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Eric Robert Rudolph

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Template:Infobox FBI Ten Most Wanted 1990s Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American Christian terrorist[1][2][3][4] who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States which killed three people and injured at least 150 others. He declared that his bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion and what he describes as "the homosexual agenda." He spent years as the FBI's most wanted criminal fugitive, but was eventually caught. In 2005 Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges and accepted five consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and the death penalty. Rudolph was connected with the Christian Identity movement;[2] today, he self-identifies as a Catholic and has repeatedly denied that his crimes were religiously or racially motivated.[5]

Early lifeEdit

Rudolph was born in Merritt Island, Florida. After his father, Robert, died in 1981, he moved with his mother and siblings to Nantahala, Macon County, in Western North Carolina. He attended ninth grade at the Nantahala School but dropped out after that year and worked as a carpenter with his older brother Daniel. His mother believed in survivalism and instilled this ideology in him.

After Rudolph received his GED, he attended Western Carolina University in Cullowhee for two semesters[2] in 1985 and 1986. In August 1987, Rudolph enlisted in the U.S. Army, undergoing basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was discharged in January 1989 while serving with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, reportedly for smoking marijuana.[6] In 1988, the year before his discharge, Rudolph had attended the Air Assault School at Fort Campbell. He attained the rank of Specialist/E-4.

BombingsEdit

Template:Essay-entry Of the bombings Rudolph committed, the most notorious was the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta on July 27, 1996, during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The blast killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others. Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman who ran to the scene following the blast, died of a heart attack. Rudolph's motive for the bombings, according to his April 13, 2005 statement, was political:

In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even though the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song "Imagine" by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.

The plan was to force the cancellation of the Games, or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested.

If this was indeed the plan, it was unsuccessful. Olympic organizers did not even cancel the day's events.

Rudolph's statement did authoritatively clear Richard Jewell, a Centennial Olympic Park security guard, of any involvement in the bombings. Jewell had been falsely accused of participation in the bombing a few days after the incident, after having been initially hailed as a hero for being the first one to spot Rudolph's explosive device, for saving lives, and for helping to clear the area. When he came (erroneously) under FBI suspicion for involvement in the crime, Jewell became the prime suspect, and an international news story. Rudolph's confession vindicated Jewell.

Rudolph has also confessed to the bombings of an abortion clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs on January 16, 1997, a gay and lesbian nightclub, the Otherside Lounge, in Atlanta on February 21, 1997, injuring five, and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29, 1998, killing officer Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. Rudolph's bombs were made of dynamite surrounded by nails which acted as shrapnel.

He is said to have targeted the health clinic and office building because abortions were performed there, and targeted the Otherside Lounge because it was a predominantly lesbian nightclub.

FugitiveEdit

Rudolph was first identified as a suspect in the Alabama bombing by the Department of Justice on February 14, 1998. He was named as a suspect in the three Atlanta incidents on October 14, 1998.

On May 5, 1998, he became the 454th Fugitive listed by the FBI on the Ten Most Wanted list. The FBI considered him to be armed and extremely dangerous, and offered a $1,000,000 reward for information leading directly to his arrest. He spent more than five years in the Appalachian wilderness as a fugitive, during which federal and amateur search teams scoured the area without success.

It is thought that Rudolph had the assistance of sympathizers while evading capture. Some in the area were vocal in support of him. Two country music songs were written about him and a locally top-selling T-shirt read: "Run Rudolph Run." Many Christian Identity adherents are outspoken in their support of Rudolph; the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, notes that "extremist chatter on the Internet has praised Rudolph as 'a hero' and some followers of hate groups are calling for further acts of violence to be modeled after the bombings he is accused of committing."[7]

The Rudolph family supported Eric and believed he was innocent of all charges,[8] but found themselves under intense questioning and surveillance.[9] On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, Eric's older brother, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media."[10] The hand was successfully reattached.

According to Rudolph's own writings, he survived during his years as a fugitive by camping in the woods, gathering acorns and salamanders, pilfering vegetable gardens, stealing grain from a grain silo, and raiding dumpsters in a nearby town.[11][12]

Arrest and guilty pleaEdit

Rudolph was arrested in Murphy, North Carolina, on May 31, 2003,[13] by police officer Jeffrey Scott Postell of the Murphy Police Department as Rudolph scavenged for food in a garbage can behind a Save-A-Lot store at about 4 a.m.; Postell, on routine patrol, had just joined the department on his 21st birthday less than a year before Rudolph's capture and originally suspected a burglary in progress.[14]

Rudolph was unarmed and did not resist arrest. When arrested, he was clean-shaven, with a trimmed mustache, and wearing new sneakers, potentially indicating that he was harbored by supporters while on the run. Federal authorities charged him on October 14, 2003. Despite his reputed antisemitism, Rudolph was defended by Jewish attorney Richard S. Jaffe, who said he knew of Rudolph's beliefs but stated that Rudolph took no issue with his Jewish faith.

On April 8, 2005, the Department of Justice announced that Rudolph agreed to plead guilty in all the attacks he was accused of executing, thus avoiding the death penalty. The deal was confirmed after the FBI found 250 pounds (113 kg) of dynamite he hid in the forests of North Carolina. His revelation of the dynamite was a condition of his plea agreement. He made his pleas in person in Birmingham and Atlanta courts on April 13. He also released a statement in which he explained his actions and rationalized them as serving the cause of anti-abortion and anti-gay activism.

