by Kevin Johnson ("USA Today", October 20, 1999)
Washington -- With some extremists attaching apocalyptic significance to the new millennium, the FBI quietly warning local police about possible threats posed by anti-government militias and hate organizations.
The campaign includes the national distribution of a report titled Project Megiddo in which federal authorities assess threats posed by hate groups and explain the significance of biblical references the groups use to discuss Y2K.
The project, which is named for an ancient battleground in Israel associated with Armageddon, will be the centerpiece of an FBI seminar this month before the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Charlotte, NC.
Unlike the rest of the meeting, the seminar will be closed to the public, as sign of how sensitive the subject of militias has become.
Tne workshop is titled "millennium, militias, and mayhem: what to expect in the coming Year."
A senior government official said the 40-page report was meant to heighten awareness among local police departments to the possibility that militias might use the new millennium as an opportunity to initiate acts of violence or general disruptions.
The FBI has urged police to be alert to changes in behavior of known militias and cult groups and to the possible stockpiling of weapons.
Anti-government groups, particularly the loose network of militias, drew considerable attention after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people.
Convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols, shared the anti-government views of militia organizations, and Nichols attended militia meetings.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the militia movement reached its peak in 1996, when there were 858 such organizations across the country. By last year, there were 435.
What concerns officials now, however, is the possibility that extreme members of militias might undertake missions of their own.
They cite as an example Buford Furrow, who belonged to a white supremacist group and is accused of killing a mail carrier and shooting six people at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles this summer.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
("ABCNEWS", October 20, 1999)
The FBI is warning law enforcement agencies about yet another Y2K worry: violence.
The bureau routinely sends out nationwide bulletins to law enforcement personnel warning them of potential safety problems. Now, the FBI is preparing roughly 16,000 such pamphlets alerting agencies about potential
problems posed by the turn of the millennium.
There are no specific threats, but we often alert law enforcement agencies about impending dates with significance for potential terrorists, FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Wednesday.
Officials say they believe some groups and individuals bent on wreaking havoc or garnering publicity could use the turn of the millennium as a time to strike, but it isn't the only time the FBI issues warnings. Each year, for instance, the FBI reminds state and local law enforcement of the April 19 anniversary of the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building and the 1993 federal assault on the Branch Davidian sect outside Waco, Texas. Project Megiddo
The bureau intends to distribute a 40-page research report, entitled Project Megiddo, named after an ancient battleground in Israel cited in the Bible New Testament as the site of a millennial battle between forces of good and evil.
The FBI report analyzes the potential for extremist criminal activity in the United States by individuals or domestic groups who attach special significance to the year 2000, the bureau said in a written statement. The significance is based primarily upon apocalyptic religious beliefs or
political beliefs concerning the New World Order conspiracy theory.
Although some published reports have suggested the FBI is concerned about the threat of militia groups this New Year's Eve, agency officials say they are not focusing on any organized militias and are more worried about extreme cultists, fringe groups and lone wolves.
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.
Militias Not Targetted
"Our concern is with fringe, hate or apocalyptic groups or lone wolf members of them who may pose a threat," Carter said. "We're not focusing on militias."
In fact, since the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI has asked its 56 field offices to meet with militia groups in their regions periodically to foster better communication and explain that the FBI is not targeting "the majority of militia members (who) engage in law abiding activities," the bureau statement said.
The FBI said some militias "have taken positive steps toward ridding themselves of violent extremist elements."
"These extreme members will splinter from more established groups and engage in violence autonomously," the bureau said. "More mainstream militia groups have been helpful in identifying the more extremist elements of the
militia who may resort to acts of violence."
Indeed, some militia figures have been brought in to help the FBI negotiate with the Freemen group under siege in Montana and to help try to locate accused Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.
"Lone Wolf" Bigger Threat
The lone wolf threat was exemplified by Buford Furrow Jr., who surrendered in August to face charges of killing a Filipine-American mail carrier and wounding four children and a woman at a Jewish community center in California. Furrow has ties to anti-Semitic hate groups in the Pacific Northwest. He was a member of the Aryan Nations, had a relationship with the widow of the founder of The Order, and subscribes to the Christian Identity religious movement, which considers whites a superior race.
Last month, a Senate committee looking into Y2K-related issues cited potential security problems that could stem from computer glitches at the turn of the century. The demand for police and fire service could increase if the calendar's turn to the year 2000 causes widespread technical failures and panic, the committee concluded.
FBI officials will distribute copies of the report and discuss it at a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police later this month in Charlotte, N.C. Later, copies will be sent to state and local law enforcement agencies, Carter said. At some time, a version might be made public.
Beverley Lumpkin at the Justice Department and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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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