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‘Waco’ author Jeff Guinn Discusses the demagoguery David Koresh NPR

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The Texas ATF flags can be flown at half staff April 23, 1993: The only structure that survived after the fire destroyed the other. Branch Davidian compound Waco, Texas On April 19.

J. David Ake/AFP via Getty Images


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The Texas ATF flags can be flown at half staff April 23.03.93, the last structure standing after the fire destroyed the The Branch Davidian compound Waco, Texas On April 19.

J. David Ake/AFP via Getty Images

In In 1993, there were more than 80 people in the winter and spring, including at least 20 children and four federal agents. Two violent confrontations between federal law enforcement officials and the Branch Davidian Christian Sect Near Waco, Texas. Extremist Since then, groups have cited the attacks as evidence of conspiracy theories against the government.

In His new book is now available. Waco: David Koresh, The Branch Davidians And a Legacy Of Rage, author Jeff Guinn The leader of the group. David KoreshAs a religious demagogue, he took several teenage brides and declared that he and his followers would cause a conflict that would see the end of all days.

“David Koresh wanted to make sure that when the final battle occurred, his followers would be able to fight the way the Book of Revelation said they must,” Guinn says. “It had to be an all-out battle. His people were going to die, but, obviously, they had to be ready to kill the the agents of Babylon.”

Government Agents began to investigate. Branch Davidians Over allegations that children living at the compound were being abused, and that the group was stockpiling weaponry. On The morning of Feb. 28, 1993, The agents include 76 Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms (ATF), arrived at the compound, which was called Mount CarmelYou are sure to surprise the group.

“[The agents] were given no information about what the Branch Davidians believed, what their religious faith meant,” Guinn says. “They thought from their sources that all the guns were kept in a locked room at Mount Carmel, a room that could only be opened with Koresh’s permission.”

In fact, Koresh The group had handed out weapons at the compound so that most of its members were stocked up with ammunition and guns. What’s Continue reading: Branch Davidians The ATF was on its way. The gunfight lasted three hours, and five people were killed. Branch Davidians The deaths of four federal agents led to their expulsion.

“Almost one third of the ATF agents are carried away, bleeding or dead from this fight,” Guinn says. “Before noon on this day, ATF is dragging itself away like a defeated army.”

The standoff lasted 51 days, and the FBI then took control of the ATF. Hostage Negotiators tried convincing Koresh You can surrender. MeanwhileTactical experts had planned for a second raid, which would use CS gas (a type tear gas) as a means to drive out the group members.

“In small doses, [the gas] wasn’t supposed to be flammable, and it wasn’t supposed to really be too physically affecting beyond irritation to eyes and skin,” Guinn says. “It would be enough, if inserted gradually, so the Branch Davidians would come out.”

On April 19th 1993: The FBI was moving forward with its plan. But, something went horribly wrong. The fire engulfed the entire compound. Mount Carmel In flames, killing all but nine people. LaterEach side could claim the other responsible for the conflagration but Guinn He points out that, of all the entities involved in the dispute, only one desired it to end with death.

“The ATF and the FBI both went in, not just with the hope, but with the actual determination that no lives were going to be lost. ATF and FBI officials made terrible mistakes that led to loss of life, and that is horrible. But it was not the original intention,” He says. “Only the Branch Davidian agenda required people to die.”

Interview Highlights

Waco: David Koresh, The Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage, by Jeff Guinn

Waco: David Koresh, The Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage, by Jeff Guinn

On How Koresh’s He was a beneficiary of his teachings

What David Koresh would do it for his followers at Mount Carmel It is sometimes announced that God had sent him a “new light,” Unveil a new message The Initial messages basically mentioned ways that everyone could work together better. Love the Lord Continue reading and you will be saved at the end of all things. But Slowly, some of these are being implemented “new lights” benefited David Koresh No one else. This It is not uncommon for religious demagogues to claim a special connection with them. God.

The first thing he claimed — even though he already had a wife, a 14-year-old girl, pushing legal limits in Texas, but she had her parents permission so the marriage was legal — he announced that God Now, he wanted to have multiple wives. He He pointed out scripture passages to support his claim. He claimed that he needed multiple wives as it was his duty to have 24 children, who would then become elders and rule over the kingdom of. God’s At the end of times, they are reestablished. Then He further announced that the number of women who are at Mount Carmel, every woman of childbearing age — and that would be, say, from 12 up — were now his wives and could have sex only with him for procreation purposes. The The husbands of these women were prohibited from having sex. And Koresh This was a blessing for them as it meant they could concentrate their energies on the study of the Bible You are more valuable and you will be more successful. Lord. So It was sex. It Everybody else’s wives. And He even made the decision God he wanted the only unit of air conditioning in his home. Mount Carmel.

