In the shadowy world of militias, conspiracy theorists, and others
tied to the radical antigovernment movement, one figure stands out as
a link between such groups and the law-enforcement agencies they
James "Bo" Gritz has tried to bring an end to several armed
standoffs in recent years, sometimes with notable success.
But in the process, the former Green Beret colonel, who served as
a model of sorts for the movie character Rambo, also has alienated
many antigovernment activists who once saw Mr. Gritz as a leader of
In recent days, Gritz and a small band of supporters have been
combing the North Carolina woods in search of Eric Rudolph, who is on
the FBI's list of 10 most-wanted fugitives for allegedly bombing an
abortion clinic in Alabama last January.
Mr. Rudolph, who has eluded hundreds of federal agents, also is
wanted for questioning in the Atlanta bombing during the 1996 summer
Officials say they did not ask Gritz for help, and they warned
that any freelance searchers could be in danger. But authorities did
not forbid Gritz's Operation Cross from proceeding, and the number of
federal agents in the area was reduced by more than half.
Gritz says he wants to save the fugitive's life, and he promises
to dedicate any reward money to Rudolph's legal defense.
Rudolph is seen as a hero by some right-wing radicals. But in a
flurry of e-mail criticism, Gritz has been referred to as a
"backstabbing Judas ... a Trojan horse" - and much worse - by hard-
core antigovernment activists suspicious of his motives.
Gritz calls himself a "chief leader of the American Patriot
"I don't like abortion," Gritz has said. "But the way to do it is
not with a bomb. It's cowardly and indiscriminate and murderous."
"True extremists in the movement recognize that Gritz would never
cross the line into revolution against the government," says Kerry
Noble, a former leader of Covenant, Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, a
violent hate group active in the 1980s.
"Bo Gritz would only be looked upon by the die-hards of the
movement as a compromiser," Mr. Noble says, "someone who interferes
in standoffs that the movement hopes will bring about the bloodshed
of law enforcement and an uprising of the patriotic movement."
Gritz is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who became
controversial when he led unofficial, unsuccessful forays into
Southeast Asia in search of American military personnel unaccounted
for after the war. …