Soon after the fall of Kabul, journalists discovered two
houses in an upscale neighborhood, one bearing the seal of
the Taliban and the Ministry of Defense, where a lot of
interesting documents, papers and notebooks had been left
behind when the Taliban made their hasty departure.
On Nov. 17, the New York Times ran a big Page One story
by David Rhode on the revelations found in these documents
about Al-Qaeda's activities and plans for future terrorist
operations, including weapons they were thinking of using.
There were references to chemical and biological weapons
and even developing nuclear weapons. A page listing
flight-training schools in Florida torn out of a magazine
and a form that comes with the Microsoft Flight Simulator 98
program that simulates flying airliners provided additional
evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Times followed up with a story the next day that
focused mainly on the notes and drawings of one unnamed
individual who had described some proposed new weapons that
a reporter for the London Sunday Times had described as
"unnerving for the layman." The New York Times
story by Rhode and James Glanz countered that opinion with
evidence provided by scientists that the grandiose weapons
for which this individual had drawn up plans were totally
"But," the Times said, "chemical formulas
written by him and by another man, a Bosnian, who left notes
behind at the Taliban Defense Ministry in the same quarter
of Kabul, show clearly that they knew how to make crude
explosives. In an apparent reference to the Oklahoma City
bombing by Timothy McVeigh, one chemical formula at the
Defense Ministry is annotated in Bosnian, ‘Was used in
This had been described toward the end of Rhode's story
the previous day a little differently. Discussing the house
that bore the Taliban and Ministry of Defense seals, Rhode
had written, "Upstairs, a room labeled 'special
office,' had been mostly emptied, but numerous papers
remained in desk drawers. Most of them were notebooks from
students. One gave a detailed description of various ways to
make nitroglycerin, dynamite and fertilizer bombs. A note
next to one of the explosive formulas said, 'the type used
in Oklahoma.' "
That was the biggest news in the story if the formula was
not ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the ANFO bomb that
Timothy McVeigh is supposed to have used to blow up the
Murrah Building. "Supposed to have used" has to be
said, because there is a lot of evidence that an ANFO bomb
alone could not have caused all the damage done to the
Murrah Building and that smaller powerful bombs inside the
building caused much, if not most, of it.
Since the ANFO that the FBI says was in the Ryder truck
failed to demolish a low concrete wall between it and the
building, or knock down a nearby lamp post, it could not
have destroyed the more distant reinforced concrete
The inspector general of the Justice Department said in
his report on the FBI Crime Laboratory that the FBI analysis
of the Oklahoma City case "merits special censure"
because conclusions about an ANFO bomb were
"flawed" and nonscientific.
If Al-Qaeda knew more than the FBI about the formula for
the bombs used in Oklahoma City, that would show that it was
involved in the bombing. The New York Times failed to
acknowledge this, perhaps because its story did not make it
crystal clear that the notation, "the type used in
Oklahoma," meant that in Oklahoma, bombs made of
nitroglycerin, dynamite and ammonium nitrate (a fertilizer),
not just ANFO, were used.
A London Sunday Times story featured the information
about the Oklahoma bomb and made it clear that the formula
was not ANFO. It said, "On one page, under the title
Explosivija za Oklahomu, the owner of the notebook had
scribbled formulas with inscriptions in English for TNT,
ammonium nitrate and nitroglycerine. The Oklahoma bomb was
made from ammonium nitrate and fuel oil."
That made it clear that there was a difference, but the
story didn't discuss its signifi-cance – the revelation
that more sophisticated bombs were used in Oklahoma City and
bin Laden knew it. This suggests that the Murrah building
was his second attack on a U.S. building.
Many people saw swarthy John Does with McVeigh and
Nichols. It is believed that they are shown on surveillance
tapes the FBI seized. The Kabul discovery should force the
release of those tapes and a revival of the search for the
Reed Irvine is chairman of Accuracy in Media.