As published in Townhall.com on January 22, 2016.
Our father, 33 year old Frank Connor was murdered with three other innocent men as he ate lunch in a historic New York restaurant 41 years ago this week.
On January 24, 1975 the Marxist, Cuban inspired terrorists of the Puerto Rican Armed Forces for National Liberation (“FALN”) attacked historic Fraunces Tavern with a vicious, powerful and deadly lunchtime bomb designed to kill as was written in their communique, “reactionary corporate executives.” Our family was to celebrate my brother’s recent 11th and my 9th birthdays that very evening. Instead, the FALN appointed themselves as our father’s judge, jury and executioner, sentencing his young family to face the agony of losing our precious dad and suffer his loss emotionally, physically and financially.
I have fought most of my life to bring justice to our father’s murderers and more recently, to expose their next generation. From the Clintons to Obama, several of today’s modern Democrat politicians and members of congress have direct ties to these Marxist radicals.
Frank Connor and other victims of 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s radicals were murdered on the front lines of the Cold War; a war that we assumed was won with the fall of the Soviet Union. However this war continues today, not with violence but in politics, media, entertainment and academia.
An FALN missive explaining the attack read, “Our attack on January 24, 1975 was not in any way directed against working class people or innocent North Americans. The targets of our attack were bankers, stock brokers and important corporate executives of monopolies and multi-national corporations.” As unjustified as that profile is, Frank Connor was a first generation American from working class Washington Heights, NYC. His mother Margaret was a night shift facilities worker and got him the job at the Morgan Bank out of High School, going to college at night and raising his young family.
How different are the FALN’s words from a quote from Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders? “Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America”
By 1983, the FALN terrorists were arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced in Chicago and New York to 30 to 99 year prison terms for crimes including seditious conspiracy, bomb making, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, illegal possession of weapons including explosives; large quantities of C4 plastic explosive, dynamite and huge caches of ammunition.
At the Chicago sentencing, remorseless FALN member Ricardo Jimenez told Judge McMillen, “You can give me the death penalty, you can kill me now.” “You say we have no remorse. You’re right,” FALN member Ida Rodriguez told the judge. “Your jails and your long sentences will not frighten us.”
The judge agreed that the defendants showed no remorse. “I’m convinced you’re going to continue (terrorism) as long as you live. If there was a death penalty, I’d impose the penalty on you without hesitation.”
Contrary to the standard clemency process, the terrorists never requested clemency. Incredibly a “support committee” petitioned for clemency on their behalf. The Justice Department led by then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder conducted the standard investigation which resulted in Pardon Attorney Margaret Love refusing to recommend the terrorists’ release. However, Holder fired Love and compelled her replacement, Roger Adams, (who also would not recommend clemency) to draft a neutral “options” memo which provided President Clinton the rationale he needed to offer their releases.
Never recognizing the US’s legal jurisdiction, the terrorists at first refused clemency but astonishingly were given 30 days and inter-prison conference calls by the Clinton DoJ to decide on freedom! Finally on September 10, 1999 all but one terrorist, FALN leader Oscar Lopez Rivera, accepted clemency and walked out of prison as a political firestorm led by Congressional hearings hit the Clintons.
FALN leader Oscar Lopez Rivera was so dedicated and unrepentant that he refused to renounce violence, refused the Clintons’ clemency offer, choosing rather to stay in prison where he remains today. Lopez Rivera was quoted in prison as saying, “I cannot undo what’s done. The whole thing of contrition, atonement, I have problems with that.” These were the unrepentant terrorists Eric Holder and the Clintons released; playing Russian Roulette with the American people they were sworn to protect.
Long-time Hillary Clinton advisor Cheryl Mills personally advised the House Government Reform Committee of President Clinton’s assertion of executive privilege stonewalling the inquiry into the FALN clemencies. As a result, none of the Justice or FBI officials testified at the Congressional hearings at which we prophetically warned that releasing these terrorists would only encourage more terrorism. Our immediate family and greater American family were horrifically proven correct exactly 2 years later on 9/11/01 when I witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center that murdered our cousin and father’s godson Steve Schlag among the some 3,000 innocent people massacred.
