This week in terrorism history: Oct. 23-29

Chechen terrorist inside the Podshipnikov Zavod theater, Moscow,  Oct. 23, 2002.
Chechen terrorist inside the Podshipnikov Zavod theater, Moscow, Oct. 23, 2002.


Before we get to this week’s milestones, a quick note. Tom Hayden, the 1960s anti-war activist who was a founder of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, and later became a progressive California lawmaker, died Sunday at the age of 76.

Tom Hayden, SDS founder
Tom Hayden, SDS founder

Hayden was born in Royal Oak, MI, not far from where I’m writing this, and as a student at the University of Michigan turned to radical politics. He was the principle author of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, a generational call to action which envisioned the emergence of a new progressive politics led by university students and faculty who would awaken the masses:

But we need not indulge in illusions: the university system cannot complete a movement of ordinary people making demands for a better life. From its schools and colleges across the nation, a militant left might awaken its allies, and by beginning the process towards peace, civil rights, and labor struggles, reinsert theory and idealism where too often reign confusion and political barter. The power of students and faculty united is not only potential; it has shown its actuality in the South, and in the reform movements of the North.

The group he went on to found, SDS, became the country’s largest student anti-war protest organization before collapsing at its 1969 convention in a leadership coup led by an even more radical cadre impatient for the change which SDS promised yet had not yet achieved. That cadre become the nucleus of the Weather Underground, which between 1970 and the fall of 1975, was responsible for nearly 50 terrorist attacks on government, police, military, and business targets across the country.

Writing in 1970, Hayden had this to say about the emergence of Weather:

Many Weathermen leaders were shaped by the events of Chicago ’68. When our legal protest was clubbed down they became outlaws. When our pitiful attempts at peaceful confrontation were overwhelmed, they adopted the tactic of offensive guerrilla violence.

Now on to this week’s entry.

  • Oct. 23, 2002 — Russia: Chechen terrorists sieze the Podshipnikov Zavod theater in Moscow, taking more than 800 hostages. All 50 Chechens, and 124 hostages, are killed during the rescue. (A link to an excellent documentary on the Moscow theater siege can be found here.)
  • Oct. 24, 2004 — Iraq: A mortar attack in Baghdad by the Islamic Army kills a US State Department officer, Ed Seitz.
  • Oct. 25, 2009 — Iraq: Two car bomb attacks in Baghdad kill more than 130 and wound another 520.
  • Oct. 26, 1995 — Malta: Fathi al-Shaqaqi, leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is killed by an unknown assassin.
  • Oct. 27, 1982 — Northern Ireland: Three Royal Ulster Constabulary officers are killed by an IRA landmine near Lurgan, County Armagh.
  • Oct. 28, 2001 — Philippines: A bomb planted by Abu Sayyaf Group kills 11 and wounds 50 in Zamboanga.
  • Oct. 29, 1972 — West Germany: Three Black September terrorists hijack a Lufthansa plane and demand the release of those who committed the 1972 Olympics massacre.