Remembering the death and destruction narrowly avoided on Black Friday, 1962.
"We will bring the war to the imperialist enemies' very home," raved Che Guevara in his message to the Tri-Continental Conference, "to his places of work and recreation. The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we'll destroy him! These hyenas are fit only for extermination. We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm!"
“The more I get to know Che Guevara," beamed Benicio del Toro to In Touch magazine as he prepped for the role of Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s homage to the cruel revolutionary, “the more I respect him. Che was just one of those guys who walked the walk and talked the talk. There's just something cool about people like that. "
Fortunately, on Nov. 17, 1962, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI foiled the "walking of the walk” that Castro and Che had planned for us "hyenas" on Black Friday. Cuban agents had targeted Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdales, and Manhattan's Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set for detonation the following week, on the day after Thanksgiving.
A little perspective: the March 2004 Madrid subway blasts, all 10 of the explosions that killed and maimed almost 2000 people, used a grand total of 100 kilos of TNT. Castro and Che's agents planned to set off five times that explosive power in the three biggest department stores on earth -- and on the year's biggest shopping day, for good measure.
Thousands of New Yorkers, probably mostly women and children, were to be incinerated and entombed.
Castro and Che planned their Manhattan holocaust just weeks after Nikita Khrushchev foiled their plans for an even bigger massacre during the Cuban Missile Crisis. "If the missiles had remained," Che Guevara confided to The London Daily Worker the following month, “we would have used them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City."
Castro knew the Soviet missiles in Cuba's possession were nuclear-armed. The Cuban dictator revealed to Robert McNamara during a meeting in 1992 that, in fact, the missiles' nuclear capacity was "precisely why [he] urged Khrushchev to launch them.”
Soviet ambassador to Cuba during the Missile Crisis, Alexander Alexiev, reports a fascinating — if unsurprising — datum about those days. While Castro was begging, threatening, even trying to trick Khrushchev into launching a nuclear strike against the U.S., while he was ranting and yelling and waving his arms about grabbing his Czech machine gun and "fighting the Yankee invaders to the last man!" a "fearful" Castro and Che were also making reservations with Alexiev for a first-class seats in the Soviet embassy's bomb shelter.
Cuba's agents for this Manhattan Thanksgiving bomb plot were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations, and were working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known a year later this very week.
Had those detonators gone off the day after Thanksgiving in 1962, 9/11 might be remembered as the second deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Today, many Americans are outraged over the leftist supporters of a mosque built at Ground Zero, but imagine a party held at the site in honor of Osama bin Laden himself. This is not unlike the insult of the American Left's worship of Castro when he visited New York City in 1996. "The Toast of Manhattan" crowed Time magazine. "The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan" also read a Newsweek story that week. Both articles were referring to the social swirl that engulfed Castro by the media luminaries who barely escaped incineration at his hand.
First on the dictator's itinerary, a luncheon at the Council on Foreign Relations. After holding court there for a rapt David Rockefeller, along with Robert McNamara, Dwayne Andreas, and Random House's Harold Evans, Castro flashed over to Mort Zuckerman's Fifth Avenue pad, where a throng of Beltway glitterati, including Mike Wallace, Peter Jennings, Tina Brown, Bernard Shaw, and Barbara Walters, all jostled for a photo op, and stood in line for Castro’s autograph. Diane Sawyer was so overcome in the mass-murderer’s presence that she rushed up, broke into a toothy smile, wrapped her arms around Castro, and smooched him warmly on the cheek.
"God Bless you, Fidel," boomed Pastor Calvin Butts of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church while introducing Castro on another New York visit four years later. The People's Weekly World described Castro's visit as such: "The audience which included New York Democratic representatives Charles Rangel enthusiastically greeted the Communist leader with a ten minute standing ovation. Chants of 'FIDEL!-FIDEL! VIVA-FIDEL!' resounded from the rafters."
Then with Congressperson Maxine Waters looking on in rapture, a beaming Charlie Rangel waddled up to the podium beside the terrorist (and racist) Castro and engulfed him in a mighty bear hug. Castro had to catch his breath, but he smiled and returned the rotund senator's passionate abrazo.