("Reuters", December 30, 1999)
HORNING'S MILLS, Ontario, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Bruce Beach, a doomsayer who buried 42 school buses and turned them into a bunker in which to survive any disaster, was reorganizing it on Thursday after it was raided by Canadian
police and firefighters.
The 66-year-old Beach, a retired school teacher and expert bomb-shelter builder, said authorities "put the kibosh on" his bunker for seven hours on Wednesday in what he said was a search for weapons and explosives.
No charges were laid. "I call this Waco north up here, easier times and the friendly Canadian version...they came down here, I didn't have any guns and they didn't shoot me," said Beach, who is trying to proof his steel labyrinth of buried buses for his family and guests in time for New Year's Eve when the Y2K bug arrives.
About 40 police and firefighters, 10 cruisers, and one dog arrived in the rural Ontario hamlet where Beach lives built his bunker.
The police were escorting the fire department, said police spokesman Walter Kolodziechuk.
According to Beach, the fire department questioned the safety of his bunker.
"That's the whole idea of it...people are only coming in here if there's a nuclear war or electricity goes out, because it's better than out there,"
Beach said that as a young U.S. soldier in the 1960s he inspected missile launch sites and had "first-hand experience of a nuclear threat, and (got) prepared."
He said he built his first bunker in 1964 in Kansas and later had a hand in constructing more than 20. But he said he now only owns the one built with buses near his house in Horning's Mills, about 100 miles northwest of Toronto.
He started buying and burying the buses in the early 1980s, a decade after he fled to Canada in fear of landing in a U.S. camp for social agitators, he said.
by Stewart Bell ("National Post", December 18, 1999)
A Canadian intelligence report is warning that hundreds of "doomsday religious movements" are anticipating an apocalypse at the turn of the millennium and may resort to mass violence.
An estimated 400 cults espousing end-of-the-world scenarios tied to 2000 may have stockpiled weapons to bring about their prophecies, says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service report obtained by the National Post.
The cults pose a clear and continuing threat to the safety of Canadians, says the report, which adds that violence might be used either to help trigger an envisioned apocalypse or to save face when one fails to materialize.
"The approaching year 2000 AD has stimulated millennial anxiety and heightened concern that its unfolding will bring an increase in potential threats by groups that would choose to assert their apocalyptic beliefs through violence," the report says.
"While it is not known which cults have the potential for violence, this does not imply that possible threats posed by doomsday religious movements should be ignored, as they can quickly manifest themselves in a variety of forms."
The report, to be released next week, follows a similar analysis by the FBI, which has launched Project Megiddo, named after the biblical setting of God's final battle with evil, to prepare for a 2000-related act of religious violence.
It comes as intelligence and law enforcement agencies are trying to cope with the possibility that terrorists and cults will resort to bloodshed as the millennium ends.
"The reality surrounding Y2K is that ... you have a fixed date around which any number of people may decide that they want to do something," Ward Elcock, the CSIS director, said in an interview conducted before details of the agency's assessment emerged.
"Y2K kind of has an appeal to everybody, so you have to be concerned and we have to be vigilant and it will mean that people in the organization are working hard for the next two or three weeks through to Y2K and slightly afterwards."
But even compared to political terrorists, doomsday cults are proving a challenge to government agencies because they are inherently irrational and unpredictable. "Any could pose a realistic threat to public safety almost overnight," says the CSIS report.
Fears of mass violence related to 2000 have been growing since 1995, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult released nerve gas in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 and injuring 5,500. Canada has not been immune to doomsday cults. Fifty-four members of the Order of the Solar Temple committed mass suicide in 1994, including five in Quebec.
Despite gun-control measures in Canada, cults may have acquired weapons through illegal channels and "it is feared that some doomsday-like groups may have mastered the production of biological agents," the report says.
Millennialism, the belief that human suffering will be eliminated by an apocalypse, is found in many religions, but not all foresee a violent end. Some even see it as a catalyst for peace. But a third of the 1,200 active cults around the world "subscribe to doomsday philosophies which foresee catastrophe on or around the year 2000."
The report says law enforcement agencies should be on the watch for the early-warning signs that a cult is preparing for the "last days," such as an increase in the procurement of weapons, relocation to an isolated area, a rise in violent rhetoric, an internal leadership struggle or a public humiliation.
by Siobhan Roberts ("National Post", December 18, 1999)
The global threat of violence by religious extremists, racists, apocalyptic cults and militias to mark the new millennium is "very real," according to a recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation study.
