AUGUST   2020


Friday, November 14, 2014


I warn you that all revolutions betray their revolutionaries. George Danton sent his King to the guillotine in January of 1793. Then in April of 1794 Danton himself was shaved by the national razor on the chopping block. And the 1913 bargain which gave birth to the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was no different. Young Prince Abdulaziz  (above) was determined to return his fundamentalist Sunni al Saud family to dominance in Arabia. So he made an alliance with the ultra orthodox Sunni fanatics of the “Ikhwan”, or “The Brotherhood”, headed by Sultan bin Bajad Al-Otaibi. Beginning in 1920, the Sultan sent his Ikhwan raiders against Abdulaziz's neighbors, to disrupt their trade and spread terror through random murder and destruction.
These shock troops were then followed by Abdulaziz's growing militia, gathering together the four parts of the Arabian peninsula under al Saud rule – in 1922 the great empty space of the Nejd, centered around Riayadh, followed by the Al-Hasar district along the Gulf of Arabia, and the mountainous Asir, bordering Yemen on the south, and finally in 1925 the highland Hejaz, or “the barrier”, which bordered the Red Sea coast and contained the port of Jeddah and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. But that brought al Saud borders up against Hashemite kingdoms of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Kuwait, supported by the the French and British empires And the Europeans demanded that Abdulaziz rein in his fanatics and forbid all cross border raids.
However the Brotherhood was financially dependent on raiding, and as a source of new brides for their warriors. Sultan Al-Otaibi accused Abdulaziz of betraying Islam and his pledge to spread their faith. . To assert their independence, the Ikhwan sent 1,500 men into Jordan and Kuwait. It took the British Royal Air Force to bomb the raiders back, killing perhaps a third of the Brotherhood warriors. The Ikhwan retaliated by massacring two Jordanian villages, killing 1,500 men women and children. At last, Abdulaziz was forced to go to war with his own shock troops.
Thirty miles beyond the town of Ha'il in central Arabia, rises the low hill of Sabilla. Here, in the spring of 1929 Abdulaziz marched his 30,000 man army, supported by machine guns, British armored cars and four RAF airplanes. Blocking their advance were the 10,000 man camel mounted Brotherhood army, led by Faisal Ad-Dawish.
On Friday morning, 29 March, 1929, Abdulaziz's troops tapped at the Ikhwan defenses, seeking a weakness. But when one of the al Saud units shifted their position, the Brotherhood warriors, convinced of their superiority, mistook the movement for a retreat. The fanatics launched a general assault, charging directly into the Saud machine guns and artillery. Five hundred of the Brotherhood were killed or wounded. The fanatics retreated and scattered, pursued by the al Saud militia. By the end of 1931 most of the warriors had surrendered, and leadership of Brotherhood, including Sultan Al-Otaibi,  had been murdered. The Ikhawn rebellion crushed, or so it seemed.  Now Abdulaziz's only remaining problem was that he was flat broke.
The largest sources of cash for the new state was the sale of Persian Gulf pearls and Haij tourism to Mecca. And because of the conservatism of Abdulaziz's religion – not shared by the majority of Muslims, even in his new kingdom - and his wars of expansion and the Ikhawn rebellion and the worldwide Great Depression, both of those incomes were down sharply. So in early May of 1932, Abdulaziz dispatched his personal adviser Fuad Bey Hamaza to London, looking for a loan of half a million pounds, in exchange for a lease to explore for oil in the Arabian peninsula . Fronting the trip was the King's younger brother, Faisal al Saud (above) , gaining experience in international negotiations. But these two Bedouin tribesmen were up against the very best civil servant warrior a modern western nation could produce - the Director General of the British Foreign Office, Sir Lancelot Oliphant
Oliphants had  been in government service since 1141 when an Oliphant saved the Scottish King's life at the “battle of Winchester”. This particular Oliphant, Sir Lancelot (above), had served in the Foreign Office since 1905, starting in Persia. But until his talks with Faud and Faisal, Sir Lancelot's greatest claim to fame had been delivering the British declaration of war to the German ambassador on 4 August, 1914. Now, as he sat across the table from the al Sauds, he gave their loan request the diplomatic cold shoulder, speaking of “difficulties in this time of most stringent economy”
When Faud mentioned an American report suggesting there might be oil under the Saudi sands, Oliphant, responded that “British firms might hesitate to accept a report not drawn up by a British expert”. And then he delivered the diplomatic equivalent of a kick to the groin, saying that British firms did not wish to invest in “a little known country” such as Saudi Arabia. Poor, Sir Lancelot. He would be forever after known as “The diplomat who said 'No' to Saudi oil”. Of course, things were actually not that simple.
