May 14, 1990: Bombings in Chile target Mormon churches

On May 14, 1990 the FPMR is believed to have been behind a series of bombings in Santiago, targeting a US Consular Annex and Mormon churches

SANTIAGO, CHILE – It is important to remind ourselves often that most terrorist groups are abject failures.

Last weekend a local Ottawa radio station featured ‘one-hit wonders‘ for two days. In the music industry a one-hit wonder is an individual or a band which has success with a song that may in fact go to the top of the charts, a good start that promises much for the future. Alas, the singer/group never again attains those lofty heights and goes down in history for its one true hit.

A good example is the German artist Gabriele Susanne Kerner, better known as Nena, who skyrocketed to fame in 1983 with the song 99 Luftballons (which was rendered into English as ‘99 Red Balloons‘ even though there was no colour mentioned in the German title). The song went global and then…nothing.

So sad, but Nena’s career went pffft like balloons tend to do (Photo: Paul on flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

As it turns out, most terrorist groups are more like Nena than one would think. By one estimate the median length of time for a terrorist group is somewhere between five and ten years: some last much less and a very few (Al Qaeda, the FARC in Colombia, the IRA) much more.

Furthermore, many groups are largely unsuccessful in what they hope to achieve. Take the Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front or FPMR) which was active in Chile in the 1980s and 1990s but never amounted to much.

On this day in 1990

The FPMR is believed to have been behind a series of bombings in the Chilean capital, Santiago, targeting a US Consular Annex and a few Mormon churches. The group saw all Mormons as CIA agents (fun fact: a lot of Mormons DO work for US intelligence – I have met quite a few!). No one was hurt and the damage was limited. The terrorists were generally seen as against any foreign presence in Chile and would be best categorised as left-wing in nature.

The FPMR, like Nena, faded into obscurity, although they had very nearly assassinated Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1986. Let’s hope all terrorist groups follow its lead!

Read More Today in Terrorism

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