In his first-ever interview, the sole Australian survivor of the Waco siege has revealed to 60 Minutes what really took place during the 51-day stand-off, and why he believes crazed cult leader David Koresh will one day return to Earth as the son of God.
On what marks 25 years since the siege, Melbourne-born Graeme Craddock has told reporter Allison Langdon the apocalyptic show-down that resulted in 79 deaths was ordered by God.
“To me it was fulfilment of what David Koresh was saying was going to happen, his prophesy.”
The Waco siege made headlines around the world when David Koresh, a cult leader who believed he was Jesus Christ, took on the United States government.
The two-month standoff began with a deadly gun battle and ended with a deliberately lit inferno in which Koresh and 78 of his followers – 20 of them children - were killed.
“Sometimes I do feel guilty that I'm still alive,” Craddock said.
“But I'm glad I'm alive because if I wasn't here doing this, nobody would be able to tell you what I can tell you.”
Koresh was a self-style preacher who established his own Branch Davidian cult in the late 1980s from the Texas town of Waco, where his believers would travel to from across the globe to listen to his teachings.
Central to Koresh’s hold over his followers was his prophesy of a final battle with the government during which he would be killed – just as Jesus was. Koresh preached his death would lead to his resurrection as Christ – the Second Coming.
“His explanation was that we were going to be attacked,” Craddock said.
“He said God had told him that we were to defend ourselves and get ready for it. And we're talking about high-powered firearms, assault rifles, semi-automatics.”
In preparation for this final holy war, Koresh and his followers began hoarding deadly firearms. After months of illegally stockpiling weapons, Koresh gained the attention of the US Bureau of Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco.
On the 28th February 1992, federal agents raided the Waco compound.
What was intended to be a swift police operation became a fierce gun battle that killed four government agents and six Branch Davidians.
From the inside of the compound, Craddock saw it all horrifically unfold - including his leader David Koresh being shot through the stomach and arm.
“We were expecting to get killed at any moment,” Craddock said.
“For me, it's not the fact that you die, it's how you die. Some people die quickly, some people die slowly. I just wanted to die quickly.”
Then began what would become a 51-day siege. Week by week as the world watched the Waco stand-off, sordid details of Koresh’s cult emerged.
Taking multiple wives in the name of God, Koresh enraged the world.
Kerry Jewel was just 11 years old when she became Koresh’s "wife" and was raped in the name of God. But to Craddock, this shocking practice was not unusual.
“The concept of taking more than one wife wasn’t strange to me,” Craddock told reporter Allison Langdon.
“From a biblical perspective you had King David who had 700 wives. Whatever he [Koresh] did was according to what God had told him to do.”
When questioned by Langdon on whether the cult-leader was a paedophile, Craddock argued; “For me, accusing David Koresh for being a paedophile is like accusing God for being a paedophile. I just don't believe in trying to condemn God for things.”
On the fifty-first day of the siege, April 19 1993, the FBI lost patience with Koresh and declared war on the Branch Davidians.
For the first time in history the US government sent in tanks against its own citizens, smashing into the compound’s buildings and pumping tear gas inside.
With the women and children locked in the compound’s ammunition room, Craddock reveals that a fateful order was given.
"I looked over to the side and there was someone with a fuel container and they were spilling fuel on the floor of the chapel. I then hear someone call out from upstairs again. They said, ‘Light the fire'.”
David Koresh’s apocalypse struck from the inside. Investigators would later find many of Koresh’s followers died by gunshot wounds. Some self-inflicted, others not.
Craddock survived the inferno by sheltering in a water tower. He was one of only nine to come out of Waco alive.
For his role in the siege, he served 13 years in a Texas prison before being deported to Australia.
“I often wish I had a normal life,” Craddock said.
“I wish I'd of got married somewhere and had kids and gone through a normal life. But that didn't happen.”
Incredibly, despite all he endured at the hands of Koresh, Craddock is still certain that the cult leader is the Messiah and not a madman.
He is certain that Koresh will return – that there will be the Second Coming that was heralded by Waco.
“Look at all the religions in the world. If God spoke to everyone, we'd all be teaching and believing the same thing.”
“But the fact is, it's obvious God doesn't talk to all of them, at the most, only one – David Koresh.”
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