In just 56 days, the year 2000 will be celebrated jubilantly
around the world as no New Year ever has. But the coming turn of the
calendar also is being watched closely for signs of violent
behavior, including domestic terrorism.
Some of this concern is based on religious apocalyptic thinking
tied to the Christian calendar. Part of it is linked to the Y2K
computer problem, which some extremists see as a key element in the
conspiracy to bring about "one world government."
Tying together these links between very old theology and very new
technology, the FBI reported this week that "militias, adherents of
racist belief systems,... and other radical domestic extremists are
clearly focusing on the millennium as a time of action."
"Certain individuals from these various perspectives are
acquiring weapons, storing food and clothing, raising funds through
fraudulent means,... preparing compounds, surveying potential
targets, and recruiting new converts," warns the FBI, the result of
which is that "acts of violence in commemoration of the millennium
are just as likely to occur as not."
There also are connections to hate groups, especially virulent
anti-Semites - a major concern to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
and other Jewish groups. While noting that "most Christians welcome
the approaching millennium with a sense of renewal," the ADL also
warned recently that the most extreme millennialist Christians "see
the Jews solely as the embodiment of evil, plotting with the
Antichrist to destroy the world."
Reflecting these concerns, Israeli officials last week detained
and said they would deport 20 members of apocalyptic Christian
groups cited as threats to public safety.
Thirteen of the 20 are Americans. This is the third group of
Christian zealots ordered out by Israel, which is concerned about
potential troublemakers drawn to Jesus' birthplace at the end of the
"There is no question that a large number of extremists have
pegged the year 2000 as a critical date," reports the Southern
Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups,
militias, and other radical movements. "For many, it will be the
time when Christian patriots, the 'children of light,' must do
battle with the satanic 'forces of darkness.' "
Three recent incidents seem to bear this out. The man charged in
the August shootings at a Jewish day-care center in Los Angeles, the
man who killed two minorities and wounded 10 in Indiana and Illinois
before taking his own life, and the man convicted in the dragging
death of a black man in Jasper, Texas, all spoke of a "racial holy
war" tied to the millennium.
Experts see a pattern in such attacks.
"Given the already-evident tendency toward apocalyptic
scapegoating as we approach the year 2000, it is entirely
predictable that more people will be targeted as evil agents of the
satanic Antichrist, traitorous minions of the globalist new world
order, or simply sinners to be disciplined and kept in line in
religious campaigns of coercive purity," says Chip Berlet, senior
analyst at Political Research Associates, a private research
organization in Somerville, Mass. …