Israeli is Among Christian Sect Holding out Against U.S. Agents

An Israeli is among the members of a religious sect that has been holding a bloody standoff with U.S. federal agents in Waco, Texas.

In an interview with Israeli army radio Saturday, a woman who would not give her name said her son had first become acquainted with Vernon Howell, the leader of the Branch Davidians, when he visited Israel on a fund-raising and membership drive two or three years ago.

Her son fell under the influence of Howell, who uses the name of David Koresh, and followed him back to Texas, the mother said. Her son returned home after a six-month stay but returned to Waco a year ago, she said.

The mother said she had been in regular telephone communication with her son throughout his stay in the compound, up to a day or so before a Feb. 28 raid by U.S. federal agents on the well-fortified complex, which resulted in four of the American agents shot dead.

The woman believes her son was in the compound at the time of the assault. “Since then I have not been able to get through to him,” she reported. “Now I am really worried.”

Koresh, who says he is Jesus Christ, took the surname to signify descent from King David and affinity with Koresh, or Cyrus, the Persian king who let the exiled Jews return to Israel.

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