CubaBrief: Terrorism, the Embargo and the wolf in sheep’s clothing

The Castro regime has a history of not only sponsoring, but engaging in, terrorism that stretches back to the 1950s. It also has a long history of covering up its bad actions while blaming any and all difficulties on the U.S. government and the economic embargo.

Alexander Alazo was arrested after shooting up the Cuban on April 30th

Alexander Alazo was arrested after shooting up the Cuban on April 30th

The latest example of this is the case of Alexander Alazo, a Cuban emigre diagnosed with a mental disorder, who at 2:00am on April 30th fired three dozen rounds into the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC. Alazo had been a soldier for the Castro regime, and had returned to the island in 2014. Cuba’s puppet president Miguel Diaz-Canel on May 4th “called a gun assault last week on its embassy in Washington a ‘terrorist attack’, while U.S. court papers said the suspected gunman was a psychotic Cuban emigre who heard voices.” Mariela Castro Espin, Raul Castro’s daughter, engaged in an act of projection when she said “again the wolf disguised as a granny. Now the terrorist who attacked our Embassy in Washington is crazy. Who believes it? The matter is too serious to accept such an answer.” Considering the history of the Castro regime and terrorism this appears to be a text book example of psychological projection.

Radio Havana Cuba, official media of the Castro regime, published in 2010 an article titled “Political Activist Marilyn Buck Dies at 62” in which it referred to Marilyn Buck as an “activist and former political prisoner.” In reality she was a terrorist who bombed the U.S. Capitol in 1983 to protest the Grenada Invasion, and two years earlier on October 20, 1981 as part of a group of Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army members assaulted a Brink’s armored car carrying 1.6 million in Nanuet, NY. Buck was a member of the Black Liberation Army. Two police officers and a guard were murdered in the course of the armed robbery and during the get away. She also pleaded guilty to the bombing of the US Capitol in 1988. Her story is put into context in a long piece published today in Politico by William Rosenau titled “The Dark History of America’s First Female Terrorist Group,” and exposes their links to the Castro regime.

The women of May 19th participated in two of the most spectacular prison breakouts of the 1970s. American radicals revered the FALN, a terrorist group fighting for an independent, Cuba-aligned Puerto Rico. The FALN’s bomb maker in chief, Willie Morales, was locked up in the Bellevue Hospital prison ward in New York, having blown off nine fingers and part of his face when he accidently set off a pipe bomb at his Queens apartment. In the view of May 19th, Shakur and his men, and what remained of the FALN, springing Morales would be a major political coup. Together, they hatched a plot to free him.

On the evening of May 18, 1979, his stumps frantically working a pair of bolt cutters reportedly smuggled in by his lawyer, Morales managed to snip the thin wire covering a window and lower himself several stories using a rope made of Ace bandages. The May 19th women were waiting on the sidewalk below. Years later, the government of Fidel Castro granted him political asylum, and he remains in Cuba to this day.

The following November, May 19th women, together with Doc and his crew—a partnership that members sometimes referred to as the “Family”—broke Joanne Chesimard (also known as Assata Shakur) out of a New Jersey prison, taking two guards as hostages. As with Morales, they believed springing Chesimard would be a major political triumph. Chesimard, an important BLA figure, was serving a life sentence for the May 2, 1973, murder of a New Jersey state trooper. The May 19th women moved her to a Pittsburgh safe house, and then to the Bahamas. By 1984, Chesimard was in Havana living under the protection of the Castro regime.

Cuban state security agents track record of violating the responsibility of States to protect diplomats have included “pilfered car parts, slashed tires and smashed car windows” of U.S. diplomats in Havana and left “unwelcome ‘messages’ like urine and feces deposited in their homes.” U.S. diplomat Robin Meyers was subjected to cars being used against her as weapons in Cuba on February 23-24, 1996. Former Canadian ambassador to Cuba James Bartleman told The Globe and Mail today that he was “not surprised by this week’s reports, given his experience as envoy from 1981 to 1983. Halfway through his posting, a series of strange events occurred: His family dog was poisoned, a trade officer had a dead rat nailed to their door and the embassy started receiving threatening phone calls. Fed up, he called out the Cuban government.”

