The Militia Movement in America: Terror Comes Home Timothy Mcveigh
Conspiratorial thinking has always lurked around the fringes of political thought in America. Suspicious groups distrust the Catholics, the Masons, the Jews and others, believing one group or another is secretly in control of everything and trying to retain power despite heroic efforts to shine light on their nefarious deeds. The economic crisis facing American farmers led to the spreading of this kind of thinking across rural America in the 1970s and 1980s. This was the Sovereign Citizen Movement, which taught that the government had been illegal since the passage of the 14th Amendment—which redefined citizenship and contained important due process and equal protection clauses.
Members of this movement and the Patriot movement believed that they alone lived by the Constitution and that they were protecting their gun rights. They believed that the government was being run solely for the benefit of a wealthy elite who wanted to form a one-world government under control of the United Nations. They felt they should band together in armed paramilitary groups called Militias. Some felt that eventually a government action would be so egregious that it would set off an armed revolution and the government would be overthrown.
Two government actions in the early 1990s seemed to fit this paranoid thinking. The first was the standoff at Ruby Ridge, during which Randy Weaver’s dog, son and wife were shot by federal agents. The second was the prolonged siege of the Branch Davidians that ended in a final, bloody assault on their compound and the loss of 82 lives. Militia members felt this was government misconduct and gross over-reaction to what they believed were minor infractions of gun control laws.
On April 19, 1995, the second anniversary of the final assault on the Branch Davidians, Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City and jogged away from it. The powerful bomb inside blew up, killing 168 people and wounding hundreds more. Later, McVeigh’s getaway car was stopped because it had no license plate. The state policeman who stopped him noticed McVeigh had a concealed weapon and arrested him. While he was in custody, the FBI found where the truck had been rented and the rental agency owner helped produce drawings of three suspects, one of which strongly resembled McVeigh and led to his arrest for the bombing. McVeigh was tried for the crime, found guilty, and executed in 2001. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, got multiple life sentences. The armed revolt they hoped to set off never occurred, and the Militia movement faded. But it did not go away.
In fact, after the bombing there were two standoffs between federal authorities and members of the Militia movement. In 1996 there was an 81-day siege
against the Montana Freemen. In 1997 there was a week-long standoff with another group calling themselves the Republic of Texas. Neither of these led to the loss of life.
Mcveigh filmed 1 year after active duty now in the North Dakota National Guard below
Tim Mcveigh Had Government Computer chip implant
Cover-up claim in hunt for Oklahoma ‘witness’
A couple grieving for grandchildren killed in the bombing last year think they have identified a name missed by the huge resources of the FBI, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
WHILE President Clinton is in Europe demanding a tougher response to terrorism, his own government is having trouble getting to the bottom of the Oklahoma bombing, the most deadly act of terrorism ever committed on US soil.
The Oklahoma investigation is losing credibility fast, with talk of a cover-up now reaching fever pitch. Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, who lost two grandchildren in the blast, have accused the Justice Department of playing politics with their grief.
Conducting their own investigation they have already raised doubts about the official story implicating Tim McVeigh, the chief suspect, in the April 1995 Oklahoma City blast in which 168 died. Now the Wilburns believe they have tracked down the elusive witness known as “John Doe II”, the tanned, tattooed, muscular man said to have been with McVeigh when he allegedly rented the Ryder truck used in the bombing.
The man they name has been identified from a photo by one of the witnesses who helped draw up the artist’s impression of John Doe II. Several other witnesses have said they think the photo is of the same person.
If the witnesses are right, the man is a former university student from Philadelphia named Michael Brescia. Over the last month some of the major US newspapers and TV networks have been searching nationwide for him, with no success.
It is remarkable that the FBI has shown so little interest in Brescia, if the Wilburns are correct. The search for John Doe II involved half of the FBI’s entire staff of special agents. The vast investigative machinery of the US government had not been mobilised in such a way since the assassination of President Kennedy. Apparently, it found nothing. After two months the Justice Department announced that the sighting of John Doe II was a simple matter of confusion. The witness was an innocent soldier who happened to visit the Ryder rental office in Junction City the day after McVeigh, said the official statement.
In a confidential statement to the FBI, dated April 23, Smith said her daughter “dated McVeigh for two years”
This account is disputed vehemently by the three witnesses at the Ryder agency who said they saw McVeigh with John Doe II. The Wilburns have now learned that two witnesses came forward immediately after the bombing and told the FBI that they knew who the John Doe II in the artist’s impression was. One, a college student named Catina Lawson, was a close friend of McVeigh. The other was her mother, Connie Smith.
