“Happy Thanksgiving!” (from Fidel and Che)
“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 (against the U.S.) 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 his role as his hero in Steven Soderbergh’s movie, “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,” in some of our favorite “places of recreation” on Black Friday. Cuban agents had targeted Macy’s, Gimbels, 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: For their March 2004 Madrid subway blasts, all 10 of them, that killed and maimed almost 2,000 people, al-Qaida 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, all packed to suffocation and pulsing with holiday cheer on the year’s biggest shopping day.
Thousands of New Yorkers, including women and children—actually, given the date and targets, probably mostly women and children—were to be incinerated and entombed.
Castro and Che planned their Manhattan holocaust just a few weeks after the fuddy-duddy Nikita Khrushchev had foiled their plans for an even bigger one. “Say hello to my little friends!” they dreamt of yelling at the Yankee hyenas in October of 1962, right before the mushroom clouds. “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.”
“Of course I knew the missiles were nuclear-armed,” responded Fidel Castro to Robert McNamara during a meeting in 1992. “That’s precisely why I 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!” while frantically involved in all this, a “fearful” (Alexiev’s term) Castro and Che were also making reservations with Alexiev for 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 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 on the day after Thanksgiving in 1962, 9/11 might be remembered as the second deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Imagine: not a generic Mosque built at Ground Zero, but a whooping, hollering party held in honor of Osama bin Laden himself. “The Toast of Manhattan!” crowed Time magazine regarding Fidel Castro’s reception by Manhattan’s beautiful people on the terrorist’s visit to New York in 1996. “The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan!” also read a Newsweek story that week, referring to the social swirl that engulfed Castro in New York by the media luminaries who barely escaped incineration by his hand.
First, there was 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 that toothy smile of hers, wrapped her arms around Castro and gave him a warm smooch on the cheek.
“You people are the cream of the crop!” beamed the Stalinist/terrorist to the smiling throng he’d come within a hair of nuking.
“Hear, hear!” chirped the delighted guests, while tinkling their wine glasses in honor of the smirking agent of their near vaporization.
“God Bless you, Fidel!” boomed Pastor Calvin Butts of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church while introducing Fidel Castro on his New York visit four years later. The People’s Weekly World describes Castro’s visit to the place that might still be radioactive if his fondest wish had not been foiled by the fuddy-duddy Butcher of Budapest: “The audience which included New York Democratic representative 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 racist/terrorist and engulfed him in a mighty bear hug. Castro finally caught his breath, smiled, and returned the rotund senator’s passionate abrazo.