Intrepid terrorists could get maximum bang for their buck on “Black Friday.” A few well-placed bombs and the carnage would easily shame 9/11's.
Macy's, for instance, serves tens of thousands of shoppers that one day. If nothing else, the theme would make for a hair-raising Hollywood drama or disaster blockbuster. Credibility might be a problem, however. After all, even the most bloodthirsty and psychopathic of terrorists seek government or semi-military targets: The Pentagon, The U.S.S. Cole, Marine barracks in Lebanon, embassies in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, etc. Typecasting one who craved massive civilian carnage for the malicious sake of massive civilian carnage might edge the movie over into a James Bondor Austin Powers comedy genre.
Yet the movie could be based on a terrorist living today who planned this very type of civilian carnage 49 years ago. On Nov. 17, 1962, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI cracked a terrorist plot by Castro-Cuban agents that targeted Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomindales and Manhattan's Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set to go off the following week, the day after Thanksgiving.
A little perspective: the March 2004 Madrid subway blasts, all 10 of the explosions that killed and maimed almost 2000 people, used a grand total of 100 kilos of TNT. Castro and Che’s agents planned to set off five times that explosive power in the three biggest department stores on earth — and on the year’s biggest shopping day, for good measure.
Thousands of New Yorkers-- probably mostly women and children given the date-- were to be incinerated and entombed. Castro and Che planned their Manhattan holocaust just weeks after Nikita Khrushchevfoiled their plans for an even bigger massacre during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “If the missiles had remained,” Che Guevara confided to The London Daily Worker the following month, “we would have used them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City.”
Cuba’s agents for this Manhattan Thanksgiving bomb plot were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations, and were working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known a year later this very week.
Had those detonators gone off the day after Thanksgiving in 1962, 9/11 might be remembered as the second deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.