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US Authorities Probe Whether Bombing Suspect Received Help - 2003-06-01

U.S. authorities are investigating whether terror bombing suspect Eric Rudolph had any help evading capture for five years until his arrest on Saturday in North Carolina.

Federal agents are looking into the possibility that residents around the small town of Murphy aided the fugitive, who is accused of carrying out the bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, that killed one person and wounded more than 100. The bombing cast a shadow over the centennial celebrations of the Olympic Games.

Eric Rudolph is also a suspect in bombings at an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub in Atlanta, and another abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Dozens of people were wounded in the bombings, and a police officer was killed in Birmingham.

The domestic terror suspect, who is believed to be a white supremacist and right-wing extremist, is expected to make an initial court appearance in Ashville, North Carolina, perhaps as early as Monday.

Eric Rudolph had been on the FBI's most wanted list since 1998 and the subject of a massive manhunt. A local policeman, Jeffrey Postell, discovered the fugitive behind a store early Saturday in Murphy.

In a statement, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Mr. Rudolph's capture sends a message that the United States will never stop hunting down terrorists, both foreign and domestic.

Police said they scaled back their initial large-scale efforts to track down Mr. Rudolph, but they never gave up trying to find him. They have spent years searching the mountainous Appalachian wilderness of North Carolina where they believed the 36-year-old experienced outdoorsman was hiding.