Some terrorist groups have millennium fever.
All kinds of people anxiously await the year 2000, including some terrorists.
Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin, a terrorism expert whose studies have taken him to Northern Ireland and other hot spots, says there are three types of terror groups worth keeping an eye on: religious, apocalyptic cults and the politically extreme.
Olin also did research on hostage behavior for his doctorate in psychology from Kansas University.
Some extremist religious groups believe the year 2000 has special significance, Olin said. "Most of those are traced back to the Book of Revelation and Armageddon," he said.
Apocalyptic groups think an end date of history is around the year 2000.
"Political groups believe the new year will result in some sort of chaos that will lead to a takeover of the United States by a foreign power like the U.N.," Olin said.
While these groups tend to concentrate geographically in different places across the United States, none are known in the Lawrence area.
"There are people who are sympathetic to the aims of some of these groups in northeast Kansas," Olin said, but, "I don't believe there are specific groups with a focus on the new year active in Lawrence."
Among the most potentially dangerous groups are those who believe they can help bring about a prophesied event, said KU religious studies professor Paul Mirecki.
"Apocalyptic thinking is irresponsible and dangerous in a nuclear world, in an anthrax world, in an ebola world when people think they can initiate the Apocalypse with an act of terror," Mirecki said.
Olin agreed the risk of terrorist acts involving weapons of mass destruction has increased. One fairly recent example: Subway nerve gas attacks in Tokyo by a religious cult.
Fighting terrorism while maintaining an open society will be the most important issue the United States will face in the next 10 years, Olin predicted.
But for the short term, his forecast is mild.
"I think New Year's is going to be a big fizzle," Olin said.
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