U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Nov 1, 2018. Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini

U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Nov 1, 2018. Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini

Beginning in 2016 dozens of Canadian and U.S. diplomats suffered brain damage while stationed in Havana and the Castro regime failed in its duty to protect them, and created misinformation campaigns to place in doubt the injuries suffered. The Center for a Free Cuba pointed out, in a response to Castro’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, that the assailant,  Alexander Alazo, had been arrested on the same day as the attack, but that the “scores of diplomats harmed since 2016” in Havana was “still not cleared up.”

Cuban diplomats and Castro’s secret police also have a long history of sponsoring and plotting terrorist acts on American soil and against U.S. diplomats. Which leads to the question who is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

The Castro dictatorship knows how to play the victim card both on the terrorism front and also the economic front.

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting exposed the political manipulation behind the Castro regime’s claim that “a Chinese benefactor’s massive donation of medical equipment to help fight Covid-19 was blocked at the last minute due to the US embargo,” in their May 4th article “Cuba: Mystery Surrounds Failed Aid Donation.”  The airline that they had booked did not have flights to Cuba, and had not had them for sometime, and therefore was not a last minute change but an orchestrated scandal.

Other donations to Cuba during this time managed to reach their destination. On April 6, Cuban minister of foreign affairs Bruno Rodriguez announced that “a donation sent by the People’s Republic of China has arrived in Cuba”. According to Xinhua, China’s state news agency, the shipment included 2,000 N95 masks, 10,000 surgical masks, 2,000 protective gowns, 2,000 safety shoes, protective goggles and gloves. The objective behind the fabricated scandal was no doubt part of the regime’s campaign to get the UN Human Rights experts to condemn the economic embargo on Cuba

Terrorism is an intrinsic part of the Castro regime’s founding. On New Year’s Eve in 1956 members of Castro’s 26th of July movement set off bombs in the Tropicana nightclub, blowing off the arm of a seventeen-year-old girl. From bombings, killings, and arson in 1957 to a botched hijacking to smuggle weapons to the Cuban guerrillas that led to 14 dead, and the night of the 100 bombs in 1958 terrorism played a key role for the revolutionaries.

Nor was this forgotten after 1959. The organizer of the night of the 100 bombs, Sergio González López nicknamed “El Curita” and the terrorist action itself are remembered fondly by the Cuban government that named a park in the bomber’s honor. The Castro regime must acknowledge this history and recognize that when you celebrate terrorists and terrorism that you “reap what you sow.”

Reuters, May 4, 2020

Cuba calls attack on Washington embassy terrorism; police say gunman heard voices

By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday called a gun assault last week on its embassy in Washington a “terrorist attack”, while U.S. court papers said the suspected gunman was a psychotic Cuban emigre who heard voices.

Miguel Diaz-Canel attends welcoming ceremony held by Mexico's President Lopez Obrador

Miguel Diaz-Canel attends welcoming ceremony held by Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador

There were no injuries in the attack last Thursday, but gunshots riddled the facade and some penetrated the building. Police arrested Alexander Alazo, 42, at around 2 a.m. after he fired an AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle 32 times at the embassy, according to a memorandum filed on Sunday in support of pretrial detention.

Alazo told investigators he would have shot the ambassador if he had come out because he was “the enemy”. Voices in his head had told him to protect his family from what he believed were Cuban organized crime groups affiliated with the Cuban government that he claimed were following them and wanted to harm them.

He admitted he had been prescribed antipsychotic medication in March but did not fully comply with the prescription, a fact U.S. state prosecutors argued “strongly weighs against his release” before trial.

“I must denounce the terrorist attack … and demand from the United States government a thorough and swift investigation, harsh sanctions and security measures and guarantees for our diplomatic missions,” Diaz-Canel told a virtual summit of the non-aligned movement early on Monday.

Last week, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said a dozen diplomats and workers had been in the embassy at the time of the attack, which was recorded on surveillance video.

Rodriguez said hostility toward Cuba by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump fomented violence. The U.S. State Department did not immediately reply to request for comment.

Trump has unraveled a U.S.-Cuban detente carried out by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Before attacking the embassy, Alazo first tried unsuccessfully to set fire in the rain to a gasoline-soaked Cuban flag, on which were scribbled the words “Stop Lying to People. Respect. Trump 2020. USA, Land and Family”, according to court papers.