But there was more to the clemencies than Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions. The clemencies helped expose the connection between today’s Democrat political elite and their violent pre-cursers. At Lopez-Rivera’s January 2011 Federal Parole hearing in Terre Haute Indiana the terror leader told a small group of us victims’ family members that when he began his leadership in the FALN, like Mr. Obama, he was a “community organizer” from Chicago. Oscar’s brother Jose Lopez, likewise a “community organizer” from Chicago, was named the Grand Marshall of New York’s 2014 Puerto Rican Day parade. Further, he has teamed with the number two in New York City’s government, Council SpeakerMelissa Mark Viverito in demanding President Obama offer an unprecedented second presidential clemency to his terrorist brother. There is little doubt that unless we raise this as an issue, Mr. Obama will grant Lopez-Rivera a second clemency before leaving office next January.
President Obama trusted Eric Holder as his Attorney General for the first 6 years of his administration despite, or perhaps because of Holder’s leftist sympathies. Obama began his political career in the home of Weather Underground terror leaders, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. In addition to retired FBI agent Rick Hahn’s confirmation that Weather Underground members Claude Marks and Jean Willmott were indicted for attempting to secure C4 plastic explosives for FALN leader Oscar Lopez Rivera’s escape attempt from Leavenworth Prison, author Bryan Burrough, in Days of Rage, further connects Ayer’s Weather Underground to the FALN. Weather Underground bomb maker Ron Fliegelman confirmed that FALN bomb design came directly from the Weathermen. “We gave them the training. We did that, sure.”
Today our government capitulates to Cuba who for decades has provided training to terrorists and safe harbor to convicted terrorist William Morales and Black Liberation Army cop killer Joanne Chesimard among some 70 U.S. fugitives currently in Cuba.
Morales was the chief bomb-maker and one of the leaders of the FALN who may well have learned his craft from Weather Underground bomber Ron Fliegelman and most certainly built the sinister device that killed our father. Ironically, on what would have been my dad’s 37th birthday, July 12, 1978, Morales blew the fingers off both his hands and part of his face when a bomb he was crafting exploded in his bomb factory in Queens.
Morales was captured, tried and convicted in federal and state courts and sentenced in 1979 to up to 99 years in New York State and Federal prison. During the state trial Morales, like his FALN comrades in Chicago, boasted, “No jail is going to hold me forever. They can put 1,000 of us in jail. They are not going to hold us forever. That’s what I have to say.”
The severely disfigured Morales escaped from Bellevue prison hospital with the assistance of white radicals who called themselves the Revolutionary Armed Task Force. Through a FALN investigation run by the Chicago Terrorist Task Force, Morales was eventually located in Puebla, Mexico, in 1983. When the Mexican police closed in, he and an accomplice killed a Mexican police officer. Morales was arrested and charged with being an accessory to murder. Despite the Reagan administration’s request for extradition, the sympathetic Mexican government sent him to Cuba in 1988.
Today Mrs. Clinton pushes for Guantanamo inmates to be released as she endorses lifting the embargo and President Obama’s normalization of relations with Marxist Cuba. So Mrs. Clinton wants to shutter Guantanamo, releasing terrorists from Cuba, yet she does not demand the return of convicted terrorists from Cuba.
Are these the actions of those who are on the side of the American people?
Our country will defeat every enemy on the battlefield, but the enemy we face today is not on the battlefield. This enemy may come from within, with a familiar look and disarming smile yet is more dangerous and more insidious than any outside foe.
This enemy must be identified for who they are and defeated. Not only is this a quest for justice for our loved ones but it is a battle for the future of our Republic. Our families and our country are worth the fight.
As President Abraham Lincoln warned, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”