The Daily News Leader from Staunton, Virginia on March 30, 1997 · 9
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The Daily News Leader from Staunton, Virginia · 9

Staunton, Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 30, 1997
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! I Mext dominant!: The Sunday News Leader, March 30, 1997 B3 terrorism fear: biochemical weapons By JOHN HANCHETTE and DENNIS CAM1RE Gannett News Service WASHINGTON Federal offi cials and security experts don't like to talk much about it, but the next dominant domestic terrorism fear is hideous: biochemical weapons used by Americans against Americans. "This is what the next big thine will look like," predicts John Sopko, chief minority counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. A bunch 01 people will start com ing into the hospitals very sick. Within 72 hours, they'll be dead." sopko, who helped investigate the scary subject for the Senate panel, believes the United States is particularly vulnerable to biologi cal weapons deadly disease spores or microbes loosed on purpose by extremists. "They could cause maximum casualties in hitting an airport, because everyone would carry it off across the entire country," he said. "The government doesn't like to admit it, but you can get printed material at these crazy gun shows, showing how to culture this stuff" The FBI, responsible for keeping track of this threat, is reluctant to elaborate. Special agent Steven Berry, an FBI spokesman, refuses to rank the biochemical danger with other potential domestic terror tactics. "Biochemical terrorism is something we are obviously concerned about and aware of," Berry said tersely. Chemical or germ warfare attacks on some segment of American society are "likely" according to Michael Reynolds, a militia analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He told reporters recently, "It's not a matter of it but a matter of when." The reason for all this angst over biochemical terrorism on U.S. soil? It's already happening. In 1995 overshadowed by the national attention to the Oklahoma City bomb blast a bizarre and frightening Stephen King scenario played out in Minnesota. Four members of The Patriot's Council, an anti-government tax protest group, became the first people convicted under the little-known Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. According to FBI records and court papers, the defendants possessed an incredibly potent toxin called ricin and planned to use it on a sheriff and a deputy federal marshal who had served papers on the group. Ricin is a powdered protein extract of common castor beans. There is no antidote. It explodes the red blood cells if even the tiniest amount is ingested, absorbed or inhaled. It is almost impossible to trace. It is 6,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Two decades ago, Soviet assassins used it successfully on umbrella tips. The feds were lucky. The Minnesota plot was stumbled onto when a disgruntled wife turned in her Patriot husband during a marital spat, and delivered a suspicious ATTENTION ALL PET LOVERS!, I OPEN HOUSE Wayling Hills Kennel I I I April 6, Call 1 XXTaJk U OM l;CI r snnniMiiYKAi rs 1 JANI ESCAPING powder he was keeping in a baby food jar. FBI chemists found enough ricin to wipe out a small town. In mid-December 1995, FBI agents arrested a northern Arkansas chicken farmer and charged him under the same antiterrorism act with intent to use ricin as a toxic biological weapon. The farmer had been apprehended two years earlier with 20,000 rounds of ammo, neo-Nazi literature, how-to books called "Silent Death" and "The Poisoner's Handbook" and 130 grams of ricin in a plastic bag. His lawyer said he intended to use ricin on the coyotes threatening his chickens. The farmer hanged himself in jail two days before Christmas of 1995. The "Silent Death" book has chapters on "Time-Delay Poisons," "Nerve Gas: The Poor Man's Atom Bomb," and "Botulism." The Arkansas farmer and the Minnesota Patriots both were accused by federal investigators of having access to another popular terrorist kit named the Silent Tool of Justice, which had precise instructions for extracting deadly ricin from castor beans. Another instruction guide published in Arkansas and popular with militia members "Assorted Nasties" offers detailed steps in preparing and delivering 22 of the world's most toxic poisons. Some of these guides are available on the Internet. A month after the Oklahoma City tragedy, white supremacist Aryan Nation member Larry Wayne