Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 20:09:01 EST
Subject: AANEWS for Sunday, October 31, 1999
from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
subject: AANEWS for October 31, 1999
Details Emerge on "Project Megido" Warning of Y2K Violence
Christian Identity, Black Hebrew Israelites Among Groups Cited: But Is It Real?
From American Atheist News,
31 October 1999
The FBI is warning that all hell may break lose as we approach New
As detailed last week in AANEWS, the bureau has compiled a secret
report titled "Project Megiddo" which cautions that religious
extremists, millennialist cults and political fringe groups could be
preparing for violence in the new millennium. Word of the document
emerged on October 23 in a front-page story carried by USA TODAY. The
paper reported that "Project Megiddo" warned of "the potential for
extremist criminal activity in the United States by individuals or
domestic groups who attach special significance to the year 2000."
The "project" is named for an ancient battleground in Israel believed
by many to be the site of Armageddon, the future confrontation between
God and the devil. The report is considered so secretive that it is
not presently being made public, and instead will be presented to a
closed-door gathering at the International Association of Chiefs of
Police meeting in Charlotte, N.C. on Tuesday.
Details about "Project Megiddo" are beginning to emerge, though. A
possible authentic copy of the document was allegedly obtained by the
Washington Post, which reported on it in today's "A" section. It
states that the "Project Megiddo" summary is a 34-page document, which
is at odds with the story from USA TODAY that claimed the manuscript
ran to 40 pages. Even so, there are possible tantalizing glimpses
into the contents of "Project Megiddo."
Is "Project Megiddo" another example of government authorities
overreacting to unpopular, non-mainstream religious or political
groups? Or is there a legitimate terrorist threat?
The organizations and sects known to be listed in the document are
often mentioned in news reports, private intelligence surveys and
other information sources. Most maintain sites on the world wide web,
openly solicit members, and offer books, pamphlets, videos and other
materials which range from the provocative to the very fringes of
reason and common sense. But is there a genuine danger? It depends
who you ask...
The head of the FBI's National Security Division, Neil Gallagher, told
the Post that while New Year's Eve is not a red-flag for every
extremist or apocalyptic group to charge the nearest target d'jour
with guns blazing, "Project Megiddo" attempts to make local law
enforcement agencies "more sensitive" to possible security risks.
"If a cult sells its property and personal effects and purchases guns
and explosives, we need to be more concerned about what that cult will
do on Jan. 1," Gallagher warned.
"The report says the risks will increase as Jan. 1 approaches," notes
the Post. "The threat posed by extremists as a result of perceived
events associated with the Year 2000 (Y2K) is very real," the FBI
says. "The volatile mix of apocalyptic religious and (New World
Order) conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed a
precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible..."
Among other suggested details in "Project Megiddo":
The "Project" is based on a nine-month intelligence gathering
campaign by the FBI's domestic terrorism unit, which processed reports
from various field offices. The effort specifically targeted the
activities of groups in connection with the approaching millennium.
Among the organizations identified as likely candidates for
apocalyptic violence are sects and individuals who embrace "Christian
Identity," and who believe that the "white Aryan race is God's chosen
race." Identity fuses a bizarre interpretation of the Old Testament,
with a belief in the idea that Anglo-Saxons are descendants from the
lost tribes of Israel, and favored by God. Blacks and Hispanics are
described as "mud people," and Jews are considered the tools of the
devil. "Project Megiddo" claims that Identity is a "unifying
theology" for a number of a fringe groups that reportedly pose a
threat, along with "Odinists" and other white supremacists including
the Aryan Nations sect.
Black extremists, including factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites
pose a threat of millennialist violence, and "are preparing for a race
war to close the millennium," says "Project Megiddo."
One possible BHI faction is the Stream of Knowledge, a sect implicated
in a reign of terror during the 1980s according to an intelligence
report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks
extremist movements. The organization operated a network of Temples
and other properties in 22 states worth an estimated $8 million; it
was linked to the murder of 14 persons.
Dissenters within the group were allegedly killed on the orders of
Hulon Mitchell Jr. who called himself Yahweh Ben Yahweh, Hebrew for
"God, son of God." The report quotes a "senior New Mexico law
enforcement official" who claimed, "Since 1992, we believe this group
has been building up a tremendous arsenal for the war against whites
they see coming." The Intelligence Reports adds: "Members allegedly
are preparing for a race war they expect to end in black victory by
the year 2000."
Mitchell was founder in the 1970s of a sect known as the Nation of
Yahweh, and had formerly been associated with Elija Muhammad's Nation
of Islam movement. Whereas the white racists of Christian Identity
believe that the Anglo-Saxons are the lineal descendants of the lost
tribes of Israel, the Nation of Yahweh reserved this status for
Ironically, Mitchell drew praises from white officials, including the
Mayor of Miami, for building a business empire that owned everything
from a printing shop and landscaping firm to a string of motels,
boutiques, food markets and beauty salons. On Nov. 7, 1990, Yahweh
Ben Yahweh was arrested along with 15 of his supporters, and indicted
on a string of charges including sacrificial murder to racketeering.
According to the Boston Globe, membership in Mitchell's terrorist sect
required that "an individual had to murder a 'white devil' and bring a
severed body part to Mitchell as proof of the killing."
