Mr. President, Bring This Terrorist Back From Cuba

Monday, December 22, 2014
By Joseph F. Connor in The New York Post:

Bring this terrorist back from Cuba

President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba offers an important opportunity to bring some of America’s enemies to justice.

As we approach the 40th anniversary of the deadly January 24, 1975, lunchtime terrorist bombing of New York’s historic Fraunces Tavern, which killed my father, now is the time for Obama to demand the extradition of terrorist fugitives receiving safe haven in Cuba, including William Morales.

Morales was the chief bomb-maker and one of the leaders of the clandestine Puerto Rican terrorist group, Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN), one of the most prolific terrorist organizations ever to wage war against the United States.

Between 1974 and 1983, the FALN claimed responsibility for over 130 bombings in the US and Puerto Rico, including the premeditated attack on Fraunces. That attack claimed the lives of four innocent men, including my father, 33-year-old Frank Connor.

As chief bomb-maker, Morales may well have built the sinister device that killed our father the very day our family was set to celebrate my 9th and my brother’s 11th birthday.

Ironically, on what would have been my dad’s 37th birthday, July 12, 1978, Morales blew the fingers off of both his hands and part of his face when a bomb he was crafting exploded in his bomb factory in Queens.

As Rick Hahn, a retired FBI agent in charge of the FALN investigation, reports, the bomb factory contained explosives, incendiary mixtures, tools, FALN communiqués and significantly the copy machine used to make the FALN letterhead.

Such letterhead was used for communiqués, including the January 24, 1975, communiqué found after the Fraunces murders.

Morales was captured, tried and convicted in federal and state courts and sentenced in 1979 to up to 89 years in prison but escaped from Bellevue prison hospital with the assistance of Marilyn Buck and other white radicals who called themselves the Revolutionary Armed Task Force.

During the state trial, he made threats to New York detective Bill Valentine, accusing Valentine of “terrorizing” him. “They are not going to hold me forever,” Morales 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.”

Through a FALN investigation run by the Chicago Terrorist Task Force, Morales was 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 continues to live as a guest of the Castro regime.

Between 1981 and 1983, 16 core members of the FALN and Los Macheteros, a related group, were arrested, convicted and sentenced to long and well-deserved sentences.

Despite my regular communications with the Clinton departments of State and Justice beginning in the early 1990s, demanding the return of Morales, in 1999 President Clinton with the cover of then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, infamously granted clemency to 16 unrepentant FALN and Machetero comrades.

My communications continue to this day with regular meetings with the NYPD’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

As recently as 2012, the Department of State wrote to Rep. Peter King, “We have expressed the strong US desire that they (Morales and convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard) and other fugitives be returned to the United States to face prosecution or resume serving their sentences. The Department of State will continue to press this issue.”

Americans must be aware of what is at stake here. We cannot allow Obama to needlessly give away our safety and prestige, receiving nothing in return.

Though I strongly disagree with fostering a relationship with the brutal Castros, if Obama is bent on doing so, he must get these killers back in US prisons to pay their debt to society. Clemency to these fugitives, as was provided to Morales’ comrades and has been rumored is a possibility, is no option.

My father’s life and untimely death in the name of an illegitimate “political” cause has haunted my family for nearly 40 years. Now we have the chance to bring justice to one of the conspirators.

My mother, Mary, told me this week she always hoped she would live long enough to see Morales brought to justice. This is our chance to grant her that wish.