The FBI's Project Megiddo Report warns that "the volatile mix of apocalyptic religious and ... conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed at precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible."
The result of a nine-month intelligence-gathering effort by FBI agents from the bureau's domestic terrorism unit, the report, part of which was publicly released last month, analyzes the recent activities of numerous U.S.-based religious, racist and militia movements.
"Certain individuals from these various perspectives are acquiring weapons, storing food and clothing, raising funds through fraudulent means, procuring safe houses, preparing compounds, surveying potential targets and recruiting new converts," the report says, focusing on such extremist organizations as the Black Hebrew Israelites and the United States Theatre Command Militia movement. The report also warns about the Concerned Christians group, many of whose members recently relocated to Jerusalem to prepare for what they believe will be the end of the world on Jan. 1.
The report places particular emphasis on the potential dangers from extremist groups organized along racial lines.
"Christian identity-inspired millennialism has a distinctly racist tinge," the report says. "The potential difficulty society may face due to the Y2K computer glitch is considered by a number of Christian identity adherents to be the perfect event upon which to instigate a race war ... Current intelligence from a variety of sources indicates that extreme factions of [Black Hebrew Israelites] are preparing for a race war to close the millennium."
For movements such as the United States Theatre Command Militia, the new millennium has political rather than religious or racial overtones. "It is their belief that the United Nations has created a secret plan, known as the New World Order (NWO), to conquer the world beginning in 2000. The NWO will be set in motion by the Y2K computer crisis."
According to the report, if computer malfunctions do occur on Jan. 1, affecting power stations and other critical infrastructure, these may be interpreted by militias as a sign "that electricity is being shut off on purpose in order to create an environment of confusion ... These groups may then follow through on their premeditated plans of action."
Despite its warnings of extremist violence, the Megiddo Report is not intended to raise widespread panic, said Neil Gallagher, the FBI's head of national security. "If a cult sells its property and personal effects and purchases guns and explosives, we need to be more concerned about what that cult will do on Jan. 1," said Mr. Gallagher in a recent interview with The Washington Post.
He noted that the bureau is not predicting that terrorism or violence will occur on or around Jan 1. Instead, he said the report is aimed at making law enforcement officials around the world "more sensitive" to the heightened security risks posed by 2000.
The 34-page report, which takes its name from Megiddo Hill, an ancient Israeli battleground associated with Armageddon, was initially prepared for the eyes of law enforcement officials only, considered too sensitive and secret to be made public. It was initially presented at an international gathering of police chiefs at the end of October. Later, a shorter version of the report was posted on the FBI's Web site.
We want the public to be "aware, but not scared," Mr. Gallagher said.
by Michael J. Sniffen ("Chicago Tribune", December 17, 1999)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI will remain on nationwide alert throughout New Year's weekend, although there have been no specific threats by terrorists, says Attorney General Janet Reno.
Reno was asked Thursday if there were any domestic threats similar to that allegedly posed by 13 people arrested in Jordan recently. That group is said to be linked to radical Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and to be planning to attack Americans abroad at New Year's gatherings.
``We have no specific information concerning specific attacks,'' Reno replied. But ``we must always be concerned about the possibility of an attack and take every reasonable step that we can.''
She said common sense prevented her from publicly outlining in detail the precautions taken by her department.
``We must be vigilant, and the FBI is working with colleagues around the world to make sure that we are vigilant and as prepared as we possibly could be for any eventuality,'' she said.
Reno plans to stay in Washington. Aides said she will divide the New Year's weekend between the Justice Department and her apartment just blocks away.
All 56 FBI field offices will be staffed by a special Y2K command post around the clock from 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 through 6 p.m. on Jan. 3, according to law enforcement officials who requested anonymity.
At FBI headquarters, three separate teams will staff the Strategic Information and Operations Center -- a windowless, 35-room command post covering nearly the area of a football field on the fifth floor.
One team will be on watch for incidents of terrorism directed at Americans at home or abroad, officials said. Another team, from the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, will track the nation's electronic networks for signs of computer attacks. A third team of Justice Department managers will oversee the department's own internal computers.
