The 5/20 Ambrose Article
Monday May 20 1996
bungle US terror bomb?
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Junction City, Kansas and
Andrew Gimson in Berlin
ANDREAS Strassmeir lives quietly with his parents in a
well-to-do area of West Berlin. His father was once a top
aide to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. His brother is a
city councillor. For seven years he served in the German
army, at one point doing a tour of duty as a liaison
officer with the Welsh Guards.
It is hard to imagine a more unlikely figure to surface
in the drama of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the worst
act of terrorism ever committed on US soil. But last week
an Oklahoma couple, Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, announced
that they were going to name Strassmeir, 36, in a lawsuit
as a "US federal informant with material knowledge
of the bombing". They say that Strassmeir became
involved with the far-Right underworld when he lived with
the Elohim City "Christian Identity" sect on
the Arkansas-Oklahoma border from 1991 to 1995.
The Wilburns lost two grandchildren in the attack on the
Alfred Murrah federal building, which killed 168 people
including 19 children. After taping more than 300 hours
of testimony in their own investigation, they have
concluded that the government had prior knowledge of the
They say that the FBI has refused to pursue and arrest a
number of suspects seen near the crime scene with Timothy
McVeigh, who is said to have been in contact with
paramilitary groups in the area and has been charged with
the bombing. The Wilburns say the refusal is presumably
because the FBI is afraid of exposing the government's
negligence. "This was a sting operation that went
berserk," said Glenn Wilburn.
The family has accumulated evidence which they claim
indicates Strassmeir was an undercover US agent who,
while based at Elohim City, penetrated the white
separatist movement and alerted the authorities about the
impending attack. "Andy did his best, he tried to
stop this thing, we're not blaming him for what
happened," said Wilburn. "But we're going to
sue the US government to break this wide open."
The Wilburns now believe that they have evidence from
witnesses that five to seven men were involved in the
bombing, and indications that several of these had
connections with Elohim City. So far only two people have
been charged: McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The FBI now says
that nobody else was involved. Strassmeir denies that he
was an informant. "I've never worked for any US
government agency, and I've not been involved in any
intelligence operation since my discharge >from the
German army in 1988," he said. "This family
[the Wilburns] is on a fishing expedition."
"The FBI asked where I was on the day of the
The decision to name him in the lawsuit comes after
witnesses allegedly identified him at the end of April as
one of a number of men seen in Junction City, Kansas,
when McVeigh was also there during the days leading up to
the bombing. One of the witnesses said she contacted the
FBI as soon as she was shown a photograph of Strassmeir
by a US news organisation investigating the Oklahoma
Within days, a US Justice Department team questioned
Strassmeir, calling him in Berlin on April 30 and again
on May 1 to ask about his alleged ties to McVeigh.
"The FBI asked where I was on the day of the
bombing," he said. "They wanted to help debunk
the rumours spread about me." Strassmeir said he was
at work near Elohim City at the time of the blast.
In a series of five interviews with The Telegraph he said
that he first lived in the US in 1989 because he was
planning to work on a special assignment for the US
Justice Department. "I discussed the job when I was
in Washington. I was hoping to work for the operations
section of the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]," he
explained. "It never worked out."
Vincent Petruskie, a retired US Air Force colonel, said
that he helped Strassmeir try to get a job in the DEA and
the US Treasury. "We took him under our wing when he
first came to the United States, and to be quite honest
he's a little immature," he said. "I mean he's
a good kid, but he fantasises." In the end,
Strassmeir says that he went to Texas and started working
as a salesman for a computer company. >From there he
seemingly drifted into the sub-culture of the Ku Klux
Klan, the Aryan Nations, and the extreme fringes of the
Christian Right. In 1991 he went to live in Elohim City,
a primitive community of huts, guns and impenetrable
theology. He established himself as chief of security and
weapons training, he said.
"I met the guy once at a gun show. We spoke for five
minutes, that's all"
On April 5 1995 McVeigh - or somebody using his telephone
billing card - telephoned Elohim City. It was minutes
after McVeigh had reserved the Ryder rental van that was
allegedly used to blow up the Oklahoma City building.
According to Joan Millar, who answered the telephone, the
caller asked to speak to "Andy".
"I don't know why McVeigh was trying to contact
me," said Strassmeir. "I met the guy once at a
gun show. We spoke for five minutes, that's all. I sold
him a US Navy combat knife."
Without identifying himself, McVeigh also called the
offices of Strassmeir's American lawyer, Kirk Lyons, for
15 minutes on April 18, 1995, the day before the bombing.
He apparently talked about the controversial raid by
federal agents on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco,
Texas, which resulted in more than 80 deaths, and the
need to "send a message to the government".
Strassmeir says that McVeigh never visited Elohim City.
But McVeigh was stopped for speeding on October 12 1993,
10 miles from Elohim City, on the road to the compound.
Strassmeir says that his four years at Elohim were among
the happiest of his life. But it was a curious existence
for a man who had once been a lieutenant in the Panzer
Grenadiers. He told The Sunday Telegraph that he had
received military intelligence training. Part of his work
was to detect infiltration by Warsaw Pact agents, he
explained, and then feed them disinformation.
He is scathing in his criticism of the ATF - the US
Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -
saying that it did not have the anthropological skills to
infiltrate the Christian militias. "The Right-wing
in the US is incredibly easy to penetrate if you know how
to talk to them," he said. "Of course it's
easier for a foreigner with an accent; nobody would ever
suspect a German of working for the federal
" He was just a weird cookie"
In February 1992 Strassmeir's maroon station wagon was
impounded by the Oklahoma highway patrol for a traffic
violation. The police found in his briefcase a collection
of documents, some of them in German. According to the
tow-truck driver, Kenny Pence, Strassmeir soon brought
heavy pressure to bear. "Boy, we caught hell over
that one," he said. "The phone calls came in
from the State Department, the Governor's office, and
someone called and said he had diplomatic immunity. He
was just a weird cookie."
Strassmeir said the man must have been confused about
some of the details. "Some calls did come in to
rattle their cage," he said. "Something may
have been said about my father's position."
In hours of conversations with The Sunday Telegraph, over
several days, Strassmeir remained adamant that he had met
McVeigh only once. He also claimed that he had
copper-bottomed information about the bombing, but seemed
torn over how much he felt able to impart.
"The ATF had an informant inside this operation.
They had advance warning and they bungled it," he
said. "What they should have done is make an arrest
while the bomb was still being made instead of waiting
till the last moment for a publicity stunt."
Asked if he thought the alleged informant would ever
speak out, he replied with passion: "How can he?
What happens if it was a sting operation from the very
beginning? What happens if it comes out that the plant
was a provocateur? What then? The relatives of the
victims are going to go crazy, and he's going to be held
responsible for the murder of 168 people? Of course the
informant can't come forward. He's scared stiff right
now." Before and after this outburst he kept
repeating that he was not making veiled references to
Lyons, Strassmeir's lawyer, says that his client has been
dragged into the Oklahoma bombing story by McVeigh's
defence team. He says the defence tactic is to muddy the
waters by sketching a vast conspiracy involving neo-Nazis
in Europe and even Middle Eastern terrorists. "I
call it the Space Alien Elvis Presley theory, and it's
been fuelled by nutcases and conspiracy theorists,"
"Andy has been damaged. Anybody who puts out the lie
that he was linked to the Oklahoma bombing in any way is
going to pay for it."
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