Today in Terrorism: November 14, 2018

On this day in 2018 – one year ago – two bombs were deployed in Buenos Aires before the convening of yet another G-20 event.

Anarchists were the top terrorists in the 19th century but have been superseded: that does not mean they have gone away.

Do you remember the “Battle of Seattle” in 1999? If not at least it rhymes. This was a massive scene of public unrest coinciding with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) meetings in that city. Up to 40,000 rioters with a whole laundry list of complaints made merry for a few days in late November, and the damage toll to local businesses and infrastructure was estimated at $20 million (US).

Among the crowds were anarchists, literally ‘those without a leader’ (question: can an anarchist group such as the Black Bloc have a leader then?). The violence in Seattle was repeated, at a smaller scale, in Toronto in 2010 during a meeting of the G20 nations.

We may dismiss anarchists as an anachronism these days, a reference to a force from yesteryear. Me, I sometimes think of Boris and Natasha from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show when I picture these activists.

Boris and Natasha

And yet at one time anarchists were a serious public safety threat. From the late 19th century until the end of WWI anarchist terrorists were responsible for many high profile attacks that took out heads of state including a US President, a Russian Tsar, an Italian King and others. This spasm of violence is best described by US academic David Rapoport in his monumental work on terrorist waves.

The assassination of US President McKinley in September 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz (Drawing: History.com)

So while anarchist terrorism may not hold the same level of attention or pose the same level of threat it once did that does not mean it has completely disappeared.

On this day in 2018 – one year ago – two bombs were deployed in Buenos Aires before the convening of yet another G-20 event. In the first one a woman. presumed to be an anarchist, had the bomb go off prematurely and only she was injured. She was trying to attach the device to four others in a cemetery (!) when it detonated. In the second a 26-year old man threw a bomb at the house of a judge but it failed to explode.

On this day in 2018 – one year ago – two bombs were deployed in Buenos Aires before the convening of yet another G-20 event. 

All in all two innocuous events and no innocent person was killed or injured. Maybe it is highly unlikely that anarchists are interested in, or are even capable of, pulling off an attack on a large scale these days. Nevertheless, there are certainly enough Hollywood movies that depict actors such as these two but with greater ability. But then again that’s Hollywood, not real life.

Let’s hope it stays that way.