Alazo said he had emigrated first to Mexico in 2003 and then to Texas in 2007 claiming political asylum. In 2014 he returned to Cuba to preach at a church, he said, adding he left after being threatened by Cuban organized crime groups.

Convinced he was being followed, he traveled in 2018 to Germany and other countries to avoid being caught, according to the investigators’ interview with his wife, a traveling nurse.

She told authorities the family would live in hotels because he was too paranoid to live at their home. It was only in March 2020 that he had received a diagnosis of a delusional disorder.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-embassy/cuba-calls-attack-on-washington-embassy-terrorism-police-say-gunman-heard-voices-idUSKBN22G2BW

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, May 4, 2020

Cuba: Mystery Surrounds Failed Aid Donation

By Katia Monteagudo and Mayli Estévez

An ambulance car in Havana. (Photo: Jorge Rey/Getty Images)

An ambulance car in Havana. (Photo: Jorge Rey/Getty Images)

Doubts have been cast on claims in the Cuban state media that a Chinese benefactor’s massive donation of medical equipment to help fight Covid-19 was blocked at the last minute due to the US embargo.

On April 1, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, Granma, published an article claiming that a planeload of medical supplies was prevented from landing on the island.

Their sole source was a blog entry by Cuba’s ambassador in China, Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández. He claimed, without providing any evidence, that Jack Ma – the multi-millionaire founder of the online shop Alibaba – had wanted to send medical supplies to Cuba to fight against the coronavirus pandemic, but been prevented by the US embargo on the island.

“The carrier hired to ship the material, an American company, declined the assignment at the last minute due to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on the country of destination, an embargo that has been intensified by the current administration in the US,” the ambassador wrote.  

He continued that Ma’s “noble, huge and commendable effort” had been derailed because of “the unfair, arbitrary and illegal blockade”.

The story was reproduced in other Cuban media outlets, without questioning any of the details – particularly why the Ma foundation chose to use a company that had already refused to fly to Cuba for the past several months.

On March 21, Ma announced on Twitter that his foundation would send two million masks, 400,000 diagnostic tests and more than 100 ventilators to countries in Latin America.

Alibaba is one of the world’s biggest online shops, a competitor to the US company Amazon.

Its logistic affiliate is Cainiao, which as well as using its own aircraft fleet has now teamed up with around 50 transport partners to deliver donations as fast as possible. These companies have delivered more than 100 million essential medical supplies to 140 countries in the world, including in Latin America.

In Africa, for example, Cainiao works with Ethiopian Airlines and in Europe with ASL Airlines, a company of Irish origin. In Latin America, Alibaba has used several carriers to deliver its goods, including Aero Unión, a Mexican cargo carrier, which also offers chartered flights to Havana. 

Any of these airlines could have been used to send the donation to Cuba. However, according to a report by the Associated Press news agency, Cainiao chose Avianca to deliver to Cuba and other countries in the region such as Panama, Bolivia and Colombia.

But Avianca was not in a position to undertake the assignment.

Strictly speaking, Avianca is not a US-based company. Its shareholders are mainly from Colombia – where it has its headquarters – and El Salvador. But as of last autumn, shares were controlled through a network of companies based in Delaware and thus the company became partly governed by US regulation.

On October 31 2019, Avianca announced that it would suspend flights to Cuba from Colombia and El Salvador as it needed to resolve some issues related to the embargo with the US authorities, and subsequently announced it would stop flights to Cuba altogether from January 2020. 

This means that there was no last minute cancellation, as the parties must have known that Avianca was not a reliable carrier when it came to delivering to Cuba.

Other donations to Cuba have managed to reach their destination. On April 6, Cuban minister of foreign affairs Bruno Rodriguez announced that “a donation sent by the People’s Republic of China has arrived in Cuba”.

According to Xinhua, China’s state news agency, the shipment included 2,000 N95 masks, 10,000 surgical masks, 2,000 protective gowns, 2,000 safety shoes, protective goggles and gloves.

According to Xinhua, another donation, from the Chinese company Zhengzhou Yutong Bus, included 100,000 masks and 10,000 isolation gowns.

