Monday, 19 November 2001

"Respectable" Terrorists

Written by  William Norman Grigg

Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the b*****ds were finally going to get what was coming to them."

These words are not drawn from the diseased mind of Osama bin Laden or other surviving accomplices to the Black Tuesday attack. They are from Fugitive Days, the new memoir of home-grown terrorist Bill Ayers. As leaders of the Weather Underground, Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn were an important part of the world Communist movement's terrorist fifth column within the United States. Now they are respected academics: Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and Dohrn teaches law at Northwestern University.

On the morning of September 11th, readers of the New York Times who managed to get through the paper before spending the rest of the day gaping with horror at their televisions would have read a remarkable tribute to Ayers and Dohrn. "I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers told the Times. "I feel we didn't do enough." At the time of the Black Tuesday attack, Ayers had been planning a national speaking tour to promote his book, perhaps in the hope of inspiring another generation that would "do enough." For tactical reasons, those plans were set aside, and Ayers was left to explain how the Weathermen were an "educational" group, rather than a terrorist organization.

"I'm not a terrorist," Ayers told the Los Angeles Times. "We tried to sound a piercing alarm that was unruly, difficult and sometimes, probably wrong.... I describe what led some people in despair and anger to take some very extreme measures. There's nothing in the book that attempts to defend or rationalize or preach or be a how-to. It's a story of what this one boy did in a world of flames." This self-serving description omits the fact that Ayers ignited many of those "flames."

"An American Red Army"

Ayers describes the Weather Underground as "an American Red Army," and it was indeed the American element of what terrorism expert Claire Sterling has called the Soviet-organized "Terror International." The watershed event in organizing the Soviet-sponsored global terror network was the January 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana. That event brought together more than 500 delegates from 83 radical groups for the purpose of forging "a global revolutionary strategy to counter the global strategy of American imperialism."

In 1966, terrorist training camps supervised by KGB Colonel Vadim Kotchergine were turning out graduates well-schooled in Marxist-Leninist theory, as well as the use of explosives, weapons, and guerrilla warfare. In those Soviet-run camps, wrote Sterling in her definitive study The Terror Network, "Castro was training the advance guard of the coming European fright decade — Palestinians, Italians, Germans, French, Spanish Basques — and forming guerrilla nuclei in practically every Western Hemisphere state south of the American border."

Similar training camps were set up across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, creating an army of dedicated terrorists able to "move with remarkable confidence across national frontiers from floodlit stage to stage, able at a word to command the planet's riveted attention." From this chain of terrorist academies came many of the most violent leaders of the "Generation of '68" — subversives who were instrumental in the wave of riots, assassinations, bombings, and other upheavals that pummeled Western Europe and the United States in that tumultuous year.

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While their comrades were tearing Europe apart, recalls Ayers, the Weather Underground's "small street-fighting collectives" were immersing themselves in the doctrines of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Che Guevara. They were also gathering weapons, learning hand-to-hand combat, and preparing for war. In 1969, just prior to the "Days of Rage," a delegation from the Weather Underground and Students for a Democratic Society (of which the Weathermen were an offshoot) made the journey to Havana to plot strategy. Afterwards Ayers and his comrades embarked on a campaign of terrorism and urban guerrilla warfare without precedent in American history.

Between 1970 and 1972, the Weathermen carried out a string of bombings against essentially the same targets chosen by bin Laden's associates: New York City police headquarters; the Capitol building; and the Pentagon. They also targeted ROTC buildings, draft offices, statues of "oppressors," and corporate offices. During the "Days of Rage" in Chicago in 1969, a rampage organized by Ayers and his comrades in order to "bring the war home," hundreds of radicals stormed through the city's downtown areas, smashing hotel and store windows. The Weathermen worked in tandem with the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, and other terrorist groups and criminal syndicates.

The viciousness of the Weather Underground is best illustrated by a bombing they failed to pull off. In March 1970, three Weathermen — including Ayers' then-girl-friend, Diana Oughton — were killed in the basement of their Greenwich Village town house when a bomb they were building exploded. Although Ayers insists that his terrorist group targeted "symbols" rather than people, the bomb that killed his three comrades was an anti-personnel weapon tightly packed with screws and nails. The Weathermen intended to set it off at New Jersey's Fort Dix Army Base during a dance. Ayers admits that the bomb would have done "some serious work beyond the blast, tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too." The victims would have included the women who had been brought to the dance as dates.

