The Army of God

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When people talk about terrorist organisations several ideas spring to mind, for many after the events of September 11th terrorism is associated with Islam or the Middle East. For many in Britain until recent years terrorism was associated with the struggles in Northern Ireland, for those in Europe it could mean communist groups. Despite this there is a long history of small terrorist groups normally of a fundamentalist religious nature who carry out attacks on certain parts of society who don’t follow their own moral teachings.

One such group is the US based Christian fundamentalist group know as the Army of God. This group promotes the use of violence against abortion clinics and the homosexual community. The Army of God has been linked to several bombing of such clinics and uses biblical justification (in their eyes) for attacks on medical staff that carry out abortions. Pastor Michael Bray a leading member of the organisation has served time in prison for the bombing of abortion clinics. The Army of God developed a manual to advise members on how to attack clinics using arson, acid and also instructions on bomb making.

The manual demonstrates the core belief of the organisation as being anti abortion, homophobic and highly critical of the US government for not up holding what it sees as Christian values. In 1998 a member of the Army of God (James Kopp) shot and killed Dr Barnett Slepian and it is believed the organisation was linked to many other similar shootings between 1994 and 1997. The Army of God has also attempted to utilise public fears over a terrorist biological attack with one member, Clayton Waagner, sending over 550 letters to abortion clinics in 2001 claiming they contained anthrax and would infect anyone who opened them.

It is believed the group operates a basic terrorist cell system. Coupled with the very close knit nature of the communities many of the members come from the Army of God has been a hard organisation to eradicate although they seem to lack the expertise, funding or knowledge to carry out a large scale effective attack. It is believed that the Army of God may also be building up to carry out attacks on the Gay and Lesbian community similar to the bombing London saw against the Gay community in May 1999 which killed 2 people. It is unlikely that the Army of God has any real organisation beyond isolated groups and no strong leadership has been identified although several individuals have associated themselves with the group. Most famously it was associated with bombings at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics which killed one person and injured over a hundred others, the first known reference to the group was in connection with kidnapping in 1980. The Army of God is a good example of this kind of low level fundamentalist terrorist groups, who gain their limited knowledge and skills from the internet or a few ex military members, carry out low level attacks and criminal activity to further what they see as their own moral code. Such groups are frequently racist and close knit.

How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (17 August 2007), The Army of God, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_army_of_god.html

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