And several other donations Alibaba´s founder made to countries on which there is also a US embargo were successfully delivered. On March 13, a tweet by the Jack Ma Foundation said that countries including Iran had received shipments of medical supplies.

The US embargo against Cuba has exceptions, including relating to donations. Article 746.2 of the legislation mandates that American companies do not need authorisation to send humanitarian aid to Cuba, while Article 740.12 only bans donations of medical supplies that could be used to torture or violate people’s rights. It also states that if there is certainty that these supplies could be sold by Cuba to other countries or used to produce “biotechnological” products, then the donation would fall under the embargo laws.

However, there have been private prosecutions of carriers flying to the island.

For instance, US citizen Ramón López Regueiro has sued firms including American Airlines and Chile´s Latam Airlines for operating flights to Cuba.

López Regueiro has argued that he owns Cuba’s Jose Marti International Airport, because his father was granted a license to build it and start operations during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Later, Castro’s revolution expropriated all those facilities.

A US law allows anyone to report companies anywhere in the world which knowingly benefit or make use of private assets expropriated by the Cuban revolution.

The legislation, part of chapter three of the 1996 Helms Burton Law, was initially not enacted because it was considered too extreme and imprecise. However, last year, the Trump administration decided it should be applied, enabling lawsuits such as those filed by Lopez Regueiro.

The US courts do not all agree on this point. Other Cuban Americans whose parents have had their assets expropriated have seen similar lawsuits dismissed in court. 

In January this year, Granma reported on the case of a judge in Miami who dismissed a lawsuit against several cruise companies which, it was claimed, made use of plots of land in the port of Havana that had been expropriated by the revolution.

However, other legal experts argue that the newly-applied legislation carries enough weight to deter US airlines from arriving in Cuba.

Lorenzo Palomares Starbuck, a Florida lawyer who advocates for the implementation of chapter three of the Helms Burton Law, argued that “no carrier can arrive to a port or airport which has been confiscated by the Castro government.”

He added, “It will be very difficult now for an American company or one with capital investment here, like Avianca, to take donations to Cuba.”

Alibaba and the Jack Ma Foundation did not respond to requests for comment. Avianca declined to give any further statement beyond what they had already made public.

*Katia Monteagudo is a Cuban journalist who has written for outlets such as Yahoo Noticias and El Estornudo Magazine. Mayli Estevez is also a Cuban journalist who writes for publications including Tremenda Nota and Play Off Magazine. This article was published by IWPR.

https://iwpr.net/global-voices/cuba-mystery-surrounds-failed-aid-donation

Politico, May 3, 2020

The Dark History of America’s First Female Terrorist Group

The women of May 19th bombed the U.S. Capitol and plotted Henry Kissinger’s murder. But they’ve been long forgotten.

By WILLIAM ROSENAU

Marilyn Buck | Atria Books

Marilyn Buck | Atria Books

On the evening of November 7, 1983, a call came into the U.S. Capitol switchboard. “Listen carefully, I’m only going to tell you this one time,” the caller said. “There is a bomb in the Capitol building. It will go off in five minutes. Evacuate the building.” Then the caller hung up.

At 10:58 p.m., a blast went off on the second floor of the structure’s north wing. The explosion blew doors off their hinges, shattered chandeliers and sent a shower of pulverized glass, brick and plaster into the Republican cloakroom. The shock wave from the explosion sounded like a sonic boom. A jogger outside on the Capitol grounds heard the blast: “It was loud enough to make my ears hurt. It kept echoing and echoing—boom, boom.” According to one estimate, the bomb caused $1 million in damage.

Later, National Public Radio received a message from a group calling itself the Armed Resistance Unit: “Tonight we bombed the U.S. Capitol.” Nobody was killed or injured in the attack, but the ARU made clear that it had contemplated lethal action: “We purposely aimed our attack at the institutions of imperialist rule rather than at individual members of the ruling class and government. We did not choose to kill any of them at this time. But their lives are not sacred and their hands are stained with the blood of millions.”