In Oliphant's back  pocket was a report from British geologists that said there was no oil under Saudi Arabia. And looming over the Saudi request was the approaching $95.5 million interest payment on the $22 billion dollar WWI debt England owed to the United States. The new American Ambassador, Pittsburgh banker and Secretary of the Treasury for the previous 11 years, Andrew W. Mellon, had instructions to press for the full amount. But Mellon was also a major stock holder in Standard Oil, and was pressing the British to open the Persian Gulf to American oil companies, like Standard..
The Foreign Office had already decided, “we cannot embark on a dog-fight with the USA about oil.” In the end Sir Lancelot Olophant pulled off a little legerdemain, offering the U.S. the $95 million they owed, but only as collateral on future debts incurred in Britain – and only so long as the gold stayed in Britain. And the Saudi oil leases were left as low hanging fruit, for the American oil companies to gather up.
On 28 May, 1933,  Abdulaziz sold oil concessions to Standard Oil Company of Southern California (SoCal), for a lot less than half a million pounds, but a royalty on every barrel produced. Five years later the company hit their first strike at Damman well Number 7, producing 2,000 barrels a day. The oil would continue to flow from that well for another 44 years, producing 32.5 million barrels in all. Eventually the royalites were so great, the al Saud's bought the entire company.  Today all Saudi oil fields produce a near all time high of about 10 million barrels a day, and pump some $182 billion a year into the economy of Abdulaziz's son's kingdom. This time the less sophisticated force that was victorious. But that financial victory has not solved the al Saud's revolutionary problem.
To quote from an article in the Fall 2006 issue of “The Middle East Quarterly”, “Two distinct social groups emerged. The first, composed of young, often Western-educated technocrats... (who) sought to develop Saudi infrastructure...The second were ulema, who graduated from newly-established religious schools....these young ulema...sought to...Islamize all aspects of Saudi life...(they) regarded the House of least rhetorically, as a potential leader...The House of Saud did not oppose this long as its prosecution did not threaten regime stability.” But, of course, that was inevitable.
It is no coincidence that the founder of al Qada, Osama bin Laden, was a member of the Saud family
And in 1979, when a week of bitter fighting was required to recapture the Grand Mosque in Mecca, 63 captured fanatics were publicly beheaded. But the al Saud family then gave the ulema even more money and power over life in Saudi Arabia. Thus it is no accident that the Saudi Royal Air Force has now joined the British Royal Air Force and the American Air Force in bombing the inheritors of the Ikhwan dream, Isis in Syria and Iraq, educated and funded by the grand and great grand children of  King  Abdulazizal al Saud  (above).
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I once had my doubts, but then so did General William Tecumseh Sherman (above). He wrote in his memoirs, 25 years later, “At first I discredited the story of the massacre, because,...I had ordered Fort Pillow to be evacuated...” Sherman had ordered the Hoosiers and New Yorkers garrisoning the river fort to join his February 1864 raid on Meridian, Mississippi. After he left the rail head's supply depots burning, southern Mississippi and Alabama could no longer support a rebel army, leaving “Uncle Billy”' free to organize his summer campaign against Atlanta, in which the Indiana and New York boys would play an important part. And then, behind his lines, western Tennessee was reignited, inspiring Sherman to declare, “There will never be peace in Tennessee till Forrest is dead.”
It can be argued the 750,000 Americans killed in the Civil War were sacrificed so men like Bedford Forrest could succeed. When the war broke out Forrest's personal fortune was $1.5 million, mostly in human property. Bedford, as he preferred to be called, was a slave trader, who could neither read nor write. But politicians saw the 6'2”, 210 pound Forrest as a walking recruiting poster, and made him first a colonel and then a major general. And white Tennesseans flocked to serve him.
