Previously undisclosed conversations and letters by Timothy J. McVeigh to his younger sister before the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City portray him as so deeply frustrated and angry that when the bomb exploded on April 19, 1995, his family suspected him almost immediately.
His sister, Jennifer McVeigh, told FBI investigators she had an "eerie feeling" he was involved. His father, William McVeigh, said he had worried that his son would do something to get himself in serious trouble and added that his ex-wife, McVeigh's mother, ,, thought her son "did the bombing."
The letters and interviews obtained by the New York Times provide new insights into McVeigh, who committed the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil, killing 168 people. The material was never presented at his trial.
McVeigh family members agreed that McVeigh's anger began before the raid that ended with the deaths of the Branch Davidians at their complex near Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993 -- an event that clearly exacerbated his feelings.
His father speculated that his son's real troubles began with a bad debt. In February 1993, the Department of Defense informed McVeigh that he had been overpaid $1,058 while in the Army and asked for repayment. The father said the episode enraged his son.
But Jennifer McVeigh, who was her brother's confidante, thought the breaking point came earlier, in 1991, at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Special Forces. Army records show that McVeigh dropped out of the program after saying he could not meet the physical demands.
In a Oct. 20 letter, McVeigh wrote his sister that he and nine other soldiers had been taken to a private intelligence briefing at Fort Bragg, where they were told they could be required to participate in government-sanctioned assassinations and government-sponsored drug trafficking. The government has always denied it carries out such assassinations and drug trafficking.
"Why would Tim (characteristically nondrinker), super-successful in the Army (private to sergeant in 2 years) (Top Gun) (Bronze Star) (accepted into Special Forces), all of a sudden come home, party HARD, and, just like that, announce he was not only 'disillusioned' by SF [Special Forces], but was, in fact, leaving the service?" he asked.
The answer, he wrote, lay in what he learned at Fort Bragg, where he and the nine others were told they might be ordered to help the CIA "fly drugs into the U.S. to fund many covert operations" and to "work hand-in-hand with civilian police agencies" as "government-paid assassins."
He wrote, "Do not spread this info, Jennifer, as you could (very honestly, seriously) endanger my life."
In a letter written on Christmas Eve of 1993, McVeigh hinted that he might be breaking the law, telling his sister she might need to "re-evaluate your definition(s) of good and bad."
"In the past," McVeigh wrote, "you would see the news and see a bank robbery, and judge him a 'criminal.' But, without getting too lengthy, the Federal Reserve and the banks are the real criminals, so where is the crime in getting even? I guess if I reflect, it's sort of a Robin Hood thing, and our government is the evil king."
Jennifer McVeigh later told the FBI that her brother once told her he planned a bank robbery with others who carried it out and showed her the large stack of $100 bills he said was his share. She said he had given her three of the bills and asked her to give him $300 in smaller denominations.
Four months before the bombing, in a letter mailed from Caro, Mich., McVeigh, who was moving around the country, while keeping a mail drop in Kingman, Ariz., wrote his sister: "Of course you must realize, then, that I'm not living in Arizona. You know how hard it is to get into that deep of a lie with Dad? It's painful, especially how you have to look so confident when telling stories (lies)."
He wrote: "Why am I running? I am trying to keep my path 'cool,' so in case someone is looking to 'shut up someone who knows too much' I will not be easy to find. I have also been working, and establishing a 'network' of friends so that if someone does start looking for me, I will know ahead of time and be warned.
"If that 'tip' ever comes, (I have 'ears' all over the country) that's when I disappear, or go completely underground," he wrote. "Believe me, if that necessity ever comes to pass, it will be very difficult for anyone to find me."
Despite all his claims of making such elaborate arrangements, McVeigh was arrested shortly after the bombing by an Oklahoma highway patrolman who saw that his car had no license plate.
Pub Date: 7/01/98