Officials examine the blown-out windows at the Capitol Building following the 1983 bombing. | AP

Officials examine the blown-out windows at the Capitol Building following the 1983 bombing. | AP

The ARU was a nom de guerre for the May 19th Communist Organization, a group of self-described “revolutionary anti-imperialists” formed in the late 1970s to support armed struggles in southern Africa, the Middle East, Central America, Puerto Rico—and inside the American mainland. Although several hundred people were part of May 19th front groups (such as the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, an early incarnation of what we now call the antifa movement, and the Madame Binh Graphics Collective, which produced revolutionary-themed silkscreens), the group’s inner circle contained fewer than a dozen people.

The group was also the first American terrorist group entirely organized and led by women. Women picked the targets, made the bombs and implanted the devices. It was a new sisterhood of the bomb and the gun. “We lived in a country that loved violence,” one member said. “We had to meet it on its own terms.”

The Weather Underground Organization—among the most notorious U.S. terrorist formations of the 1970s—has been the subject of documentaries, memoirs and countless academic studies. But May 19th is long forgotten. This is remarkable given the group’s string of violent and spectacular operations from 1979 to 1985: armed robberies that led to the murder of police officers and security guards, audacious prison breakouts and a bombing campaign that in addition to the U.S. Capitol targeted government buildings in Washington and New York.

May 19th—along with the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, or FALN), and the tiny and cultish Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA—is also a reminder that today’s political chaos is nothing like we’ve seen in the past. The 1970s and 80s were a time of political derangement and violent upheaval, and May 19th was in the thick of it.

By the late 1970s, most of the terrorist formations that had operated during the previous 10 years were seriously weakened, thanks to arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment—and sheer exhaustion from life on the run.

But a small group of women, some of whom had belonged to the Weather Underground, vowed to continue the armed struggle. They had spent their entire adult lives engaged in intense left-wing political activism and had progressed steadily from protest to violent extremism. And like many other members of the so-called Generation of 1968—a worldwide youthful cohort that embraced revolution, drugs, rock music and rebellion with equal enthusiasm—they were well-educated products of the middle classes. With the purported science of Marxism-Leninism as their guide, they believed they could bend the arc of history and usher in a new world free from injustice and oppression.

So, in 1978, a handful of women formed May 19th, naming the group after the birthday shared by two of their revolutionary heroes, Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh. They were long-time comrades who had moved in far-left circles since the 1960s.

Three central figures in May 19th illustrate this generational political trajectory: Judy Clark, Marilyn Buck and Susan Rosenberg. Clark was a classic “red diaper” baby, the daughter of high-level Communist Party, USA, functionaries in New York. One day in 1950, at the height of the so-called Red Scare, her father made a startling announcement: The family was moving to Moscow, where he would serve as the correspondent for the party’s Daily Worker newspaper. When they saw the yellow-eyed, pockmarked face of Stalinism up close, Clark’s parents grew disillusioned with Marxism-Leninism and eventually left the party. But Clark loved the party’s warm embrace—which included lakeside outings and hootenannies with other young communists—and was bitter about her parents’ departure. She decided to keep the faith. Following a weeks-long occupation of an administration building in 1969, Clark was expelled by the president of the University of Chicago, despite the intercession of Saul Bellow. Not long afterward she became a member of the Weather Underground.

Marilyn Buck, the child of a veterinarian turned Episcopal priest, had an upper-middle-class childhood in Austin, Texas. An excellent student at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, she was accepted at Brown but decided to attend Berkeley. She eventually returned to Austin, enrolled at the University of Texas, and joined Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, the country’s largest antiwar student organization. Eventually Buck migrated back to the Bay Area of California, the center of West Coast extremism and the home of the Black Panther Party, the BLA, the SLA, and groups like Tribal Thumb, a bizarre commune of ex-convicts and middle-class radicals. As the press later described her, Buck was the only white member of the BLA. Convicted of federal firearms-related offenses, she was sent to a women’s prison in West Virginia in 1974. In 1977, she failed to return from a furlough and became a fugitive.

Susan Rosenberg, the daughter of a retired theatrical producer and a kindly dentist who treated poor patients in Spanish Harlem, attended a progressive private school on the Upper West Side. Political activism came early—at age 11 she began attending civil rights and anti-war demonstrations with her parents. By 14 she was a member of the High School Student Union, the youth wing of SDS. A solid student, she enrolled at Barnard College in 1972. Moving increasingly leftward, she came to admire the women of Vietnam who were on the front lines in the struggle against U.S. imperialism. She left tony Barnard for the grittier City College of New York. She would soon meet a man named Mutulu “Doc” Shakur, an acupuncturist (and future stepfather of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur) who took her under his wing and trained her in the Chinese medical technique.

