FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
The attached analysis, entitled PROJECT MEGIDDO, is
an FBI strategic assessment of the potential for domestic terrorism in the
United States undertaken in anticipation of or response to the arrival of the
This reformatted version is taken from the original on the
FBI web site at http://www.fbi.gov/library/megiddo/publicmegiddo.pdf
which requires the Adobe Acrobat reader to read it.
See the associated Commentary by
Table of Contents:
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
When Does the New Millennium
Blueprint for Action: The Turner
Interpretations of The
Apocalyptic Religious Beliefs
The New World Order Conspiracy Theory and the………...11
Year 2000 Computer Bug
Gun Control Laws
III. CHRISTIAN IDENTITY
IV. WHITE SUPREMACY
VI. BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES
VII. APOCALYPTIC CULTS
VIII. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JERUSALEM
For over four thousand years, MEGIDDO, a hill in northern Israel,
has been the site of many battles. Ancient cities were established there to
serve as a fortress on the plain of Jezreel to guard a mountain pass. As
Megiddo was built and rebuilt, one city upon the other, a mound or hill was
formed. The Hebrew word "Armageddon" means "hill of
Megiddo." In English, the word has come to represent battle
The last book in the New Testament of the Bible designates
Armageddon as the assembly point in the apocalyptic setting of God's final and
conclusive battle against evil. The name "Megiddo" is an apt title
for a project that analyzes those who believe the year 2000 will usher in the
end of the world and who are willing to perpetrate acts of violence to bring
that end about.
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The year 2000 is being discussed and debated at all levels of society. Most
of the discussions regarding this issue revolve around the topic of technology
and our society's overwhelming dependence on the multitude of computers and
computer chips which make our world run smoothly. However, the upcoming
millennium also holds important implications beyond the issue of computer
technology. Many extremist individuals and groups place some significance on
the next millennium, and as such it will present challenges to law enforcement
at many levels. The significance is based primarily upon either religious
beliefs relating to the Apocalypse or political beliefs relating to the New
World Order (NWO) conspiracy theory. The challenge is how well law enforcement
will prepare and respond.
The following report, entitled "Project Megiddo," is intended to
analyze the potential for extremist criminal activity in the United States by
individuals or domestic extremist groups who profess an apocalyptic view of the
millennium or attach special significance to the year 2000. The purpose behind
this assessment is to provide law enforcement agencies with a clear picture of
potential extremism motivated by the next millennium. The report does not
contain information on domestic terrorist groups whose actions are not
influenced by the year 2000.
There are numerous difficulties involved in providing a thorough analysis of
domestic security threats catalyzed by the new millennium. Quite simply, the
very nature of the current domestic terrorism threat places severe limitations
on effective intelligence gathering and evaluation. Ideological and
philosophical belief systems which attach importance, and possibly violence, to
the millennium have been well-articulated. From a law enforcement perspective,
the problem therefore is not a lack of understanding of motivating ideologies:
The fundamental problem is that the traditional focal point for counter
terrorism analysis - the terrorist group - is not always well-defined or
relevant in the current environment.
The general trend in domestic extremism is the terrorist's disavowal of
traditional, hierarchical, and structured terrorist organizations. Even
well-established militias, which tend to organize along military lines with
central control, are characterized by factionalism and disunity.
While several "professional" terrorist groups still exist and
present a continued threat to domestic security, the overwhelming majority of
extremist groups in the United States have adopted a fragmented, leaderless
structure where individuals or small groups act with autonomy. Clearly, the
worst act of domestic terrorism in United States history was perpetrated by
merely two individuals: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. In many cases,
extremists of this sort are extremely difficult to identify until after an
incident has occurred. Thus, analysis of domestic extremism in which the group
serves as the focal point of evaluation has obvious limitations.
The Project Megiddo intelligence initiative has identified very few
indications of specific threats to domestic security. Given the present nature
of domestic extremism, this is to be expected. However, this is a function of
the limitations of the group-oriented model of counter terrorism analysis and
should not be taken necessarily as reflective of a minor or trivial domestic
threat. Without question, this initiative has revealed indicators of potential
violent activity on the part of extremists in this country. Militias, adherents
of racist belief systems such as Christian Identity and Odinism, and other
radical domestic extremists are clearly focusing on the millennium as a time of
action. 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.
These and other indicators are not taking place in a vacuum, nor are they
random or arbitrary. In the final analysis, while making specific predictions
is extremely difficult, acts of violence in commemoration of the millennium are
just as likely to occur as not. In the absence of intelligence that the more
established and organized terrorist groups are planning millennial violence as
an organizational strategy, violence is most likely to be perpetrated by
radical fringe members of established groups. For example, while Aryan Nations
leader Richard Butler publicly frowns on proactive violence, adherents of his
religion or individual members of his organization may commit acts of violence
Potential cult-related violence presents additional challenges to law
enforcement. The potential for violence on behalf of members of
biblically-driven cults is determined almost exclusively by the whims of the
cult leader. Therefore, effective intelligence and analysis of such cults
requires an extensive understanding of the cult leader. Cult members generally
act to serve and please the cult leader rather than accomplish an ideological
objective. Almost universally, cult leaders are viewed as messianic in the eyes
of their followers. Also, the cult leader's prophecies, preaching's, orders,
and objectives are subject to indiscriminate change. Thus, while analysis of
publicly stated goals and objectives of cults may provide hints about their
behavior and intentions, it is just as likely to be uninformed or, at worst,
misleading. Much more valuable is a thorough examination of the cult leader,
his position of power over his followers, and an awareness of the responding
behavior and activity of the cult. Sudden changes in activity - for example,
less time spent on "Bible study" and more time spent on
"physical training" - indicate that the cult may be preparing for
some type of action.
The millennium holds special significance for many, and as this pivotal
point in time approaches, the impetus for the initiation of violence becomes
1 U.S. Congress, Senate, Special
Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, Investigating the Impact of the
Year 2000 Problem, February 24, 1996, pp. 1-6.
2 Ibid, p. 3.
3 Ibid. p. 5.
Several religiously motivated groups envision a quick, fiery ending in an
apocalyptic battle. Others may initiate a sustained campaign of terrorism in
the United States to prevent the NWO. Armed with the urgency of the millennium
as a motivating factor, new clandestine groups may conceivably form to engage
in violence toward the U.S. Government or its citizens.
Most importantly, this analysis clearly shows that perceptions matter. The
perceptions of the leaders and followers of extremist organizations will
contribute much toward the ultimate course of action they choose. For example,
in-depth analysis of Y2K compliancy on the part of various key sectors that
rely on computers has determined that, despite a generally positive outlook for
overall compliance, there will be problem industries and minor difficulties and
inconveniences.1 If they occur, these inconveniences are
likely to cause varying responses by the extreme fringes. Members of various
militia groups, for example, have identified potentially massive power failures
as an indication of a United Nations-directed NWO takeover. While experts have
indicated that only minor brownouts will occur, various militias are likely to
perceive such minor brownouts as indicative of a larger conspiracy.2
The Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem has stated
that some state and local governments could be unprepared, including the
inability to provide benefits payments.3 This could have
a significant impact in major urban areas, resulting in the possibility for
civil unrest. Violent white supremacists are likely to view such unrest as an
affirmation of a racist, hate-filled world view. Likewise, militia members who
predict the implementation of martial law in response to a Y2K computer failure
would become all the more fearful.
4 Cliff Linedecker, Prophecies for
the New Millennium (Lantana, FL: Micromags, 1999), p. 3-4.
Are we already living on the precipice of the Apocalypse - the chaotic final
period of warfare between the forces of good and evil signaling the second
coming of Christ, as forecast in the New Testament's Book of Revelation? Or,
will life on earth continue for another 1,000 years, allowing humans to
eliminate disease and solve the mysteries of the aging process so they can live
as long as Methuselah, colonize space, commune with extraterrestrials, unravel
the secrets of teleportation, and usher in a golden age of peace and
At first glance, some of the predictions compiled in Prophecies for the New
Millennium that claim to foretell how the millennium will affect the United
States seem benign. In fact, those predictions capture some of the countless
ways that domestic terrorists view how the millennium will affect the world.
