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Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Trentadue Files

New documents offer details of the FBI's secret OKC investigation

By J.M. Berger

Several newly revealed FBI documents provide the most dramatic evidence to date that the Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by a conspiracy involving more people than Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

Attorney Jesse Trentadue has disclosed more than 50 pages of FBI internal documents, which are at the center of a court battle over the FBI's obligation to disclose information about the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. All currently available documents are now available to journalists and the public on this site.

A full index to the documents and their contents can be found by clicking here.


The full collection of Trentadue documents can be found here. This 100-page PDF contains unredacted versions of some of the documents below as well as previously unreleased documents.

Original documents obtained by INTELWIRE cast additional light on individuals and groups mentioned in the Trentadue documents. Click here for documents related to Andreas Strassmeier and other OKC figures involved in a Texas militia group. Click here for documents related to Aryan Republican Army and Richard Guthrie.

Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney, became involved in the lawsuit after the death of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, in federal custody on Aug. 21, 1995. Kenneth Trentadue's death was initially declared a suicide by prison officials, but the family discovered signs of numerous injuries when preparing him for burial. The family was awarded more than $1 million after winning a wrongful death suit against the government.

Jesse Trentadue's lawsuit over the FBI's disclosure stems from a belief that his brother was killed because of his resemblance to Richard Lee Guthrie, a white supremacist and bank robber who has been credibly linked to the Oklahoma City bombing by numerous reports, including those from the Associated Press, J.D. Cash of the McCurtain Gazette and In Bad Company, a 2001 book by criminology professor Mark S. Hamm.

Guthrie was later apprehended by authorities. Just days before he was scheduled to testify against one of his accomplices in the bank robbery gang, Guthrie was found dead of a purported suicide in his cell. His alleged means of suicide was hanging, the same cause of death originally cited by prison officials for Kenneth Trentadue.

Trentadue has presented the documents linked below as part of an effort under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to force the FBI to disclose its internal files on the Oklahoma City bombing, including unredacted versions of some of the cited documents. The FBI is notoriously unwilling to provide information about the Oklahoma City bombing in particular, and is also known for being generally unresponsive to FOIA requests. Thousands of pages of documents relevant to the OKC investigation were also improperly withheld by the Justice Department until after the conviction of Timothy McVeigh, whose attorneys had requested the documents in discovery.

In the course of Trentadue's lawsuit, the FBI has denied the existence of some documents (including those linked below), but the agency was forced to withdraw that claim after Trentadue presented copies of the documents in court as proof of their existence. Trentadue has not disclosed how he obtained the documents, but their authenticity is no longer in dispute.

The FBI has subsequently attempted other legal strategies to avoid disclosure, in full or in part, and the case is ongoing. For more information on Jesse Trentadue and the lawsuit, click on the following links to recent news articles:

  • Attorney Offers Document On OKC Warning

  • Jesse Trentadue's Long Battle For Proof
  • Terror, Lies and Memos
  • Testimony: ATF warned before OKC (Alt. link)
  • FBI Files Sealed Documents in OKC Suit

  • The documents are indexed in detail below, with links to facsimiles which were provided to INTELWIRE by Jesse Trentadue. The documents reveal that the FBI investigated links between the Oklahoma City bombing and white supremacists (both individuals and groups). The documents also flatly contradict various claims made by the FBI in the years since the bombing.

    The Trentadue Documents

    The following documents can be viewed by clicking the links below, and they can also be navigated in order from the first page.

    With all of these documents, the important point to remember is that the FBI has fought against disclosing them, despite various legal obligations to do so, including as part of discovery in the federal trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The author of this Web site does not necessarily stipulate that every lead reported within the documents is provably true, but many of them are highly credible and all of them are worthy of further journalistic investigation.

    The documents were filed as exhibits in Jesse Trentadue's FOIA lawsuit against the FBI. They were provided to INTELWIRE by Trentadue. The dates provided usually reflect the date the document was created, but in some cases may reflect the date the document was received and filed by FBI headquarters.


