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Prison term appropriate punishment for radical



Published: Fri, November 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



For Sara Jane Olsen -- the middle-class college student turned violent radical turned well-to-do soccer mom -- to plead guilty in a court of law to two counts of attempted explosion of bombs with intent to murder police officers and then profess her innocence to the waiting press outside the courthouse shows just what a hypocrite she is.

After eluding law enforcement for 23 years during which time she established a new lifestyle as the suburb-dwelling, affluent wife of a doctor, and after pushing her defense attorneys for delays in the proceedings against her, she actually said that she only pleaded guilty because in the aftermath of Sept. 11 she wouldn't be able to get a fair trial.

In the 1970s, as Kathleen Soliah -- her name before she became the innocuous Olson -- she was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a self-styled revolutionary group of disaffected college students and ex-cons that assassinated Oakland, Calif. superintendent of schools Dr. Marcus Foster, kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, set bombs and committed various armed robberies.

Deadly robbery: During one of the robberies, where Soliah was alleged to be present, Mrs. Myrna Opsahl, 42, who had come to the bank to deposit the weekend collection from the her Seventh-Day Adventist Church was shot and killed.

In exchange for her plea agreement, Olson/Soliah will spend a few years in a Minnesota prison close enough to be easily visited by her husband, children and friends who somehow believe that all these years of being a good citizen ought to exonerate her.

Mrs. Opsahl's husband was at her side when she died in a hospital emergency room of massive bleeding in her abdomen. Her son was 15 when his mother was murdered.

Had Olson/Soliah's bombs gone off under the police cars where they were left -- large well-made bombs filled with explosives and hardened nails -- there would be other families left to mourn more victims of the SLA's terrorism.

Twenty-three years from now, would we accept the contention of a former Osama bin Laden henchman that he had changed and should not be held accountable for his terrorist acts? Of course, not.

Some acts simply cannot be forgiven. Olson's fit into that category.




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