The threat posed by extremists as a result of perceived events associated with
the Year 2000 (Y2K) is very real.
Numerous religious extremists claim that a race war will soon begin, and
have taken steps to become martyrs in their predicted battle between good and
evil. Three recent incidents committed by suspects who adhere to ideologies
that emphasize millennial related violence illustrate those beliefs: Buford O.
Furrow, Jr., the man charged in the August 1999 shootings at a Los Angeles area
Jewish day care center, told authorities "its time for America to wake and
kill the jews"; Ben Smith, who committed suicide after shooting at
minorities in Indiana and Illinois, killing two and injuring ten, over the July
4, 1999 weekend, was found to have literature in his home that indicated the
year 2000 would be the start of the killing of minorities; and John William
King, the man convicted in the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., a black man
in Jasper, Texas, believed that his actions would help to initiate a race war.
Each of these men believed in the imminence of a racial holy war.
Meanwhile, for members of the militia movement the new millennium has a
political overtone rather than a religious one. 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.
Religious motivation and the NWO conspiracy theory are the two driving
forces behind the potential for millennial violence. As the end of the
millennium draws near, biblical prophecy and political philosophy may merge
into acts of violence by the more extreme members of domestic terrorist groups
that are motivated, in part, by religion. The volatile mix of apocalyptic
religions and NWO conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed at
precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible.
When and how Christ's second coming will occur is a critical point in the
ideology of those motivated by extremist religious beliefs about the
millennium. There is no consensus within Christianity regarding the specific
date that the Apocalypse will occur.
However, within many right-wing religious groups there is a uniform belief
that the Apocalypse is approaching. Some of these same groups also point to a
variety of non-religious indicators such as gun control, the Y2K computer
problem, the NWO, the banking system, and a host of other "signs"
that the Apocalypse is near. Almost uniformly, the belief among right-wing
religious extremists is that the federal government is an arm of Satan.
Therefore, the millennium will bring about a battle between Christian martyrs
and the government. At the core of this volatile mix is the belief of
apocalyptic religions and cults that the battle against Satan, as prophesied in
the Book of Revelation, will begin in 2000.
An example of the confrontational nature and belief system of religiously
motivated suspects illustrates the unique challenges that law enforcement faces
when dealing with a fatalist/martyr philosophy. It also illustrates the domino
effect that may occur after such a confrontation. Gordon Kahl, an adherent to
the anti-government/racist Christian Identity religion, escaped after a 1983
shootout with police that left two Deputy U.S. Marshals dead. He was later
killed during a subsequent shootout with the FBI and others that also left a
county sheriff dead.
In response to the killing of Kahl, Bob Mathews, a believer in the racist
Odinist ideology, founded The Order. After The Order committed numerous crimes,
its members were eventually tracked down. Mathews escaped after engaging in a
gun battle and later wrote, "Why are so many men so eager to destroy their
own kind for the benefit of the Jews and the mongrels? I see three FBI agents
hiding behind some trees . . . I could have easily killed them . . . They look
like good racial stock yet all their talents are given to a government which is
openly trying to mongrelize the very race these agents are part of . . . I have
been a good soldier, a fearless warrior. I will die with honor and join my
brothers in [heaven]." Exemplifying his beliefs as a martyr, Mathews later
burned to death in an armed standoff with the FBI.
In light of the enormous amount of millennial rhetoric, the FBI sought to
analyze a number of variables that have the potential to spark violent acts
perpetrated by domestic terrorists. Religious beliefs, the Y2K computer
problem, and gun control laws all have the potential to become catalysts for
such terrorism. The following elements are essential to understanding the
phenomenon of domestic terrorism related to the millennium:
When Does the New Millennium Begin?
As the nation and the world prepare to celebrate the arrival of the new
millennium, a debate has arisen as to the correct date for its beginning.
Although the true starting point of the next millennium is January 1, 2001, as
established by the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., our nation's
official time keeper, many will celebrate January 1, 2000, as the start of the
millennium. The majority of domestic terrorists, like the general public, place
a greater significance on January 1, 2000.
Blueprint for Action: The Turner Diaries
5 Charles Bosworth Jr.,
"Illinois Man Sought Start of Race War," St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
March 15, 1998.
6 Paul Duggan, "From Beloved Son
to Murder Suspect," The Washington Post, February 16, 1999.
Many right-wing extremists are inspired by The Turner Diaries, a book
written by William Pierce (under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald), the leader of
the white supremacist group National Alliance. The book details a violent
overthrow of the federal government by white supremacists and also describes a
brutal race war that is to take place simultaneously. To date, several groups
or individuals have been inspired by this book:
At the time of his arrest, Timothy McVeigh, the man responsible for the
Oklahoma City bombing, had a copy of The Turner Diaries in his possession.
McVeigh's action against the Murrah Federal Building was strikingly similar to
an event described in the book where the fictional terrorist group blows up FBI
The Order, an early 1980s terrorist cell involved in murder, robberies, and
counterfeiting, was motivated by the book's scenarios for a race war. The group
murdered Alan Berg, a Jewish talk show host, and engaged in other acts of
violence in order to hasten the race war described in the book. The Order's
efforts later inspired another group, The New Order, which planned to commit
similar crimes in an effort to start a race war that would lead to a violent
Most recently, The Turner Diaries provided
inspiration to John William King, the man convicted for dragging a black man to
his death in Jasper, Texas. As King shackled James Byrd's legs to the back of
his truck he was reported to say, "We're going to start the Turner Diaries
During the year 2000 and beyond, The Turner Diaries will be an inspiration
for right-wing terrorist groups to act because it outlines both a revolutionary
takeover of the government and a race war. These elements of the book appeal to
a majority of right-wing extremists because it is their belief that one or both
events will coincide with Y2K.
Interpretations of the Bible
Religiously based domestic terrorists use the New Testament's Book of
Revelation - the prophecy of the endtime - for the foundation of their belief
in the Apocalypse. Religious extremists interpret the symbolism portrayed in
the Book of Revelation and mold it to predict that the endtime is now and that
the Apocalypse is near. To understand many religious extremists, it is crucial
to know the origin of the Book of Revelation and the meanings of its words,
numbers and characters.
7 While he never claimed to be the
book's author, the Apostle John was identified as such by several of the early
church Fathers. Authorship is generally ascribed to him today.
8 This interpretation of the Book of
Revelation is according to the Catholic Bible and a Catholic scholar that was
consulted on the matter. However, there are other varying interpretations of
the Book of Revelation within Christianity.
9 All symbolism was taken from The
Catholic Bible; New American Bible
The Book of Revelation was written by a man named "John" who was
exiled by the Roman government to a penal colony - the island of Patmos -
because of his beliefs in Christ.7
While on the island, he experienced a series of visions, described in the
Book of Revelation. The writing in the Book of Revelation is addressed to
churches who were at the time experiencing or were threatened by persecution
from Rome because they were not following the government. For this reason, some
believe the Book of Revelation was written in code language, much of which was
taken from other parts of the Bible.
One interpretation describing the essence of the message contained in
Revelation is that God will overcome Christianity's enemies (Roman
Government/Satan) and that the persecuted communities should persevere.8 For right-wing groups who believe they are being persecuted
by the satanic government of the United States, the Book of Revelation's
message fits perfectly into their world view. This world view, in combination
with a literal interpretation of the Book of Revelation, is reflected in
extremist ideology, violent acts, and literature. For this reason, it is
imperative to know the meaning of some of the "code
words" frequently used:
Four (4) signifies the world.
Six (6) signifies imperfection.
Seven (7) is the totality of perfection or fullness and completeness.
Twelve (12) represents the twelve tribes of Israel or the 12 apostles.
One-thousand (1000) signifies immensity.
The color white symbolizes power and can also represent victory, joy and
The color red symbolizes a bloody war.
The color black symbolizes famine.
A rider on a pale green horse is a symbol of Death itself.
