On a cold January afternoon in
1975, a Wall Street crowd was out having lunch at the Anglers Club on
the second floor of the Fraunces Tavern. Little did they know that an
organization of Puerto Rican Nationals had planned an attack on the
same building. Ten pounds of explosives enclosed in a briefcase was
slipped into the hallway of the building moments before the bomb
detonated. The explosion occurred at 1:29 pm, and severely damaged the
internal structure of the building. While the heavy bricked walls of
the building remained intact, the windows shattered by the force of
the blast. The staircase was completely destroyed and the entryway
demolished. Inside the building, victims disoriented by the blast
rushed towards the exit doors. A total of four men were killed in the
blast, and many more injured or maimed.
The organization responsible for the bombing took full credit for their actions. The Armed Forces of National Liberation otherwise known as FALN had organized the attack in response to a prior bombing that occurred in Puerto Rico. The organization accused the CIA of being responsible for the attack that killed three people and injured several civilians. During police investigation of the bombing, a note was found inside a nearby phone booth stating: "You have unleashed a storm from which you comfortable Yankis (sic) cannot escape." FALN members represented a small minority of Puerto Rican nationalists who expressed great dissatisfaction of Puerto Rico's common wealth status, enforced by the United States of America. FALN carried out numerous such attacks, including one bombing at LaGuardia airport several years prior.
Following the Fraunces Tavern bombing, the FBI and CIA had difficulty locating information regarding the terrorists responsible. It wasn't until 1978, when an accidental explosion in the home of William Morales provided them with an important lead in the FALN terrorist organization. William Morales turned out to be a member of FALN, and was their main explosives expert. The explosion left him severely disfigured. In his apartment, a seemingly endless supply of explosives were discovered by police and ultimately earned Mr. Morales a 89 year jail sentence. No one was ever officially arrested for the bombing. However, in 1980, sixteen members of the terrorist organization were arrested and convicted for trying to overthrow the government. Among them was Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of the leaders of the organization. In 1999, President Clinton offered the prisoners clemency. All prisoners, except for Oscar Lopez Rivera, accepted the offer of clemency.