The Rio Olympics will conclude tonight having accomplished what America could not in 1996.
Twenty years ago the party was in full swing when a bomb went off at the Atlanta Olympics. A right-wing domestic terrorist, Eric Randolph, wanted to stop the Games and embarrass the U.S. government for legalizing abortion and supporting a pro-homosexual agenda.
The terrorist act would be so shocking and visible that it would echo through Olympic history. Two people were killed and another 100 injured. It shamed the nation by making terrorism synonymous with the United States.
For seven years Randolph avoided capture. He was not part of a radical Islamic terrorist group, but a crazy young man born in Florida who had spent time with his mother at a Christian Identify compound in Missouri.
"The fatal bombing in Atlanta was a terrorist attack aimed at thousands of innocent persons gathered at the Olympic Park," said Louis Freeh, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Within the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Program, there is no higher priority than the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph."
A year after the Olympic bombing, Randolph set off more explosives at an abortion clinic in Atlanta, injuring more than 50.
A month later he set off another bomb at an Atlanta gay bar injuring four.
The following year he set off two more bombs at another abortion clinic, killing two law enforcement officers and critically injuring a nurse.
Seven years after the Olympic bombing in Atlanta, Randolph was finally captured. As part of a plea deal, he informed the FBI of the 250 pounds of dynamite he had hidden in the forests of North Carolina.
In his admission of guilt, Randolph called himself a leader in anti-abortion and anti-gay activism. He confirmed he was part of the Christian Identify movement — asserting that Northern European whites are direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel and God’s “chosen people.”
In the end, he accomplished in America what ISIS could only dream about in Rio. And he is a reminder to the world that terrorists come in all colors and all religions.