"Babylon" is the satanic Roman Government, now used to describe
the U.S. government.9
Black Hebrew Israelites, a black supremacist group, typify the use of
numerology from the Book of Revelation. They believe group members will
comprise the 144,000 people who are saved by God in the second coming that is
outlined in Revelation (7:1-17). In the Book of Revelation, John is shown a
vision of 144,000 martyrs who have survived and did not submit to Satan. This
number is derived from the assertion that the twelve tribes of Israel consisted
of 12,000 people each.
10 Kerry Noble, Tabernacle of Hate:
Why they Bombed Oklahoma City ( Prescott, Ontario, Canada: Voyageur Publishing,
11 Robert Draper, "Happy
Doomsday," Texas Monthly, July 1997, p.74; Evan Moore, "A House
Divided: Tensions divide Abilene-area cult," The Houston Chronicle, March
12 Evan Moore, "A House Divided:
Tensions divide Abilene-area cult," The Houston Chronicle, March 24,
13 John K. Wiley, "Profile of
attack suspect is familiar and frightening," The Miami Herald, August 12,
Groups not only use the Bible to interpret the endtimes, but use it to
justify their ideology. Phineas Priests, an amorphous group of Christian
Identity adherents, base their entire ideology on Chapter 25 of the Book of
Numbers. The passage depicts a scene where Phineas kills an Israelite who was
having relations with a Midianite woman and God then granted Phineas and all of
his descendants a pledge of everlasting priesthood. Modern day followers of the
Phineas Priest ideology believe themselves to be the linear descendants of
Phineas and this passage gives them biblical justification to punish those who
transgress God's laws. Therefore, the group is ardently opposed to race mixing
and strongly believes in racial separation. The number 25 is often used as a
symbol of the group.
Apocalyptic Religious Beliefs
To understand the mind set of why religious extremists would actively seek
to engage in violent confrontations with law enforcement, the most common
extremist ideologies must be understood. Under these ideologies, many
extremists view themselves as religious martyrs who have a duty to initiate or
take part in the coming battles against Satan. Domestic terrorist groups who
place religious significance on the millennium believe the federal government
will act as an arm of Satan in the final battle. By extension, the FBI is
viewed as acting on Satan's behalf.
The philosophy behind targeting the federal government or entities perceived
to be associated with it is succinctly described by Kerry Noble, a former
right-wing extremist. He says the right-wing "envision[s] a dark and
gloomy endtime scenario, where some Antichrist makes war against
Christians."10 The House of Yahweh, a Texas based
religious group whose leaders are former members of the tax protesting Posse
Comitatus, is typical: Hawkins (the leader) has interpreted biblical scripture
that the Israeli Peace Accord signed on October 13, 1993, has started a 7-year
period of tribulation which will end on October 14, 2000, with the return of
the Yeshua (the Messiah).11 He also has interpreted that
the FBI will be the downfall of the House of Yahweh and that the Waco Branch
Davidian raids in 1993 were a warning to The House of Yahweh from the federal
government, which he terms "the beast."12
Similarly, Richard Butler, leader of the white supremacist group Aryan
Nations, said the following when asked what might have motivated the day care
shooting by Buford O. Furrow, Jr., one of his group's followers:
"There's a war against the white race. There's a war of extermination
against the white male."13
The New World Order Conspiracy Theory and the Year 2000 Computer
14 Use of this term within militia
circles became more common after President Bush starting using it to refer to
the state of world affairs after the collapse of the USSR at the end of the
Cold War and in the context of using international organizations to assist in
governing international relations. The term One World Government
is also used as a synonym for the New World Order.
Unlike religiously based terrorists, militia anxiety and paranoia
specifically relating to the year 2000 are based mainly on a political
ideology. Some militia members read significance into 2000 as it relates to
their conception of the NWO conspiracy.14 The NWO
conspiracy theory holds that the United Nations (UN) will lead a military coup
against the nations of the world to form a socialist or One World Government.
UN troops, consisting mostly of foreign armies, will commence a military
takeover of America. The UN will mainly use foreign troops on American soil
because foreigners will have fewer reservations about killing American
citizens. U.S. armed forces will not attempt to stop this invasion by UN troops
and, in fact, the U.S. military may be "deputized" as a branch of the
UN armed forces. The American military contingent overseas will also play a
large part in this elaborate conspiracy theory, as they will be used to help
conquer the rest of the world. The rationale for this part of the theory is
that American soldiers will also have less qualms about killing foreigners, as
opposed to killing their own citizens.
Under this hypothetical NWO/One World Government, the following events are
to take place: 1) private property rights and private gun ownership will be
abolished; 2) all national, state and local elections will become meaningless,
since they will be controlled by the UN; 3) the U.S. Constitution will be
supplanted by the UN charter; 4) only approved churches and other places of
worship will be permitted to operate and will become appendages of the One
World Religion, which will be the only legitimate doctrine of religious beliefs
and ethical values; 5) home schooling will be outlawed and all school
curriculum will need to be approved by the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and 6) American military bases
and other federal facilities will be used as concentration camps by the UN to
confine those patriots, including the militias, who defy the NWO. Other groups
beside the UN that are often mentioned as being part of the NWO conspiracy
theory are Jews, Communists, the Council on Foreign Relations, the
Bilderbergers and the Trilateral Commission. Law enforcement officials will
probably notice different versions of this theory, depending upon the source.
The NWO conspiracy theory is particularly relevant to the millennium because
the year 2000 is considered to be a triggering device for the NWO due to the
element of computer breakdown. Many computers around the world are based on a
numerical system in which the year is only registered by the last two digits. A
number of militia members accept the theory that on January 1, 2000, many
computers will misinterpret this date as January 1, 1900, and malfunction
and/or shut down completely. They further believe that these major computer
malfunctions will cause widespread chaos at all levels of society - economic,
social and political.
This chaos will theoretically create a situation in which American
civilization will collapse, which will then produce an environment that the UN
will exploit to forcibly take over the United States. Therefore, these militia
members (as well as other groups) believe that the year 2000 will be the
catalyst for the NWO.
15 James P. Wickstrom,
"Intelligence Update," October 1998, accessed at
16 See Fall 1998 edition of the
Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, "Millennium
17 William Pierce, "The
Millennium Bug and 'Mainstreaming' the News," accessed at
According to James Wickstrom, former leader of the defunct Posse Comitatus
and "Minister" of the True Church of Israel, anyone who holds any
powerful political influence knows that the Y2K crisis may be the final fuse
that will lead to the NWO that "David Rockefeller and the rest of his
satanic jew seedline desire to usher in upon the earth."15
He claims that Jews have conspired to create the Y2K problem and that
the prospect of impending computer failure is very real. Similarly, The New
American, an organ of the ultraconservative John Birch Society, speculates that
the Y2K bug could be America's Reichstag fire, a reference to the 1933 arson
attack on Germany's Parliament building that was used by Hitler as an excuse to
enact police state laws. Similar to this train of thought, Norm Olson, leader
of the Northern Michigan Regional Militia, believes constitutional rights
probably will be suspended before the real crisis hits. He states: "It
will be the worst time for humanity since the Noahic flood."16
However, there are some extremists who do not attach any major significance
to the Y2K problem. In his article, "The Millennium Bug and
'Mainstreaming' the News," William Pierce of the National Alliance tells
his followers not to worry, or at least, not to worry very much about the Y2K
issue. Pierce predicts that the main event that will occur on New Year's Day
2000 is that crazed millennialists will go "berserk when the Second Coming
fails to occur." Also, "a few right-wing nuts may launch a premature
attack on the government, figuring that without its computers the government
won't be able to fight back." Pierce claims that the lights will remain
on, and that airplanes will not fall from the sky. He says that he is able to
make such a prediction with some degree of confidence because, "contrary
to what some cranks would have you believe, the computer professionals and the
government have been working on the Y2K problem for some time."17
Gun Control Laws
The passage of the Brady Bill and assault weapons ban in 1994 were
interpreted by those in the militia movement and among the right-wing as the
first steps towards disarming citizens in preparation for the UN-led NWO
takeover. Some are convinced that the registration of gun owners is in
preparation for a confiscation of firearms and eventually the arrest of the gun
owners themselves. An article by Larry Pratt, Executive Director for Gun Owners
of America, interprets a 1995 UN study of small arms, done reportedly in
cooperation with U.S. police, customs and military services, as part of the
UN's plan to take over the U.S. Pratt goes on to say that the "UN is
increasingly assuming the jurisdictional authority of a federal world
government with the U.S. as just one of scores of member states. And gun
control - meaning civilian disarmament - is high up on the agenda of the
UN."18 Speculation like this only serves to fuel
the already existing paranoia of militia and patriot groups.
