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Sunday Times (London), Feb. 4

THE FBI is investigating claims that British and German neo-Nazis helped to plan the Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 people died.

Lawyers for Timothy McVeigh, one of two men charged with last April's attack, also allege they have uncovered leads suggesting an international conspiracy.

They believe the atrocity may have been intended to avenge the state execution of Richard Snell, an American neo-Nazi, and that key components for the bomb may have been obtained in Britain. A London firm of solicitors, Kingsley Napley, has been employed by McVeigh's defence to make inquiries in this country.

There was speculation after the arrest of McVeigh, 27, and Terry Nichols, 40, that the bombing was a revenge attack against the American government for the Waco siege two years earlier which claimed 90 lives. A militia organisation in Michigan was reported to be behind the bombing.

Defence investigators believe they have now established that McVeigh was associated with members of the European and American far right, including Britons.

They are also investigating claims that the bombing was more likely in retaliation for the execution of Snell, who was executed in Arkansas on the day of the bombing for the murder of a black trooper and a Jewish businessman.

Sources close to the defence team have revealed that Stephen Jones, McVeigh's attorney, visited London three weeks ago to investigate British far-right activists and key American neo-Nazis believed to have been associated with McVeigh. Jones is known to have discussed the construction of the bomb with security experts during his visit. "We believe that extremist rightwingers in Europe and America conspired to bomb the building," said a source close to the defence.

It has now emerged that the federal office building had been of interest as a possible target to the far right for years. Court documents from a 1988 trial in Arkansas disclose that Snell once planned to bomb it. The sources said it had also emerged that one leading American neo-Nazi visited Britain three months before the bombing, and is believed to have made contact with extremists here.

The defence is understood to have evidence that McVeigh and his associates made a 40-minute call to the man's office just hours before the bomb in Oklahoma City was detonated. The man cannot be identified for legal reasons.

It would be in the interests of McVeigh's defence to portray him as a fall guy who was part of a wider conspiracy. Any evidence to substantiate this could make the difference between life imprisonment or the death penalty.

However, a senior FBI source confirmed last week that the bureau is also pursuing a possible neo-Nazi link between the Oklahoma City bombers and British and German extremists.

Last month federal investigators contacted Dennis Mahon, another American rightwinger. Mahon confirmed to The Sunday Times that the FBI had contacted him about his links with European neo-Nazis, but denied he was involved in the bombing.

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