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October Today in Terrorism

October 20, 1981: Attempted robbery of an armoured car in New York

On October 20, 1981 ‘black nationalists’ tried to rob a Brinks armoured car in Nanuet, New York, killing one guard and injuring another.

NANUET, NEW YORK – It is always disconcerting how many ‘freedom fighters’ justify taking away others freedom, including the freedom to live.

The history of violence is replete with noble causes and people who really think they are doing good. Whether this is war in the name of a nation state or an act of terrorism in the name of a deity or the ‘betterment’ of society, humans go to great lengths to ignore the fifth commandment: “Thou shall not kill“.

This message comes from Yahweh – what else do you need?? (Photo: Guido Reni c. 1624, Public Domain)

Terrorists have this amazing ability to frame what they are doing as justified and necessary. They see their actions as contributing to the greater good and if someone gets hurt (or killed) in the process, well, shit happens. It is all part of the cost of ‘doing business’.

Even if the cause fought for has a modicum of comprehension the lengths to which some proponents go actually undermines what they are trying to do. Take today’s featured attack.

On this day in 1981

Black nationalists‘ tried to rob a Brinks armoured car in Nanuet, New York, killing guard Pete Paige and injuring his partner Joe Trombino (sadly, although the latter survived he died in the 9/11 attacks in New York). The perpetrators called themselves ‘The Family’ and most had links to the Black Panthers or the Black Liberation Army. In 1996 two defendants were convicted of a Federal conspiracy charge involving the Brink’s robbery, several other armored-car robberies, four murders and a prison escape while the jury convicted two other defendants of accessory charges, but acquitted them of the more serious charges, and completely acquitted two additional defendants, who were freed.

I have never understood juries.

Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy in the wake of lesser convictions.

Under the banner of black self-determination, these terrorists said it was ok to seize funds from legitimate sources and “redistribute” the money to various black causes. And if an innocent guard happened to get in the way and was killed – oops. Such is the way in which terrorists frame their ‘actions’.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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