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Army of God has links to bombers since the 1980s

February 25, 1997

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Army of God is apparently not an organized group but a how-to handbook on terrorizing abortion clinics that abortion foes have used as a guise to claim responsibility since the 1980s.

The name surfaced again Monday in a letter claiming responsibility for both Friday’s bombing of a gay and lesbian nightclub and twin explosions at an abortion clinic in January.

The 70-page underground manual written for anti-abortion radicals became widely known in 1993, when authorities found a copy buried in the backyard of Shelley Shannon, an Oregon homemaker imprisoned for shooting a Kansas abortion doctor and setting fire to several abortion clinics.

The spiral-bound book shows a young girl on the cover cuddling a doll. The title says, ``When Life Hurts, We Can Help ...″ An introduction calls it a `how-to manual of means to disrupt and ultimately destroy Satan’s power to kill our children, God’s children.″

It contains detailed accounts on how to make bombs, use timing devices, bypass alarms and avoid leaving fingerprints on guns. It calls abortion clinics ``abortuaries″ and described the battle over abortion as ``a war.″

But the name Army of God had been circulating since the 1980s.

It began in May 29, 1982 with fires set at two Florida abortion clinics. On June 6 of that year, an explosion ripped through a Falls Church, Va., clinic. On Aug. 12, Dr. Hector Zevallos, who performed abortions, and his wife were kidnapped from their Edwardsville, Ill., home.

The Army of God claimed responsibility in each case, and Don Benny Anderson, a Oxford, Wis., father of seven who was convicted of all the crimes, called himself the group’s leader.

Several others anti-abortion activists have been linked to the group and its manual:

_ Jennifer P. Sperle, of Wichita, Kan., was indicted in March for conspiring to set fires at a abortion clinics in Newport News and Norfolk, Va. The indictment said she showed copies of the book.

_ Rae Powell, an anti-abortion activist in Newport News was freed in March after she told a grand jury Sperle gave her the manual. She had been jailed for almost a month after refusing to answer the jury looking into anti-abortion activities in the state.

_ John A. Brockhoeft, a former mail handler who firebombed two Cincinnati abortion clinics and was convicted of trying to blow up a third in Florida, described himself as a member of the Army of God for the unborn. He was released from federal prison in February 1995.

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