Two days after Ramzi Yousef's attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the FBI and the Texas National Guard surrounded the Mount Carmel Center compound outside of Waco, Texas. They were there to search the property of the Branch Davidians, a religious cult, due to allegations that cult members were sexually abusing children and had assault weapons. When they began searching, the Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh, fired on them, starting a firefight and a nearly two month long siege of the compound.
The siege of the compound ended on April 19, 1993 with the deaths of over 75 cult members, including children, and in the wake of the event there was a lot of soul searching, but in addition to influencing how the government approached potential future conflicts with other groups, Waco's most important legacy was that it enraged people who already had an anti-government bent. As it turned out, the most notable was a young Gulf War veteran named Timothy McVeigh, who came to Waco during the siege and shouted his support for gun rights.
After the siege ended, McVeigh was determined to strike back at the federal government. In 1994, McVeigh and an old Army buddy, Michael Fortier, decided they would bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because several federal agencies had offices inside, including the ATF. With the help of Terry Nichols, McVeigh constructed a bomb out of fertilizer that weighed over two tons and placed it in a rented Ryder truck, the same company Ramzi Yousef had rented a van from.
At about 9:00 a.m. on April 19, 1995, the second anniversary of the end of the siege in Waco, McVeigh's bomb exploded with a force so powerful that it registered seismic readings across much of Oklahoma and could be heard 50 miles away. The explosion killed 168 people, including young children in the building's day-care center. McVeigh was captured shortly after the explosion, and he never displayed remorse for his actions. When he later learned about the day-care center, McVeigh called the children "collateral damage".
At the time, the bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in history, and McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, three months before the bombing became the second deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in history.
©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors