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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Mob Boss Tipped FBI To Nichols Bomb Cache

New information may also definitively link Nichols to al Qaeda

By J.M. Berger

Convicted mob boss Gregory Scarpa provided the tip that led the FBI to explosives buried under the house of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, according to Stephen P. Dresch, the researcher who first uncovered FBI records of Scarpa's conversations with Ramzi Yousef.

Another inmate sharing a cell block with Nichols and Scarpa, Emilio "Tito" Bravo, also claims to have "explosive new information" concerning Terry Nichols' ties to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization based in the Philippines, according to the researcher. Abu Sayyaf is directly linked to World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef (related INTELWIRE story), and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a top al Qaeda lieutenant who was in U.S. custody at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing (related INTELWIRE exclusive).

Scarpa's information has proven reliable in the past. Information about Bravo was not immediately available, but INTELWIRE has confirmed he is a prisoner serving a life sentence at the same facility housing Nichols and Scarpa, the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo.

According to documents posted on Dresch's Web site, Scarpa has new information about "Terry Nichols' connections with Abu Sayef (Philippines -- Edwin Angeles, Ramzi Yousef.)" Further details were unavailable.

Dresch is a political economist and an independent investigator into the Scarpa case. In 1996, Gregory Scarpa Jr. informed to the FBI regarding his conversations with Ramzi Yousef, with whom he shared a cell block in New York while awaiting trial. Dresch and his colleague Angela Clemente obtained records relating to the conversations from Scarpa in March 2003.

According to the Associated Press, FBI found a hidden cache of explosives buried beneath the former home of Terry Nichols in Herington, Kansas, late last week. The information came from a tip, the source of which was being investigated, according to AP.

The original source of the tip was Gregory Scarpa, who is now imprisoned with Nichols at the Florence, Colo., Supermax prison complex, according to recent postings on Dresch's Web site, Dresch received the information from Scarpa, then passed it to the FBI in early March. According to Dresch, the FBI didn't act on the information for an entire month. Dresch and Clemente continued to inform people in government and the media about the new information.

According to Dresch, Scarpa's information went beyond the location of the explosives cache and directly implicated other conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing. Scarpa provided significant new information relating to the case, which has now been borne out to an extent by last week's discovery. According to Dresch:

Scarpa has been informed by convicted OKC conspirator Terry Nichols that the two sets of detonating materials were provided to Nichols, McVeigh et al. by Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore, identified by Nichols as an FBI informant. One set was used to detonate the Murrah Building (OKC) truck bomb. The other, intended for a “followup” to OKC, was hidden by Terry Nichols. (...)

Nichols believes that the detonating materials will provide forensic evidence (primarily fingerprints) which will prove that these materials were supplied by Moore, and thus, because Moore was acting on the instructions of the FBI, by the FBI itself. (...)

Nichols anticipates that the secreted cache, the location of which is known only to himself and to his brother James, will eventually be retrieved and used for the postponed “followup” to OKC, possibly on April 19th of this year (the 10th anniversary of OKC and the 12th anniversary of Waco).

Dresch also described the contents of the the box in some detail, quoting a letter from Scarpa:

(Investigators) will find a cardboard box [approx. equal to] 18"x18"x18" wrapped securely in clear plastic wrap containing a full case of the nitromethane (red tinted) liquid portion (component) of the 2-part binary explosive component known as kine-stik (a.k.a. kine-pak). [The liquid is in small clear plastic tubes.] This box is the original box the product came in when delivered to [Roger] Moore's home at Royal, Arkansas.

There is a 2nd box that's also a brown cardboard similar in size to the first, possibly a bit larger. It too is wrapped securely in clear plastic and is sitting right next to the first box. This second box containes numerous (I'm guessing a couple hundred) electric blasting caps. And nearby these 2 boxes is a .50 caliber military ammo can ([approximately] 6"W x 8"H x 12"L). It contains at least one non-electric blasting cap, a 16 oz. can of black powder, 2 instructional booklets and some other miscellaneous items.

Terry Nichols' brother, James Nichols, was initially identified as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing after investigators found large amounts of fertilizer and diesel fuel on his farm in Michigan, but charges against him were subsequently dropped.

Roger Moore was a gun dealer with residences in Arkansas and South Florida who sometimes used the alias Bob Miller. In January 1993, Moore met Timothy McVeigh at a gun show in Fort Lauderdale. The show was held at the Fort Lauderdale armory, a location that has been used for arms purchases by foreign terrorists such as the Irish Republican Army.

In addition to selling at gun shows, Moore ran a small ammunition business called The American Assault Company, informally known as "The Candy Store" among indpendent gun dealers. Moore ran the company with his girlfriend, Karen Anderson. During the 1960s, Moore had traded in gold and semiprecious gems with friends in Ceylon, Costa Rice and Saudi Arabia, according to testimony presented in the federal trial of Terry Nichols.