In his statement, he claimed that he had "deprived the government of its goal of sentencing me to death," and that "the fact that I have entered an agreement with the government is purely a tactical choice on my part and in no way legitimates the moral authority of the government to judge this matter or impute my guilt."[15]

The terms of the plea agreement were that Rudolph would be sentenced to four consecutive life terms. He was officially sentenced July 18, 2005, to two consecutive life terms without parole for the 1998 murder of a police officer.[16] He was sentenced for his various bombings in Atlanta on August 22, 2005, receiving three consecutive life terms. That same day, Rudolph was sent to the ADX Florence supermax federal prison. Rudolph is inmate # 18282-058 within the US federal prison system. Like other supermax inmates, he spends 22½ hours per day in his 80 ft² (7.4 m²) concrete cell.[17]

Alleged motivationsEdit

After Rudolph's arrest for the bombings, the Washington Post reported that the FBI considered Rudolph to have "had a long association with the radical Christian Identity movement, which asserts that North European whites are the direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people."[18] Christian Identity is a white supremacist sect that holds that those who are not white Christians will be condemned to Hell. In the same article, the Post reported that some FBI investigators believed Rudolph may have written letters that claimed responsibility for the nightclub and abortion clinic bombings on behalf of the Army of God, a terrorist group associated with Christian Identity.

In a statement released after he entered a guilty plea, Rudolph denied being a supporter of the Christian Identity movement, claiming that his involvement amounted to a brief association with the daughter of a Christian Identity adherent, later identified as Pastor Daniel Gayman. When asked about his religion he said, "I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one."Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag. In other written statements, Rudolph has cited Biblical passages and offered religious motives for his militant opposition to abortion.[19].

Some mainstream books and media outlets have portrayed Rudolph as a "Christian Identity extremist" or a "Christian terrorist." Harper's Magazine referred to him as a "Christian terrorist." [20] The NPR radio program "On Point" referred to him as a "Christian Identity extremist."[21] The Voice of America reported that Rudolph could be seen as part of an "attempt to try to use a Christian faith to try to forge a kind of racial and social purity." [22] Writing in 2004, authors Michael Shermer and Dennis McFarland saw Rudolph's story as an example of "religious extremism in America," warning that the phenomenon he represented was "particularly potent when gathered together under the umbrella of militia groups,"[23] whom they believe to have protected Rudolph while he was a fugitive.

Rudolph himself has written "Many good people continue to send me money and books. Most of them have, of course, an agenda; mostly born-again Christians looking to save my soul. I suppose the assumption is made that because I'm in here I must be a 'sinner' in need of salvation, and they would be glad to sell me a ticket to heaven, hawking this salvation like peanuts at a ballgame. I do appreciate their charity, but I could really do without the condescension. They have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible."[24]

Writings from prisonEdit

Although Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations give wardens the right to restrict or reject correspondence by an inmate for "the protection of the public, or if it might facilitate criminal activity," including material "which may lead to the use of physical violence," essays which condone violence and militant action written by Rudolph, who is incarcerated in the most secure part of ADX Florence in Colorado, are being published by an Army of God anti-abortion activist who posts Rudolph's essays on an Internet website. [25]While victims maintain that Rudolph's messages are harassment and could incite violence, according to Alice H. Martin, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama at the time of Rudolph's prosecution for the Alabama bombing, there is little the prison can do to restrict the publication of his letters. "An inmate does not lose his freedom of speech," she said.[26] However, the Department of Justice in 2006 criticized the same prison for not properly screening the mail of three inmates convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing after determining the men sent letters from the prison to suspected terrorists overseas.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Washington Post, "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?", June 2, 2003. Retrieved Jan. 29, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 CNN, "Eric Robert Rudolph: Loner and survivalist", December 13, 2003. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  3. CNN, "Rudolph agrees to plea agreement", April 12, 2005. Retrieved Jun. 29, 2008
  4. Christian Science Monitor, How did Eric Rudolph survive?, June 4, 2003. Retrieved Jun. 29, 2008
  5. Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press (2005). Eric Rudolph, proud killer (HTML). Newspaper online version. Associated Press/The Decatur Daily. Retrieved on 2006-12-11.
  6. Jeffrey Gettleman with David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times, "Suspect in '96 Olympic Bombing And 3 Other Attacks Is Caught", June 1, 2003. Retrieved Oct 9, 2007.
  7. Anti-Defamation League, "Extremist Chatter Praises Eric Rudolph as 'Hero.'", June 3, 2003. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  8. Henry Schuster, CNN, "Why did Rudolph do it?", April 15, 2005. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  9. Jeff Stein, Salon.com, "A twisted tale of two brothers", Jan. 29, 1999. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  10. CNN, "Bombing suspect's brother cuts hand off with saw", March 9, 1998. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  11. Lick the Floor January 27, 2004
  12. Lil
  13. FBI, "Statement of Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding the arrest of Eric Robert Rudolph", May 31, 2003. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  14. "Atlanta Olympic bombing suspect arrested." CNN. 31 May 2003.
  15. Excerpts from Eric Rudolph's statement April 13, 2005
  16. Associated Press, "Eric Rudolph Gets Life Without Parole", July 18, 2005. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  17. R. Scott Rappold, The Colorado Springs Gazette, "Olympic bomber Rudolph calls Supermax home",September 14, 2005. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  18. Alan Cooperman, Washington Post, "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?", June 2, 2003. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2006.
  19. Full text of Eric Rudolph's written statement Army of God website
  20. Harpers Magazine Terrorism
  21. Most Wanted Extremist, Eric Rudolph, Caught June 03, 2003
  22. Arrest of Accused Olympic Park Bomber Sparks Debate on 'Christian Terrorism', 05 Jun 2003, VOANews
  23. The Science of Good and Evil
  24. Special report: Eric Rudolph writes home July 5, 2005
  25. Army of God's homepage for Rudolph December 18, 2007
  26. Extremist Taunts His Victims From Prison May 14, 2007

ReferencesEdit

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