Kathy Boudin, a Weatherman who survived the explosion, went on to enlist with the Black Liberation Army, an ultra-violent spin-off of the Black Panther Party. Boudin was involved in the 1981 New York Brink's Truck robbery, in which two security guards (one of them a black man) were killed. The purpose of the robbery was to fund "revolutionary" activities across the country. At the time of her arrest, it was discovered that Boudin possessed a sizeable quantity of bomb-making materials and plans for a bombing campaign against New York City police stations. Sentenced to a term of 20 years to life, Boudin was denied parole last August.

New York Times book reviewer Brent Staples notes the irony that while Boudin confronts "the possibility of spending the rest of her middle age in prison ... her former comrades Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn ... have served no significant jail time. Both of them teach at name-brand universities and are headed for cozy retirements like those of the bourgeois parents they so despised during their Weathermen days."

Ayers and Dohrn did not merely "despise" bourgeois parents; true to their revolutionary nihilist instincts, they urged their followers to murder their parents. During the Weather Underground's 1969 "War Council" in Flint, Michigan, Dohrn rhapsodized about the revolutionary attitude of Charles Manson and his followers, who had just killed actress Sharon Tate and her houseguests in California: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!"

At the same gathering, Weatherman leader John Jacobs declared: "We're against everything that's 'good and decent' in honky America. We will burn and loot and destroy." After discussing the details of their terrorist campaign — how to get weapons and build bombs, how to organize a network of "safe houses" — the Weathermen adjourned to a nearby Catholic Church, where they had an orgy.

After spending most of the 1970s as fugitives, Ayers and Dohrn surrendered to federal authorities in December 1980. All charges against them were dropped because of "improper surveillance," prompting Ayers to exult that he was "guilty as sin and free as a bird." Ayers and Dohrn, who have never disavowed their hatred for America and its traditional institutions, now focus their efforts on children's rights and social work — continuing their subversive campaign by other means.

This isn't to say that Ayers has disavowed bombing as an instrument of "social change." In Fugitive Days he writes, "I can't imagine entirely dismissing the possibility" of undertaking another terrorist campaign in the name of "social justice." To judge from the prose in which he extols the supposed beauty of bombs, Ayers appears to be almost eager to resume his erstwhile criminal career.

"There's something about a good bomb," Ayers enthuses near the beginning of his book. He fondly recalls his feelings at the height of the Weather Underground's terror campaign: "Night after night, day after day, each majestic scene I witnessed was so terrible and so unexpected that no city would ever stand innocently fixed in my mind. Big buildings and wide streets, cement and steel were no longer permanent. They, too, were fragile and destructible. A torch, a bomb ... and they, too, would come undone or get knocked down."

By the time Ayers and Dohrn were forced underground, Ayers recalls, "we'd already bombed the Capitol, and we'd cased the White House. The Pentagon was leg two of the trifecta." As former New Left radical Ronald Radosh wrote in a review of Ayers' book: "Preparing for his book tour, Ayers posed for a publicity photo with the American flag crumbled in weeds at his feet. This man still hates America and seeks its destruction."

Inverted Justice

While Ayers and his comrades did not destroy America, they did much to destroy our nation's internal security apparatus — with the help of subversive elements within our political Establishment.

While Ayers and Dohrn were living as fugitives, Edward Levi, Gerald Ford's attorney general, was mounting a campaign against the FBI's counterintelligence division. Levi was a strange choice for attorney general if the purpose of that position is understood to include protecting the United States from its domestic enemies. He was a former member of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization cited by the now-defunct House Committee on Un-American Activities as "the foremost legal bulwark of the Communist Party, its front organizations, and controlled unions." As attorney general, he eventually indicted FBI acting director L. Patrick Gray, former Chief of Counterintelligence Edward Miller, and former acting associate director W. Mark Felt on charges of "conspiring to injure and oppress citizens of the United States." The "citizens" in question were members of the Weather Underground.

Following the bombing of the Pentagon in 1972, Felt had authorized 13 surreptitious entries (commonly known as "black bag jobs") of suspected Weather Underground hideouts. This undoubtedly disrupted the terrorist cabal's plans to complete its bombing "trifecta" by attacking the White House. But Levi insisted on prosecuting Felt and Miller for the supposed crime of preventing terrorism.

