The Forgotten Stars of 1970s Terrorism
In Hollywood they're making yet another film about Carlos The Jackal, and Bernhard Schlink's writing books about the Baader-Meinhof gang again. From Spielberg's Munich to Soderbergh's Che, the last decade's been keen to fete the terrorists who were at large in the 1970s. In contrast to the amorphous and utterly unquenchable threat currently hanging over our Western heads, everyone knew what figures like Guevara and The Black September group wanted: i.e. suitcases crammed full of cash and choppers to Cuba. They had a negotiable quality to them that's largely missing from today's suicide fanatics. Here are some lesser known terrorists from the 1970s that pop culture's yet to turn into stocking-clad, cemtex-strapped, hostage-garotting rock stars.
FRONT DE LIBERATION DU QUEBEC
The FLQ's Mario Bachand. Thin eyes
By the 90s, the "liberation" of Francophone Quebec from overeating, culturally-destitute Anglo-Saxons was something only really discussed whimsically in newspaper comment pages. But in the 60s and early 70s, people were prepared to die for their right to not be Canadian. The FLQ intended to establish a French-speaking Marxist republic on the North American mainland by bombing shoe factories and kidnapping important political figures. Quebec deputy-governor Pierre Laporte was found strangled after a tip-off was phoned into a local radio station. British trade commissioner Richard Cross, also captive, was used as a bargaining chip when Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau responded to the FLQ's brattishness by declaring a state of martial law and arresting 500 people. The kidnappers issued the usual demands - $500,000 in gold, helicopters to Cuba, etc – but, less usually, they won, and Trudeau's government sent five of them off to sunny Cuba in exchange for Cross's life.
ARE THEY COOL? No, they were French Canadian.
WOULD THEY GUT THEIR OWN GRANS? Probably.
DID THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING WORTH BELIEVING IN? Yes. Putting a barrier between Francophones and everyone else.
Tupamaros leader Raul Sendic. Heavy brow
It wasn't looking too good for Geoffrey Jackson. The German, Swiss and American ambassadors had already been plucked from the streets by kidnappers when the consul was bundled into a car in Montevideo in January 1971. Luckily, a British passport seemed to hold as much cachet for Jackson in Uruguay as it had for Cross in Quebec, and Ted Heath managed to negotiate Jackson's release after eight months in captivity. The Tupamaros were generally seen as true friends of the people. They assassinated an FBI agent who had taught advanced methods of torture to various Latin American governments, and they fed truth serum to celebrities then broadcast the results, like a sort of access all areas chat show. Imagine Friday Night with Jonathan Ross if the four poofs were masked guerillas with berettas between their teeth and the piano was a corpse.
ARE THEY COOL? The general rule is that anyone from South America is cool, even if students try their hardest to ruin that.
WOULD THEY GUT THEIR OWN GRANS? Not any more. They renounced violence and went legit in 1984. Maybe in the 70s, but if they did they would have done it humanely.
DID THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING WORTH BELIEVING IN? Only belief itself.
ADDITIONAL FUN FACT: The Tupamaros were inspired by Carlos Marighella's proto-Anarchist's Cookbook, The Minimanual of the Urban Guerilla. The book was so convincing that after reading it Marighella's Italian publisher was moved to join an underground terror cell, which backfired a bit when he blew himself to smithereens while attaching a bomb to an electricity pylon.
THE ANGRY BRIGADE
The Angry Brigade's disproportionately angry flag and Hilary Creek
English terrorism on an English scale, the Angry Brigade were a farcical, slightly cross Dad's Army unit of muesli-slurping student radicals. the 25 bombings they carried out between August 70 and August 71 injured one person and killed no one. Britain in the 1970s was as fertile a hotbed for terror as any other ailing, old world economy, what with Northern Ireland, industrial decline, three-day working weeks, rampant inflation, race riots and the sound of Frank Spencer's voice. The biggest baddies we could conjure, though, were the terrifyingly named 'Stoke Newington Eight', found by police with 33 sticks of gelignite during a raid. One of those convicted was Hilary Creek, the university-educated daughter of a City worker. Creek gave an interview to The Observer in 2002 in which she expressed zero regret for her part in events, and objected to the interviewer's use of the term "bomb" because it had overly-negative connotations.
ARE THEY COOL? About as cool as a Radio 4 comedy show featuring the "talents" of Rory Bremner and Miles Jupp.
WOULD THEY GUT THEIR OWN GRANS? Nah, they'd put the wrong postcode on the letter bomb.
DID THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING WORTH BELIEVING IN? The violent overthrow of the vile fascist dictator and evil oppressor of the people Sir Edward Heath.
THE GEORGE JACKSON BRIGADE
I suppose you don't need a flag when there are only five of you
Named after a Black Panther who was killed while trying to escape San Quentin prison, the George Jackson Brigade were five working class militants from a variety of racial backgrounds. They generally tried their hardest to not kill people, but in their haste for easy cash botched bank robberies became fatal. They once firebombed the offices of a Seattle contractor who was working in a black area but refusing to hire black workers. There were 15 bombings in total, before all five George Jackson brigadiers were successively killed or captured as the police noose tightened.
ARE THEY COOL? They make Carlos The Jackal look like Mika eating a quiche.
WOULD THEY GUT THEIR OWN GRANS? Nah, big pussycats. Big pussycats with big guns.
DID THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING WORTH BELIEVING IN? Everything that is noble and true about the human spirit.
THE RED BRIGADES
Mario Moretti murders ex-Prime Ministers and smokes cigarettes
Brigate Rosse were militant communists in the glorious Italian tradition. They killed fascists, blew up judges and their leader Renato Curcio was busted out of prison by an armed paramilitary unit led by his wife. They robbed banks and got involved with fraud. They took ex-Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro hostage in 1978 and, after turning down the Pope when he offered to take Moro's place, shot the former PM ten times and dumped his body in the boot of a old car. Obviously much of this was to the government's chagrin, and after eight years of mischief the authorities busied themselves smashing the shit out of the original Red Brigades forever.
ARE THEY COOL? Turning down The Pope? That's as cool as it gets, bro.
WOULD THEY GUT THEIR OWN GRANS? Only if she made them.
DID THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING WORTH BELIEVING IN? Sadly, they were just sadistic idiots.
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