Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City Bombing

Terrorism has been a major problem for most countries on the planet, especially due to its effects on the human race. Terror groups recruit innocent people who support their radical ideas; Moreover, they often cause destruction and take the lives of many people by becoming suicide bombers. Unfortunately, the victims of terror are innocent citizens, such as children, women, and men, who have nothing to do with terrorism or the governments, for which these groups fight. The Oklahoma City bombing is one of the terror actions on American soil that has remained in the hearts of many people due to the numerous casualties and the massive destruction of property (Poulou, 2017). Thus, the bombing, which occurred about 22 years ago, was a domestic act of terrorism by renowned military veterans Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, leading to the destruction of at least one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City’s downtown (Poulou, 2017). The killings were non-discriminatory as all people in that massive building fell victims to the bombing attack, including children and women. The investigation process of this inhumane act revealed that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and other accomplices were the perpetrators; further, they were charged and penalized for their terrorist actions that had killed and injured hundreds of people.

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Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two military veterans, met each other when serving the American military service before they acquired the necessary motivation that compelled them to organize and implement a domestic terrorist attack that killed many people, injured hundreds of others, and destroyed property (Poulou, 2017). Timothy McVeigh was born and raised in a troubled family of five siblings; his blue-collar parents divorced when he turned ten (Tuggle, 2016). This individual was rather peculiar as he struggled in his teenage life; he was an ambitious high school student who was later preoccupied with guns and techniques of survival. He was a college dropout who had no personal and professional accomplishments before joining the US Army per his father’s suggestions. In the military, he became a sergeant before getting deployed to the Gulf War.

Thus, during this time of service, McVeigh met his accomplice Terry Nichols. Eventually, he became paranoid, which strengthened his discomfort with the American government, a move that resulted in the organization and the subsequent implementation of the historical Oklahoma City terrorist attack. Terry Lynn Nichols was born in 1955 (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). Before his conviction as an accomplice to McVeigh during the Oklahoma City attack, Nichols had multiple short-term jobs as a grain elevator, farmer, ranch hand, real estate salesman, and so on. As Michel and Herbeck (2015) wrote, military life had a significant impact on McVeigh’s development by giving him discipline, enthusiasm, respect, and a tremendous sense of direction. McVeigh returned from the Gulf War before receiving multiple medals for his exemplary performance. However, he requested for a hardship discharge after less than one year of military service. Between 1994 and 1995, these two ex-military men planned and prepared the Oklahoma City attack that involved the truck bombing of the renowned Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 (Tuggle, 2016). Therefore, these two men seem to have disliked the American way of dealing with some issues, and as a result, they wanted to express their concerns through this heinous act.

The motivation behind the traumatic bombing of the downtown building came from the way the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agency had handled a standoff involving Randy Weaver, the so-called Waco siege. Nichols and McVeigh met during the basic military American training at Fort Benning (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). McVeigh had another accomplice, Michael Fortier, who was his roommate in the army. Thus, these three individuals expressed immense anger at how the American government had handled the FBI standoff with the Branch Davidian members (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). The standoff started with the attempt of executing a search warrant that resulted in a firefight, ending with the remarkable shooting and fire that lead to the deaths of tens of people, including David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). McVeigh was said to have visited the Waco site during and after the historical standoff; such a move could have been aimed at sympathizing with those who had died in that FBI operation. In response, McVeigh and his colleagues decided to detonate a bomb in a federal building as a sign of revenge, which led to the devastating Oklahoma City bombing.


McVeigh was arrested some minutes after the bombing and before investigations were launched. The explosion killed 168 and injured 680 people, including 15 children; four of them were infants in the daycare center, housed in the building (Poulou, 2017). Before the investigation, the FBI had three hypotheses regarding the causes of the bombing. Thus, the attack was attributed to international terrorists, drug cartels, and their vengeance act against the DEA agency due to its office being located in the building, and anti-government radicals who might have rebelled against the government. Just 90 minutes after the detonation of the bomb in the building, McVeigh was arrested for driving without a license plate and possessing a concealed weapon (Gumbel, 2015). McVeigh’s accomplices were later arrested, tried, and sentenced by the court of law.