Shakur was also a leader of the Republic of New Afrika, or RNA, which was working to carve out an African American homeland in the Deep South. He planned on robbing banks and armored cars to raise money for the RNA. He had BLA veterans who could handle any required trigger-pulling. What he needed just as urgently were people who could rent safe houses, buy weapons and drive getaway cars without attracting the attention of authorities. Clark, Rosenberg and Buck fit the bill. By 1979, May 19th was on board. The women referred to themselves as the “white edge.” Doc and the other males called them the “crackers.”

The women of May 19th participated in two of the most spectacular prison breakouts of the 1970s. American radicals revered the FALN, a terrorist group fighting for an independent, Cuba-aligned Puerto Rico. The FALN’s bomb maker in chief, Willie Morales, was locked up in the Bellevue Hospital prison ward in New York, having blown off nine fingers and part of his face when he accidently set off a pipe bomb at his Queens apartment. In the view of May 19th, Shakur and his men, and what remained of the FALN, springing Morales would be a major political coup. Together, they hatched a plot to free him.

On the evening of May 18, 1979, his stumps frantically working a pair of bolt cutters reportedly smuggled in by his lawyer, Morales managed to snip the thin wire covering a window and lower himself several stories using a rope made of Ace bandages. The May 19th women were waiting on the sidewalk below. Years later, the government of Fidel Castro granted him political asylum, and he remains in Cuba to this day.

The following November, May 19th women, together with Doc and his crew—a partnership that members sometimes referred to as the “Family”—broke Joanne Chesimard (also known as Assata Shakur) out of a New Jersey prison, taking two guards as hostages. As with Morales, they believed springing Chesimard would be a major political triumph. Chesimard, an important BLA figure, was serving a life sentence for the May 2, 1973, murder of a New Jersey state trooper. The May 19th women moved her to a Pittsburgh safe house, and then to the Bahamas. By 1984, Chesimard was in Havana living under the protection of the Castro regime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still eager to get her back, and is offering $1 million in reward money.

A 2005 New Jersey State Police "wanted" poster for Joanne Chesimard/Assata Shakur. | AP

A 2005 New Jersey State Police “wanted” poster for Joanne Chesimard/Assata Shakur. | AP

From 1979 through 1981, the Family carried out a string of armed robberies in and around New York, netting nearly $1 million (roughly $3 million in 2020 dollars). The spree came to a bloody end on October 20, 1981, with the botched Brinks armored truck robbery in Nyack, New York, when Family gunmen killed a guard and two policemen. Rosenberg, Clark and Buck served as getaway drivers, although Buck soon became a casualty when she accidentally shot herself in the knee with a 9mm pistol. Driving at high speed, Clark crashed her car, was taken in custody, and later received three consecutive 25-years-to-life sentences. In 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo partially commuted her sentence, and in 2019 she was paroled after 37 years behind bars.

The blood-spattered Brinks debacle alerted the FBI to May 19th’s existence. Anyone suspected of possible involvement in the robbery faced heavy scrutiny and surveillance. Doc Shakur was a federal fugitive and the former BLA members were behind bars or on the run. The May 19th women dropped from public view and went underground.

But they hadn’t given up on revolutionary anti-imperialism—far from it. Beginning in January 1983, and using a variety of ferocious sounding noms de guerre (such as Red Guerrilla Resistance and the Revolutionary Fighting Group) intended to throw off investigators, May 19th bombed a string of targets: an FBI office on Staten Island, the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, the officers club and a computer center at the Washington Navy Yard. In New York, they also bombed the South African consulate, the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building and the headquarters of the city’s largest police union. They made their bombs using dynamite they’d stolen from an Austin, Texas, building site in 1980.

Living in scruffy apartments in out-of-the-way neighborhoods in New Haven, Bridgeport and Baltimore, May 19th members eked out a living through office work, printing and other skilled and semi-skilled labor. Using a string of aliases, fake identification, and wigs and other disguises, and moving frequently, the group managed to avoid detection. But underground life was demanding and stressful. They were separated from friends and loved ones. They endured grueling criticism/self-criticism sessions in which they recounted their failures as revolutionaries. And the possibility of arrest, prison or even death loomed over daily life.