    This redacted document is connected to the OKBOMB investigation (the FBI's code name for the Oklahoma City bombing). The teletype discusses a report from an undisclosed individual regarding Elohim City, a white separatist compound in Vian, OK. Court records confirm that McVeigh telephoned the complex shortly before the OKC bombing, and numerous reports have suggested links between McVeigh and Nichols, Elohim City and the Aryan Republican Army, a bank robbery gang whose members were white separatists who stated that the proceeds of their robberies would be used to fund terrorist attacks on the U.S. government.

    On page two of the document, an unidentified informant (name redacted) is quoted as saying that unidentified individuals at Elohim City have explosive devices which they intend to use on various targets around the U.S. Meetings on such plans are described, but the names of the participants have been redacted.

    On page three of the document, the writer states that "[redacted name] also indicated that [redacted name] may have assisted McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing."


    This document dealing with BOMBROB, the bank robbery investigation involved Richard Guthrie, has been significantly redacted. However, it states that "Information has been received through the Southern Poverty Law Center that one [name redacted], aka [name redacted], [redacted] telephone call from Timothy McVeigh, on or about 4/17/1995, two days prior to the OKBOMB attack, when [name redacted], per a source at the SPLC, was in the white supremacist compound at [redacted], OK. [name redacted] allegedly has a lengthy relationship with Timothy McVeigh, one of the two indicted OKBOMB defendants. The source of the SPLC advised that [name redacted] is currently residing with [name redacted] in [redacted], N.C., and plans to leave the U.S. via Mexico in the near future."

    "Prior OKBOMB investigation determined that McVeigh had placed a telephone call to Elohim City on 4/5/1995, a day that he was believed to have been attempting to recruit a second conspirator to assist in the OKBOMB attack (emphasis added by INTELWIRE)."


    On the second page of this teletype from FBI headquarters to the Philadelphia office of the FBI (involved in the BOMBROB investigation), the following passage appears:

    "Information has been developed that [names redacted] were at the home of [name redacted] Elohim City, Oklahoma, on 4/5/1995 when OKBOMB subject, Timothy McVeigh, placed a telephone call from [redacted] residence to [redacted] residence in Philadelphia division. BOMBOB subjects [names redacted] left [redacted] residence on 4/16/1995 en route to Pittsburgh (sic), Kansas, where they joined [name redacted] and Guthrie."

    Some of the Aryan Republican Army bank robbery suspects lived in Philadelphia. The ARA maintained a safe house in Pittsburg, Kansas.


    As has been reported elsewhere, the Southern Poverty Law Center (an independent organization that monitors hate group activity in the U.S.) maintained an informant in Elohim City. The reports of this informant have become the center of much ensuing controversy regarding the OKC investigation. This OKBOMB document summarizes information obtained through this avenue.

    The document states: "With regard to [redacted] wherein Timothy McVeigh met [redacted] being in November 1993, the information was actually that it was approximately 18 months before the bombing." The rest of the report appears to represent speculation on the part of the informant, but certain sections are so heavily redacted that it is impossible to know for sure.

    FBI TELETYPE, 1/11/96

    This OKBOMB case teletype also discusses information obtained from the SPLC. The document is OKBOMB related and refers to relationships between individuals whose names have been redacted.

    FBI TELETYPE, 1/20/96

    This heavily redacted OKBOMB document contains extensive information on individuals whose names have been excised. According to the teletype, the FBI in Oklahoma "has received information [redacted name] may be an associate of Timothy McVeigh. (According to the SPLC informant,) "McVeigh attempted to telephonically contact [redacted] on or about April 17, 1995, while [name redacted] was residing in Elohim City."

    Massive portions of the page that follows are redacted but appear to contain reports from numerous confidential witnesses (CW) relating to the above claim. On the subsequent page, an informant reports "[redacted passage] because things were 'too hot out there.' CW understood that [redacted] was referring to the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building."

    INFORMANT SUMMARY, 12/21/1995

    Another OKBOMB case document referencing information from the SPLC informant. According to the document, "In November 1993, [redacted] met Timothy McVeigh [long passage redacted] is described as a white male, DOB (date of birth) [redacted] POB (place of birth) [redacted]. He is a [redacted] who [redacted] with help from [redacted] somewhere in [redacted] and [redacted]. Allegedly, McVeigh and [redacted] became associates because of their common background in [redacted].

