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The Waco siege and its lasting impact on America was revisited

The Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel compound outside Waco burned to the ground in April 1993. Photo: Greg Smith/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

What happened 30 years ago at Mount Carmel, outside Waco, is still affecting America, according to the author of a new book.

Driving the news: Next month will mark the 30th anniversary of the deadly ATF raid on a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians and the ensuing standoff that drew international attention.

  • “Waco,” by Fort Worth author Jeff Guinn, includes never-before-seen, first-hand accounts from ATF agents who participated in the original raid on February 28, 1993.
  • Many agents believed there was a plan in place to prevent shootings at virtually any cost.

The big picture: The events of the spring of 1993 have become “ground zero for the ongoing formation of anti-government militias whose obsession with conspiracy theories is the basis for a series of violent acts, from the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US capitol,” Guinn tells Axios.

  • “Many of today’s rebel leaders cite Waco as an inspiration.”

Looking back: Suspecting that the Branch Davidians were stockpiling illegal weapons, government agents attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the ranch, about 20 miles northeast of Waco.

  • The ensuing gun battle resulted in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians—and a siege that lasted 51 days.
  • On April 19, 1993, the FBI tried to drive out the area’s residents with tear gas. A subsequent fire resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women and their leader, David Koresh.
  • The raid and siege have been the subject of countless books, articles, documentaries and dramatized programs, including a 2018 series starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch.

Details: The book contains new information about the development of the FBI’s plan to end the siege – steps that led inexorably to disaster.

  • Guinn also has proof that Koresh plagiarized his famous “End of Days” prophecies from another religious leader who claimed that he and his followers would bring the sinful world to an end from a base in Fort Myers, Florida.

What they did: Guinn has authored 25 books, including weighty tomes about Jonestown, Charles Manson and Bonnie and Clyde.

  • For “Waco,” Guinn interviewed more than 100 people — former ATF agents, FBI agents and surviving Branch Davidians — and reviewed more than 60,000 pages of documents.

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