24 Years Ago Today 168 people lost their lives

24 years ago today the Murrah Federal Building was torn to pieces by a bomb, killing 168 people including young children.

The Oklahoma City bombing was a Domestic Terrorist Truck Bombing on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States on April 19, 1995. Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killing 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed one-third of the building.  The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.  Extensive rescue efforts were undertaken by local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies in the wake of the bombing, and substantial donations were received from across the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated 11 of its Urban Search And Rescue Task Force, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations. Until the September 11, 2011 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, and remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the country’s history.

Within 90 minutes of the explosion, McVeigh was stopped by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and arrested for illegal weapons possession. Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack; Nichols was arrested, and within days, both were charged. Michael and Lori Fortier were later identified as accomplices. McVeigh, a veteran of the Gulf War and a U.S Militia Movement sympathizer, had detonated a Ryder rental truck full of explosives parked in front of the building. His co-conspirator, Nichols, had assisted with the bomb’s preparation. Motivated by his dislike for the U.S. Federal Government and unhappy about its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco Siege in 1993, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas

The official investigation, known as “OKBOMB”, saw FBI agents conduct 28,000 interviews, amass 3.5 short tons (3,200 kg) of evidence, and collected nearly one billion pieces of information. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal Injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols; Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.

As a result of the bombing, the U.S. Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which tightened the standards for habeas corpus in the United States, as well as legislation designed to increase the protection around federal buildings to deter future terrorist attacks. On April 19, 2000, the Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated on the site of the Murrah Federal Building, commemorating the victims of the bombing. Remembrance services are held every year on April 19, at the time of the explosion.

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