James Ridgeway: Alleged Dirty Bomber Dead Ringer for Oklahoma City’s John Doe 2: I hadn’t noticed this story until Dan Hartung pointed out in Lake Effect that Ridgeway caught on from the weblogging world, as he says here:

The strange saga of Abdullah al Muhajir, a/k/a Jose Padilla, took yet another turn this morning, when Internet gumshoes Fuckedworld and Junkyardblog spotted his look-a-like . . . guess where?

In the police drawing of a still-missing Oklahoma City bombing suspect, that’s where. Al Muhajir, held since May 8 on accusations that he intended to build and detonate a dirty bomb, is the spitting image of the mysterious John Doe 2, featured in police sketches and long touted by cops as a principal along with Tim McVeigh. Some law enforcement officials have insisted no such suspect ever existed, though witnesses described the second figure getting out of the rental truck with McVeigh seconds before the explosion.

However speculative, this clicks in more ways than one, since McVeigh’s lawyer tried to argue in Federal District Court in Denver that the 1995 plot may have had roots in the Philippines among men known to have been Al Qaeda operatives with direct ties to Osama bin laden. Though the judge rebuffed his argument, attorney Stephen Jones said he found people in the Philippines who claimed accomplice Terry Nichols met with terrorists there in the years before the 1995 attack. Village Voice

Here’s Fuckedworld’s summary of the evidence connecting the dots. Jumping to the punchline, its author John Berger concludes:

We still don’t know that McVeigh and Padilla ever even met. But Padilla worked just minutes from the home of Timothy McVeigh’s sister, during McVeigh’s 1993 visit. At that time, Padilla was actively seeking connections with the world of Islam, possibly including a relationship with the local sponsor of the Benevolent International Foundation, which has been linked to terror operations in the Philippines, specifically to an Abu Sayyef cell which some sources (of uncertain merit)

Unfortunately, the investigation to date still falls far short of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Nichols-BIF connection rests almost solely on the word of a very shady character who is now too dead to answer questions or provide leads. And connecting Padilla to BIF still falls short of connecting him directly to Yousef or Wali Khan. The McVeigh-Padilla connection is intriguing but as yet unresolved. The investigation continues. Keep reading.

Berger notes: “Bryan Preston at the Junkyard Blog made one of the earliest observations of the connection, although there is some friendly competition among various sites and message boards that claim to have called it first. My Web site didn’t originate this theory, but I was among the earliest to push it out before the public, and the subsequent research in this story is mine.” I like him better than Preston already, who is falling all over himself about having broken the story. BTW, the photos don’t really look that much alike, methinks.