Kenneth G. C. Newport's book, The Branch Davidians of Waco (2006) has placed responsibility for the 19 April 1993 fire at Mount Carmel Center, outside Waco, Texas, primarily on the Branch Davidians, arguing that they were motivated to die as a result of their apocalyptic theology of martyrdom. Newport writes that after the siege was initiated by the 28 February assault by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Branch Davidians' deaths in a fire were inevitable. On the other hand, listening to conversations recorded by surveillance devices in conjunction with selected negotiation audiotapes, the author found evidence that indicates Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had ample information that the Branch Davidians expected to die in a fire if the community was assaulted a second time. This raises questions about the intentions of FBI agents in proceeding with the 19 April tank and CS gas assault, especially since a recent breakthrough in negotiations likely would have resulted in the Branch Davidians exiting the residence. The author concludes that circumstantial evidence indicates that decision-making FBI agents knowingly applied extreme pressure to the Branch Davidians to prompt them to act on their theology of martyrdom, as part of a larger project of destroying evidence of illegal actions committed by federal agents.
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Research Article| November 01 2009
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Catherine Wessinger; Deaths in the Fire at the Branch Davidians' Mount Carmel: Who Bears Responsibility?. Nova Religio 1 November 2009; 13 (2): 25–60. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2009.13.2.25
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