LaGuardia Airport bombing – December 29, 1975

As good as some law enforcement and security intelligence agencies are, some terrorist incidents are never resolved.

As good as some law enforcement and security intelligence agencies are, some terrorist incidents are never resolved.

Put yourself in the shoes of a terrorist for a second. Just for a second: I do NOT want to be accused of radicalising anyone to violence! What do you want to do? Well, aside from killing and maiming as many people as possible, you want to get noticed.

That is why most groups, sometimes right away, sometimes later, issue a claim of responsibility. These claims take many forms: manifestos, video statements, releases to the press, social media posts… Terrorists seem to want to take credit for their handiwork.

So what happens when no one puts their hand up to say they were behind an attack?

That is exactly what happened on December 29, 1975 in the baggage claim area of New York’s LaGuardia Airport. An explosive package equal to 25 sticks of dynamite blew up, sending shrapnel throughout the room, killing 11 people. Many more would have died or been injured had it gone off earlier when passengers from two domestic flights were in the environs.

So, who was behind this act? In essence we have no idea. There was no credible claim of responsibility: several calls were dismissed as hoaxes. Among the candidates proffered as possible perpetrators were the Mafia, the PLO, the Jewish Defence League and the little-known Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN – a Puertorican militant group).

One of the more interesting candidates was Zvonko Busic, a self-proclaimed Croatian independence fighter who was imprisoned for his role in another 1970s terrorist attack. Both the FBI and a Manhattan attorney were convinced he was the mastermind but he was never charged with the crime.

As of today, almost fifty years later, the attack remains unsolved. It is a true cold case – frigid really. In light of the time that has passed – not to mention the contamination of the crime scene right after the blast – and the large number of extremist groups active at the time it is most likely never to be concluded.

That is of little solace to the victims and their families but at least no terrorists’ causes benefited from the deaths. That may not count for much.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply