Nobody is better at holding a grudge than America is. Oh, you disagree? We'll remember that, buddy. Put you right up there on the list with Pearl Harbor, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and 9/11. We do not forget. Except for when we do. A fair number of extremely brutal attacks against America have just sort of fizzled out before they could leave their imprint in public consciousness. If this stuff happened today, there'd be a war. But due to extenuating circumstances at the time, they barely dented history.
5The Hanafi Went Full Die Hard on Washington, D.C.
Hey, remember when a dozen terrorist gunmen seized three buildings in Washington, started shooting cops and politicians, then took 134 people hostage?
If you answered "no," isn't it kind of crazy that you just did that?
This man's not posing for a Gap ad, he's a terrorist, and why didn't you know that?
The 39-hour siege sounds like the setup for a Steven Seagal movie. It was carried out by about 10 members of the Hanafi Movement, a radical splinter section of the Nation of Islam. The buildings they seized were a Jewish community center, the Islamic Center of Washington, and the District Building, which was the city government's headquarters. So they essentially seized the capital of America's capital. The Hanafi holed up in the buildings with their hostages, many of whom were wounded (including future morally impaired D.C. Mayor Marion Barry). Two people, a cop and a journalist, were killed outright. Seriously, can you not just picture Seagal in that scenario, gluing fake sidelocks to his head and rambling about Jewish Mysticism as he arm-locks a terrorist?
And then it turned into an entirely different kind of movie: the terrorists' demands were to stop all theaters from showing a film called The Message (or Mohammad, Messenger of God) which they viewed as blasphemous, handily ignoring the fact that said movie was not actually American at all. They also wanted money. Namely, $750 in cash. That's not a typo -- their leader just happened to be angry about some old court fees and wanted them refunded.
Andrew Wiseman/Wiki Commons
The refund was available at the DMV, but conquering D.C. was quicker and easier.
Sure, they also demanded that the government hand over a number of criminals who had killed the leader's relatives -- but two out of three of the demands from this massive terror campaign were straight out of an Austin Powers film. President Carter didn't even bother sending in whatever the late-'70s equivalent of Seal Team Six was (Charlie's Angels?). Instead, he asked for diplomatic aid from Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan, all countries better versed with the whole "Islam" thing than America. The three countries sent in their representatives and managed to talk the terrorists down, presumably by pooling their pocket change and satisfying that intimidating "ransom."
4Puerto Rican Nationalists Attack America Over and Over
Though Puerto Rico is technically an unincorporated territory, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement had a number of differing opinions about this state of affairs. Some factions within the movement were a bit more shooty than others, and they liked to spell out their complaints in bullets on the walls of the nation's capital.
Library of Congress
"If they don't understand Spanish, we'll talk to them in American!"
Not that they weren't cool with fighting on their home turf, too. The first major attack on the U.S. by Puerto Rican nationalists was the Jayuya uprising on Oct. 30, 1950, a bona fide revolt where armed nationalists opened fire on the National Guard and police forces. It probably doesn't need to be said that the U.S. forces weren't exactly saints in this situation. The fighting got bad enough that air strikes were called in to help quell the rebellion. Yes, the U.S. actually bombed a U.S. Territory, to the extent that a good 70 percent of the city of Jayuya was leveled.
Later in the same year, two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Truman. Their ballsy, if slightly thoughtless, tactic of choice was to grab some revolvers and storm Blair House, where the president was staying. Then they'd just shoot their way through security, Matrix-style. Not big on planning, these guys. The nationalists managed to reach exactly zero presidents, largely thanks to Leslie Coffelt, a White House policeman who was shot three times but refused to take a knee.
A few years later, in 1954, a team of four Puerto Rican nationalists orchestrated yet another ingenious scheme. They would:
1) Go into the House of Representatives viewing gallery
2) Pull out big-ass guns and open fire on the floor of the House of Representatives
Five congressmen were hit, but none died.
Who could've guessed that such an airtight plan -- show up with guns and shoot your problems into solutions -- could fail?
Library of Congress
"Works for Texas."
One assailant's gun jammed. Another emptied her clip into the air while screaming revolutionary slogans, which looks awesome in movies, but doesn't do much in reality, save for murder a poor, innocent ceiling. The remaining assailants did manage to wound a few politicians, but if you're keeping score, only 50 percent of this attack team actually did any attacking.
The violence died down altogether shortly after, and Puerto Rico is generally pretty cool with being a U.S. territory these days. Much like you and your parents, both parties just try their level best not to discuss the awkward rebellious phase.