Eric Robert Rudolph

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Eric Rudolph's FBI photo

Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966) is an extreme right-wing American terrorist, associated with the racist fundamentalist movement of Christian Identity, who committed a series of murders by bombings across the southern United States, resulting in the deaths of three people and injuries to at least 150 others.


Early life

Rudolph was born on September 19, 1966, in Merritt Island, Florida. His father Robert died in 1981, and Rudolph (then 15 years old) moved with his mother and siblings to Nantahala, Macon County, in northwestern North Carolina. He attended ninth grade at the Nantahala School but dropped out after that year and worked as a carpenter with his older brother Daniel. His mother believed in survivalism and instilled this ideology in Rudolph.

After Rudolph received his GED, he attended Western Carolina University in Cullowhee for two semesters in 1985 and 1986. In August 1987, Rudolph enlisted in the U.S. Army, undergoing basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was discharged in January 1989 while serving with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, reportedly for smoking marijuana. In 1988, the year before his discharge, Rudolph had attended the Air Assault School at Fort Campbell. He never rose above the rank of Private E-1.


Of the bombings committed by Rudolph, the most notoriety came from the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta on July 27, 1996, during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The blast killed Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others. Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman who ran to the scene following the blast, died of a heart attack. Rudolph's motive for the bombings, according to his April 13, 2005 statement, was political:

In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even thought the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song "Imagine" by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.

The plan was to force the cancellation of the Games, or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested.

Rudolph has also confessed to the bombings of an abortion clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs on January 16, 1997, a gay and lesbian nightclub, the Otherside Lounge, in Atlanta on February 21, 1997, injuring five, and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29, 1998, killing Robert Sanderson and critically injuring Emily Lyons. Rudolph's bombs were made of dynamite surrounded by nails which acted as shrapnel, increasing the destructive power of the bombs. The use of two bombs is a common terrorist tactic: the second bomb is timed to target those responding to the first explosion.

He is said to have targeted the health clinic and office building because abortions were performed there, and targeted the Otherside Lounge because it was a predominantly lesbian nightclub. Rudolph is an adherent of the extremist group Christian Identity, a sect that holds that white Christians are God's chosen people, and that others will be condemned to Hell. However, in a statement released after he entered a guilty plea, Rudolph denied being a supporter of that movement, claiming that his involvement amounted to a brief association with the daughter of a Christian Identity adherent.


Rudolph was first identified as a suspect in the Alabama bombing by the Department of Justice on February 14, 1998. He was named as a suspect in the three Atlanta incidents on October 14, 1998.

On May 5, 1998, he became one of the FBI ten most wanted fugitives. The FBI considered him to be armed and extremely dangerous, and offered a $1,000,000 reward for information leading directly to his arrest. He spent more than five years in the Appalachian wilderness as a fugitive, during which federal and amateur search teams scoured the area without success.

It is thought that Rudolph had the assistance of sympathizers while evading capture. Some in the area were vocal in support of him. Two country music songs were written about him and a locally top-selling T-shirt read: "Run Rudolph Run." Many Christian Identity adherents are outspoken in their support of Rudolph; the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, notes that "extremist chatter on the Internet has praised Rudolph as 'a hero' and some followers of hate groups are calling for further acts of violence to be modeled after the bombings he is accused of committing."

The identification and pursuit of Rudolph was characterized by several bizarre incidents. The Justice Department was forced to apologize to Richard Jewell, whom they first hailed as a hero in the Olympic bombing, and later falsely identified as a suspect. After the Olympic bombing, Eric visited his gay brother Jamie in New York, quoting Rush Limbaugh over dinner. On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, Eric's older brother, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with an electric saw in order to "send a message to the FBI and the media." The hand was successfully reattached.

Arrest and guilty plea

Rudolph was finally arrested in Murphy, North Carolina, on May 31, 2003, as he scavenged for food in a garbage can behind a Sav-A-Lot store. To the surprise of many in law enforcement, he was unarmed and did not resist arrest. Federal authorities charged him on October 14, 1998. Despite being an extreme anti-Semite, Rudolph was defended by a Jewish attorney, Richard S. Jaffe. His attorney said he knew about Rudolph's beliefs but said his client didn't have a problem with his Jewish faith.

On April 8, 2005, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Rudolph had agreed to plead guilty in all the attacks he was accused of executing in avoiding the death penalty. The deal was confirmed after the FBI found 250 pounds of dynamite he had hidden in the forests of North Carolina. His revelation of the dynamite was a condition of his plea agreement. He made his pleas in person in courts in Birmingham and Atlanta on April 13. He also released a statement in which he explained his actions and rationalized them as serving the cause of anti-abortion and anti-gay activism.

In his statement (, he claimed that he had "deprived the government of its goal of sentencing me to death", and that "the fact that I have entered an agreement with the government is purely a tactical choice on my part and in no way legitimates the moral authority of the government to judge this matter or impute my guilt".

Under the plea agreement, Rudolph will be sentenced to four consecutive life terms.



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