INVESTIGATORS DREAD PROSPECT THAT CHURCH FIRES ARE EPIDEMIC.Byline: Michael J. Sniffen Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
Federal investigators probing a surge in African-American church fires fear they may confront a foe more dangerous and harder to stop than a national conspiracy: an epidemic of individuals or tiny groups acting separately out of racial hatred.
``The prospect of a conspiracy is a chilling thing,'' Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick, co-chair of the fires task force, said in an interview. ``But the prospect that these are separate acts of racism is even worse.''
Not only would the legal cases be ``harder to prove and more work,'' but ``an epidemic of individual terrorists . . . is tougher as a social problem,'' said Patrick, who heads the Justice Department's civil rights division.
As one Treasury agent on the case said, ``Conspiracies are easier to crack because it's harder for two people than one to keep a secret. We spent 18 years chasing the Unabomber and ended up charging a total loner loner Psychiatry A single young man estranged from society and family, who suffers from psychogenic pain, and tends to live 'on the edge', vacillating between aggression and depression; loners often have unrealistic goals, but are unable to work towards those goals .''
But conspiracy hasn't been ruled out. Some small ones have been uncovered and convictions won - each in a different locality.
For the first time, the federal task force is merging computer files on 216 attacks since May 1990 on white churches, African-American churches, synagogues and mosques so they can be searched for patterns.
``We have been trying to investigate the possibility of links within small numbers of cases or across regions or even nationally,'' Patrick said. Combining these FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms This is an extensive list of small arms — pistol, machine gun, grenade launcher, anti-tank rifle — that includes variants.
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And, after two weeks of intense publicity and stepped up investigations:
Federal civil rights charges are not far off in a South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. case where two Ku Klux Klan Ku Klux Klan (k' klŭks klăn), designation mainly given to two distinct secret societies that played a part in American history, although other less important groups have also used members have been charged locally in two African-American church fires a year ago.
More FBI and ATF ATF Molecular virology Activating transcription factor A cellular protein that stimulates transcription of adenovirus E4 transcription unit, which acts early in infection at any of several 'enhancer' binding sites agents and civil rights prosecutors are soon to be added with $21.5 million in extra funding for what is already the largest federal arson investigation in history. Nearly 250 federal agents are at work with an equal number of state troopers Troopers in the United States civilian police forces usually refer to members of state highway patrols, state patrols, or state police agenciess. and local policemen.
More than 800 citizen tips have come into a toll-free federal hotline - ``some very useful and some nutty ones,'' according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. one federal agent.
The first systematic prevention efforts have begun: volunteer church-sitters, new locks and lights on churches and more frequent police patrols.
This activity is in response to a surge in attacks on churches since January 1995, particularly fires in African-American churches in the Southeast.
More than 55 percent of the 216 church attacks investigated by federal agents since 1990 came in the past 18 months - two-thirds of the recent ones in the Southeast.
And 56 percent of the recent attacks targeted African-American churches even though there are far more white churches.