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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Oklahoma City bombing - 16 years on

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which claimed 168 lives and injured more than 680 people, making it the most deadly act of terrorism in America until 9/11.

On 19 April 1995, 27-year-old Timothy McVeigh detonated a fuel and fertilizer truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Motivated by his anger at the FBI's handling of the Ruby Ridge incident 1992 and Waco Seige 1993, in which religious extremists were shot dead, McVeigh decided to bomb a federal building in response.

Within 90 minutes of the explosion McVeigh was stopped by police for driving without a licence plate and arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols, to the bombing.

The men, who met in 1988 at Fort Benning during basic training for the U.S Army and bonded over their interest in the militia movement, were charged within days.

The 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb, which killed 19 children under the age of six as well as eight federal agents, is estimated to have caused $652 million worth of damage. The official investigation, known as "OKBOMB", was the largest criminal investigation case in American history.

McVeigh was convicted two years later of first-degree murder charges, and found guilty of 11 counts of dealing with the bombing. He was executed by lethal injection on 11 June 2001. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

The Independant