The department's budget contained funds for 10 to 12 computer squads that could be dispatched to investigate any sign of criminal hacking activity.
The FBI already has circulated to thousands of state and local police agencies an intelligence report entitled ``Project Megiddo'' describing hate or apocalyptic groups or lone wolf members of them who attach special significance to the year 2000.
The research report, named after an ancient battleground cited in the New Testament as the site of a millennial battle between forces of good and evil, examines ideologies ``which advocate or call for violent action beginning in the year 2000.''
``Such ideologies motivate violent white supremacists who seek to initiate a race war; apocalyptic cults which anticipate a violent Armageddon; radical elements of private citizen militias who fear that the United Nations will initiate an armed takeover of the United States and subsequently establish a One World Government, and other groups or individuals which promote violent millennial agendas,'' the FBI said.
The report also outlines indicators of potential violence; possible preparations for violence, including accelerated physical training or stockpiling of arms; and potential targets of millennial extremists.
by Nicholas K. Geranios (Associated Press, December 16, 1999)
HAYDEN LAKE, Idaho (AP) - At the dawn of the new millennium, members of the Aryan Nations say they will be hunkered down on their property, prepared to defend their whites-only compound. The leader of the World Church of the Creator says he, too, will be ready.
``We are urging our members, if they have firearms, to keep them loaded and available in case of looters or individuals of any kind who would do them harm,'' said the Rev. Matt Hale, leader of the East Peoria, Ill.-based white supremacist group.
Despite a recent FBI report warning of the potential for violence by hate groups, militia members and apocalyptic religious cults around Jan. 1, leaders of some of the better-known organizations say if there is any violence from them, it will be defensive only.
``If anyone needs to be on alert for terrorist acts, it's us,'' said Aryan Nations member Ray Redfeairn.
Indeed, law officers concede that millennial violence by hate groups is most likely to come from underground organizations they do not even know about. These people are referred to as ``off the grid,'' meaning they live far from society, often in homes without electricity or telephones.
``The lone wolves are our greatest danger,'' said Roger Bragdon, acting police chief of Spokane, Wash.
Law officers are also worried that believers might mistake New Year's Eve power outages and civic disruptions as signs that the United States has been invaded by foreign armies or that a race war has erupted.
``If an electrical pole is taken down, they may perceive that the whole world has gone dark,'' said Sgt. Greg Harshman, the Spokane police expert on domestic terrorism.
Many acts of domestic terrorism - including the Oklahoma City bombing and the shootings at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles - involved people with ties to the inland Northwest.
As a result, Spokane on New Year's Eve will see ``more police officers on the streets than have ever been on the streets in the city of Spokane,'' Bragdon said.
Not surprisingly, no hate groups contacted said they were planning violence.
Instead, Richard Butler, head of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, said from the group's rural headquarters near Hayden Lake that Americans should be wary of a New Year's Eve assault by the government on their rights.
``They may use it as justification for illegal acts, like martial law,'' he said.
While Butler has long disavowed violence in creation of a white homeland in the West, many of his followers have not. Buford Furrow Jr., who confessed to the shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles in August, had spent time at the Aryan Nations as a security guard.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the nation, said the release of the FBI report was a good idea.
``It sends the movement a message that `we are aware that can happen and will be on guard.' That eliminates two-thirds of the problem right there,'' said Joe Roy, director of intelligence for the center. But that still leaves the ``people who are unplugged from the system and, for all intents and purposes are at war with this country now.''
``Good luck in trying to find out who those guys might be,'' said an e-mail from Vincent Bertollini, co-founder of a white supremacist group known as The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, based in Sandpoint, Idaho.
by Dave Boyer ("The Washington Times", November 19, 1999)
A coalition of conservative groups has asked Congress to investigate an FBI report on the threat of domestic terrorism at the turn of the millennium, saying the report paints all Christians as "extremists."
"Only the 'right wing' is referred to and targeted in this report," said the letter from the heads of 32 groups, including Paul Weyrich of Coalitions for America and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum. "There is no reference whatsoever to the political LeftâOne walks away with the impression that members of the Religious Right in America are lunatics who are a danger to society."
The letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Dick Armey and Majority Whip Tom DeLay, all Republicans, said the groups want congressional hearings on the issue.
John Feehery, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert, said yesterday that the coalition has raised "serious issues" and that House Republican leaders will discuss with committee chairmen the possibility of hearings.