18 Larry Pratt, "The United
Nations: Pressing for U.S. Gun Control," accessed at
The right-wing believes that many of the restrictions being placed on the
ownership of firearms today mirror events in The Turner Diaries. In his book,
Pierce writes about the United States government banning the private possession
of firearms and staging gun raids in an effort to arrest gun owners. The book
discusses the government/police use of black men, assigned as "special
deputies" to carry out the gun raids. Many members of the right-wing
movement view the book as prophetic, believing that it is only a matter of time
before these events occur in real life.
In the aftermath of the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, President
Clinton, Congress, and Attorney General Reno acted swiftly to propose new laws
aimed at restricting the sales of guns to juveniles and to close loopholes in
existing laws. In May 1999, the Senate passed a bill to ban the importation of
high capacity ammunition magazines and require background checks for guns sold
at gun shows. In light of the enormous importance and prominent role that
extremist groups place on the Second Amendment, it is probable that recent
government actions aimed at controlling guns are perceived to be compelling
signs of the UN-led NWO takeover.
19 There were 12 tribes of Israel but
they were divided into two different kingdoms after the death of King Solomon.
The northern kingdom was called "Israel" and consisted of ten tribes
and the southern kingdom was called "Judah" and was comprised of two
tribes. There is a record of the two tribes making up the southern kingdom, but
the ten northern tribes were "lost" after they were conquered around
722 BC by the Assyrians.
20 Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion
in America (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1997), p. 47-48.
21 Michael Barkun, Religion and the
Racist Right (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997),
III. CHRISTIAN IDENTITY
Christian Identity is an ideology which asserts that the white Aryan race is
God's chosen race and that whites comprise the ten lost tribes of Israel.19 There is no single document that expresses this belief
system. Adherents refer to the Bible to justify their racist ideals.
Interpreting the Book of Genesis, Christian Identity followers assert that Adam
was preceded by other, lesser races, identified as "the beasts of the
field" (Gen. 1:25). Eve was seduced by the snake (Satan) and gave birth to
two seed lines: Cain, the direct descendent of Satan and Eve, and Able, who was
of good Aryan stock through Adam. Cain then became the progenitor of the Jews
in his subsequent matings with the non-Adamic races. Christian Identity
adherents believe the Jews are predisposed to carry on a conspiracy against the
Adamic seed line and today have achieved almost complete control of the
earth.20 This is referred to as the two-seedline
doctrine, which provides Christian Identity followers with a biblical
justification for hatred.
The roots of the Christian Identity movement can be traced back to
British-Israelism, the conviction that the British are the lineal descendants
of the "ten lost tribes" of Israel. It is a belief that existed for
some time before it became a movement in the second half of the 19th century.
The writings of John Wilson helped to extend the idea of British-Israelism
to Anglo-Israelism, which included other Teutonic peoples - mostly northern
European peoples from Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. British-Israelism
was brought to America in the early part of the 1920s, where it remained
decentralized until the 1930s. At that time, the movement underwent the final
transformation to become what we know as Christian Identity, at which time its
ties to the original English movement were cut and it became distinctly
Wesley Swift is considered the single most significant figure in the early
years of the Christian Identity movement in the United States. He popularized
it in the right-wing by "combining British-Israelism, a demonic
anti-Semitism, and political extremism."21 He
founded his own church in California in the mid 1940s where he could preach
this ideology. In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during
the 1950s and 60s, through which he was able to proclaim his ideology to a
large audience. With Swift's efforts, the message of his church spread, leading
to the creation of similar churches throughout the country. In 1957, the name
of his church was changed to The Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which is
used today by Aryan Nations (AN) churches.
One of Swift's associates, William Potter Gale, was far more militant than
Swift and brought a new element to Christian Identity churches. He became a
leading figure in the anti-tax and paramilitary movements of the 1970s and 80s.
There are numerous Christian Identity churches that preach similar messages and
some espouse more violent rhetoric than others, but all hold fast to the belief
that Aryans are God's chosen race.
Christian Identity also believes in the inevitability of the end of the
world and the Second Coming of Christ. It is believed that these events are
part of a cleansing process that is needed before Christ's kingdom can be
established on earth. During this time, Jews and their allies will attempt to
destroy the white race using any means available. The result will be a violent
and bloody struggle - a war, in effect - between God's forces, the white race,
and the forces of evil, the Jews and nonwhites. Significantly, many adherents
believe that this will be tied into the coming of the new millennium.
The view of what Armageddon will be varies among Christian Identity
believers. Some contend there will be a race war in which millions will die;
others believe that the United Nations, backed by Jewish representatives of the
anti-Christ, will take over the country and promote a New World Order. One
Christian Identity interpretation is that white Christians have been chosen to
watch for signs of the impending war in order to warn others. They are to then
physically struggle with the forces of evil against sin and other violations of
God's law (i.e., race-mixing and internationalism); many will perish, and some
of God's chosen will be forced to wear the Mark of the Beast to participate in
business and commerce. After the final battle is ended and God's kingdom is
established on earth, only then will the Aryan people be recognized as the one
and true Israel.
Christian Identity adherents believe that God will use his chosen race as
his weapons to battle the forces of evil. Christian Identity followers believe
they are among those chosen by God to wage this battle during Armageddon and
they will be the last line of defense for the white race and Christian America.
To prepare for these events, they engage in survivalist and paramilitary
training, storing foodstuffs and supplies, and caching weapons and ammunition.
They often reside on compounds located in remote areas.
As the millennium approaches, various right-wing groups pose a threat to
American society. The radical right encompasses a vast number and variety of
groups, such as survivalists, militias, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, Christian
Identity churches, the AN and skinheads. These groups are not mutually
exclusive and within the subculture individuals easily migrate from one group
to another. This intermixing of organizations makes it difficult to discern a
singular religious ideology or belief system that encompasses the right-wing.
Nevertheless, Christian Identity is the most unifying theology for a number
of these diverse groups and one widely adhered to by white supremacists. It is
a belief system that provides its members with a religious asis for racism and
an ideology that condones violence against non-Aryans. This doctrine allows
believers to fuse religion with hate, conspiracy theories, and apocalyptic fear
of the future.
Christian Identity-inspired millennialism has a distinctly racist tinge in
the belief that Armageddon will be a race war of Aryans against Jews and
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.
There are a number of issues concerning the Christian Identity belief system
that create problems when determining the threat level of groups. First,
Christian Identity does not have a national organizational structure. Rather,
it is a grouping of churches throughout the country which follows its basic
ideology. Some of these churches can be as small as a dozen people, and some as
large as the AN church, which claims membership in the thousands. In addition,
some groups take the belief to a higher extreme and believe violence is the
means to achieve their goal. This lack of structure creates a greater potential
for violent actions by lone offenders and/or leaderless cells. It is important
to note that only a small percentage of Christian Identity adherents believe
that the new millennium will bring about a race war. However, those that do
have a high propensity for violence.
Secondly, there are many factions of the right-wing, from Christian Identity
to militias, all of which are intermingled in ideology and members. In some
cases it is easy for a person to be a member of more than one group or to move
from one to another. Often, if a member of one group believes the group is lax
in its convictions, he or she will gravitate to a group that is more radical.