Mitchell/Yahweh received an eighteen-year sentence and a $20,000 fine.
More details on the bizarre group can be found in Donna Kossy's book,
"Kooks, A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief" (Portland, 1994).
Unlike other Black movements, including civil rights groups or the
original Black Panther Party, sects like the "Hebrew Israelites" often
mirror the racism of their white counterparts in Christian Identity,
and fuse this with an apocalyptic religious agenda. Suliman Hyang, an
expert on black history at Howard University, says, "The racism,
paranoia and millennialism that they have is very flammable. They
want to take on the entire system, the entire world that they think is
evil and against them. The line between reality and imagination
doesn't exist for them."
Another focus of potential millennialist violence, according to
"Project Megiddo" is homosexuals. Presumably, this would originate
with extreme Christian and Christian Identity fundamentalists who have
a record of demonizing gays and lesbians. The Post delineates
"targets of domestic violence" that include "military facilities;
United Nations buildings and personnel; institutions associated with
the African American and Jewish communities and other racial and
religious minorities; gay men and lesbians; and foreign military units
residing on U.S. bases."
The reports claims: "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..."
The FBI says that the moniker for the intelligence gathering
operation -- Megiddo -- "is an apt title for a project that analyzes
those who believe the year 2000 will usher in the end of world and who
are willing to perpetrate acts of violence to bring that end about."
The Post and wire service reports say that while most of "Project
Megiddo" focuses on the potential for domestic violence, an "entire
portion" is devoted to the cultural and religious situation in
Jerusalem. Anywhere between two million and six million visitors,
many of them "religious pilgrims," are expected to flood the Middle
East and particularly Israel in celebration of the year 2000. Some
are expecting to see the Second Coming of Christ, and already Israeli
officials have established a special unit under the direction of Shin
Bet, the Israeli internal security service, to prepare for possible
"The study (Project Megiddo) ... says violence in Jerusalem, a holy
city for Christians, Jews and Muslims, could lead to problems in the
United States and around the world," notes the Post.
The FBI report observes: "Israeli officials are extremely concerned
that the Temple Mount, an area already seething with tension and
distrust among Muslims and Jews, will be the stage for violent
encounters between religious zealots. Additionally, several religious
cults have already made inroads into Israel, apparently in preparation
for what they believe to be the endtimes (sic)."
Indeed, Israeli police detained 21 people last week on suspicion that
they were members of an apocalyptic group intent on carrying out acts
of violence. Most of the religious pilgrims, though, while waiting
for the Second Coming and other events they say are prophesied in the
Bible, have no plan for religious terrorism, says James Tabor, a
University of North Carolina authority on millennialist sects.
"They believe in the secret rapture, that the next thing to happen is
Jesus taking them up to heaven," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"That's a harmless view."
He added that many of the millennialists pouring into the Holy Land
are "on the 50-yard line for the apocalypse."
A spokeswoman for the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, though, told
the Chronicle that "There are some Christian apocalyptic groups that
have clearly demonstrated violent tendencies."
The FBI's Gallagher told the Washington Post that he will warn the
International Chiefs of Police gathering that they should begin
preparations for what the paper described as "the unusually wide range
of interpretations people may bring to random events occurring on or
near Jan. 1, 2000..." Also singled out is the "role that the
Internet may play in spreading information -- or misinformation --
Major search engines currently yield little information on "Project
Megiddo," but there have been dozens of exchanges on various
discussion boards and news groups.
One writer charged that "under this report all Y2K preparers are
potential terrorists," and advised others to "make sure you've stocked
up on guns and ammo as well... If the government can burn down a
church in Waco, kill innocent people and run over the ruins with tanks
it can do the same to your house."
Another compared "Project Meggido" to "Kristalnacht," the night of
terror unleashed against German Jews in the early days of the Nazi
"Authoritarians are digging in for Y2K trouble in the U.S. and
abroad," observed one poster. He compared the FBI warning in "Project
Megiddo" to the actions of the Chinese government in its crackdown on
the Falun Gong and other groups. "Why are officials in Washington and
Beijing so scared of what's coming? Why are they both preparing
crackdowns on dissidents in anticipation of the year 2000?" he asked.
So, how reliable is "Project Megiddo" in its warning of possible
millennialist violence? Some may seem a parallel with the COINTELPRO
scandal of the 1960s and 1970s, when the FBI attempted to infiltrate
and provoke dissident political groups -- a program that led to
congressional probes, revelations of inappropriate, even dangerous
conduct by federal officials, and considerable embarrassment for the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Others may see "Project Megiddo" as
good cautionary advice in a different time, as apocalyptic sects
hunker down for the ultimate confrontation between good and evil.
Unfortunately, the fact that this document is being released only to a
select group of government officials without public review or more
open news media scrutiny suggests that we may not get the answer to
this question. What is certain is that many groups see the arrival of
the new millennium -- whether it is begins this New Year's Eve as
popular culture dictates, or next year as a more precise and
historically accurate temporal assessment requires -- as an event
overflowing with eschatological, religious significance. Millions
believe that we are truly entering the end times, and with a profound,
even disruptive and calamitous convulsion in human affairs.
For those transfixed on that temporal odometer, the transition to the
year 2000 ... and possibly the end of the world as we know it ...
there are 61 days left.
For further information"
http://www.mille.org (Center for Millennial Studies)
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