It was a shocking proclamation from unrepentant accused domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, a Twitter boast retweeted by an angry military friend of mine in which he stated that he “served honorably in the struggle against war and for peace and justice” as a member of the Weather Underground.
There is nothing honorable about domestic terrorism, especially when it has roots in Boston with the 1970 murder of BPD Officer Walter Schroeder, a father of 9 who was gunned down by Weather Underground members pulling off a Brighton bank job. In fact the Weather Underground would kill two Nyack, New York cops and a Brinks security guard, in their reign of terror in the 1970s.
So if Ayers thinks he “served” anything with honor in his group’s self-proclaimed “struggle” let me remind you of his interview with the New York Times that ran on September 11, 2001.
“I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said told the NY Times. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”
There are many unforgettable images seared into my mind from that terrible morning after running to Ground Zero from my New York Daily News office at One Police Plaza where I was the bureau chief covering crime. The body of FDNY Chaplain Father Mychal being carried by FDNY firefighters and NYPD ESU cops after becoming the first to die when one of the many victims in the upper floors made the unimaginable choice to jump rather than burn in the minutes after human filled bombs plowed into the World Trade Center towers. The crushed FDNY Ladder 18 truck in which five firefighters died together and are all buried in the same grave. The dazed shocked victims who were led out of the wrecked buildings before the collapse covered in a miasma of dust and debris that we now know has caused countless other first responders – not just the 343 FDNY firefighters and 23 NYPD cops and 37 Port Authority Officers and the FBI agent and a paramedic that died that day – to since perish from diseases that didn’t even exist before the attack.
I had the front-page story in the New York Daily News that morning about another radical that had been caught the day before, a fugitive for decades after committing a NYC bank robbery and the only hijacking of a Canadian commercial airliner. The headline read: Black Panther nabbed. It was blowing and burning all over lower Manhattan, as was another story that caught my eye in the New York Times accompanied by an image of a grown man stomping on an American flag.
I will never forget the horrible, disgusting irony that my country, the city I had lived and worked in since 1996, was under attack by terrorists and here was a college professor telling a NY Times reporter he didn’t regret being part of a terrorist outfit that bombed 25 American targets, including military sites and a NYPD precinct.
So when a police officer retweeted @BillAyers May 2 tweet about how honorable he had behaved during his radical days, I was apoplectic. My fury from the losses we marked that day – 2,975 murdered, not including the despicable hijackers – deaths that continue to climb because 9/11 diseases came rushing back.
Then of course came the cowardly jihadists who attacked us in my home city of Boston on Patriots Day, motivated by the same self-serving justification that Ayers spewed this week: “a struggle against war, for peace and justice.” That’s pretty much what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote in pencil on the side of the boat where he hid for hours after he murdered a MIT cop and got another nearly killed in a bomb and bullet battle in Watertown. Even after it was bullet-pocked and blood-splattered his message was clear: “God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in this boat and shed some light on our actions. The US Government is killing our innocent civilians…Know you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven.”
There is no difference between what Bill Ayers supported when his girlfriend and two other Weather Underground terrorists blew themselves up in a Manhattan townhouse in 1970 that served as their bomb making factory and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s smirking behind a tree waiting for his pressure cooker bomb to explode behind a row of children. Ayers, like Dzhokhar, went on the run and hid like a rat. And Ayers bears responsibility for the death of his girlfriend just like Dzhokhar dragged his own brother to his death fleeing the firefight.
Ayers doesn’t regret the bombs, he wished he had done more. Why would he have any regrets? He’s living pretty large.
From that 9/11 New York Times story on Ayers book: Ayers, the reporter wrote, “went underground in 1970, after his girlfriend, Diana Oughton, and two other people were killed when bombs they were making exploded in a Greenwich Village town house. With him in the Weather Underground was Bernardine Dohrn, who was put on the F.B.I.’s 10 Most Wanted List. J. Edgar Hoover called her ‘the most dangerous woman in America’ and ‘la Pasionara of the Lunatic Left.’ Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn later married.”
Nice guy. They had a couple of kids. And at least on 9/11/01 their son “Zayd, 24,” taught at “Boston University,” the story said.
As someone who was on the ground for two terror attacks in my professional journalism career I see very little difference between Bill Ayers and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Both were Americans motivated by hate for their country.
Except of course today Ayers is a celebrated “educator” a college professor at a publicly funded university in Chicago. The guy who famously told fellow Weather Underground terrorists to “kill the rich” is now a pretty rich guy himself with book deals and speaking tours, his accused terrorist wife also a college educator.
By contrast Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in a maximum-security cell at ADX Supermax sentenced to death with no communication with the outside world. He can’t even access love letters from his fan girls that called themselves the “Jaharians” or write a book like Ayers did called “Fugitive Days.”
Terrorism is terrorism. Enemies are enemies. Foreign or domestic.
– Michele McPhee is a best selling true crime author; three-time Emmy-nominated television investigative producer in Boston for ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit; award-winning columnist; magazine contributor.