In a confidential statement to the FBI, dated April 23, Smith said her daughter “dated McVeigh for two years”. Lawson says that she was just a friend, but admits to having attended parties in Kansas where McVeigh was present. Moreover, also knew Michael Fortier, the man who allegedly “cased” the Oklahoma federal building with McVeigh and who has started a 23-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to lesser charges related to the bombing.
On April 20, 1995, the day after the bombing, Lawson told the FBI that the sketch of John Doe II resembled a muscular man with an olive complexion who had moved in McVeigh’s circle. “I told them he had a tattoo on his arm and his name was Mike, but I didn’t know the rest of his name,” she said. Her FBI statement is slightly different from this. The document says that she identified John Doe II but did not know his name.
Lawson, now 22, told The Sunday Telegraph that “Mike” had had a brief affair with a housemate, who has since disappeared. She believed it occurred in the summer of 1992. “I never found out what he was doing in Kansas,” she said. “But I remember her saying that he came from Pennsylvania, and I saw the Pennsylvania tags on his car.”
Smith remembers being introduced to “Mike” by her daughter. She later saw him in the local town of Herington with McVeigh. In her FBI statement she said that the man was a friend of McVeigh and that “she believed he was John Doe II”.
What is astonishing is that the FBI apparently failed to pursue the leads given by Lawson
She said in an interview: “I kept telling them that the man in the sketch was that Mike guy, a nice-looking guy, dark-skinned. But the FBI made me feel guilty, then ignorant, as if I didn’t know what I was saying. Then, later, I tried to call in with more information and they wouldn’t even talk to me.”
Their testimony is sketchy. It may be incorrect. What is astonishing is that the FBI apparently failed to pursue the leads given by Lawson. It was not until February of this year that two local FBI agents came back to ask Lawson a series of question on behalf of the bombing investigation. They asked her if she knew “Michael Brescia”. She said no, because she did not know the second name of the man she remembered only as Mike. Sources close to the Justice Department say that the FBI has still not interviewed Brescia, even though it has conducted more than 21,000 witness interviews.
It was not until the Wilburns showed them a picture of Brescia this month that Lawson and her mother learned his full identity. Both identified him at once from the picture. Brescia, 24, comes from a solid Catholic family in Philadelphia, the son of a battalion chief in the fire brigade. He was an Eagle Scout at a private high school, and then went on to study finance at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
“He was a very outgoing, likeable guy, but he tried to set up a white supremacist group on campus,” said George Ralko, a “brother” in the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity. “We threatened to revoke his membership. We told him the fraternity wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour.”
In 1993, in his third year at La Salle, he mysteriously dropped out, telling friends that he was taking up a job offer in Oklahoma.
In fact he went to join an armed religious cult in the Ozarks called Elohim City, where he fell in love with the grand-daughter of the community patriarch, Pastor Robert Millar. The sect is a branch of the Christian Identity Church, which believes that the Aryan peoples are the 12 lost tribes of Israel.
Brescia shared a house at Elohim with Andreas Strassmeir, a former officer in the West German army and a man the Wilburns have announced that they plan to name in a lawsuit as a “US federal informant with material knowledge of the bombing”.
Strassmeir said that he has not worked on intelligence matters since his discharge from the German army and denies working for the US government.
Strassmeir said that Brescia was in Little Rock, Arkansas, on the day of the bombing, attending a clemency rally for the Right-wing leader Wayne Snell (who was executed for murder convictions the same day and was then brought back for burial at Elohim). “I don’t think Mike was involved in any way,” he said. “He was just a typical kid of his age, searching for something in life.”
Brescia was expelled from Elohim in the summer of 1995, apparently over a curfew violation
Joan Millar, one of the leaders of Elohim City, says that Brescia could not possibly be John Doe II. “He was right here with us on April 17 (the day the Ryder truck was rented), helping to prepare the grave for Wayne Snell,” she said.
Brescia was expelled from Elohim in the summer of 1995, apparently over a curfew violation. He went to live with George Eaton, a neighbour who publishes the Patriot Report (a tiny, Right-wing militia publication to which McVeigh, among others, subscribed). Eaton told The Sunday Telegraph that Strassmeir and Brescia had been stirring things up at Elohim City.
“They were pushing for all these military manoeuvres, and it got to be a problem,” he said. Eaton does not believe that Brescia played any role in the bombing. “All these rumours are just nonsense,” he said.
He said that Brescia had a tattoo on his left arm (John Doe II was described as having one). He described it as a circle with four spokes. Experts on the far Right say this is the symbol of the Order, the violent military wing of the Aryan Nations. The Order was supposedly disbanded in the mid-1980s, but it may have been reconstituted. As they try to find all the pieces to this jigsaw puzzle, the Wilburns believe that the bombing was a broad conspiracy by members of the Aryan Nations. Now they want to know why the Justice Department has been so slow in following up obvious leads.