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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oklahoma Bomb Squader Says Hinrichs Did Not Intend to Kill Self; Anti-Personnel Materials Found in His Apartment, Notes Describe AP Bomb Work

Today's edition of The Daily Oklahoman has a front-page story quoting a member of the Norman, Oklahoma bomb squad saying he believes Joel Hinrichs did not intend to kill himself last year during the OU-Kansas State football game.

The article is not yet posted on the Oklahoman's web site, but I expect to have a hard copy momentarily. The article includes significant new details about what was found in Hinrichs apartment, including evidence of intent to build an anti-personnel bomb loaded with shrapnel.

Middle Eastern terrorists often have loaded suicide bombs with nails and other objects designed to increase their lethality, especially when detonated in buses, restaurants and crowded city streets and markets.

Hinrichs died during the second quarter of the game when a bomb made of materials commonly used by Middle Eastern terrorists detonated as he sat on a park bench just across the street from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

There were more than 84,000 fans in the stadium at the time and there were numerous unconfirmed reports subsequently that Hinrichs had unsuccessfully tried to enter the stadium.

Within hours of Hinrichs death, the FBI's Joint Task Force on Terrorism took over the investigation of the incident. Soon thereafter, both FBI officials and University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Hinrichs had no known terrorist connections and intended only to kill himself.

Despite the official denials, there was substantial evidence at the time of Hinrichs death and in the days thereafter as more was learned about his background and actions during the final year of his life that suggested to others the distinct possibility that Hinrichs was involved in some way with a terrorist activity.

This Oct. 10 TCD post describes the 10 reasons why a terrorist connection seemed to be the most reasonable explanation of Hinrichs death, given the available evidence at the time.

UPDATE: Article is Now Posted on Oklahoman's Web Site

The article is now posted on the Oklahoman's web site, but it is buried in the Metro South article listings. The hard copy edition is lead on page A1 by the story, so the online placement is curious.

Sgt. George Mauldin of the Norman bomb squad is quoted in the article saying "I believe he accidentally blew himself up."

Mauldin added "I don't believe he intended for an explosion to occur at that spot," referring to the park bench where Hinrichs died. The explosive used in the bomb was "Mother of Satan," which is commonly used by Middle Eastern terrorists. The bomb was contained in a backpack Hinrichs was wearing at the time of the explosion.

"Someone saw him fiddling with it (the backpack) shortly before the explosion occurred. I think he got cocky and it went off." Mauldin said.

"Some of us will forever wonder what he was doing at that time, at that place," Norman Police Chief Phil Cotten added.

Mauldin was among the officers who entered Hinrichs' Norman apartment, which he shared with a student from Pakistan. Mauldin said authorities found substantial bomb-making materials, as well as numerous military rounds and fragmentation, or anti-personnel, materials.

Hinrichs kept detailed notes of his experimentation with various bomb components, Mauldin said, and described adding anti-personnel shrapnel as if "he were trying to make a damaging product."

UPDATE II: FBI Statement

Go here for the FBI's official dismissal of Mauldin's comments as merely those of "an individual," plus a comprehensive list of links to previous Tapscott's Copy Desk posts on the issue.

UPDATE III: Connecting the Dots

Go here for a summary connecting of vital dots on the Hinrichs death.