Democrats comparing the Capitol Protests to the horrors of 9/11/01 and accusing patriotic Americans of being threats and terrorists is pathetic, dangerous and belies their long patronage to terrorist enemies of our county. They conveniently forget that the Capitol was attacked by the Marxist Weather Underground in 1971 and in 1954 by a Puerto Rican Revolutionary group, pre-curser to the Armed Forces for National Liberation (“FALN”).
I was an eye witness to the carnage of 9/11, the murder of cousin Steve Schlag and 3,000 other innocent souls. January 6 was nothing like those meticulously planned attacks on civilians when hundreds jumped or fell from 1,000 feet rather than burning alive. Not even close.
Those visions are seared in my mind and in our national memory. These leftist politicians and so called journalists believe we have forgotten. Well we have not!
Our father, Frank Connor, Steve’s godfather was murdered by the FALN, who were connected to the Weather Underground a generation before at Fraunces Tavern only blocks from the World Trade Center.
Our family has twice been hit by terrorism and the Democrats' use of our loved one’s murders for their perceived political gain. These Democrats pushed for and celebrated the Clinton/Gore and then Obama/Biden clemencies to Oscar Lopez Rivera and his terrorist comrades who murdered our father. Many on the Left successfully released or traded terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and still push for its closing.
On January 24, 1975 the Marxist, Cuban inspired terrorists of the “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 and Biden, many 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.
On August 11, 1999, in an obvious attempt to curry favor for Hillary Clinton with New York’s Hispanic Community for her 2000 New York Senate run, President Bill Clinton offered executive clemency to 16 violent, unrepentant FALN terrorists. The FALN, one of the most prolific terror groups in American history waged a bloody war against the United States, conducting over 115 bombings and six murders from 1974 -1983 including the Fraunces bombing that murdered our father.
A 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 Senator and former 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. As I wrote in my testimony at Holder’s 2009AG Confirmation hearing, Holder played “Russian Roulette”, with the American people he was sworn to protect.
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.
Lopez Rivera was so dedicated and unrepentant that he refused to renounce violence, refused the Clintons’ clemency offer, choosing rather to stay in prison. Lopez Rivera was quoted as saying, “I cannot undo what’s done. The whole thing of contrition, atonement, I have problems with that.”
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. Shortly after Lopez’s 2017 release, this convicted Marxist terrorist was named a “Freedom Hero” by Democrat organizer of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Fortunately, a group of friends and supporters convinced sponsors like Goya Foods, Coca-Cola and others to pull their support for the parade if Lopez was being honored.
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 Weather Underground. “We gave them the training. We did that, sure.”
Today our government continues to show its bent for terrorists by its capitulation 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 likely learned his craft from 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 where he and other convicted terrorist fugitives enjoy Safe Harbor from US jurisdiction.
Ironically while Barack Obama announced his 2016 Cuba trip to pay homage to the Castros, I was inGuantanamo Bay Cuba, at the pretrial hearings of KSM and other high value detainees.A group of9/11 family members and I saw the best in America while the facility, service members and prosecution teams were attacked by the left as scheme to shut down GTMO.. Again, is their allegiance to the terrorists or the American people? So they release terrorists from Guantanamo Bay Cuba but don’t push for convicted terrorists to be brought from Cuba to face justice.
The protest on Jan 6 may have been more of a perceived threat to those in power because it affected them directly, not the "regular" Americans they are sworn to represent and protect but so despise. I felt this first hand when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee atEric Holder's AG confirmation hearing. Senators Leahy, Whitehouse and others were so condescending and / or dismissive to our family's plight while they sat literally and figuratively above us.
Can you imagine how painful it is to victims' families for real terrorists to be lauded, released and honored while my dad's life, cousin Steve's life and the lives and deaths of other proud Americans like them are marginalized, disparaged and exploited?
Our country will defeat every enemy on the battlefield, but the enemy we face today is not on the battlefield. This enemy comes from within, with a familiar look and disarming smile yet is more dangerous and more insidious than any outside foe.
This enemy has exposed who they are and must be 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.”