The FBI report, titled "Project Megiddo," was sent to 20,000 chiefs of police earlier this month to warn about the possibility for violence as the year 2000 approaches. It looks at secular and religious racial supremacist groups, militias and "apocalyptic cults," and summarizes interpretations of Bible prophecy, conspiracy theories and alarmist versions of the year-2000 computer bug problem.
Attorney General Janet Reno said after its release that the report was calm and helpful advice for police and the public.
"The report defines an 'extremist' as one who believes in the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ," the letter states. "The logical conclusion to be drawn from reading such a report is that religious people, especially Christians of all denominations, are 'extremists' and should be watched."
A spokesman for the FBI said yesterday he had not seen the letter and could not comment on it.
The coalition, also including Concerned Women for America, the Free Congress Foundation, the Home School Legal Defense Association and Gun Owners of America, wants Congress to examine:
**The FBI's criteria for suggesting conservatives should be considered a threat, "given that terrorist acts have been committed by the political Left (e.g. the Unabomber)."
**How the FBI distinguishes the so-called "religious right" from "extremists" currently being monitored by the agency.
**Whether the report was authored "by outside Left-wing extremist advocacy groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League."
by Larry Witham ("The Washington Times", November 10, 1999)
BOSTON - Experts on American's religious apocalyptic groups, racial supremacists and survivalists said an FBI report's warning of possible violence on the eve of 2000 may fan fears that the government is closing in.
Naming the report "Project Megiddo" also does not lend calm to the discussion, they said. Megiddo was the battleground in the book of Revelation where blood flowed "as high as a horse's bridle" in a clash between God and the Antichrist.
It's an unfortunate name," said Michael Barkun of Syracuse University, who studies supremacist and conspiracy groups. "What one does not want is an attorney general's list of religions."
He and others at the Center for Millennial Studies' annual conference, which ended yesterday, said fringe groups might take the report as proof that the one world government or new world order has stepped up its effort to curtail dissent.
While the report is "refreshingly free of predictions of mass mayhem," Mr. Barkun said, it should have included advice to police on "the relationship between religiously driven violence at the millennium and First Amendment protections of belief."
The FBI yesterday had no comment on reactions to the 32-page report, posted on its web site in a "redacted" version last week.
On Thursday, Attorney General Janet Reno said at her news conference that the report was calm and helpful advise for police and the public.
I think the warning are just common-sense warnings," she said. "I don't think it should cause any worry."
In a telephone interview, Randy Trochmann, co-founder in 1993 of the Militia of Montana, said the report was "lumping all the groups together" and tarnishing the harmless ones.
We have just not heard of any groups planning to do anything like the FBI is talking about," Mr. Trochmann said.
The FBI report cites past criminal cases, looks at secular and religious racial supremacist groups, militias and "apocalyptic cults," and summarizes interpretations of Bible Prophecy, conspiracy theories and alarmist versions of the year-2000 computer bug problem.
The challenge to law enforcement is to understand these extreme theories and, if any incidents occur, be prepared to respond to unique crisis' they will represent," the report concludes.
The FBI report was sent to 20,000 chiefs of police and timed for a closed FBI seminar-"Millennium, Militias and Mayhem"-held at the annualInternational Association of Chiefs of Police assembly, which ended Nov. 3.
The report also touches on a strain of Christian belief that says upheaval in Jerusalem at the millennium might bring in the final end of the world-thus motivating some zealots to act violently.
Israeli police have expelled both extreme and ordinary Christian pilgrims that seem apocalyptic.
Last week, the Israeli government and top rabbis said Christian celebrations for Christmas and New Year's must be held in closed-off hotels.
Ted Daniels of the Millennium Watch Institute said groups are not likely culprits in millennial aggressions. "It is the lone wolf, the leaderless resistance," he said.
That has been the case with supremacist violence in the United States of the past several years, he said.
"Because it is not a group, the governmentcannot infiltrate it," he said.
Scholars at the three-day conference added that the FBI report at least shows that after the Branch Davidian showdown in Waco, Texas, in 1993, law enforcement has taken advice from objective religion experts.
I think it's a good thing," Mr. Barkun said. But he added, "The broader question is whether law enforcement agencies should even pay attention to religious organizations."
FBI and Project Megiddo: Updates
CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.
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