Anti-Abortion Extremist Sentenced to 19 Years for Fake Anthrax Mailings

Anti-abortion extremist Clayton Waagner was sentenced to 19 years in prison without parole for sending fake anthrax mailings to over women’s health clinics and reproductive rights organizations at the height of the anthrax scare following September 11, 2001. The threatening letters that accompanied the anthrax hoax mailings were signed by the Army of God, the group that claimed credit for bombings at abortion clinics in Birmingham and Atlanta, among other violent acts. Waagner, 48, is already serving more than 48 years in prison for other charges, including escaping from prison and eluding authorities for ten months, during which time he threatened to kill abortion providers and was named one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” fugitives.

Waagner expressed no remorse for his actions in federal court on Thursday in Philadelphia, according to The Morning Call. He was convicted by a federal jury in 2003 of 51 charges, including the threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction, violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances (FACE) Act, extortion, and mailing threatening communication.

In 2001, when Waagner mailed his anthrax threats, Congress and media outlets had just received real anthrax by mail. Therefore, Waagner’s threats were taken very seriously. When the fake anthrax was mailed to abortion clinics nationwide, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and the National Abortion Federation immediately alerted clinics to prevent clinic workers from opening mail they thought was contaminated. These alerts helped law enforcement by directing them to the “scope of the investigation,” allowing the FBI to immediately “declare it a national investigation and start the collection of evidence across the nation,” according to Margaret Moore, director of law enforcement for the Feminist Majority Foundation.

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The Morning Call 7/8/05; Philadelphia Daily News 7/8/05; Knight Ridder 7/8/05

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