On The Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms (ATF), targeting the Branch Davidians Their illegal weapon stockpile

The Branch Davidians Wanted to start using guns to raise funds. They We would purchase semiautomatic guns, add parts and turn them into automated weapons. This would bring us a substantial profit. It They were also able to build the stockpile. Mount Carmel Their final battle. They Not only did they have the guns, but also grenade shells or powders. So They also made illegal grenades. …

[The ATF] Heard it from two disgruntled people Branch Davidians That was the name of the person who had left. Koresh He was actually training people to use these weapons. Branch Davidians You might even launch an attack from there Mount Carmel Civilians around WacoIt was expected that there would be a mass attack, or even mass suicide, similar to the one that took place a few years ago. JonestownWith Peoples Temple In Guyana.

So The ATF made this decision: They You will be entering Mount CarmelThey’ll raid the illegal guns, and then they will arrest the person in charge. David Koresh.

On 51-day standoff between FBI and the Branch Davidians

Inside Mount Carmel, David’s Many followers waited for the right moment. He They had been promised that they would be transformed into great glory. Nothing It was happening. Nobody You can trust the other side. It is impossible to communicate with the other party if they don’t want it to. Until Finally, the final part. [Koresh] He said that he would be permitted to explain the seven seals of The Seven Seals to the public if he was allowed. Book Of Revelation If you reach out to the religious leaders of the country, he would be accompanied by his followers. That His promise was kept. The FBI believed him and decided to do something to end the siege.

On The fire that erupted at Mount Carmel

It It was a cold, windy day. The [gas] First, the canisters went in. The FBI stated that there was gunfire coming from Mount Carmel. Surviving Branch Davidians It is impossible to believe that this has ever happened. But Whatever happened, all the canisters were emptied and slowly swirling clouds of CS gas spread throughout the building. The Only heat Branch Davidians Had come from Coleman Oil lanterns that required little flames Within Within a matter of hours, the gas had ignited. It It was inevitable. There It was so many that the building was built like a book of matches. The Fire was almost instantaneous The Flames rose in the air. Of The Branch Davidians Only nine people managed to escape from the prison cell. No One more came out. Everyone Others died in a fiery hell. It’s It is almost impossible to imagine how horrendous it was.

On Protests against the government Waco

Maybe The most vocal and obvious group were those who saw in. Waco They found the same truths they suspected earlier Ruby Ridge [Idaho] About six months prior, the United States Government was actively trying to murder gun-owning, law abiding citizens who had never done anything wrong to anyone else. There Many militants were selling bumper stickers and T shirts that criticize the government. One of them — and we have a picture of this in the book — was a guy named Timothy McVeighTwo years later, he would blow up the federal building. Oklahoma City In protest of the events in Waco. It Was here that Waco Ground zero for future militancy. And Waco To the conspirators, it would be a symbol of the evil of American government.

On The FBI’s response

If We all know that trying to cover up minor mistakes when they have been made can be disastrous. Just look at the following. Mount Carmel In Waco. In The FBI claimed that they had just done what had been agreed with the attorney General, slowly inserting CS gas. It was all non-flammable and that this was their response to the fire. Attorney General [Janet] Reno It was agreed to. They They had lied to the attorney general that they had used non-combustible rounds and some combustible military round for gas injection. But These military rounds did not actually burst into flames. The The fires started several hours after these rounds were fired. But The FBI was caught lying about it, and it made it very easy for conspiracists say they’re lying about everything.

On Talking with the surviving Branch Davidians30 years later

I’ve written about Charles Manson I’ve During all those years, I spoke to some of his followers and to people who followed him. Jim Jones Survived Jonestown. And These people would undoubtedly say it. “How could I believe this? What a fool I was.” But The people who survived Mount CarmelWho believed in David Koresh, believe in him to this day — that what the ATF did, and then the FBI [did]Perfectly satisfied David’s Prophecy that he will be with the other victims of death Mount Carmel They have been translated and are currently awaiting translation. God is going to bring them back at his head of his armies. We’re going to have this clash, and the end will come. They’ve This belief has been maintained for more than 30 years. It’s unshakable. And That is my opinion. David Koresh. How Can it be any other?

Sam Briger Thea Chaloner This interview was produced and edited by me. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper Meghan Sullivan It was adapted for the internet.

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