Sorry if this has already been posted. I dd a quick scan of the board and didn't see it , so I thouhgt i's post it.
MURPHY, N.C. (May 31) - Eric Rudolph, the longtime fugitive charged in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing and in attacks at an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub, was arrested early Saturday in the mountains of North Carolina, the Justice Department said.
The FBI confirmed Rudolph's identity through a fingerprint match, authorities said.
``Eric Robert Rudolph, the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's most wanted list has been captured and will face American justice,'' Attorney General John Ashcroft said Saturday. ``The American people, mostly importantly the victims of these terrorist attacks, can rest easier.''
Rudolph was captured after sheriff's deputies in western North Carolina spotted a man digging in a trash bin in the small town of Murphy at about 4:30 a.m., said Special Agent John Iannarelli in Washington. He said the man appeared to be homeless. When the deputies approached him, they recognized him as Rudolph.
Rudolph had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and had eluded a massive manhunt for five years, much of it in the western North Carolina mountains near where he was arrested Saturday. The FBI had offered a $1 million reward for his capture.
The 36-year-old Army veteran and experienced outdoorsman hadn't been seen since July 1998 after he took supplies from a health store owner in North Carolina.
Authorities believed he had fled into the mountains, and as more time passed with no reported sightings of him, some believed he must be dead.
They spent years searching the hills and caves around Murphy for any trace of Rudolph. Early in the search, they ran across some camping sites believed to be his and found cartons of oatmeal and raisins, jars of peanuts and vitamins, and cans of tuna they said were the same brands Rudolph ate.
The 1996 bombing at the crowded Olympic park during the summer Olympics in Atlanta followed closely on the heals of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and stunned the world.
The bomb was left hidden in a knapsack in the crowded Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996. When it exploded, it killed one woman and injured 111 other people.
Two years later, Rudolph was charged with that attack and in three others - at a gay nightclub in Atlanta and at an office building north of Atlanta in 1997, and at an abortion clinic in Birmingham in 1998. In the 1998 attack, a second bomb had been rigged to exploded outside the abortion clinic just as police were arriving. One officer was killed.
In all, the bombings killed two people and wounded more than 100 people, according to the FBI.
Rudolph, a Florida native who moved to western North Carolina in 1981, was believed to adhere to Christian Identity, a white supremacist religion that is anti-gay, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner. Some of the four bombs he is charged with planting included messages from the shadowy ``Army of God.''
The search for Rudolph began a day after the Birmingham blast. He was initially sought as a witness: A gray 1989 Nissan pickup truck registered in his name was seen near the clinic following the explosion.
He was tied to the bombings when authorities who searched a storage locker he had rented in Murphy found nails like those used in the clinic attacks.
At its height, the search for Rudolph in the mountainous region in western North Carolina, just over the Tennessee border, included more than 200 federal agents. In 2000, it was scaled back to less than a handful of agents working out of a National Guard Armory just outside Murphy.
Pockets of western North Carolina have had a reputation as a haven for right-wing extremists. Some there mocked the government's inability to find Rudolph with bloodhounds, infrared-equipped helicopters and space-age motion detectors - and some said they would hide him if asked.
The FBI had said it believed Rudolph was somewhere in the Nantahala National Forest, living on his own, breaking into vacant vacation cabins, stealing from local gardens.
Jeff Lyons, whose wife, Emily, was critically injured in the women's clinic attack in Birmingham, said they had never given up hope that Rudolph would be caught. Saturday morning, a friend called after hearing the news.
``I turned to Emily, and I said 'What news would be worth being woken up for?''' he said. ``This is indeed one of the best days we've had in quite some time.''
05/31/03 10:51 EDT
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