January 11, 2011 | 17 comments
Oscar Lopez-Rivera was offered clemency by Bill Clinton but refused to show remorse. Now he’s up for parole.
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On March 19, the two traveled with a third unidentified member to Wadsworth VA Hospital, near the Leavenworth prison. Lopez had feigned illness, and was to be transferred there, and the three terrorists would attempt to effect a rescue.
The FBI had been aware of the plot, and held Lopez at the prison. The three others returned to Chicago, and Cortes, Torres and Alberto Rodriguez (the latter two currently working to free Lopez), would be arrested that June, after specific bombing targets had been chosen.
But Lopez would not give up on his plan to escape from prison. In 1985, he began plotting with a small group of other individuals, including two members of “Prairie Fire,” a group with direct ties to the Weather Underground. The plan included flying a helicopter to the prison, and use that to effect Lopez’s escape.
Lopez had made up a list of materials to be used in the plot. It included grenades, rifles, plastic explosives, bulletproof vests, blasting caps and armor-piercing rockets. The FBI had known of the plot since the beginning, and made arrests in 1986.
At his trial in 1987, Lopez portrayed himself as a “valiant freedom fighter,” but prosecutor Deborah Devaney argued that Lopez and his co-defendants were “terrorists who operated without conscience.” Lopez was sentenced to 15 more years in prison — bringing the new total to 70 years.
Lopez continued to make unrepentant comments well into the 1990s. He told the AP in 1998 that he had no regrets. “The whole thing of contrition, atonement, I have problems with that.” In 1995, Judge McMillen had told the Chicago Tribune that pardoning terrorists would send out the wrong message and that the FALN had “used weapons and bombs… they should serve out their sentences.”
Besides the numerous felonies that Lopez and the other members of the FALN were convicted of (which included numerous weapons and bomb-making charges), all of them also shared one underlying crime: seditious conspiracy. It is described in the U.S. Code as to “conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States…”
In other words, a pure definition of terror. The FALN would set off nearly 140 bombs over nine years, killing six and injuring scores more. A police officer was also killed in Mexico after a shootout with FALN members.
Their closely allied group, the Macheteros, would kill six more. Their members have continued to foment violence over the years, and some of them remain at large, including Victor Gerena, who has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for a record 26 years. Fellow Machetero Filiberto Ojeda-Rios, who is also suspected of having direct ties to the FALN, died in a violent shootout in 2005. A third member of the group remains in prison.
And some of the former FALN members working to obtain Lopez’s release who expressed “remorse” in the past in order to obtain their own freedom now show none, including Carlos Torres and Alberto Rodriguez. Another FALN member, bomb-maker William Morales, escaped from custody in 1979 and is currently in Cuba.
As for Oscar Lopez, he is a dangerous terrorist as well as a sociopath, and has never been known to express any regret or remorse. He was a co-founder of a deadly terrorist group, who constructed bombs (their weapon of choice) and trained others in both how to build them and how to use them. He twice attempted to escape from prison, and the latter attempt included plans of violence and murder.
Lopez is currently scheduled for release from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institute (in Indiana) in June of 2023. Again, his parole hearing is set for January 5th before the U.S. Parole Commission. If you wish to contact the commission, their number is 301-492-5990.
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