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Anti-abortion activist sought in hoax; Land decries tactics

WASHINGTON (BP)–The federal government is seeking help in its effort to apprehend an anti-abortion activist whom they suspect of sending fake anthrax letters to abortion clinics. The suspect, Clayton Waagner, also reportedly has threatened to kill abortion-clinic employees unless they quit their jobs.

Waagner has taken credit for sending more than 280 letters falsely claiming to contain anthrax to abortion clinics on the East Coast during the second week of October, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced recently. A second round of hoax letters also was sent in early November to 270 clinics, Ashcroft said.

Federal authorities received information during the Thanksgiving weekend of Waagner’s contention he was responsible, Ashcroft said. That information apparently came from Neal Horsley, an anti-abortion activist who reported Waagner’s armed visit Nov. 23 to his Georgia home on his Internet Web site.

According to Horsley’s Web site entries, Waagner has targeted 42 abortion-clinic employees for death. Waagner will not kill them if they email information to Horsley’s Web site that makes their identity known to Waagner and informs him they have left their jobs, according to Horsley.

A Southern Baptist pro-life leader decried the tactics.

“Threatening to kill people in defense of the pro-life cause does more to discredit that cause than almost anything imaginable,” said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “To be pro-life is to be pro-life not just for the unborn but for the doctors, nurses and other workers in abortion clinics as well. People who threaten to take lives or take lives through shooting abortion doctors or bombing abortion clinics have done more damage to the pro-life cause than anyone else.

“Genuine pro-lifers need to denounce such actions and separate themselves from them on every occasion,” Land said.

Waagner is on the most-wanted lists of both the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He escaped an Illinois jail in February, where he was awaiting a sentence of 15 years to life. Waagner has been convicted of gun possession by a felon and interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.

“We are committed to identifying, tracking down and prosecuting those domestic terrorists who threaten the lives and welfare of innocent Americans,” Ashcroft said in a Nov. 29 news conference.