Waco Anniversary: Domestic Terrorists Have Been Hiding Amongst Us the Whole Time

It is no coincidence that serious domestic terror events happen in April. There is a litany of horrific anniversaries: Ruby Ridge (1992), Waco (1993), Oklahoma City (1995) and now, it seems, Boston (2013).

Why? Are these events linked? What are the linkages? That takes a bit of explaining and the trail begins in February, 1993, just outside Waco, Texas. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) had surrounded the compound of dissident religious leader David Koresh.

Why was the ATF suspicious of a cult leader who thought he was Christ? Thereby hangs a weird tale. The stand-off ensued for six weeks and ended in disaster, as the New York Times reports. Allan Turner, of The Houston Chronicle, wrote the 20-year retrospective analysis of the entire episode.

David Koresh, born Vernon Howell, was a member of a sect known as the Branch Davidians (branched off from the Seventh Day Adventists for "aberrant" teachings). The Branch Davidians (now divided even further into "The Branch" and "Davidians") sing very small since 1993, but their beliefs, associations, and their legacy carry through to the present day.

One might suppose that an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists might be pacifistic in nature, but such was not the case once David Koresh took firm control of the Branch Davidians following the death of the previous leader. When the smoke cleared and the FBI and the Texas Rangers were able to investigate the compound, beginning April 20, 1993, they found an entire armory inside: "… by May 3 the Texas Rangers had recovered 305 firearms from the compound, and approximately 1.9 million rounds of 'cooked off' or spent ammunition. Among the firearms found were at least 20 fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles; at least 12 fully automatic AR-15 assault rifles; at least two .50 caliber semi-automatic rifles; and anti-tank armor-piercing ammunition … The search of the compound area turned up thousands of items, including hundreds of exploded shells, fired helmets and vests; camouflage outfits; hand grenades; pistols; rifles; shotguns; rocket projectiles; gas masks; chemical warfare suits; military assault knives; and fuel cans."

What was a religious group doing with all that (illegal in the mid-90s) armament?

Those were transformative, transitional times, which produced such legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1968 ("fair housing"), the Civil Rights Act of 1988 (non-discrimination in private institutions) and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (non-discrimination in unemployment benefits). The Ku Klux Klan went underground. From about the early 1970s, it was difficult to find anyone who admitted to membership in the KKK, let alone to violent extremist activities. But as the transcript of the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee (May 21, 1996), regarding racially motivated church arsons details, such groups as The Good Old Boys Roundup were under investigation by government agencies for some serious criminal activities.

Just one year before the Waco incident, in April of 1992, in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, a man named Randy Weaver a white separatist and suspect in some of those church arsons, as well as a suspected member of Aryan Nation was involved in a surround/standoff with the FBI. Mr. Weaver's wife was shot dead by an FBI sharpshooter during the standoff, and he received an enormous amount of public sympathy for it. He also received not guilty verdicts on nearly every count during subsequent trials on arms, murder and conspiracy charges.

There were three exceptionally interesting outcomes of the Ruby Ridge and Waco episodes.

1. The FBI, ATF and other involved governmental agencies began to take heat for some of their actions and were forced to defend themselves in public hearings against well-funded and well-connected initiatives, aimed at restraining their influence and interference in the activities of groups supporting goals inimical to those of the United States of America.

2. Before the easy and anonymous communication systems of the Internet, communication spread best for these underground groups through “church” formation. The Anti-Defamation League has the most comprehensive explication of these white supremacy churches and names the movement – Christian Identity. The Christian Research Institute is even more explicit, tying Randy Weaver, Christian Identity, white supremacy, neo-Nazism and domestic terrorism together as early as 1993.

3. On Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Timothy McVeigh was also one of the white supremacy movement, a survivalist, and he was present outside the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, 1993, when the FBI began the assault on the compound. One of his confessed reasons for planning and executing the bombing of the Murrah Building with Terry Nichols was to avenge the Branch Davidians at Waco.   

So with the Oklahoma City bombing, the story closes around the nascent domestic terrorism of the Christian Identity movement. Timothy McVeigh was influenced by something called the Turner Diaries apparently one of the key texts for indoctrination. McVeigh was executed for his crime but the milieu in which his mindset fostered is still alive among the Christian Identity congregations.

Those congregations and the networks they formed for fundraising and communication since the advent of the Internet boosted their candidates into elective office. They have pushed their radical agenda at the state and national levels and have forced the rest of America to the realization that the bigots among us never did go away. They hid among us in plain sight all the time.