Three days before last Christmas, police arrested Steven Jordal as he prepared to enter the Elephant Bar Restaurant in the Penn Square Mall parking lot. The Iraq War veteran had a bag concealing an explosive device and a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his possession.
Jordal, of Forest City, Iowa, was charged with 10 counts of bomb manufacturing or possessing an explosive device, records show. He initially pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to reappear in court in June.
The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, located downtown next to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, used Jordal's arrest to bestow on the Oklahoma City Police Department the first-ever MIPT Prevention Award. The MIPT established the honor in conjunction with I-COP, Information Collection on Patrol, a police training course.
David Cid, the institute's deputy director, trained about 1,000 patrol officers this past year with the I-COP principles.
"When I talk to cops, I want them to think that the fate of the Western world hangs on what they do," he said.
SCHEDULED TO TRAIN
He is scheduled to train police departments in 15 cities through April 2010 for what's called a "Multi-Jurisdictional IED Security Plan." The cities include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Miami.
I-COP is the latest program of the nonprofit MIPT since its founding in 2000, five years after the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995.
Cid, a former FBI agent, said OCPD officials requested he teach patrol officers how to better identify terrorist-related clues. He spent weeks training officers after shifts ended.
"MIPT believes America's 850,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement officers are the bedrock of the intelligence process," Cid wrote in his latest report, "Keeping Bombs off America's Streets: A Case Study of Prevention in Oklahoma City."
Jordal, he wrote in the report, "(who received the Army's Good Conduct medal) allegedly was making the same kinds of improvised explosive devices that he encountered during his two tours in Iraq as an Army infantry tank specialist."
Jordal's arrest stemmed from an anonymous tip police received, said Master Sgt. Gary Knight, spokesman for the Oklahoma City police.
"I think the lesson is, in this day and time, people need to err on the side of caution and notify authorities of anything suspicious," Knight said. "Because the bottom line is, we face threats today we didn't face in years past " primarily terrorism."
OCPD Master Sgt. Michael Loruse, who helps Penn Square Mall security on weekends, said he is required to report any suspicious activity "up the chain of command." For example, he said, if a person is taking pictures of the core columns in the mall, he will interview the suspect and get his or her name.
"How do we know someone's not writing a playbook to hit us?" Loruse said.
Loruse spent his first 21 years with OCPD patrolling the streets, but today he spends more time working with the public as an educator. He helped put together the terror awareness and prevention presentation that local police use for public education.
Regarding Jordal's arrest, Loruse said the public plays a part in intelligence gathering. He cites the term "true crime prevention" to describe engaging a crime before it happens, which is the reason police interview suspects and collect names.
"The bottom line is, we want to stop the act from occurring, when it comes to anything," he said.
Cid said I-COP teaches patrol officers how to better report tips and suspicious activity without trying to second-guess things.
"It's difficult for an officer to see the end result of collecting information, but things must be reported correctly and in a timely way," he said. "Get as much detail as you can."
Most recently, Cid noted a Department of Homeland Security report titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." The report was released in mid-April regarding emerging terrorist threats, including former military members, gun advocates and those suffering from job loss.
After the report was released, seven U.S. senators, including Sen. James Inhofe and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, drafted a letter disagreeing with the conclusions, writing, "We ask that DHS not use this report as a basis to unfairly target millions of Americans because of their beliefs and the rights afforded to them in the Constitution and that you provide us with the data that supports the claims listed."
Cid said the "Rightwing Extremism" report "echoes our analysis in 'Path to a Counterterrorism Doctrine,'" a study MIPT published in 2008.
"(I)ncreasingly violent rhetoric is often a precursor to violent behavior, as is increasing militancy and militarism among disaffected groups," Cid said. "All these are rising, and so one can say the risk of an act of violence from that quarter is increasing. Increased risk means increasing likelihood."
He concluded: "To put a timeframe on this is simply guesswork. It could happen tomorrow or farther in the future, but we believe it will happen." "Brent Battle