The third concern is the increased level of cooperation between the
different groups. This trend can be seen throughout the right-wing. Christian
Identity followers are pairing up with militias to receive paramilitary
training and have also joined with members of the Ku Klux Klan and other
right-wing groups. This cohesiveness creates an environment in which ideology
can easily spread and branch out. However, it makes the job of law enforcement
much more difficult as there are no distinctive borders between groups or
Lastly, the formation of splinter groups or state chapters from larger
organizations presents an increased level of threat due to the likelihood that
the leader has diminished control over the members and actions of the smaller
groups. The AN is a large group that adheres to the Christian Identity belief
system. The group espouses hatred toward Jews, the federal government, blacks
and other minorities. The ultimate goal of the AN is to forcibly take five
northwestern states - Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Montana - from the
United States government in order to establish an Aryan homeland. It consists
of a headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and a number of state chapters, which
often act as their own entities. While the leader may not support or encourage
acts of violence, it is easy for small cells of members or splinter groups to
take part in violent acts without the knowledge of the leader. The individuals
are associated with the group as a whole and carry the name of the group, but
may perpetrate acts on their own.
These factors make a threat assessment concerning millennial violence
difficult to determine. There is a moderate possibility of small factions of
right-wing groups, whether they be members of the same group, or members of
different groups, acting in an overtly violent manner in order to initiate the
Several problems associated with the assessment for violence can be seen
when looking at the structure and actions of the AN. The AN has been
headquartered at Hayden Lake since the late 1970s and remains a focal point for
the group's activities. Its annual World Congress attracts a number of
different factions from the right-wing, including members and leaders of
various right-wing groups. The World Congress is often viewed as a sort of
round table to discuss right-wing issues. These meetings have led to an
increased level of contact between AN members and members and leaders of other
groups. This degree of networking within the right-wing may further the AN's
base of support and help advance its cause.
One of the greatest threats posed by the right-wing in terms of millennial
violence is the formation of a conglomeration of individuals that will work
together to commit criminal acts. This has happened with some frequency in the
past. Bob Mathews formed a subgroup of the AN, called The Order, which
committed a number of violent crimes, including murder. Their mission was to
bring about a race war and there are several groups that currently exist which
hold these same beliefs. Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to the AN, formed a
cell called The New Order, based on Mathews' group. The members were arrested
before they could follow through on their plans to try to start a race war.
Chevie Kehoe, who was convicted of three homicides, conspiracy and interstate
transportation of stolen property also spent some time at the AN compound. Most
recently, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the man accused of the August 10, 1999,
shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, California, also spent
some time at the AN compound working as a security guard.
A relatively new tenet gaining popularity among Christian Identity believers
justifies the use of violence if it is perpetrated in order to punish violators
of God's law, as found in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Identity
ministers and adherents. This includes killing interracial couples,
abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals, burning pornography stores, and
robbing banks and perpetrating frauds to undermine the "usury
system." Christian Identity adherents engaging in such behavior are
referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood. This is a
very appealing concept to Christian Identity's extremist members who believe
they are being persecuted by the Jewish-controlled U.S. government and society
and/or are eagerly preparing for Armageddon. Among adherents today, the Phineas
Priesthood is viewed as a call to action or a badge of honor.
22 Anti-Defamation League, Explosion
of Hate, p 15.
IV. WHITE SUPREMACY
There are a number of white supremacy groups that do not necessarily adhere
to Christian Identity or other religious doctrines. White supremacy groups such
as the National Alliance, the American Nazi Party and the National Socialist
White People's Party are largely politically, rather than religiously,
The National Alliance is probably best known for its leader, William Pierce,
who is one of the most recognized names in the radical right. Pierce wrote The
Turner Diaries and Hunter and hosts a weekly radio program, American Dissident
Voices. Via these outlets, Pierce is able to provide his followers with an
ideological and practical framework for committing violent acts.
The rhetoric of these groups largely shadows that of Adolf Hitler's in
content and political ideology. In 1997, Pierce stated that:
Ultimately we must separate ourselves from the Blacks and other non-whites
and keep ourselves separate, no matter what it takes to accomplish this. We
must do this not because we hate Blacks, but because we cannot survive if we
remain mixed with them. And we cannot survive if we permit the Jews and the
traitors among us to remain among us and to repeat their treachery. Eventually
we must hunt them down and get rid of them.22
The end goal of National Socialist and Christian Identity devotees is the
same: an all white nation. However, Christian Identity followers appear to be
more of a threat concerning the millennium because of their religious beliefs.
There are also white supremacist groups which adhere to the general
supremacist ideology, but are not political or religious in nature. For
example, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) proposes racial segregation that is not
generally based on religious ideals. The KKK is one of the most recognized
white supremacist groups in the United States. Its history is expansive and its
actions of cross burnings and rhetoric of hate are well known.
There is currently not a singular KKK group with a hierarchical structure,
but many different KKK groups with a common ideology.
The KKK, as a whole, does not pose a significant threat with regard to the
millennium. That is not to say that a member of the KKK will not act on his own
or in concert with members of another group. Law enforcement has been very
successful in infiltrating a number of these groups, thereby keeping abreast of
their plans for action. The KKK also draws the attention of many watchdog
groups, and the Southern Poverty Law Center produces a quarterly publication
entitled "Klanwatch." It would be difficult for any of the known KKK
groups to participate in millennial violence without law enforcement
23 "U.S. Mulls Church Probe;
Ties To Killings Investigated," Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1999.
24 "Behind the Hate," The
Washington Post, July 6, 1999.
Again, there is a great deal of movement that is possible throughout the
right-wing, regardless of prior beliefs. If a member of a Christian Identity
faction does not feel that his current group is taking enough violent action,
it is possible for that member to move on to other ideologies or organizations
such as Odinism, the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) or the National
Socialist movement. Because of this movement, it is also likely that
communication exists between various factions of the right-wing, from religious
groups to skinheads. Their end goals are similar.
The WCOTC presents a recent example of violence perpetrated by a white
supremacist in order to bring about a race war. The major creed upon which Ben
Klassen founded the religion is that one's race is his religion. Aside from
this central belief, its ideology is similar to many Christian Identity groups
in the conviction that there is a Jewish conspiracy in control of the federal
government, international banking, and the media. They also dictate that
RAHOWA, a racial holy war, is destined to ensue to rid the world of Jews and
"mud races." In the early 1990s, there was a dramatic increase in
membership due to the growing belief in the Apocalypse and that RAHOWA was
In 1996, Matt Hale, who has come upon recent fame by being denied a license
to practice law in Illinois, was appointed the new leader of the Church of the
Creator. Hale made a number of changes to the group, including changing the
name of the organization to the World Church of the Creator, giving it the feel
of a widespread movement. As publicly reported, there is information to
indicate that the WCOTC has violent plans for the millennium. Officials who
searched Benjamin Smith's apartment, the man who went on a racially motivated
killing spree over the 4th of July weekend, found a loose-leaf binder of
handwritings. These writings described a holy war among the races and included
a reference to the new millennium. Passages included plans of how white
supremacists would shoot at non-whites from motor vehicles after the dawning of
the new millennium.23 While the group's rhetoric does
include the belief in a race war and the creation of an all white bastion
within the United States, other than Smith's writings, there is no indication
that it is linked to the millennium.
In addition, there have been recent incidents that have demonstrated the
willingness of members to take part in violent action. WCOTC members in
Southern Florida are thought to be tied to several racially motivated beatings.
Within the last year, four Florida members were convicted for the
pistol-whipping and robbery of a Jewish video store owner. They were supposedly
trying to raise money for "the revolution."24
Finally, Odinism is another white supremacist ideology that lends itself to
violence and has the potential to inspire its followers to violence in
connection to the millennium. What makes Odinists dangerous is the fact that
many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause.
For example, Bob Mathews, the leader of The Order, died in a fiery
confrontation with law enforcement. Also, William King relished the fact that
he would receive the death penalty for his act of dragging James Byrd, Jr. to
his death. Odinism has little to do with Christian Identity but there is one
key similarity: Odinism provides dualism - as does Christian Identity - with
regard to the universe being made up of worlds of light (white people) and
worlds of dark (non-white people). The most fundamental difference between the
two ideologies is that Odinists do not believe in Jesus Christ. However, there
are enough similarities between the myths and legends of Odinism and the
beliefs of Christian Identity to make a smooth transition from Christian
Identity to Odinism for those racist individuals whose penchant for violence is
not being satisfied.