In addition to a home in Florida, which he shared with his wife, Carol Moore, Roger Moore had a residence in Arkansas which he reported had been burglarized in November 1994. Prosecutors argued that Nichols had committed the burglary, which Nichols denied. Subsequent reports by author Mark S. Hamm in his book In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground suggested that the theft may have been committed by members of the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist bank robbery gang. (External link to story by J.M. Berger for the Rotten Library: Click here).

The ARA, Moore, McVeigh and Nichols have also both been convincingly linked to the Elohim City white separatist compound in Oklahoma, by Hamm's book and the report of J.D. Cash of the McCurtain Gazette and John Solomon of the Associated Press.

McVeigh and Moore met during a period of intense al Qaeda-linked terrorist activity in South Florida. At the end of 1992, shortly after an al Qaeda-linked terrorist cell targeted U.S. Army veterans as potential recruits (related INTELWIRE exclusive report, related INTELWIRE analysis), Timothy McVeigh quit his job and traveled to Plantation, FL, in early 1993, where he attended gun shows while visiting with his sister.

During the same period, alleged al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla (related INTELWIRE story, related INTELWIRE analysis, second related INTELWIRE analysis, second related INTELWIRE story) first began reaching out to make contacts in the local Islamic community, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Around the same time, Padilla met a representative of the Benevolence International Foundation, which had an office in Plantation, FL, about five minutes away from Padilla's workplace and about 20 minutes from the home where McVeigh was living, according to evidence and testimony presented in several criminal cases.

According to the New York Times and a 2002 FBI affidavit, al Qaeda was actively recruiting American citizens during this period. The Times quoted Padilla's manager at the Taco Bell during this period as saying that terrorist recruiters were known to be circulating in the community.

The founder of the Benevolence office was Adham Hassoun, a local Palestinian activist. According to a indictment unsealed in January 2004, Hassoun illegally possessed a firearm. The alleged date and place of purchase was not immediately known. McVeigh sold at gun shows on at least two separate occasions in early 1993, according to trial testimony. Hassoun has been charged with several other counts of terrorism-related crimes.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, in a separate proceeding "Immigration Judge Neale Foster found Hassoun participated in an assassination plot, recruited a "jihad fighter," donated money to charities under investigation for possible links to terrorism and belonged to an international terrorist organization called Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, according to Hassoun's petition for release to a federal district judge. That petition was denied."

Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, also known as the Islamic Group, is tied to a New York City al Qaeda cell whose spiritual leader was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. One member of that cell, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, recruited U.S. military veterans for al Qaeda, as reported in an INTELWIRE exclusive investigative report cited above. The al Qaeda recruitment plot corresponds closely to the movements of McVeigh and Terry Nichols in key time frames.

During the planning and execution of the OKCBOMB plot, McVeigh and Terry Nichols both traveled in and around Chicago, where the Benevolence International Foundation was based in from mid-1993 on. Padilla had a son in Chicago, where he had been raised. Nichols traveled through Illinois on the way to a gun show just days before the first sightings of John Doe 2, according to testimony and evidence at his and McVeigh's trial.

In addition to whatever fingerprints remain on the material seized from Nichols' basement, the instructional booklets may also provide insight into how Nichols and McVeigh may have learned to build their bomb. The ammonium nitrate-fueled bomb used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was similar to a device described in The Turner Diaries, a white supremacist novel that McVeigh had read.

One key different between the OKC bomb and the Turner bomb is the substitution of nitromethane for diesel fuel in the recipe. According to Dresch, the bomb cache in Nichols' basement contained a supply of nitromethane.

al Qaeda bomb manuals known to be circulating in the U.S. at that time (related INTELWIRE story) contained instructions on using both ammonium nitrate and nitromethane in improvised explosives.

Additionally, a notebook linked to Ramzi Yousef contained detailed notes about the use of nitromethane that appear to have been written in late 1994. At the time of the notebook entry, Terry Nichols and Ramzi Yousef were both in the Philippines. Both men were documented as having visited the campus of Southwestern University in Cebu City during this period (related INTELWIRE story).

Mentioned in Dresch's report of new information linking the Oklahoma City bombing to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Edwin Angeles was a key member of ASG who was also a Philippines police informant during the 1990s. According to several accounts, Angeles told Philippines police that Ramzi Yousef had met with an American believed to be Terry Nichols, in order to discuss bomb-making components. Angeles' testimony was clouded by a series of questions and inconsistencies, and his subsequent assassination made it impossible to clarify those questions further. However, Angeles is considered an important and mostly reliable source of information on ASG by most leading terrorism researchers.

For an overview of the INTELWIRE investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing, click here.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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