WASHINGTON - The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning Tuesday of possible Year 2000 violence by cults seeking to spark the apocalypse or by groups who see a conspiracy to impose world government.
"Extremists from various ideological perspectives attach significance to the arrival of the Year 2000 and there are some signs of preparations for violence," a 32-page report by the FBI's domestic terrorism unit concluded.
The report was the same as one distributed to police chiefs nationwide but omitted some "law enforcement-specific information," FBI spokesman Bill Carter said.
Two weeks ago, the FBI announced it had completed the report, a "strategic assessment" of the potential for domestic terrorism linked to the approaching millennium.
The project, based on intelligence-gathering, was named Megiddo after a hill in northern Israel linked to Armageddon, the prophesied final battle between the forces of good and evil.
Carter said the FBI decided to publish "Project Megiddo" on its Web site (www.fbi.gov <http://www.fbi.gov> ) because "it is something the public should be aware of."
Simultaneously, FBI officials spelled out the perceived threat Tuesday at a closed-door meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The study focused largely on end-of-the-world prophesies by religious extremists and on conspiracy theorists fearful of a supposed United Nations plot to create a "One World Government."
It said religiously motivated extremists may launch violent attacks on law enforcement officials "aimed at precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible."
Certain militias and adherents of racist ideologies, including one called "Christian Identity" and another called "Odinism," have been stocking up on weapons, surveying potential targets, storing food and clothing and recruiting in anticipation of the millennium "as a time of action," the report said.
Any power outages or breakdowns triggered by the Year 2000 computer glitch, better known as Y2K, are likely to be viewed by New World Order conspiracists as indicative of a "larger conspiracy," the FBI warned.
In Charlotte, Neil Gallagher, head of the FBI's national security division, told reporters one danger was that conspiracy theorists would misinterpret any system failures "as a sign that in fact the New World Order is beginning."
"Several religiously motivated groups envision a quick, fiery ending in an apocalyptic battle," the report said. "Others may initiate a sustained campaign of terrorism in the United States to prevent the New World Order."
"Armed with the urgency of the millennium as a motivating factor, new clandestine groups may conceivably form to engage in violence toward the U.S. government or its citizens," it said.
Although mainly devoted to domestic threats, the FBI said Israeli officials were extremely concerned about possible violence in Jerusalem, a holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews.
"Israeli officials are extremely concerned that the Temple Mount, an area already seething with tension and distrust among Jews and Moslems, will be the stage for violent encounters between religious zealots," the report said.
Gallagher said the FBI was concerned about possible suicide attacks among other threats. But "acts of violence in commemoration of the millennium are just as likely to happen as not," the report said.
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