Both communiqués had a ritual closing that was to become an SLA trademark: "Death to the Fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."

The Police were bewildered, but scattered through the Left, a reasonably large number of people knew immediately who had been behind the Foster killing — and for most the realization was a moment of shock, fear, and sometimes horror. There were a number of individuals and perhaps groups, who had been approached to join the "Symbionese Federation" — how many is not known — but well-connected sources in the radical community say that the SLA recruited some members late last summer and early into the fall. It was recruitment for — and perhaps only in San Francisco can you put it this way — just yet another revolutionary organization that believed that it was necessary to take up arms now. But the Federation was to be separate from the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Combat Unit and when the decision was made to ambush Foster, it was a decision made by a small core of people who controlled the combat wing, probably by the General Field Marshal himself — acting through the Symbionese War Council, of course. Authority is very structured in the SLA and the reliance on "armed struggle" as the key dogma of the Federation, made all associated with the Federation subordinate to the warriors of the SLA.

The decision to kill Foster was a secret decision within the combat group and it left most of the people who had heard of the SLA, and what was probably a small number of non-warrior recruits, feeling they were tied in with something they wanted no part of. Foster was a popular black official, holding one of the few powerful positions held by a black man in California, and the first to control the predominantly black Oakland school system.

A letter to the Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper, reportedly from ex-members of the Symbionese Federation said that they attended the first founding conference of the Symbionese Federation last June and in August joined what they thought was "a revolutionary organization that was on its way beyond the Left, old and new," but in time realized that the group "was not fundamentally opposed to the errors of the Left that we had known but was rather the culmination of all its defects."

The SLA War Council made all the decisions and demanded obedience, everything was subordinate to the "combat effort." "Although some of the brothers and sisters asserted that to create a positive vision of a new society required serious thinking — a clear and comprehensive theory and strategy — others insisted that all that was necessary was to put yourself into situations where your ass would get kicked and armed bravery would do the rest," explained the letter.

Besides those few who had associated themselves with the Symbionese Federation, there is another group who reportedly knew that DeFreeze at least, was behind the Foster killing. According to several widely connected Oakland and Berkeley radicals, DeFreeze had actually approached more than one radical group last year, after he escaped from Soledad, and offered to set up a terrorist unit that could be a "hit squad" for the Left. "The people he talked to told him he was crazy," said one source, and they believe it.

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  Topics: Flashbacks , Patty Hearst, Crime, The Regents of the University of California,  More more >
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