The terrorists estimated that it would be necessary to eliminate some 25 million people in this fashion, so as to advance the revolution (Bill Ayers: 1, 2). Although always numerically tiny, the cadre's members were charismatic, provocative, articulate, and intelligent. They commanded news media attention (at the expense of other leftist groups) with their brash rhetoric, violent actions, and, in the eyes of many, romantic allure.
At whom and/or does the group direct its attacks? Is this static or progressive?
In October 1969, we witness WUO's early experimentation with using force to make itself heard. The first attempt is to be seen in the "Days of Rage," an anarchic march of destruction through Chicago, with windows smashed and cars destroyed, which culminated in a brawl with the local police. This was far removed from SDS's peaceful protests but as the WUO leadership soon realized, indiscriminate violence of this type only served to isolate the group, by scaring away the very people whom the organization, through its acts, sought to mobilize. At worst, its intended audience flocked to traditional authorities instead, looking to the security forces for protection against this new threat. This led to a strategic shift in the use of force, which was henceforth calibrated to gain maximum attention without alienating. From around 1970 onward, what the Weather Underground did was to use carefully targeted attacks to broadcast its discontent with specific government policies. In other words, the group moved toward a radical form of 'signal politics': following the killing of George Jackson by prison guards, the Weather Underground bombed the Department of Corrections in San Francisco and the Office of California Prisons in Sacramento; following the Kent State shootings, WUO hit the National Guard Association building in Washington DC; to protest against the U.S. bombing of Laos, WUO bombed the U.S. Capitol building; and in response to a raid over Hanoi, WUO attacked the Pentagon (see Ucko, D. 1,2). The WUO used violence against buildings rather than people, to symbolize their discontent with specific policies and actions, but without killing those held responsible. It was 'propaganda of the deed', but without the bloodshed. Accordingly, none of WUO's attacks resulted in casualties. (see Ucko 2, reporting that the one exception has not been definitively linked to the group).
Membership: Who makes the administrative, active and support elements of the group? From what segment of the population (students, peasants, refugees, political, economic, etc.). Do they derive backing and sympathy? If the group is currently inactive, where are they? In jail, dead, out of the movement? WUO derived backing and sympathy mainly from the world of academia. Many of the Weathermen were college students, who often resorted to violent tactics in the 1960s in an effort to promote the "New Left" and extraction of troops from Vietnam (FBI -- 1975 State Department Bombing 1). After the group began dissolving in 1977, many members moved on to other armed revolutionary groups and were subsequently arrested and held for long periods. By the mid-'80s, the Weather Underground was essentially history. Still, several of these fugitives were able to successfully hide themselves for decades, emerging only in recent years to answer for their crimes. (A Byte out of History 1). Very few WUO members served prison sentences for their time in the Weather Underground; the evidence gathered against them by the FBI's COINTELPRO program was deemed illegally obtained and inadmissible in court (Weatherman Organization 1).
Capabilities: What resources, talents, skills, can this group call upon (both internally and externally) in order to accomplish their goals? The WUO could - both internally and externally - in particular call upon persons feeling attracted to a sense of "elitism" and a feeling of "freedom from societal mores." "Nothing in my life had ever been this exciting!" was a statement by Susan Stern, member of the WUO, describing her involvement with the U.S. domestic terrorist group (for quotation see "Terrorist Motivations and Behaviors," p. 14.). The group could call upon well educated persons with a high interest in U.S. politics in the 1960s and early 1970s. As former Weathermen member Naomi Jaffe described it: "We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That's really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don't do anything about it, that's violence" (for quotation see: "The Weathermen," entry in Urban Dictionary).
Works Cited List
"A Byte out of History: 1975 Terrorism Flashback State Department Bombing" (1-2). FBI.gov. January 2004. Date of access: 26 August 2011. www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2004/january/weather_012904.
"Bill Ayers." 1-6. Discoverneytworks.com. www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2169. Date of access: 29 August 2011.
"Terrorist Motivations and Behaviors." A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. 1-17. 15 August 2007. Date of access: 26 August 2011). www.au.af.mil/AU/AWC/awcgate/army/guidterr/ch02.pdf.
Ucko, David. "The Weather Underground: a different approach to political violence." 1-13.
26 January 201. Accessed: 29 August 2011. kingsofwar.org.uk/.../the-weather-underground-a-different-approac...
"Weatherman Organization (Weather Underground)." 1-7. Date of access: 26 August 2011.