Judgement Day nears on Waco Apocalypse

NINE MONTHS after the conflagration in which the cult leader David Koresh and scores of his followers died, some of his surviving disciples are preparing to experience what is likely to be his only accurate prophecy. After the Apocalyse comes Judgement Day.

Tomorrow a court in San Antonio, Texas, will begin selecting jurors for the trial of 11 members of the Branch Davidian sect, including three Britons, accused of conspiring to murder US law enforcement agents. If found guilty, they could be jailed for life.

The case is another chapter in a saga which has proved acutely embarrassing to the US authorities, but has yet to be satisfactorily brought to a close. The bodies of 40 cult members remain on ice in a morgue at Fort Worth, awaiting identification. Opinions still differ over who bears ultimate responsibility for their deaths, and those of about 40 other Davidians.

Much of the trial is likely to focus on the bungled raid last February on 'Ranch Apocalypse', the cult's fortress headquarters outside Waco, by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), in which four of its agents were killed. A government investigation into the operation, in which 100 ATF agents stormed the compound in search of illegal weapons, condemned it as poorly planned and ill-executed.

The Davidians had been tipped off about the raid, which led to a 51-day siege and, finally, to a tear-gas assault on the compound by FBI tanks on 19 April. Koresh and most of his followers, including 24 Britons, died, either burnt alive in the ensuing fire or from gunshot wounds. Only nine survived - although 21 children and 16 adults had left earlier.

According to a grand jury indictment, the 11 cult members conspired in a 'holy war' that Koresh was trying to wage against the US from his countryside fort, where he had amassed a vast arsenal. When the FBI tanks rolled in, the indictment alleges, Koresh ordered the cult's immolation. Survivors have disputed this, saying the tanks knocked over lamps which started the flames.

The defendants, who face multiple charges, include Renos Avraam, 29, and Norman Allison, 28, both from Manchester, and Livingstone Fagan, 32, from Nottingham. All three, according to the authorities, were members of Koresh's machine-gun-toting praetorian guard, the 'Mighty Men'.

The indictment says Mr Avraam and Mr Fagan, a defrocked pastor who lost his mother and wife in the blaze, 'did change into camouflage /combat uniform and equipment, gather their pistols and rifles, load magazines, distribute hand-grenades, assume ambush positions and engage in other conduct designed to kill ATF agents'.

US proscecutors have already scored one triumph. They have recruited the support of another surviving Davidian, Kathryn Schroeder, who is expected to give evidence against her former fellow worshippers, after striking a plea bargain. But they still face a tough job.

When the ATF assault occurred, there was an outcry from many Americans who felt that the federal authorities had little justification for interfering with an obscure cult (albeit armed to the teeth), which appeared to be minding its own business.

The decision to try the survivors is seen by some as a retrospective attempt by the US government to switch blame for the tragedy to a few cult survivors. A jury of Texans, no admirers of federal intrusions, may just feel the same way.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam