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According to the Babylon 5 wiki

Babylons 1 through 3 were all destroyed during their construction by acts of sabotage.

Who were the saboteurs and what was their agenda?

The most specific information I could find on the sabotage of Babylons 1-3 states:

Babylon 1, originally known simply as the Babylon Station, was the first space station built by the Earth Alliance under the aegis of the Babylon Project. During construction, Babylon 1's infrastructure collapsed and exploded as a result of sabotage.

The second attempted station in the Babylon Project, Babylon 2 was also sabotaged and destroyed, exploding during construction.

Like the previous two stations, Babylon 3 was also sabotaged and destroyed, exploding during construction.

Unfortunately, this gives no indication of what group, or even what species was responsible for sabotaging the stations, or what motivation they had for doing so.

Update We have these additional lines in the episode Grail from Thomas Jordan, aka Jinxo, who worked on the construction of all 5 Babylon stations:

I worked a few months, took some leave and the station's infrastructure collapsed. Sabotaged. They never found out who. I remember. So I went to work on the second one. The firm still owned my contract. I took leave a second time and that station was sabotaged. And then when B3 blew up, well, that's when I got the name Jinxo.

This doesn't give us much information about who was responsible, however, it does suggest that at least to Jinxo's knowledge the culprits of the sabotage of Babylon 1 were never found. This makes it look less likely that there is a canon answer to this...

  • The impression I always had was that they were destroyed by xenophobic Earthers, but I can't back that up with cites. Following the Minbari war I'm sure there were a lot of isolationists... – gowenfawr Aug 5 '15 at 1:51
  • @gowenfawr I think someone had said that on another similarly-themed question – Izkata Aug 5 '15 at 1:53
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    @gowenfawr I've always had that impression also, but realized today I don't of a reference in the canon to support that. Thinking about it carefully, I'm not quite sure why I have that impression other than xenophobic earthers being a theme later on. I'm hoping someone has a reference either for or against that. – Bamboo Aug 5 '15 at 1:54
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    It also raised the question why did the saboteurs stop after Babylon III. They were on a roll! – Mr Lister Aug 5 '15 at 13:49
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+100

According to JMS it was taken out by "forces opposed to the very notion of the Babylon Project" not by the Shadows:

  • Why didn't the Shadows destroy B5 before it went online?

    B5 wasn't destroyed because it wasn't the one that would be taken back. Yes, the prior stations would've looked more like B4 but they were sabotaged very early in the construction process. You'll learn why he didn't want Garibaldi along next ep. (src)

  • The B1-B3 sabotages had nothing at all to do with the B4 situation; it was just done by forces opposed to the very notion of the Babylon Project. (src)

  • The first 3 Babylon stations never got much past the very earliest stages of construction, just some hull elements, that sort of thing, nothing that could be recognized. Other forces took them out, mainly for political reasons. (src)

  • B4 survived the prior shadow war, but in very bad shape; didn't last much longer after that.

  • Did the Minbari agree to help fund B5 because they knew about B4?

    No, because if you remember, even Delenn didn't know where B4 came from until she came to B5, well after completion.

gbjbaanb's answer to What kept the Shadows from attacking Babylon 5? quoted one of these points, which lead me to finding the rest

  • Ah, I wasn't aware of that particular JMS blurb. We should all defer to this. I'll campaign for yours to be accepted instead. :-) – Praxis Nov 11 '15 at 0:18
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The fate of the first three Babylon stations may be connected to that of Babylon 4.

While "sabotage" by unknown saboteurs is mentioned in the pilot film The Gathering and in much of the first season, we acquire a few important facts as the series goes on.

As revealed in the first season episode "Babylon Squared" and in the third season episode "War Without End" (Part 1), the Babylon 4 station was

stolen by Sinclair, Sheridan and Delenn so that it could be taken to the past to serve as a base of operations in the previous Shadow War, a millennium prior to the events of the Babylon 5 television series.

Delenn says the following in "War Without End":

"As Babylon 4 neared completion the allies of the Shadows recognized it for what it was and sent these ships to destroy it."

When the Shadows attempted to

destroy Babylon 4 (shortly before the trio of "Ones" moved it through time),

the Shadows were

acting upon a thousand-year-old historical knowledge of what Babylon 4 looked like.

It is likely that the Shadows did not know

exactly which Babylon station had been sent back in time and, given their common design features, it would have been prudent to attack all of them.

We also know that the Shadows had many allies in the galaxy (as attested to by Morden), including

the Drakh, who are adept at hiding in plain sight, as we saw them demonstrate on Centauri Prime.

Furthermore, in the film A Call to Arms, the Technomage Galen tells Sheridan,

"The Drakh have spies everywhere."

It is conceivable that the Shadows

had the Drakh or other allies sabotage the first three stations.

This makes more sense in my opinion than human or Mimbari splinter factions, or other alien political factions, as they would wish to take claim for what they did in order to advance their cause. In contrast, the Shadows acted with extreme secrecy until the third season of Babylon 5, which fits with the mystery enshrouding the destruction of the first three Babylon stations.

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    I understood Delenn's point more literally - that station 4 wasn't recognized until it was near completion. They wouldn't have known stations 1-3 were related until after the fact. – Izkata Sep 27 '15 at 8:38
  • @Izkata : That's another valid way to read it. – Praxis Sep 27 '15 at 9:12
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Slightly more off the wall suggestion, but the Minbari could have been behind it just because of who Valen was. We know that he left messages for Sinclair and Delenn regarding Babylon 4 - Might he also have left messages ordering the sabotage of Babylons 1-3, in order for B-4 to be constructed at the right time for Sinclair to do his thing with both B-4 & B-5

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    This seems like a fan-theory rather than something grounded in fact – Valorum Nov 10 '15 at 10:38
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I know this will seem off the wall, but perhaps it was not the shadows who took out the first three Babylon stations. It may have been the Vorlons who did it. We all know how they manipulate others to keep their "Circle" intact. And they knew B4 was the station sent back in time. So perhaps it was they who took out the first three stations. Just a thought.

  • Welcome to SFF.SE! Please note, however, that we discourage speculation in answer posts. Please take a look at the help center to get acquainted with the site. – Null Feb 12 '16 at 5:46

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