Rumor has it that President Obama might pardon FALN mastermind Oscar López Rivera. He shouldn't.
Now 74-years old, López Rivera has served 35 years of a 55-year sentence for seditious conspiracy and weapons-related charges. "I am an enemy of the United States government," he told federal judge Thomas McMillen in 1983. There is no evidence that he's changed his mind.
During the 1970s and 80s, López Rivera's FALN placed more than 130 bombs in American cities. Their goal was to destabilize what they called the "Yanki capitalist monopoly" and achieve Puerto Rican independence. Their method was terrorism.
In 1974, the FALN began planting booby-trap bombs around New York. While most of these early explosions caused only property damage, the group's clear intention was to kill and maim. In December 1974, an NYPD officer responding to a report of a dead body in an abandoned building on 110th St. was seriously injured by an FALN incendiary device.
In January 1975, a 10-pound dynamite bomb killed four people and injured dozens at Fraunces Tavern. The powerful blast was felt blocks away. In an eerie foreshadowing of 9/11, dust-covered victims staggered through downtown streets. The FALN quickly took responsibility for the deadly deed.
When a Chicago apartment serving as the FALN's bomb-making factory was raided in November 1976, authorities learned the names of the group's leadership. López Rivera and several associates became fugitives.
On Aug. 3, 1977, the FALN struck again in a coordinated attack in Midtown. An alert office worker at 342 Madison Ave., near 43rd St., noticed a suspicious package and evacuated the building. No one was hurt in the subsequent blast.
Workers at the Mobil Building at 150 East 42nd St. weren't so lucky. An FALN bomb planted there killed 26-year-old Charles Steinberg. The building's ground-floor windows blew out and several New Yorkers were critically injured by a shower of glass.
It was a bloody and chaotic midmorning scene in the heart of the city. An NYPD cop described the sidewalk in front of the Mobil Building to a Daily News reporter as a "human mess." The FALN called in a dozen other bomb threats, forcing evacuations around the city. Mayor Abe Beame called the day's violent chaos an "outrageous act of terrorism."
When López Rivera was arrested in 1981, the FBI found six pounds of dynamite and four blasting caps in his Chicago apartment...