September 15, 1963: KKK bombing kills four children in Alabama

On September 15, 1963 a KKK dynamite plot at a church in Birmingham, Alabama killed four black girls and wounded dozens of others

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Old age is a rare thing among terrorist groups: there are exceptions, however.

I am pretty sure that you have all come across ads and articles/videos about how to extend your lifespan. Eat more (or less) of this. Don’t (or always) eat that. Drink more water. Exercise. Do yoga or mindfulness training. Etc.Etc. Etc.

As it turns out the average lifespan, according to the UN, is 75.6 for women and 70.8 for men. There is obviously a lot of variation around the world.

Thankfully, terrorist groups do not live so long. Some research has shown that a typical terrorist group (somewhere between 50 and 90 %) lasts less than a year. There are, of course, exceptions (the IRA comes immediately to mind: it has been around for a century).

As has today’s featured group. The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) is a US-based racially motivated extremist group – but which also hates Jews, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and, until recently, Catholics – that saw the light (or dark!) of day way back in 1865, at the conclusion of the Civil War.

The KKK is not OK with me! (Photo: Martin on flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Klan, as it is usually referred to, has been behind a lot of heinous acts of violence over the decades. Take today in 1963 for example.

On this day in 1963

KKK members planted 19 sticks of dynamite under the bathroom of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which, when they exploded, killed four black girls and wounded dozens of others. The explosion destroyed cars on the street outside and blew out stained glass windows nearly 100 feet (32 metres) away.

These children — unoffending, innocent and beautiful — were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.

Martin Luther King in his eulogy of the dead

The prosecution of those responsible took a long time – the FBI was accused of dragging its feet or even held back evidence – and in 2000, 37 years after the bombing, Alabama brought state murder charges against some of the KKK terrorists.

So killing little girls advances your cause, does it? Hmmm, methinks that is a hard one to explain.

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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.

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