In the late 1970s, onetime Barnard student, a Texas sorority sister, the daughter of a former communist journalist—joined and became leaders of the May 19th Communist Organization.
It is “the first and only women-created and women-led terrorist group,” –national security expert and historian William Rosenau.
Amidst the social and political turmoil of the 1970s, a handful of women—among them a onetime Barnard student, a Texas sorority sister, the daughter of a former communist journalist—joined and became leaders of the May 19th Communist Organization. Named to honor the shared birthday of civil rights icon Malcolm X and Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, M19 took its belief in “revolutionary anti-imperialism” to violent extremes: It is “the first and only women-created and women-led terrorist group,” says national security expert and historian William Rosenau.
In 1979, M19’ helped explosives-builder William Morales of the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN and Black Liberation Army organizer Assata Shakur (née Joanne Chesimard) escape from their respective prisons.
M19 started building explosives themselves. Just before 11 p.m. on November 7, 1983, they called the U.S. Capitol switchboard and warned them to evacuate the building. Ten minutes later, a bomb detonated in the building’s north wing, harming no one but blasting a 15-foot gash in a wall and causing $1 million in damage. Over the course of a 20-month span in 1983 and 1984, M19 also bombed an FBI office, the Israel Aircraft Industries building, and the South African consulate in New York, D.C.’s Fort McNair and Navy Yard (twice).
After a five-year investigation, in May 1988 FBI agents arrested Marilyn Jean Buck, Linda Sue Evans, Susan Rosenberg, Laura Whitehorn and Elizabeth Ann Duke. They were charged with executing the Capitol bombing as well as triggering similar blasts at Fort McNair and the Washington Navy Yard.