Humberto Fontova: Castro's Plan to Attack Macy's the Day After Thanksgiving, 1962





[Mr. Fontova is the author of Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant.]

... On Nov. 17, 1962, J. Edgar Hoovers' FBI cracked a terrorist plot (though the term "terrorist" was not used at the time) by Castro-Cuban agents that targeted Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomindales and Manhattan's Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set to go off the following week, 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 Qaeda used a grand total of 100 kilos of TNT. Fidel Castro'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. (I document this episode in my book, Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant.)

This godfather of terrorism still lives 90 miles from our shores in tropical splendor for all to see. Yearly he makes Forbes' list of the world's wealthiest. But forget any Hollywood movie about him -- at least as a villain. That role is reserved for such as Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover. Indeed Castro reigns as a veritable icon for many of Hollywood's best and brightest. Oliver Stone refers to Castro as "a very moral, very humane man." Jack Nicholson gushes about his frequent Cuban host as "a genius!" and his island gulag as "a paradise!” Francis Ford Coppola penned a love letter to him. "Fidel I love you," it starts, "we both have the same initials and both use our power for good." (Again, you can read much more in my book.)

Castro planned his Manhattan holocaust short weeks after Nikita Khrushchev foiled his plans for an even bigger one. "Say hello to my little friends!" Castro dreamt of yelling at the hated Yankees in October 1962, right before the mushroom clouds. But for the prudence of the Butcher of Budapest (Nikita Khrushchev), Castro might have pulled it off. "If the missiles had remained," Fidel's sidekick Che Guevara confided to the London Daily Worker in November 1962 regarding the Cuban missile crisis, "We would have used them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York."

Some think Fidel and Che Guevara's genocidal fantasy was a bigger factor in Khrushchev's decision to yank the missiles than Kennedy's so-called blockade.

Castro's Manhattan bomb plot was far from "irrational." He's no suicide bomber -- not by a long shot. Castro wanted to blast Manhattan to heat things up again, to rekindle all those thrills he’d experienced the previous weeks during the missile crisis. Given the temper of the times, he knew his Soviet sugar daddies would be implicated too. Then the U.S. might retaliate. Then Castro would have exactly what he'd dreamed about and tried to provoke a few weeks earlier: an intercontinental nuclear exchange.

Millions dead in the United States. Millions dead in the Soviet Union. And almost certainly, millions dead in his own Cuba. But Castro himself would be nowhere near harms way. Soviet ambassador to Cuba during the missile crisis, Alexander Alexeyev, reports a fascinating -- if unsurprising -- datum about those days. While Castro was begging, threatening, even trying to trick Khrushchev into launching a pre-emptive 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" (Alexeyev's term) Castro was also making reservations with Alexeyev for a first-class seat in the Soviet Embassy's bomb shelter. Thus he'd emerge into the smoldering rubble and millions of incinerated bodies and realize his lifelong dream: his name stamped in history as the gallant David against the yankee Goliath.

Castro's agents for his 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 when member Lee Harvey Oswald really racked up some headlines....


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