Investigations and the Trial Process

The investigation agencies found astonishing information concerning the planning and execution of the deadly bombing event that killed and injured many innocent people. The choice of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was made since it housed several government agencies, including the ATF, DEA, Army and Marine Corps recruiting offices, and the Social Security Administration (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). Thus, McVeigh had an intention to exact his revenge against the government, which formed his choice of bombing a building with many federal institutions. Moreover, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was large and adjacent to a large open parking lot that would provide an ample place for leaving the vehicle with the bombing equipment. Therefore, this building was the best place for implementing the perpetrators’ plan due to it housing many government agencies and having a strategic location.

The investigation and prosecution side found that McVeigh and Nichols had spent several years, gathering the materials for creating their bomb. According to Gumbel (2015), the two had either stolen or purchased the materials for this bomb since 1994. For instance, they robbed homes to acquire money, guns, jewels, and other materials that would aid them in achieving their goals. They bought several pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that were later used to make the deadly bomb. The date of the attack had a symbolic meaning for the terrorists as it was connected to the Waco Branch Davidians event and served as a motivation for them to detonate the bomb as a sign of revenge for the lost lives (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). After gathering enough materials for the bomb, they eventually assembled it in the place where they had stored its parts.

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Further evidence on the gathering of the materials for the bomb and its subsequent manufacturing revealed how Nichols and McVeigh had secured a place for their mission. According to Michel and Herbeck (2015), Nichols bought a house in Herington, Kansas in February 1995 before purchasing diesel fuel and other items to make the bomb. Further, he gave McVeigh some cash on April 14 of the same year (Linder, n.d.). Two days later, the two ex-military veterans drove to the city of Oklahoma to drop off their gateway car. One day before the bombing, Nichols helped his criminal friend prepare a truck for the bomb and later moved to his Kansas home, a place where he was at the time of the detonation of the bomb (Gumbel, 2015). Due to this evidence, found by the prosecution side, one could see that the terrorist attack was a planned issue that had taken much time and resources to prepare and execute.

Further Evidence from Witnesses

Michael Fortier, a former Army veteran, who had participated in some of the steps of preparing the bomb and the subsequent attack, volunteered to testify against his accomplices after he had reached an agreement with the federal government to face reduced charges. In his testimony, Fortier revealed that both McVeigh and Nichols had expressed serious anti-government feelings due to some issues they were dissatisfied with, which compelled them to conspire to detonate a bomb in the federal building (Linder, n.d.). Fortier had helped the two perpetrators to survey the target building some days before the attack was successfully launched. Furthermore, he testified that Nichols had participated in the robbery of Moore, an Arkansas gun dealer (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). The robbery was a way of acquiring the necessary finances and resources to cater to the costs of making a bomb. The prosecution team and the jury found the evidence from this accomplice to be solid to make any judgments against all three individuals who had deliberately decided to kill innocent Americans in the federal building.

The wife of Nichols testified for the defense team, thus giving evidence that further strengthened the prosecution’s account of his involvement in terrorism. In her testimony, Marife explained that her husband was not an accomplice of McVeigh as she went against all the evidence that had linked him to the Oklahoma City bombing attack (Tuggle, 2016). Thus, Nichols lived a double life before the bombing as he rented storage lockers, using aliases and lying that he had terminated his friendship with McVeigh. Nevertheless, she testified that her husband had traveled to Oklahoma City about three days before the bombing; this information supported the contention of the prosecution side that Nichols had helped McVeigh in stationing a gateway car close to the target building (Linder, n.d.). After an inquiry, Marife failed to account for the events of April 18, 1995, that had been marked in Nichols’ calendar. Consequently, the prosecution used this fact to strengthen its argument that this individual had helped McVeigh assemble the killer truck bomb.

