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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, March 20, 2009

OKBOMB and The Order: New Documents Don't Add Up

By J.M. Berger

New Oklahoma City bombing documents released by the FBI say a domestic terrorist group known as "The Order" had been defunct for 10 years, even though the Bureau was conducting two active investigations on related groups from 1990 to 1993.

One of those two groups, the Texas Reserve Militia, was linked to Andreas Strassmeir, an associate of Timothy McVeigh.

The new documents were released as part of a FOIA lawsuit by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue (story).

According to one of the new documents (link), "documents written by Timothy
James McVeigh in the past contain references to 'The Turner Diaries,'" a white supremacist novel that "outlines, in detail, the
establishment of a terrorist group known as 'The Order.'"

The original Order (external link) was formed during the mid-1980s and carried out a criminal spree that included bank robberies, an assassination and counterfeiting.

"The group has not been active in almost a decade," the document says.

But in reality, the FBI investigated outgrowths of The Order just two years earlier in two separate locations -- Benton, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas.

In 1993, the FBI had an active investigation of The Order of St. John, based in Tennessee. According to an FBI document obtained by INTELWIRE (link), the head of that group was also the head of an organization known as the American Pistol and Rifle Association. APRA members were directly linked to the original Order, the document says.

"During the mid-1980s, several members of the white supremacist terrorist group known as 'The Order' were current or former members of APRA," the document states.

Perhaps even more significantly, a group known as the Texas Reserve Militia -- the subject of a domestic terrorism investigation -- was also calling itself "The Second Order." According to an FBI letterhead memorandum dated 12/26/1991 (link), "it is known that the 'first' Order was involved in murder, armored car and bank robberies, and counterfeiting. When [name redacted] talks about the group being the 'Second Order,' it is assumed from that that the same kind of criminal activities may be carried out."

A January 1993 FBI memorandum further indicated that a leader of the Texas Reserve Militia had "made statements about The Second Order such as the Government 'has no idea what's in store for them. The Second Order, The Second Front is in place.'"

One member of this "Second Order" was Andreas Strassmeir, a German national associated with the Elohim City white separatist compound in Vian, Oklahoma. McVeigh and Terry Nichols apparently visited the compound on at least one occasion, and McVeigh telephoned Strassmeir shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing took place.

A great deal of suspicion has revolved around Strassmeir as a possible co-conspirator in the bombing. Some have also speculated that he acted as a government informant. Strassmeir was also an associate of the bank robbery gang the Aryan Republican Army (story and documents). The ARA, long suspected of playing a role in the Oklahoma City bombing (story and documents), robbed banks with the idea of using the proceeds to support anti-government activity -- the same game plan used by the original Order.

Danny Coulson, an FBI agent who worked on both the Oklahoma City bombing and the Texas Reserve Militia investigation, said he believes Strassmeir may have been some kind of government informant but was not working for the FBI. He suggested Strassmeir might have been working for a foreign intelligence service.

"I think there are people who know the answer to that and I think they're in the FBI," Coulson said.

One of the newly released documents is an interagency communication from the FBI which addresses that question to the CIA (link).

"This inquiry concerns [name redacted, belived to be Strassmeir based on description provided] and whether he has ever been a CIA confidential source or asset," the communication states. No corresponding response was released.

The full collection of new documents obtained by Trentadue can be read by clicking here. They include previously unknown discussions of phone threats and a communication, largely redacted, concerning an April 20 interaction between the FBI and the CIA.

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Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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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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