25 Van Huizen lost re-election as
commander of the MMCW in late 1997 to the more radical Joe Pilchak.
26 See "Militias - Initiating Contact," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, July 1997,
The majority of growth within the militia movement occurred during the
1990s. There is not a simple definition of how a group qualifies as a militia.
However, the following general criteria can be used as a guideline: (1) a
militia is a domestic organization with two or more members; (2) the
organization must possess and use firearms; and (3) the organization must
conduct or encourage paramilitary training. Other terms used to describe
militias are Patriots and Minutemen.
Most militias engage in a variety of anti-government rhetoric. This
discourse can range from the protesting of government policies to the
advocating of violence and/or the overthrow of the federal government. However,
the majority of militia groups are non-violent and only a small segment of the
militias actually commit acts of violence to advance their political goals and
beliefs. A number of militia leaders, such as Lynn Van Huizen of the Michigan
Militia Corps - Wolverines, have gone to some effort to actively rid their
ranks of radical members who are inclined to carry out acts of violence and/or
terrorism.25 Officials at the FBI Academy classify
militia groups within four categories, ranging from moderate groups who do not
engage in criminal activity to radical cells which commit violent acts of
terrorism.26 It should be clearly stated that the FBI
only focuses on radical elements of the militia movement capable and willing to
commit violence against government, law enforcement, civilian, military and
international targets. In addition, any such investigation of these radical
militia units must be conducted within strict legal parameters.
Militia anxiety and paranoia specifically relating to the year 2000 are
based mainly on a political ideology, as opposed to religious beliefs. Many
militia members believe that the year 2000 will lead to political and personal
repression enforced by the United Nations and countenanced by a compliant U.S.
government. This belief is commonly known as the New World Order (NWO)
conspiracy theory (see Chapter I, Introduction). Other issues which have served
as motivating factors for the militia movement include gun control, the
incidents at Ruby Ridge (1992) and Waco (1993), the Montana Freemen Standoff
(1996) and the restriction of land use by federal agencies.
One component of the NWO conspiracy theory - that of the use of American
military bases by the UN - is worth exploring in further detail. Law
enforcement officers, as well as military personnel, should be aware that the
nation's armed forces have been the subject of a great deal of rumor and
paranoia circulating among many militia groups. One can find numerous
references in militia literature to military bases to be used as concentration
camps in the NWO and visiting foreign military personnel conspiring to attack
27 Accessed at
One example of this can be found on the website for the militia group United
States Theatre Command (USTC).27 The USTC website
prominently features the NWO theory as it portrays both Camp Grayling in
Michigan and Fort Dix in New Jersey as detention centers to be used to house
prisoners in an upcoming war. Specifically in reference to a photograph of Camp
Grayling, the USTC website states: "Note that the barbed wire is
configured to keep people in, not out, and also note in the middle of the guard
towers, a platform for the mounting of a machine gun." Specifically in
reference to a photograph of Fort Dix, the USTC website states: "Actual
photos of an 'Enemy Prisoner of War' camp in the United States of America!
(Fort Dix, New Jersey to be exact!) Is there going to be a war here? Many more
are suspected to be scattered throughout the United States."
Law enforcement personnel should be aware of the fact that the majority of
militias are reactive, as opposed to proactive. Reactive militia groups are
generally not a threat to law enforcement or the public. These militias may
indeed believe that some type of NWO scenario may be imminent in the year 2000,
but they are more inclined to sit back and wait for it to happen. They will
stockpile their guns and ammunition and food, and wait for the government to
curtail their liberties and take away their guns. When the expected NWO tragedy
does not take place, these reactive militias will simply continue their current
activities, most of which are relatively harmless. They will not overreact to
minor disruptions of electricity, water and other public services.
However, there is a small percentage of the militia movement which may be
more proactive and commit acts of domestic terrorism. As stated earlier, the
main focus of the militias connected to the Y2K/millennium revolves around the
NWO conspiracy theory. While the NOW is a paranoid theory, there may be some
real technological problems arising from the year 2000.
Among these are malfunctioning computers, which control so many facets of
our everyday lives. Any such computer malfunctions may adversely affect power
stations and other critical infrastructure. If such breakdowns do occur, these
may be interpreted as a sign by some of the militias that electricity is being
shut off on purpose in order to create an environment of confusion.
In the paranoid rationalizations of these militia groups, this atmosphere of
confusion can only be a prelude to the dreaded NWO/One World Government. These
groups may then follow through on their premeditated plans of action.
28 See Fall 1997 edition of the
Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, "Rough Waters: Stream
of Knowledge Probed by Officials."
VI. BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES
As the millennium approaches, radical fringe members of the Black Hebrew
Israelite (BHI) movement may pose a challenge for law enforcement. As with the
adherents of most apocalyptic philosophies, certain segments of the BHI
movement have the potential to engage in violence at the turn of the century.
This movement has been associated with extreme acts of violence in the recent
past, and current intelligence from a variety of sources indicates that extreme
factions of BHI groups are preparing for a race war to close the millennium.
Violent BHI followers can generally be described as proponents of an extreme
form of black supremacy. Drawing upon the teachings of earlier BHI adherents,
such groups hold that blacks represent God's true "chosen people,"
while condemning whites as incarnate manifestations of evil. As God's
"authentic" Jews, BHI adherents believe that mainstream Jews are
actually imposters. Such beliefs bear a striking resemblance to the Christian
Identity theology practiced by many white supremacists. In fact, Tom Metzger,
renowned white supremacist, once remarked, "They're the black counterpart
of us."28 Like their Christian Identity
counterparts, militant BHI followers tend to see themselves as divinely endowed
by God with superior status.
As a result, some followers of this belief system hold that violence,
including murder, is justifiable in the eyes of God, provided that it helps to
rid the world of evil. Violent BHI groups are of particular concern as the
millennium approaches because they believe in the inevitability of a race war
between blacks and whites.
The extreme elements of the BHI movement are prone to engage in violent
activity. As seen in previous convictions of BHI followers, adherents of this
philosophy have a proven history of violence, and several indications point
toward a continuation of this trend. Some BHI followers have been observed in
public donning primarily black clothing, with emblems and/or patches bearing
the "Star of David" symbol. Some BHI members practice paramilitary
operations and wear web belts and shoulder holsters. Some adherents have
extensive criminal records for a variety of violations, including weapons
charges, assault, drug trafficking, and fraud.
In law enforcement circles, BHI groups are typically associated with
violence and criminal activity, largely as a result of the movement's
popularization by Yahweh Ben Yahweh, formerly known as Hulon Mitchell, Jr., and
the Miami-based Nation of Yahweh (NOY). In reality, the origins of the BHI
movement are non-violent. While the BHI belief system may have roots in the
United States as far back as the Civil War era, the movement became more
recognized as a result of the teachings of an individual known as Ben Ami Ben
Israel, a.k.a Ben Carter, from the south side of Chicago. Ben Israel claims to
have had a vision at the age of 27, hearing "a voice tell me that the time
had come for Africans in America, the descendants of the Biblical Israelites,
to return to the land of our forefathers."
29 Linda Jones. "Claiming a
Promised Land: African-American settlers in Israel are guided by idea of
independent Black Hebrew Society," The Dallas Morning News, July 27,
31 See Fall 1997 Southern Poverty Law
Center's Intelligence Report, "Rough Waters: Stream of Knowledge
32 Jones, Dallas Morning News, July
34 Ibid. In fact, in the community of
Dimona where the BHI community resides, the Dimona Police Chief spoke in
complimentary terms as to the group's discipline, leadership, and
29 Ben Israel persuaded a group of African-Americans
to accompany him to Israel in 1967, teaching that African-Americans descended
from the biblical tribe of Judah and, therefore, that Israel is the land of
their birthright. Ben Israel and his followers initially settled in Liberia for
the purposes of cleansing themselves of bad habits. In 1969, a small group of
BHI followers left Liberia for Israel, with Ben Israel and the remaining
original migrants arriving in Israel the following year. Public source
estimates of the BHI community in Israel number between 1500 and 3000.