After a prolonged court battle, Felt was sentenced to a $5,000 fine, and Miller was ordered to pay $3,000. The agents were also saddled with more than one million dollars in legal expenses. Eventually, 140 FBI agents were brought to trial for their efforts to apprehend Weather Underground terrorists. All of these agents were prosecuted for actions taken in 1972-73 under guidelines created by Levi in 1976 — a violation of the Constitution's prohibition against ex post facto laws. This amounted to a judicial purge of the FBI's counter-terrorism division.

The notorious "Levi Guidelines" created in 1976 still govern the FBI's investigation of terrorist groups. "Those guidelines," Felt observed in a 1983 interview with this magazine's predecessor, The Review of the News, "for all practical purposes put the FBI out of the Domestic Security business." Under the Levi standard the FBI is not even allowed to keep files of public source documents, such as newspaper clippings, on violent or avowedly subversive groups unless there is evidence that they are committing, or are imminently about to commit, a federal crime. "When I retired from the FBI in June of 1973," Felt observed, "my recollection is that there were over 20,000 Domestic Security cases under investigation. In May of 1982, there were 20 Domestic Security cases being investigated. It is accurate to say that under the current Levi Guidelines the FBI cannot now investigate until after the bomb goes off."

Thus while Ayers and his associates were not able to "finish the job" of destroying the United States, they helped open the gates for a new generation of terrorists — including Osama bin Laden — to carry on the Weather Underground's "revolution."

Establishment Subversives

It is nothing less than an outrage that Ayers and Dohrn are comfortably ensconced in the academic world. But some of their comrades from the Soviet-sponsored Terror international have found their way into the ruling councils of NATO nations and the European Union — our supposed allies in the UN-directed "war on terrorism."

The most remarkable specimen of these terrorists-turned-statesmen is German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. In the late 1960s, Fischer was associated with the Soviet-sponsored Baader-Meinhof Gang, which is also known as the "Red Army Fraction." Left-wing commentator Paul Berman recalls that the Red Army Fraction carried out "kidnappings, bank holdups, [and] murders." In 1972, the year Ayers and his comrades bombed the Pentagon, a bomb planted by the Red Army Fraction killed four American soldiers; a prosecutor who later sought to put the group on trial for the bombing was machine-gunned to death.

In April 1973, Fischer was photographed taking part in a riot in which he and several other terrorists beat a police officer. During another riot in which Fischer participated, another police officer was nearly burned to death by a Molotov cocktail. But Fischer was not merely a street-level radical. In 1969 he attended a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization during which the group adopted a resolution calling for the destruction of Israel.

Fischer was a close friend of Hans-Joachim Klein, who was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this year for his role in a terrorist attack upon OPEC ministers in Vienna. That 1975 assault, which was directed by the infamous Soviet-trained terrorist Carlos "The Jackal," resulted in the death of three people. Fischer was subpoenaed to testify at that trial; during his testimony he was compelled to admit that he had harbored members of the Red Army Fraction in his house during the 1970s.

Klein, Fischer's friend, was a member of an ultra-violent terrorist underground called the Revolutionary Cells, which was tightly allied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). "One of the master achievements of the Revolutionary Cells was to help coordinate the Palestinian attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972," points out Berman. Some analysts also suspect the PFLP of involvement in the Black Tuesday attack upon the United States.

Berman notes that NATO's 1999 Kosovo War was a project of the European New Left — or what are commonly called "the 68ers." The label is used in recognition of their role in the Soviet-inspired upheavals of that year. The result of NATO's 1999 bombing campaign was to turn Yugoslavia's Kosovo province over to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a Marxist terrorist group that serves a key role in Osama bin Laden's international network.

Berman calls NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia "The 68ers' War." "The man who in 1998 signed the treaty that brought the Czech Republic into NATO and therefore into the NATO intervention was Jan Kevan, a Czech '68er," wrote Berman in the August 27th issue of the New Republic. "The NATO diplomat in Kosovo for a while was Jiri Dienstbier, another Czech '68er. The secretary-general of NATO during the war was Javier Solana, a '68er from Spain's Socialist Workers Party." Bernard Kouchner, who was the civilian leader of the UN's occupation force in Kosovo following the bombing, was a French 68er. And of course, Berman continues, "German participation could not have occurred without Fischer and his allies."

With the 1999 NATO war on behalf of the narco-terrorist KLA, the Soviet-aligned New Left had demonstrated the extent to which it had entrenched itself in Europe's institutions. Berman concludes that the New Left International that had not quite coalesced in 1968 "had finally assembled under the auspices of NATO." This is the same NATO alliance that is now responsible for patrolling America's skies and seacoasts as part of the global "war on terrorism."