As if you needed further evidence that the U.S. continues to be soft on domestic terrorism, the unrepentant Sara Jane Olson/Kathleen Soliah has been freed after serving a puny sentence for participating in the Symbionese Liberation Army plot to kill police officers with nail bombs and then going on the lam:
Kathleen Soliah, a former member of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army, was released on parole this week from a California women’s prison after serving about six years behind bars for her role in a plot to kill Los Angeles police officers by blowing up their patrol cars.
The white-haired convict, who has changed her name to Sara Jane Olson, had been sentenced to 12 years in prison. Like most California inmates, Soliah earned credit against her sentence for working while in prison. She served on a maintenance crew that swept and cleaned the main yard of the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, prison officials said.
The 61-year-old Soliah, who was released Monday, must now serve a three-year parole, although prison officials declined to provide the conditions of her release.
Reached at her family’s home in Palmdale on Thursday, Soliah refused to comment. Her husband, Dr. Gerald Peterson, who was also at the house, said only that he was “relieved.”
Soliah’s attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, said, “We’re thrilled she’s out and can return to her family. For someone who was not a danger or a threat to society, it was six years too long.”
Los Angeles police see Soliah in far harsher light.
She “attempted to murder LAPD officers by bombing two police cars,” said Tim Sands, president of the Police Protective League, which represents the city’s 9,300 rank-and-file officers. “She needs to serve her full time in prison for these crimes and does not deserve time off for working in prison. Criminals who attempt to murder police officers should not be able to escape justice simply because they have good lawyers.”
The child of a middle-class Palmdale family, Soliah joined the violent band of radicals best known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in the mid-1970s. She was charged with taking part in a 1975 plan to plant pipe bombs beneath police cars in retaliation for a shootout with Los Angeles police that left six SLA members dead.
The nail-packed bombs didn’t detonate when the triggering device on one malfunctioned. Not waiting around to make her case in court though, she fled.
She changed her name to Sara Jane Olson, left California and married Peterson, an emergency room physician. The couple lived for a while in Zimbabwe before settling in St. Paul, Minn. Soliah lived the quiet life of a homemaker and mother of three daughters in a Tudor-style home in an upscale neighborhood near the Mississippi River and performed in a local theater’s Shakespeare productions.
Elsewhere in southern California, animal rights terrorists are wreaking havoc on the UCLA campus–forcing regents to sue them to get them to stop:
It was late into the night when 25 people in ski masks descended on professor Dario Ringach’s family home. Pounding on the door, frightening his small children, they screamed into megaphones, “Animal killer! We know where you live! We will never give up!”
And they apparently meant it. That year, 2006, according to court documents, animal rights activists launched a summer-long campaign of harassment against Ringach, an assistant professor of psychology and neurobiology at the University of California at Los Angeles and other scientists who conduct research with laboratory animals.
They hurled firecrackers at his house in the middle of the night and planted Molotov-cocktail-like explosives at other faculty houses, threatening to burn them to the ground.
UCLA hired private security, but Ringach feared for his family. “Effectively immediately, I am no longer doing animal research,” he finally wrote in an e-mail to his persecutors, pleading to be left alone. “Please don’t bother my family anymore.”
The University of California regents have responded by suing UCLA Primate Freedom, the Animal Liberation Brigade, the Animal Liberation Front and five people allegedly affiliated with them. It is a tactic that the regents successfully employed nine years ago.
The regents hope to win a permanent injunction similar to one granted against Last Chance for Animals in 1989. But some experts note that the regents now are battling more violent, Internet-savvy foes who thrive in online communities, post faculty “targets” on Web sites and upload how-to guides for their attacks.