Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Some dogs just can't resist rotting animal carcasses or vomit; the human equivalent is apparently Pat Robertson's CBN News, which joins a quest by other right-wing rabble-rousers to persuade a conservative public that an Oklahoma University student who committed suicide was actually an Islamist terrorist:

Has terrorism returned to the Oklahoma City area? That is what folks in Norman have been asking, ever since a 21-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma killed himself in what some are calling an attempted homicide bombing.

On Saturday, October 1, engineering major Joel Hinrichs detonated a homemade bomb near Memorial Stadium, where 84,000 fans were watching the hometown Sooners take on Kansas State....

Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation ... and other online bloggers have questioned Hinrichs' true intentions. They point to his Pakistani Muslim roommate and the location of his apartment--just one block from the Norman Mosque.

It is the same mosque that convicted 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui attended when he lived in Norman. As for Hinrichs, a spokesman for the mosque told us he had never seen him there....

But in a CBN exclusive, a former neighbor of the mosque, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us she did see Hinrichs there--not once, but several times.

“I did see Joel on several occasions outside of the mosque, actually, in the parking lot of the mosque,” the neighbor said. “It wasn't in the yard, it wasn't behind the fence, it was always in the parking lot when I would see him. And there was one time when I passed him, actually, on the sidewalk. As soon as I saw the picture of Joel Hinrichs on TV, not the clean-shaven one, but the one with the beard, I knew immediately that that was the gentleman I had seen on several occasions.” ...

Wow! Yeah, that's the smoking gun -- someone who claims he or she used to live near the mosque who won't give a name and tells the story to a "reporter" whose paychecks are signed by Pat Robertson. Color me persuaded!

The Wall Street Journal largely demolished this story a couple of weeks ago; the Journal isn't making its report available free anymore, but a Google cache is here.

...blogs and local Oklahoma TV stations added several apparent inaccuracies, including: that Mr. Hinrichs was a Muslim and visited the mosque frequently; that he tried to enter the stadium twice but was rebuffed; that he had a one-way airplane ticket to Algeria; that there were nails in the bomb and that Islamic extremist literature was found in his apartment.

None of these claims are true: Mr. Hinrichs's family, university officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say Mr. Hinrichs suffered from depression, and the explosion was an isolated event.

The FBI's investigation is nearly complete. On Oct. 4, the FBI issued a statement saying, "At this time, there is no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization(s) or activities." ...

...David L. Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and the former senator who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while most news reports have been responsible, there has been a "feeding frenzy of false rumors" on blogs and in some local TV stations. On Friday, he said in a letter to students and staff that investigators had found "no evidence of a conspiracy involving others which creates an ongoing threat to our OU community."...

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, KWTV correspondent Tamara Pratt reported that Mr. Hinrichs had spent "much of his time at the Norman mosque," and that investigators had seized an airline ticket to Algeria in Hinrichs's apartment.

Mr. Boren said that Mr. Hinrichs isn't known ever to have visited the Norman mosque. And while investigators did find an airplane ticket to Algeria, it wasn't in Mr. Hinrichs's apartment, but rather in one belonging to an international student, Mr. Boren said....

Of course, Boren's a Democrat, which, for the wingnuts, presumably means he's a traitor to the United States as well.

Tapscott apparently finds it incomprehensible that someone would use explosive material to commit suicide without having the intent to do so for Allah. I guess I would agree -- if I lived in a cave and didn't know, for instance, that apolitical American teenagers occasionally try to burn themselves to death, or if I'd never heard of suicide by cop. Does Tapscott serious believe that suicide by explosive is in another dimension altogether?

And I have absolutely no idea whether there was ever any thought in Hinrichs's mind of harming others -- but it won't surprise me at all if someday a kid kills himself in America and takes part of a football stadium out with him. When and if that happens, though, it's almost certainly going to be a depressed, bullied kid's attempt to lash out at a culture he sees as dominated by jocks and assholes, Columbine kicked up a notch -- either that or, like so many workplace shootings, an attempt to get back at a beloved who spurns him.

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