By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
WASHINGTONAbortion-rights activists were puzzling over two new letters purportedly written by FBI fugitive Eric Rudolph and found Monday in North Carolina threatening the "abortion industry" with "execution." Rudolph is on the lam, wanted by the feds in connection with a North Carolina abortion clinic bombing and a blast at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Last fall during the anthrax attacks, he was mentioned as a possible culprit, if only because he was on the loose and the abortion clinics had been hit with past anthrax threats. Letters and statements attributed to the Army of God celebrated anthrax scares at abortion clinics around the country and claimed credit for the Olympic attack in Atlanta, among others. Numerous clinics had received envelopes containing a white powder.
Noting that the Army of God is dedicated to using "lethal force" against the abortion industry, the purported Rudolph letter says that "we the remnant of the god-fearing men and women of the United States of Amerika (sic) do officially declare war on the entire child killing industry." The letter adds that because "all of the options have expired, we are forced to take arms against you. Our life for yoursa simple equation. Dreadful. Sad. Reality, nonetheless. You shall not be tortured at our hands. Vengeance belongs to God only. However, execution is rarely gentle."
"It's important law enforcement officials take this threat very seriously," said Vicky Suporta, president of the National Abortion Federation in D.C. She said her group will be meeting with a Justice Department task force on violence against reproductive health care providers next week "to discuss a number of issues, including these new threats."
The letters were found at an Andrews, North Carolina, newspaper and a shoe store. At the top were the words "Eric Robert Rudolph." Similar letters were found in the area in 1998. At that time, any connection to Rudolph was ruled out by the cops. A Florida native, Rudolph is charged with the 1996 bombing of Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park that killed one person and injured more than 100. He also has been charged in a 1998 blast at a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic. An off-duty police officer was killed in the explosion and a nurse maimed. He also is a suspect in the bombings of an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub in Atlanta. He is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
On Wednesday evening, the official story was that Rudolph wasn't the writer of the newly found epistles. A spokesperson for the Southeast Bomb Task Force, which includes FBI agents along with cops, said, "The author of the letters is unknown, but there is nothing in the letters indicating it was authored by Rudolph or any other identifiable person."