- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

A man with a criminal past who vowed to kill as many abortion clinic employees as he could has been charged as a terrorist with sending anthrax hoax letters to hundreds of clinics around the country.
Clayton Lee Waagner, of Kennerdell, Pa., a self-described "terrorist to abortionists," was charged last week in a 79-count federal indictment with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, extortion, and making and mailing threatening communications.
Federal prosecutors said Waagner, 45, could face life imprisonment if convicted of the weapon-of-mass-destruction charge alone.
They noted that time Waagner could serve for the new charges would be stacked on top of the approximately 50 years he is serving for previous convictions involving a prison break, weapons offenses and car theft.
The indictment returned against Waagner by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia also charged him with posting a message on a pro-life Web site in which he said he had been following home employees of abortion clinics and "was going to kill as many as I can."
The more than 550 threatening letters Waagner is accused of sending to clinics in 24 states, via the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, did not contain anthrax.
Those sent in an initial series of mailings contained a harmless white powder; those sent in a subsequent series of mailings contained an agent called bacillus thuringiensis, said Patrick L. Meehan, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
"Bacillus thuringiensis is an insecticide you could find at Home Depot. But it gives the look of anthrax; and one of its very disturbing effects is that it gives false positives" on tests for anthrax, Mr. Meehan said in a telephone interview.
After receiving the letters, the clinics underwent decontamination procedures and their employees were tested for anthrax exposure, Mr. Meehan said. He noted that several clinics were forced to close for a few days.
"We worked very closely with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Justice in this case and we advocated that this be classified as domestic terrorism, which it was," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation.
"It's very important that people threatening [abortion] providers be dealt with to the full extent of the law," Ms. Saporta added.
Mr. Meehan said the hoax mailings were sent in October and November, at the height of national fears about bioterrorism, after anthrax-laden letters were mailed to lawmakers and journalists. Investigators still have not found the source of that anthrax, which killed five persons.
Ms. Saporta said NAF officials anticipated that abortion clinics would receive mail that either would be or would claim to be contaminated with anthrax, and it warned its 400 member clinics a few days before the first "anthrax" letters arrived.
She said the sender obviously wanted clinic workers to open the letters. They featured fake return addresses such as the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the NAF, she said.
Authorities say Waagner was on the run from an Illinois prison when he was sending the letters to abortion clinics and posting threats on the Internet. They also say they believe he was acting alone, even though he gives "Army of God" as his affiliation.
When he broke out of prison in February 2001, Waagner was serving time for driving his wife and eight children to Illinois in 1999 in a stolen camper. Police found four stolen handguns under the driver's seat.
Since his arrest in Cincinnati in December, Waagner has been convicted of gun charges in Ohio and slapped with a 30-year sentence for the prison break and firearms offenses.
He is being held in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., Mr. Meehan said.


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