University of Oklahoma President David Boren seems determined to have everybody believe Joel Henry Hinrichs III was merely a disturbed young man who decided to commit suicide by blowing himself up within 100 yards of a stadium containing 84,000 screaming fans of Sooner football.
Sorry, I don't buy it, at least not yet. Here's why: First, The Daily Oklahoman is reporting authorities found a large cache of bomb-making materials in Hinrichs' apartment. The cache is so big that the Oklahoman quoted one of the officials on the scene as estimating a full 24 hours would be required to cart away all of the material.
Suicide victims don't normally accumulate a large amount of bomb-making material in their homes. People intent on blowing up other people do.
Second, the proximity to the stadium suggests Hinrichs' target was the crowd, perhaps as people were leaving the game. But being an OU student, he presumably would have access to the student seating section and could have gone from that area to anywhere else in the crowd he chose.
What better place to detonate a bomb guaranteed to both kill and maim many, as well as incite terror and possibly a stampede that would kill and injure more people? My guess is Hinrichs was kept from reaching his target by a premature detonation. Add the proximty of the Micro-Biology building and you may have the potential for a kind of bio-bomb that could have guaranteed utter chaos in and around the stadium.
Third, why was Boren sufficiently familiar with Hinrichs to so quickly issue an opinion about his motive in the bombing? When he resigned in November 1994 as a senator, Boren was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He left the Senate just as the Democrats lost their majority in the GOP sweep of 1994.
Add to his Senate years the presence of an active and long-established Muslim student presence on the OU campus stemming from the school's excellent Petroleum Engineering program, and it stands to reason that Boren has been privy to intelligence briefing as head of the school. Is that how he knew of Hinrichs?
Fourth, Hinrichs appears to have a fresh beard, which is characteristic of new Muslim male converts. His father told The Oklahoman his son was a quiet, intellectual type, but he had no idea what might have incited him to take his own life. We can only assume the father also didn't know of the bomb-making material in his son's apartment. Perhaps we are dealing with a recent or a secret convert?
Finally, if Hinrichs was just a disturbed guy who decided to kill himself with a bomb 100 yards from a crowd of 84,000 people instead of simply putting a bullet through his temple, slashing his wrists or some other traditional way of doing away with oneself, why is the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force now the lead agency in the investigation?
Go here to read the latest dispatch from The Oklahoman.
Cross-posted at Tapscott's Copy Desk.