30 Despite promoting non-violence, members of Ben
Israel's movement have shown a willingness to engage in criminal activity. For
example, in 1986, Ben Israel and his top aide, Prince Asiel Ben Israel, were
convicted of trafficking stolen passports and securities and forging checks and
BHI in Israel are generally peaceful, if somewhat controversial. The FBI has
no information to indicate that Ben Israel's BHI community in Israel is
planning any activity - terrorist, criminal, or otherwise - inspired by the
coming millennium. Ben Israel's claims to legitimate Judaism have at times
caused consternation to the Israeli government. BHI adherents in Israel have
apparently espoused anti-Semitic remarks, labeling Israeli Jews as
Neither the Israeli government nor the Orthodox rabbinate recognize the
legitimacy of BHI claims to Judaism. According to Jewish law, an individual can
be recognized as Jewish if he/she was born to a Jewish mother or if the
individual agrees to convert to Judaism.33 At present,
BHI in Israel have legal status as temporary residents, which gives them the
right to work and live in Israel, but not to vote. They are not considered to
be Israeli citizens. While BHI claims to Judaism are disregarded by Israeli
officials and religious leaders, the BHI community is tolerated and appears to
While the BHI community in Israel is peaceful, BHI adherents in the United
States became associated with violence thanks to the rise of the NOY, which
reached the height of its popularity in the 1980s. The NOY was founded in 1979
and led by Yahweh Ben Yahweh. Ben Yahweh's followers viewed him as the Messiah,
and therefore demonstrated unrequited and unquestioned obedience. Members of
the organization engaged in numerous acts of violence in the 1980s, including
several homicides, following direct orders from Ben Yahweh. Seventeen NOY
members were indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami in 1990-91 on charges of
RICO, RICO conspiracy, and various racketeering acts. Various members were
convicted on RICO conspiracy charges and remain imprisoned.
While the overwhelming majority of BHI followers are unlikely to engage in
violence, there are elements of this movement with both the motivation and the
capability to engage in millennial violence. Some radical BHI adherents are
clearly motivated by the conviction that the approach of the year 2000 brings
society ever closer to a violent confrontation between blacks and whites. While
the rhetoric professed by various BHI groups is fiery and threatening, there
are no indications of explicitly identified targets for violence, beyond a
general condemnation and demonization of whites and "imposter" Jews.
Militant BHI groups tend to distrust the United States government; however,
there are no specific indications of imminent violence toward the government.
35 Frederick C. Mish, ed., Merriam
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 10 th Edition (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1997), p.
36 Margaret Thaler Singer and Janja
Lalich, Cults in Our Midst: The Hidden Menace in Our Everyday Lives (San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995), p. 7.
37 Singer and Lalich, p. 7.
38 Singer and Lalich, pp.8-9.
VII. APOCALYPTIC CULTS
For apocalyptic cults, especially biblically based ones, the millennium is
viewed as the time that will signal a major transformation for the world. Many
apocalyptic cults share the belief that the battle against Satan, as prophesied
in the Book of Revelation, will begin in the years surrounding the millennium
and that the federal government is an arm of Satan. Therefore, the millennium
will bring about a battle between cult members - religious martyrs - and the
In the broadest meaning, cults are composed of individuals who demonstrate
"great devotion to a person, idea, object or movement."35 However, using that definition, many domestic terrorist
groups could be characterized as cults, including Christian Identity churches,
Black Hebrew Israelites, and some militias. For law enforcement purposes, a
narrower interpretation of groups that qualify as cults is needed. A more
useful definition of cults incorporates the term "cultic
relationships" to describe the interactions within a cult.36
Specifically, a cultic relationship refers to "one in which a person
intentionally induces others to become totally or nearly totally dependent on
him or her for almost all major life decisions, and inculcates in these
followers a belief that he or she has some special talent, gift, or
This definition of cults provides important distinctions that are vital for
analyzing a cult's predilection towards violence. The origin of the cult, the
role of its leader, and its uniqueness provide a framework for understanding
what distinguishes cults from other domestic terrorist groups that otherwise
share many similar characteristics. These distinctions are: (1) cult leaders
are self-appointed, persuasive persons who claim to have a special mission in
life or have special knowledge; (2) a cult's ideas and dogma claim to be
innovative and exclusive; and (3) cult leaders focus their members' love,
devotion and allegiance on themselves.38 These
characteristics culminate in a group structure that is frequently highly
authoritarian in structure. Such a structure is a sharp contrast to the rapidly
emerging trend among domestic terrorist groups towards a leaderless,
While predicting violence is extremely difficult and imprecise, there are
certain characteristics that make some cults more prone to violence. Law
enforcement officials should be aware of the following factors:
39 Carl J. Jensen, III, Rod Gregg and
Adam Szubin, "When a Cult Comes to Town," accessed from Law
• Sequestered Groups: Members of sequestered groups
lose access to the outside world and information preventing critical evaluation
of the ideas being espoused by the leader.
• Leader's History: The fantasies, dreams, plans, and
ideas of the leader are most likely to become the beliefs of the followers
because of the totalitarian and authoritarian nature of cults.
• Psychopaths: Control of a group by charismatic
psychopaths or those with narcissistic character disorders.
• Changes in the Leader: Changes in a leader's
personality caused by traumatic events such as death of a spouse or sickness.
• Language of the Ideology: Groups that are violent
use language in their ideology that contains the seeds of violence.
• Implied Directive for Violence: Most frequently, a
leader's speeches, rhetoric, and language does not explicitly call for
violence, rather it is most often only implied.
• Length of Time: The longer the leader's behavior
has gone unchecked against outside authority, the less vulnerable the leader
• Who Is in the Inner Circle: Cults with violent
tendencies often recruit people who are either familiar with weapons or who
have military backgrounds to serve as enforcers.
Apocalyptic cults see their mission in two general ways: They either want to
accelerate the end of time or take action to ensure that they survive the
millennium. For example, Aum Shinrikyo wanted to take action to hasten the end
of the world, while compounds in general are built to survive the endtime
safely. An analysis of millennial cults by the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit
describes how rhetoric changes depending on whether the leader's ideology
envisions the group as playing an active role in the coming Apocalypse or a
passive survivalist role: A cult that predicts that "God will punish"
or "evil will be punished" indicates a more passive and less
threatening posture than the cult that predicts that "God's chosen people
will punish . . ."
As another example, the members of a passive group might predict that God or
another being will one day liberate their souls from their bodies or come to
carry them away. The followers of a more action-oriented group would, in
contrast, predict that they themselves will one day shed their mortal bodies or
transport themselves to another place.39
40 Kevin M. Gilmartin, "The
Lethal Triad: Understanding the Nature of Isolated Extremist Groups,"
accessed at www.leo.gov/tlib/leb/1996/sept961/txt.
41 Carl J. Jensen, III and Yvonne
Hsieh, "Law Enforcement and the Millennialist Vision: A Behavioral
Approach," accessed from Law Enforcement Online.
43 B.A. Robinson in "Factors
Commonly Found in Doomsday Cults," (www.religioustolerance.org/cultsign.htm.) dentifies traits that provide a framework for
analyzing cults. They include the following: (1) The leader preaches end of the
world/Armageddon in 2000 or within a reasonable time frame before and after
2000; (2) the cult expects to play a major, elite role at the end time; (3) the
cult has large numbers of firearms, explosives or weapons of mass destruction;
(4) the cult has prepared defensive structures; (5) the cult speaks of
offensive action; (4) the cult is led by a single male charismatic leader; (5)
the leader dominates the membership through physical, sexual and emotional
control; (6) the cult is not an established denomination; (7) cult members live
together in a community isolated from society; (8) extreme paranoia exists
within the cult concerning monitoring by outsiders and government persecution;
(9) and outsiders are distrusted, and disliked. These factors are designed to
leave out cults that have unique end-time beliefs, but whose ideology does not
include the advocacy of force or violence.
