Oklahoma Bomber Revisited

Last fall, here and elsewhere, we wrote about the University of Oklahoma student, Joel Hinrichs, who blew himself up while sitting on a bench two blocks from the stadium where an OU football game was in progress. The story never quite made it into the mainstream media; the official verdict seemed to be that he was a depressed kid who committed suicide and never intended a terrorist attack.
Today’s Daily Oklahoman reports a different verdict. The Norman, Oklahoma police chief and a bomb expert briefed the Norman City Council on the results of their investigation:

A Norman police bomb expert said Tuesday he does not believe University of Oklahoma student Joel Henry Hinrichs III committed suicide by blowing himself up outside a packed football stadium.
“I believe he accidentally blew himself up,” Sgt. George Mauldin said.
Mauldin said Hinrichs, 21, an engineering student, had two to three pounds of triacetone triperoxide, commonly known as TATP, in a backpack in his lap when it exploded Oct. 1.
When asked if he believed Hinrichs meant to enter the stadium with the explosives, Mauldin replied, “I don’t believe he intended for an explosion to occur at that spot (on the park bench).”
“Some of us will forever wonder what he (Hinrichs) was doing at that time, at that place,” Police Chief Phil Cotten said.
Hinrichs was sitting on a park bench 173 yards from the OU stadium during the second quarter of OU’s night game against Kansas State when the TATP inside his backpack detonated.

The police search of Hinrichs’s apartment found more bomb-making materials:

Mauldin said investigators found “quite a bit more” explosive material inside Hinrichs’ Parkview apartment on Sooner Drive, southeast of Lindsey Street and Stinson Drive.
A pint-size Tupperware container on a counter was filled with TATP Hinrichs had manufactured, Mauldin said.
Officers also removed “a lot” of military rounds, many of them live, and pieces of metal from the student’s apartment, Mauldin said.
Metal fragments often are added to explosives to make them more deadly, he said.

The FBI has reported that it found no evidence of links between Hinrichs and terrorist groups. Last fall, there were reports that Islamist literature was found in Hinrichs’s apartment, but today’s article says nothing about that.
It has always seemed pretty clear to me that Hinrichs was up to more than suicide. He tried to buy a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from a local store, but the proprietor turned him down because “something didn’t feel right.” Unless Hinrichs was gardening on a really, really big scale, he wanted to create a fertilizer bomb, an extremely unlikely method of committing suicide.
None of which means, of course, that Hinrichs was a would-be Islamic terrorist. But the eagerness, last fall, of the authorities and most of the media to close the book on the incident with the implausible claim that he was nothing but a suicide victim doesn’t inspire confidence in their eagerness to get to the bottom of the story.
Via Michelle Malkin.

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