Radical Terrorist Becomes Scholar and Heroine

by PATRICK DUNLEAVY April 4, 2013

If you wait long enough, anything is possible on Broadway or in Hollywood.

Yesterday's villain can become tomorrow's hero or in the case of Kathy Boudin, former member of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground, and convicted murderer, a heroine.

Boudin, sentenced to a life term in New York State  for the shooting deaths of two policemen, Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown as well as Brinks security guard Peter Paige was paroled in 2003 after serving twenty two years in prison for the three homicides.  The officers were killed in a shootout with members of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army after a failed bank robbery in 1981.  Boudin minimized her role in the slayings by simply saying she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet the groups that she was involved with utilized explosives and automatic weapons to destroy property, take lives, and instill fear in ordinary citizens through violence.  If that isn't terrorism, I don't know what is.

Today we read that Ms. Boudin has been quite active since her parole.   She has been working as an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of Social Work and was recently awarded the Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Law School.  And if being honored as a scholar was not enough, she is to receive accolades as a heroine in Robert Redford's soon to be released movie, "The Company You Keep"  based on the activities on Boudin and her former husband David Gilbert, currently serving three life sentences in Auburn State Prison for his role in the shooting deaths of O'Grady, Brown, and Paige.  David has also received some portion of fame with his book, "No Surrender" an unrepentant account of his life as a terrorist.  David is also actively involved in several radical organizations including Viva Palestina, even while incarcerated.  Could release be just around the corner for him?  Unfortunately he does not see the Parole Board until 2056 when he will be 112 years old.

Their son, Chesa Boudin, who was left at the babysitter's while they went off to steal and kill was raised by former Weather Underground members Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn.  Chesa went on to become a Yale grad and a Rhodes Scholar while the nine children left behind  struggled to make their way in this world without the benefit of  a father taken by the violence of domestic terrorism.

No PR firm in the world could have scripted a better image conversion than the makeover given Ms. Boudin.  We are told she is an advocate for AIDS patients and adult education.  Her students at Columbia are said to adore her, a regular Mother Teresa to ex-cons and their families as they seek to reenter society.

She was a daughter of privilege who fell from grace but has now returned to bless us with her talents.

But the blood on her hands does not wash off that easily, nor does the stained ground where her victims lay. Twenty two years for three lives and now a heroine.  The price of fame may have come cheap to her, but the average citizen is not fooled by the glitter.

Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections. He is the author of "The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism's Prison Connection," details of which can be found at his website, and he can be contacted at: mail@ptdassociates.com.   Mr. Dunleavy is currently a Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He  teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School, "Dynamics of International Terrorism"  and has testified as an expert witness before the House Committee on Homeland Security regarding the threat of Islamic Radicalization in the U.S. Prison System.


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