Reopening the Joel Henry Hinrich III Case?

Two tips came in to me today letting me know that there may be more to the Joel Henry Hinrich III University of Oklahoma bombing than my last dismissal of it (scroll through the entire Joel Henry Hinrich III archive, from bottom to top, if you aren't up to speed on the case).

The first came from Jason at Generation Why, who notes that a local police officer, Sgt. George Mauldin, believes Hinrich may have intended to blow up more than himself based on evidence that he had tested bombs with shrapnel, in the weeks leading to the apparent suicide-bombing, and material that could be used as shrapnel was found in his apartment.

Also noted by Jason is the fact that 2 to 3 pounds of TATP were used in the bomb--a material of choice among Islamic terrorists.

The second tip was from Mark Tapscott, who posted about the FBI's response to Mauldin's speculation that Hinrich was intent on taking out other students, and not just himself. Tapscott interviews Gary Johnson of the FBI who says:

"That's just an individual's opinion," Johnson said in an interview with Tapscott's Copy Desk. Johnson said the FBI stands by its view that Hinrichs was not involved in any terrorist activities.

Johnson said he expects an official statement from the FBI concluding the Hinrichs investigation "within a few weeks."

So, the local guy(s) think Hinrich wanted to commit an act of terrorism, motivated by whatever, and the Feds think Hinrich was just a depressive loner who wanted to go out with a bang.

Lawhawk, who I nearly always trust, follows the lead of the afformentioned bloggers and comes to the conclusion that:

$64,000 questions one and all, and all remain a mystery.
Since I was one of the original fans that feuled the flames of speculation that Hinrich was a closet Islamic terrorist, I feel a little bit of responsibility to make some kind of authoritative statement.

Hinrichs was not part of a larger Islamic plot and the FBI seems to have it right. I will revise my views based on further evidence, but between the opinion of a local cop and a member of the FBI's counterrorism task-force, I'll take the latter as the more informed.

However, all of the above begs a very interesting question: If you want to blow up yourself, to what authority to you go to? Why, the experts at blowing themselves up, Muslim terrorists! And that, I think, is a story worth telling in and of itself.

UPDATE: et tu Michelle? While the rush to declare the OU bombing "not Islamic terrorism" by many in the media and government was troubling, its also troubling that many of us have a hard time believing that maybe sometimes a rose is just a rose.

Posted by: Rusty at 01:52 PM


1 Islamists can and do act on their own behalf... I don't doubt that's what Hinrich had in mind.

Posted by: Ariya at March 01, 2006 02:27 PM

2 I'll stick with the small town cop. He lives there.

Posted by: Chris at March 01, 2006 02:34 PM

3 Rusty,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. These questions have not been answered with any satisfaction and while the FBI can claim that Hinrichs wasn't part of some larger plot, that doesn't mean that Hinrichs couldn't have independently reached the decision to commit an act of terrorism (see also the DC Snipers). Just because you don't take orders from al Qaeda central doesn't mean that you're still not working from the same playbook.

Hinrichs could have been a fellow traveller. Or not. There's still more that needs to be determined here, although I doubt that the FBI wants to devote more effort on this case.

Posted by: lawhawk at March 01, 2006 02:46 PM

4 Agreed, but from what I understand, it turns out Hinrichs probably wansn't even Muslim. He had a Muslim roomate, which might be why he chose "death by suicide bomb".

Posted by: Rusty at March 01, 2006 03:08 PM

5 Note this from the following story:

"Officers also removed [from Hinrichs' apartment] metal fragments that are often to explosives to make them more deadly, Mauldin said."

Wow. That little detail, folks, is CONFIRMATION that Hinrichs' intent was terrorism, not suicide.

Sometimes a rose is a thorny injurious weed.

--Scott Jordan
San Jose

Expert: OU Student Didn't Mean To Set Off Bomb

(AP) NORMAN, Okla. A University of Oklahoma student from Colorado who blew himself up outside a packed Gaylord Family/Oklahoma Memorial Stadium probably didn't commit suicide, a Norman police bomb expert said.

"I believe he accidentally blew himself up," Sgt. George Mauldin said Tuesday of Joel Henry Hinrichs III, a 21-year-old engineering student who died in the explosion Oct. 1.

When asked if he believed Hinrichs meant to enter the stadium with the explosives, Mauldin said, "I don't believe he intended for an explosion to occur at that spot (on a nearby park bench)."

Hinrichs, of Colorado Springs, Colo., had two to three pounds of triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, in a backpack on his lap when it exploded about 173 yards from the stadium during the second quarter of the Oklahoma-Kansas State football game, Mauldin said.

"Someone saw him fiddling with it (the backpack) shortly before the explosion occurred. I think he got cocky, and it went off," Mauldin said.

Mauldin and Police Chief Phil Cotten briefed Norman City Council members about the explosion and the department's investigation in a conference before Tuesday night's meeting.

The FBI has said its investigation didn't find any links between Hinrichs and terrorist organizations. Agents have said they may never know whether the student wanted to get inside the stadium.

The student's father, Joel Hinrichs Jr., has said his son intended to kill only himself.

Mauldin, head of the Norman bomb unit, said investigators detonated at the scene the remains of Hinrichs' backpack, which contained wires, a battery and a circuit board.

Graphic photos showed that Hinrichs was decapitated and his headless body was still upright on the park bench next to the backpack.

Investigators also found more TATP, components to make the substance, a fuse and live military rounds at Hinrichs' off-campus apartment.

"We found evidence of him compressing TATP, which is foolhardy, given its properties," the officer said.

Making TATP is a seven-step process, with the substance becoming explosive after three steps, he said.

Bomb squad officers were careful while removing the material from Hinrichs' apartment for fear it would explode, Mauldin said.

"And we wanted to get it out of there quickly. The longer TATP sits, the more likely (it is) to explode spontaneously," he said.

Officers also removed metal fragments that are often to explosives to make them more deadly, Mauldin said.

Hinrichs also kept careful notes of experimentation with explosives in the weeks leading up to blast, officials said.

Most of Hinrichs' experiments occurred at Red Rock Canyon in Caddo County, according to the notes.

Posted by: Scott Jordan at March 01, 2006 05:17 PM

6 While we are reopening topics, its been 4 months since the Blogosphere backed off of the Flight 93 memorial which remains with the design of a shrine to Islam.

The Flight 93 Project comments form is now open.
See Letter to Parks Service

Posted by: USCitizen at March 01, 2006 07:00 PM

7 Carl Spackler is a giant islamic penis

Posted by: King at March 01, 2006 07:38 PM

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