A cult that displays these characteristics may then produce three
social-psychological components, referred to as the "Lethal Triad,"
that predispose a cult towards violence aimed at its members and/or
outsiders.40 Cults in which members are heavily
dependent on the leader for all decision making almost always physically and
psychologically isolate their members from outsiders, the first component of
the triad.41 The other two components interact in the
"... isolation causes a reduction of critical thinking
on the part of group members who become entrenched in the belief proposed by
the group leadership. As a result, group members relinquish all responsibility
for group decision making to their leader and blame the cause of all group
grievances on some outside entity or force, a process known as projection.
Finally, isolation and projection combine to produce
pathological anger, the final component of the
Of the nearly 1000 cults operating in the United States, very few present
credible threats for millennial violence. Law enforcement officials should
concentrate on those cults that advocate force or violence to achieve their
goals concerning the endtime, as well as those cults which possess a
substantial number of the distinguishing traits listed above.43
In particular, cults of greatest concern to law enforcement are those
that: (1) believe they play a special, elite role in the endtime; (2) believe
violent offensive action is needed to fulfill their endtime prophecy; (3) take
steps to attain their beliefs. Those factors may culminate in plans to initiate
conflict with outsiders or law enforcement.
The violent tendencies of dangerous cults can be classified into two general
categories - defensive violence and offensive violence. Defensive violence is
utilized by cults to defend compound or enclave that was created specifically
to eliminate most contact with the dominant culture.44
44 Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion
in America, p.57.
45 Ibid., p.165.
46 Lisa Beyer, "Target:
Jerusalem," Time Magazine, January 18, 1999.
The 1993 clash in Waco, Texas at the Branch Davidian complex is an
illustration of such defensive violence. History has shown that groups that
seek to withdraw from the dominant culture seldom act on their beliefs that the
endtime has come unless provoked.45
Cults with an apocalyptic agenda, particularly those that appear ready to
initiate rather than anticipate violent confrontations to bring about
Armageddon or fulfill "prophesy" present unique challenges to law
enforcement officials. One example of this type of group is the Concerned
Christians (CC). Monte Kim Miller, the CC leader, claims to be one of the two
witnesses or prophets described in the Book of Revelation who will die on the
streets of Jerusalem prior to the second coming of Christ. To attain that
result, members of the CC traveled to Israel in 1998 in the belief that Miller
will be killed in a violent confrontation in the streets of Jerusalem in
December 1999. CC members believe that Miller's death will set off an
apocalyptic end to the millennium, at which time all of Miller's followers will
be sent to Heaven. Miller has convinced his followers that America is
"Babylon the Great" referred to in the Book of Revelation. In early
October 1998, CC members suddenly vanished from the United States, an apparent
response to one of Miller's "prophesies" that Denver would be
destroyed on October 10, 1998. In January 1999, fourteen members of the group
who had moved to Jerusalem were deported by the Israeli government on the
grounds that they were preparing to hasten the fulfillment of Miller's
prophecies by instigating violence.46
Ascertaining the intentions of such cults is a daunting endeavor,
particularly since the agenda or plan of a cult is often at the whim of its
leader. Law enforcement personnel should become well acquainted with the
previously mentioned indicators of potential cult violence in order to separate
the violent from the non-violent.
47 Arabs refer to this site as Haram
al-Sharif, which is Arabic for "Noble Sanctuary." Israelis refer to
it as Har HaBayit, which is Hebrew for "Temple Mount." American news
organizations almost always refer to it as the Temple Mount. Therefore, for the
sake of simplicity and continuity, the term Temple Mount will be used in this
report when referring to this section of Jerusalem.
VIII. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JERUSALEM
The city of Jerusalem, cherished by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike,
faces many serious challenges as the year 2000 approaches. As already evidenced
by the deportation of various members of the religious cult known as the
Concerned Christians, zealotry from all three major monotheistic religions is
particularly acute in Israel, where holy shrines, temples, churches, and
mosques are located. While events surrounding the millennium in Jerusalem are
much more problematic for the Israeli government than for the United States,
the potential for violent acts in Jerusalem will cause reverberations around
the world, including the United States. The extreme terrorist fringes of
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all present in the United States.
Thus, millennial violence in Jerusalem could conceivably lead to violence in
the United States as well. Within Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, or Haram
al-Sharif, holds a special significance for both Muslims and Jews.47 The Temple Mount houses the third holiest of all Islamic
sites, the Dome of the Rock. Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended
to Heaven from a slab of stone - the "Rock of Foundation"- located in
the center of what is now the Dome of the Rock. In addition, when Arab armies
conquered Jerusalem in 638 A.D., the Caliph Omar built the al-Aqsa Mosque
facing the Dome of the Rock on the opposite end of the Temple Mount. The
Western (or Wailing) Wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple that
the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D., stands at the western base of the Temple
Mount. The Western Wall has long been a favorite pilgrimage site for Jews, and
religious men and women pray there on a daily basis. Thus, the Temple Mount is
equally revered by Jews as the site upon which the first and second Jewish
Israeli officials are extremely concerned that the Temple Mount, an area
already seething with tension and distrust among Jews and Muslims, will be the
stage for violent encounters between religious zealots. Most troubling is the
fact that an act of terrorism need not be the catalyst that sparks widespread
violence. Indeed, a simple symbolic act of desecration, or even perceived
desecration, of any of the holy sites on the Temple Mount is likely to trigger
a violent reaction. For example, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected
to coincide with the arrival of the year 2000. Thus, even minor provocations on
or near the Temple Mount may provide the impetus for a violent confrontation.
The implications of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by vast numbers of tourists are
ominous, particularly since such pilgrimages are likely to include millennial
or apocalyptic cults on a mission to hasten the arrival of the Messiah. There
is general concern among Israeli officials that Jewish and Islamic extremists
may react violently to the influx of Christians, particularly near the Temple
Mount. The primary concern is that extreme millennial cults will engage in
proactive violence designed to hasten the second coming of Christ.
Perhaps the most likely scenario involves an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque or
the Dome of the Rock. Some millennial cults hold that these structures must be
destroyed so that the Jewish Temple can be rebuilt, which they see as a
prerequisite for the return of the Messiah.
Additionally, several religious cults have already made inroads into Israel,
apparently in preparation for what they believe to be the endtimes.
It is beyond the scope of this document to assess the potential
repercussions from an attack on Jewish or Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. It
goes without saying, however, that an attack on the Dome of the Rock or the
Al-Aqsa Mosque would have serious implications. In segments of the Islamic
world, close political and cultural ties between Israel and the United States
are often perceived as symbolic of anti-Islamic policies by the Western world.
Attacks on Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly by Christian or Jewish
extremists, are likely to be perceived by Islamic extremists as attacks on
Islam itself. Finally, the possibility exists that Islamic extremist groups
will capitalize upon the huge influx of foreigners into Jerusalem and engage in
a symbolic attack.
Extremists from various ideological perspectives attach significance to the
arrival of the year 2000, and there are some signs of preparations for
violence. The significance of the new millennium is based primarily upon either
religious beliefs relating to the Apocalypse/Armageddon, or political beliefs
relating to the New World Order conspiracy theory.
The challenge to law enforcement is to understand these extremist theories
and, if any incidents do occur, be prepared to respond to the unique crises
they will represent. Law enforcement officials should be particularly aware
that the new millennium may increase the odds that extremists may engage in
proactive violence specifically targeting law enforcement officers. Religiously
motivated extremists may initiate violent conflicts with law enforcement
officials in an attempt to facilitate the onset of Armageddon, or to help
fulfill a "prophesy." For many on the extreme right-wing, the battle
of Armageddon is interpreted as a race war to be fought between Aryans and the
"satanic" Jews and their allies. Likewise, extremists who are
convinced that the millennium will lead to a One World Government may choose to
engage in violence to prevent such a situation from occurring. In either case,
extremists motivated by the millennium could choose martyrdom when approached
or confronted by law enforcement officers. Thus, law enforcement officials
should be alert for the following:
1) plans to initiate conflict with law enforcement;
2) the potential increase in the number of extremists willing to become
3) the potential for a quicker escalation of conflict during routine law
enforcement activities (e.g. traffic stops, issuance of warrants, etc.).
END OF REPORT
F.B.I. PROJECT MEGIDDO