    "[redacted] was [redacted] at Elohim City, Oklahoma. On 4/17/95, McVeigh called Elohim City and spoke with a female who answered the phone. He asked to speak to [redacted].

    "Sources have told [redacted] that [redacted] Elohim City anywhere from two days before the Oklahoma City bombing to two weeks before the bombing. [redacted] latest information is that [redacted] of Elohim City, saw McVeigh being led out of the courthouse on television and at that time, [redacted] was told to [redacted]."

    Virtually all of the remaining document is redacted, except for a notation that the information may be valuable to the FBI's legat (legal attache) in London, who was investigating the background of an individual whose name has been redacted.


    Although this document has been heavily redacted, one can reasonably speculate that it deals with German national Andreas Strassmeir, an Elohim City resident who has been linked to the BOMBROB suspects and also to the Oklahoma City investigation. Strassmeir was the son of a high-ranking German government official, according to British newspaper The Guardian. Strassmeir reportedly met McVeigh at a gun show in 1993.

    The teletype says that [name redacted] may be an associate of Timothy McVeigh," and reiterates several phrases from the teletype of 1/20/96, suggesting both documents may primarily concern Strassmeir (who reportedly fled the country in 1996).

    Even more importantly in terms of furthering this investigation, the teletype states that it provided to the FBI several documents received from confidential sources regarding Elohim City. "Among these documents were documents [redacted] relating to [redacted] Some documents have the heading [redacted]. One document appears to be a [redacted] dated [redacted]. One document [redacted] is entitled [redacted]. This document certifies that [redacted]. The course included instruction in [redacted]."

    The remainder of the document is heavily redacted, often inexplicably so, such as the removal of apparent references to Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, known subjects in the investigation whose identities hardly need to be concealed.


    The following sections of court transcripts record a sealed hearing concerning ATF informant Carol Howe, a resident of Elohim City at the time of the bombing. This material was suppressed, apparently with the explicit purpose of excluding it from consideration in the trial of Timothy McVeigh.

    The transcript indicates that Ms. Howe had previously been an informant for the ATF and was re-activated after the Oklahoma City bombing. Ms. Howe's ATF handler was questioned during the hearing. The explosive portion of the transcript (click here) states that Ms. Howe informed the ATF -- prior to the Oklahoma City bombing -- that Andy Strassmeir had threatened to bomb U.S. federal buildings, and that Howe accompanied Elohim City residents on a trip to Oklahoma City of unclear intent.

    In the presiding judge's own words, "We have got evidence that the ATF took a trip with somebody who said that buildings were going to be blown up in Oklahoma City before it was blown up, or something of that nature."


    This report details an informant's conversation with Dave Hollaway, a Special Forces veteran with alleged ties to white supremacist groups. The information in this report is unsubstantiated and should not be construed as evidence of guilt, but the document is clearly relevant to the OKBOMB investigation and is included here as such.

    According to the document, Hollaway was associated with CAUSE, a white supremacist foundation and had acted as an intermediary on occasion between the federal government and militant white supremacist groups. According to the informant, Hollaway presented himself as a member of such groups.

    The document states that Hollaway claimed to have spoken with Timothy McVeigh two days before the Oklahoma City bombing. Hollaway critiqued the placement of the truck bomb used in the attack and provided details on the construction of such bombs, according to the document.


    In this record of an FBI interview with Hollaway, Hollaway appears to confirm the general points raised in the preceding document, including his affiliation with the CAUSE foundation. Hollaway said he received a call on April 18, 1995, from an unidentified caller which had threatening overtones in the context of the following day's events. He claimed that he informed the FBI of the call via a tip hotline on April 20, 1995, and that FBI agents subsequently followed up with him by phone.

    INTELWIRE has removed some personally identifying information about Hollaway from the original form due to privacy considerations. Mainstream media outlets seeking more information may contact INTELWIRE for the unredacted page.

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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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