In this hothouse environment, it became increasingly difficult to think clearly. May 19th had gone so far underground and were so physically and mentally isolated they were losing their grip on reality—a psychological condition Germans call Realitätsverlust. Their post-Capitol Hill bombing communiqué suggested that they had considered mounting a deadly attack on November 7, 1983. Now, at least some May 19th people had concluded that what they called “revolutionary anti-imperialism” required lethal violence, and that such violence was imminent. In a paper circulated within May 19th, one member wrote that they needed to “transform ourselves from target shooters to combat shooters,” adding that “investigative work showed the possibility of doing an action that could possibly eradicate several high ranking officers.” The paper had an ominous conclusion: “We believe that selective assassination of very clear targets is on the agenda now.” The inner circle discussed cops, prosecutors, judges and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as potential targets.

By the fall of 1984, their luck began to run out. On November 29, Rosenberg and one of the group’s few male members, Timothy Blunk, were arrested at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey, storage facility after a suspicious night manager called the police. Rosenberg and Blunk were moving Hercules Unigel Tamptite, a high explosive, into a U-Haul trailer. Inside the storage locker, which had been rented by Rosenberg, local police and the FBI found hundreds of pounds of explosives, detonation cord, blasting caps, rifles, handguns and sawed-off shotguns. And on the front seat of their car, their two pistols: a Walther PPK .38-caliber and Browning Hi-Power 9mm, both fully loaded. Rosenberg and Blunk, it seems, were prepared to use deadly force.

Left: Susan Rosenberg leaves a NJ police station on Nov. 30, 1984. Right: Linda Sue Evans in a 1970 AP file photo. | AP

The FBI was getting closer to the others. Bureau forensic experts, analyzing the detritus found at bomb scenes, identified the “signatures” of those who built the devices. They belonged to just two people. The FBI’s conclusion: the Armed Resistance Unit, Red Guerrilla Resistance, and May 19th were in fact one group. Information gathered in Connecticut led special agents to a Baltimore housing complex. During a raid on an apartment there on May 11, 1985, the bureau arrested Laura Whitehorn, a May 19th member and Weather Underground veteran, and hauled off cartons of documents, schematic diagrams and a folder marked “In Progress,” which contained detailed notes and surveillance photos of prime targets, including the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, the U.S. Naval Academy and the Old Executive Office Building.

Buck managed to leave Baltimore before the FBI raid. But she and another member. Linda Sue Evans, were trailed by the FBI and arrested outside New York. Evans had a fully loaded 9mm pistol in her purse and Buck had a .38 revolver wrapped in a motel towel. A few days later, two other members, Alan Berkman and Betty Ann Duke, were arrested near a Friendly’s parking lot outside Philadelphia. Like Rosenberg and Blunk, they were carrying fully loaded pistols. And in the trunk of their car there was a 12-gauge sawed-off pump-action shotgun and a loaded 9mm Beretta pistol. Sniffer dogs detected traces of TNT. Berkman, who was wanted in connection with Brinks (the FBI had learned that he had treated Buck’s gunshot wound, and was an accessory after the fact), was denied bail. But the judge allowed Duke to post bond, using the houses of her sisters in Texas as collateral. Then, on the night of October 13, 1985, she disappeared.

With Clark’s release last year, all of May 19th’s key members are out of prison. Rosenberg and Evans received presidential pardons on Bill Clinton’s last day in office. Buck, after serving more than two decades behind bars, and gravely ill with cancer, received an early parole in July 2010 and died three weeks later. Berkman, who served eight years of a 10-year sentence, became a professor at Columbia’s School of Public Health. Hodgkin’s disease killed him in 2009. Whitehorn served 16 years in prison and was released in 1999. Duke remains a federal fugitive, as does Donna Borup, another May 19th member who jumped bail in 1982 after partially blinding a Port Authority policeman during a violent anti-apartheid protest in New York. Police have speculated in the past that the women might be traveling together as “Thelma and Louise”-style outlaws.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/05/03/us-history-first-women-terrorist-group-191037?cid=apn