Israel Orders Deportation of 11 Cult Members
Authorities on Monday ordered the deportation of 11 members of a Denver-based doomsday cult suspected of plotting millennium violence to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus.
Police brought three other cult members before a magistrate in Petah Tikva in central Israel, asking that they be held for further questioning on suspicion of conspiring to commit “the most serious of crimes that harm state security.”
The men denied the allegations.
“I’m not here to hurt anybody. I don’t feel I pose a threat of physical harm to anyone,” one of the men, identified in court papers as John Bayles, told the court. “I don’t feel I have committed any conspiracy.”
Bayles, of Denver, and the two other men--identified by their lawyer as Terry Smith, 42, of Eagle, Colo., and Eric Malesic, 36, of Westminster, a Denver suburb--were ordered held another 48 hours until police complete their investigation.
Police sources said they were being questioned on suspicion they have information about other members of the Concerned Christians group inside and outside Israel.
The other 11 people--including six children--were ordered deported and have three days to appeal. They remained in custody.
Officials said the three men in detention also would be ordered deported pending completion of the police investigation.
Eran Avital, a public defender representing the three men, said that he was not allowed to see much of the evidence against his clients and that another court appearance was scheduled for Wednesday.
In response to a question from the judge, a police officer said that there was concern Bayles might try to commit suicide and that he was being watched closely.
The 14 people were taken into custody during raids on two homes Sunday in two Jerusalem suburbs.
U.S. consular officials met with three women and six children Monday afternoon and would see two men today, U.S. Embassy spokesman Larry Schwartz said.