Furthermore, Nichols’ criminal defense attorney failed to convince the jury of the possibility that his client had not taken part in preparing for the Oklahoma City bombing. The trial argued that the two individuals, Nichols and McVeigh, had worked together to buy and steal materials that were used to make the bomb and later relocated it to the site where it had to be detonated (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). In response, the defense cast doubt on the case against Nichols. Therefore, the defense called witnesses to testify regarding the issue before the trial judge. Witnesses testified that they had seen men with McVeigh before the detonation of the bomb and Nichols was not one of them. As a result, the defense team argued that the claimed evidence had been manipulated by the American government to tarnish the image of their client.

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Court Ruling over the Oklahoma City Bombing

The case of Timothy McVeigh was surprising, given the fact that after a series of evidence against him regarding the bombing of the federal government building, he finally confessed, which marked the end of the trial process and his subsequent conviction. Fortier and his wife Lori as well as Jenifer McVeigh, the sister of the suspect, testified and gave evidence that strengthened the argument of the prosecution team (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). The Fortiers explained that McVeigh had already leaked a plan of bombing the federal building. As Fortier testified, his friend McVeigh had already chosen the date of the bombing, while Lori admitted that she helped in creating McVeigh’s false identification card that was later used to rent the Ryder truck.

However, McVeigh’s defense team presented their evidence, which had a negligible impact on delinking their client from the bombing attack. Thus, McVeigh wanted the defense to present information and reason for his heinous act since he was willing to confess. He argued that he was just an imminent threat but not an immediate one. He claimed that his actions were aimed at preventing future criminal behaviors of the government, such as the Ruby Ridge and the Waco incidents, that had fueled his desire to cause massive damage to the government property and take the lives of people (Tuggle, 2016). However, the defense team argued before the court of law that their client was a part of the largest conspiracy of the time, something that McVeigh was against. Further, the defense tried to present reasonable doubt before the jury that no person had seen their client at the scene of the bombing before or during it, and the time of investigating the attack was insufficient to make conclusive judgments (Michel & Herbeck, 2015). The investigations conducted by the FBI were termed sloppy. Eventually, the jury considered both sides and found that McVeigh had been the main perpetrator of the crime. He was given the death sentence.

The judge deliberated for a long time before making the final court decision concerning the criminal involvement of Nichols and McVeigh. Nichols was convicted of conspiring with his friend to use the bomb as a weapon of mass destruction, one of the most severe capital offenses on American soil (Linder, n.d.). The court had two options to either sentence him to death or life imprisonment. Thus, although the court had acquitted Nichols of first-degree murder, he was imprisoned for the rest of his life without parole for involuntary manslaughter. Nichol was an enemy of the state because he had violated what the American law protected, including the property and the lives of people. After testifying against his friends, Fortier was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment; he was released in 2006, 10.5 years later (Linder, n.d.). As stated earlier, McVeigh was sentenced to death, which he welcomed, while Nichols’ penalty was a life sentence.


From the analysis of the evidence presented before the court, the prosecution had massive evidence against both Nichol and McVeigh. The ruling was justified by the fact that McVeigh had confessed despite trying to show the injustices committed by the government as the cause of his criminal behaviors. It was much easier for the judge to decide due to the adverse impact of the bombing on the American population, Fortier’s testimony as one of the accomplices, and the evidence, gathered by security agents when McVeigh was arrested right after the bomb detonation as well as the self-confession of the suspect. The defense seemed to have lacked adequate evidence to delink their clients from the incident due to the overwhelming evidence from the prosecution, which might have turned their attention to focus on how the FBI had performed its investigations. Therefore, the penalties were justified by the evidence that was presented before the court, although more could have been done to identify whether the bombing had been linked to international terrorist groups, or more people could have been involved, including government officials.

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