Cults began to become commonplace in the 1960s coinciding with the growth of a variety of alternative and experimental lifestyles. Religion, indeed, has re-emerged in contemporary times as a powerful inspiration for conflict, as shown by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
In the 1980s, 104 individuals who were members of, or associated with, the Christian Identity Movement were indicted for terrorism or terrorist-related offences in the USA. This movement originated in England in the 18th century and was known as Anglo-Israelism - based on the premise that Christ was of Aryan origin and the ten lost tribes of Israel migrated to Europe and Britain. The settling of America by British colonists was the fulfilment of a directive by God to create a Promised Land. It was strongly racist.
Identity groups in general had been preparing to fight and prevail in the final conflict on earth for many years, and did not turn to terrorism until the early-1980s. Identity ideology justified the use of terrorism as a prelude to war - the Armageddon that would establish Christ's kingdom on earth. In 1988 some members were charged with conspiracy to overthrow the American government, but they were acquitted. The Identity extremists chose to build popular support by creating permanent survivalist corps, which could easily be located and observed by the FBI. It was easy to find the written communications and tape telephone calls. The FBI was able to infiltrate some extremist groups and persuade other members to testify against their former comrades.
The siege at Waco, Texas between the Branch Davidian cult and the FBI led to the deaths of over 100 persons in April 1993 including 24 British, and David Koresh (formerly Vernon Howell) became their Messiah, and died with them in the siege; but whether by the fire caused when the FBI stormed the building using CS Gas or by collective suicide will never be known.
The incident brought to an end 35 years of tenure at Waco by the Branch Davidians. This cult was devoted to a liberal interpretation of the Bible who follow the tenets of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (a strongly Protestant group who believe Christ's coming is imminent and they observe Saturday instead of Sunday as their Sabbath).
The Branch Davidians were an example of a doomsday cult. Revenge for the Waco siege was wrought against Oklahoma two years later.
The Militia Movement attracted many people including non-whites and others who did not share Identity goals but who served as 'useful fools' in a mass resistance to gain control. The militia's Identity leaders sought out sympathisers from the ranks who could be recruited into terror cells.
In 1995, the Oklahoma Bombing split the Militia Movement, bringing it underneath greater public scrutiny. Timothy McVeigh, a Militia member was found guilty of the atrocity and executed in 2001.
Militias, however, still exist in over half of the states in America, and since 1995 numerous incidents purporting to come from their ranks have occurred: bombs, train derailments, attacks on abortion clinics, and events on 19 April each year (the anniversary of the Waco Siege and Oklahoma bombing).
In Canada, the Order of the Solar Temple has been active - the movement was founded in Switzerland in the late 1970s and in Canada in 1984. Nearly 50 members died in Switzerland in 1994 when firebombs exploded in two villages. They embraced a variety of doctrines including Christianity, New Age beliefs, the occult, and science fiction and practised Druid-style worship. They believed in an imminent apocalypse and therefore stockpiled arms and built nuclear bomb-proof bunkers. Money was obtained by deception from gullible wealthy professionals. They attacked targets in Quebec province, suicides occurred, and one could surmise there was sympathy with Quebec Separatists.
In the former Soviet bloc, cults have arisen again with the collapse of Communism, the most
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Publication information: Book title: Dictionary of Terrorism. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: John Richard Thackrah - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 59.
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