Harris was arrested in central Ohio for receiving three vials of freeze-dried bubonic plague bacteria through the mail the same bacteria that decimated much of Europe in the Middle Ages. It was amazingly simple. Harris, police said, had ordered the plague germs from the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Md., merely by sending $240 and using a letterhead from a food-testing lab where he worked. He negotiated a plea under which he would spend six months in jail, but a federal judge rejected it. Harris goes to trial in April. Meanwhile, the free-on-bond Harris whose lawyer says no longer holds Aryan Nation beliefs has written and published "Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat to North America." Harris, 44, offers it for sale at $28.50 at sur-vivalist trade shows, and says citizens can use it to survive biological weapons. But the Southern Poverty Law Center's Klan Watch in Its most recent intelligence report called the book an effective do-it-yourself manual for mass destruction through biological terrorism." Sopko noted that federal court papers show the infamous World Trade Center bombers had in mind a much deadlier explosion arranging sodium cyanide in thlr truck bomb so a giant poison cloud would be released to kill hundred! of New Yorkers. Luckily, the chemicals were ill-placed and were incin erated in the blast. 1-4 PM I I FREE treats and a Gift to all pets attending Bring this ad to the OPENHOUSE I and receive 10 off any reservation! fflfidft two werta prior to checfcfc dal8 I Fi8herevillfVA I (M0) 943-7072 feFfMj J Planting Brings uui ine ICidln All Of Us, Landscapi Consulting & Installations Landtcap Cantor Hourai Mon,Fri. 8-5: Sat, 8-J: Sun, 1-5 Rt. 256, just east of Weyer Cave stoplight (1 mile from 1-81, Exit 235) n oaDfts By LAURIE GOODSTEIN The Washington Post In the jungles of Guyana in 1978, when People's Temple leader Jim Jones ordered hundreds of his followers to swallow a suicide cocktail of cyanide-spiked Kool-Aid, his henchmen, armed with guns and arrows, stood at the edge of the crowd threatening any resisters. In a cottage in the French Alps in 1995, two members of the mysterious Order of the Solar Temple shot and killed 16 of their fellow believers before setting fire to the bodies and turning the guns on themselves. But in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., members of the cult Heaven's Gate apparently took their lives willingly and eagerly. In their final videotaped testaments, they smiled into the camera and insisted, one after another, that their exit from this life was entirely voluntary. , "I am doing this of my own free will," one man said. "It is not something someone brainwashed me into or convinced me of or did a con job on." To many, it is impossible to fathom how 39 people, of their own free will, could have killed themselves convinced of extraterrestrial deliverance. But experts in psychology and group behavior, and former cult members, say that inside this cult and many others, the line between free will and coercion becomes obliterated. The process is like swallowing an elephant one small piece at a time, one expert said. A charismatic leader initially appeals to the convert's intellect, curiosity, idealism and insecurities. The leader offers a theology with elements of the familiar (the Heaven's Gate cult melded the Bible and "Star Trek"), but distinctive enough to be presented as a peerless truth. "If the leader sounds confident, there's a certain percentage of people who are going to be infected by that confidence," said Joe Szimhart, a cult "exit counselor" based in Pottstown, Pa. "They're going to trust and take the next step, which is to suppress doubt." The group provides the comfort of a warm, accepting family. The recruits are asked to leave behind their former lives, cutting off com-" munication with those who might Ammonia leak hits ice cream plant CONCORD, N.H. (AP) An ammonia leak at an ice cream plant spewed gas into air on Saturday, forcing authorities to evacuate 30 people from their homes as they tried to find the source of the leak. "You can see the clouds of ammonia, a white cloud, blowing right across the street," said Dick Osborne, general manager of radio station WKXL. About 30 people were evacuated and taken to the nearby state prison, where they were expected to spend the night. The area was closed to traffic. Fire Chief John Dionne said the main danger was from inhaling the fumes, but with hazardous levels of gas outside the plant, there was also the possibility of fire or explosion. OWNER - RICHARD BENNER FARM RESIDENTIAL Complete Water Systems Installed Service Most Anytime, Most Anywhere Serving The Shenandoah Valley Area Since 1967 FREE ESTIMATES 540-434-1167 or BRIDGEWATER 0 Hit.: HTiTtft ltWMTl il I h lUttll Buying, Upgrading and Repairing a PC .................... 