts of used brass shell casings, a box of spent bullets and military ammo containers."
Now, we know from a member of the Norman Police Departrment's Bomb Squad who was among the first to enter his apartment that officials found detailed notes Hinrichs had kept of his experiments at Red Rock Canyon (about 50 miles due west of Norman) with anti-personnel materials.
Where else have we heard about old artillery shells and anti-personnel materials being used to kill Americans? Does "Improvised Explosive Device" and Iraq come to mind? Was Hinrichs working on an IED? He had the technological knowledge and the materials, including old artillery shells, to build an IED.
My brother in Oklahoma, Kyle, who has tirelessly burned shoe leather on the Hinrichs case, suggests the IED explanation and the more I think about it, the more reasonable it seems, given all of the evidence.