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April 3-24 4 Thurs., 6:45-9:15 p.m. $60 Tractor Trailer Driving School .................................. April 7-May 9 5 Weeks, Mon.-Fri., 8:00-5:00 p.m. $1,850 ffl&ftraiG fDQw challenge the cult's beliefs. Their hours and days are dominated by the group's rituals and requirements. There is no such thing, many experts agree, as "brainwashing," a term coined by an American journalist after World War II based on a Chinese ideograph. In most cults, recruits who question or refuse to comply with the group's demands eventually leave. But those who stay enter a process of intense indoctrination, the experts say. The methods described in this article cannot be generalized to all cults. Groups differ greatly in size, structure, rigidity and belief. And there is heated argument among scholars even over what to call groups like this: Many psychologists and sociologists use the term "cult," while many scholars of religion and history prefer the less pejorative term "new religious movement." But the group found dead in Rancho Santa Fe had all the classic "cult" characteristics in the extreme: an insulated group with beliefs outside the mainstream, a single leader claiming supernatural powers, and a destructive end. There is no simple profile of a person likely to join a cult or new religious movement. But a widely quoted study by New York University Medical Center psychiatrist Marc Galanter found that people who joined the Unification Church had a higher level of depression than those who were exposed to the teachings but did not join. It was not consistent, clinical depression, but situational 197 perhaps triggered by a relationship breaking up, the death of someone close, the loss of a job or a move to somewhere new. "After people join they feel a lot better," Galanter said. "Their depression, anxiety, sense of pur-poselessness is relieved, and that's very reinforcing." A postcard that Gail Renee Maeder, 28, who died with the Heaven's Gate cult, wrote to her parents in 1994 said: "Wanted to let you know I'm doing really great. I feel I've found a way to make a difference in the world, and I'm extremely happy and healthy doing so." Though recruits can feel doubt and disillusionment, they suppress it. "They're in a vise," Galanter said. 540-828-2036 "If they try and move out, they feel worse. But if they get more involved, they feel good. So they tend to get more and more drawn in." And the longer they stay, the more stake they have in their cause. The leaders exhibit a strong gravitational pull by presenting themselves as exalted, majestic messiahs. David Koresh told his followers he was the "Lamb of God." Marshall HerfT Applewhite claimed to be "King Do," the same celestial spirit that once occupied the body of Jesus. Sometimes, like Koresh, they exhort, but mostly they win over through persistence and persuasion. The leader convinces the followers, who tell themselves repeatedly, "like a mantra: I am the captain of my own will," said Tal Brooke, a former devotee of Indian guru Sai Baba and now the director of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project in How low can you go. Right now, Qestar's hassle free Home ,;. Equity Line rate is just 5.9 APR for the first 4 months. After that, its as low as .75 over Prime Of course, you can use the money any way you want to buy a car, finance an education, even consolidate high interest credit card debt And . unlike other loans, the interest on a Crestar Home Equity Line r may be tax deductible.2 Just call 1-800-CRESTAR or stop by your nearest branch. Ask how to defer closing costs or even " avoid them altogether.3 But do it today Because a rate this low. . has nowhere to go but up. 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The second time I sat with King Do, I felt absolutely (that) there was no lie in (him), that there was truth and goodness beyond anything I'vever seen." Goodness is personified in the leader and the cult, while evil permeates the outside world. Cults typically operate on such a duality, experts say. The Heaven's Gate group believed that Earth was'con-trolled by demonic extraterrestrial "Luciferians." I n of M (&MMIPM

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