He was a brutal man, often governed by his quick temper. He killed at least 30 men with his own hands. In 1863 an argument with a subordinate escalated to a personal confrontation, and Forrest stabbed a fellow Confederate officer to death with a knife. But as a commander of light cavalry, Forrest proved to be a genius. And in the wake of the Meridian debacle Forrest set out with 1,500 men on his third raid behind union lines, seeking to feed, clothe and mount his hungry men, and to replace those who were no longer volunteering behind Confederate lines with naive civilians, determined to believe in the romance of the southern cause.
Just after it succeeded, in July of 1861, the state of Tennessee built Fort Pillow on the first of the Chickasaw Bluffs coming south on the Mississippi River. It was laid out by soldiers trained to think expansively. The fort's horse shoe outer defense line enclosed 1,600 acres, anchored on the big river to the south, and tiny Cold Creek on the north. One hundred-fifty yards inside this was the main defensive position, cut through the high ground, about 800 yards long. All this was to defend artillery positions 100 yards behind, on the lower riverside bluff, looming over a narrowing on Mississippi River. The only problem was it would require 4 – 5,000 men to man these defenses,.and neither the Provisional Army of Tennessee, nor the Confederacy, could spare such numbers. As soon as Memphis, 40 miles to the south, fell to Federal naval forces on June 6, 1862, Fort Pillow was evacuated, and western Tennessee became occupied territory.
Once the federal regiments were established in Fort Pillow, the profiteers poured in. By 1864, there were 14 federally licensed cotton traders alone in the nearby village of Fulton. Typical was Edward Benton, representing Chicago based investors, who bought 215 acres of rich bottom land, paying 50 newly freed slaves $10 a month to tend the valuable crop. There were also corn and livestock traders, supplying the federal armies pushing south. So when Sherman ordered the evacuation of Fort Pillow, he was endangering a substantial and growing investment. Which may explain why, on February 3, 1864, the commander at Memphis, General Stephen Hurlbut, ordered still green cavalrymen to reoccupy Fort Pillow.
Thirty-six year old west Tennessee attorney, William “Bill” Braford became a major in the Union army for the same reason Bedford Forrest had been made a General in the rebel army - to attract volunteers. Some 120,000 Tennesseans served in Confederate armies during the war, but another 42,000 served in Union forces. Four companies of “Bradford's Brigade” were mustered into service two miles south of the Kentucky border, in Union City, Tennessee, the day after Christmas, 1863. A little over a month later, on February 8, 1864, the as yet unmounted cavalrymen occupied the now abandoned Fort Pillow. They were ordered to “...use all diligence in recruiting and mounting...”, and were “...authorized to impress horses from both the loyal and disloyal, giving vouchers...” And by April 1st, enough volunteers had turned up to form a fifth company, giving Bradford's Brigade a total strength of 295 troopers. 
It was not nearly enough to hold the fort's main defensive line, so on the final bluff Bradford ordered an “L” shaped earthen barricade constructed, with soil from a ditch in front used to raise the parapet even higher. And General Hurlbut promised to send reinforcements.
They arrived on March 29th, in the form of twenty-five year old Major Lionel Booth and 265 artillery men. But the arrivals brought problems. First, Major Booth's commission was a few weeks older than Major Bradford's, making the younger man post commander. And Booth had a confusing past. In 1861 and under the name George Lanning, he had escaped an abusive, alcoholic stepfather by joining the federal army, as a private. He was promoted to sergeant of artillery for his actions in the 1862 Battle of Wilson's Creek, in Missouri, and was then promoted to Major when he accepted command of negro troops, which was the second problem.
The black artillery men were a section of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery regiment ,who manned the fort's two 6 pound rifled cannon and brought with them two 12 pound howitzers, and the First Battalion Sixth U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery battery which brought with them two 10-pound Parrott guns . None of the now 560 members of the garrison had ever functioned as a unit, and they were burdened with 100 civilians, both white businessmen and escaped slaves. The white Tennessean soldiers were uneasy with black men carrying guns, and the African-American soldiers were uneasy dealing with whites on an equal bases. To have called these 560 men a unit would be extraordinarily optimistic.
Bedford Forrest set out on this third raid on March 15, 1864, with 1,500 men. A month after Bradford's Brigade had been ordered south, Forrest captured Union City, took 475 union prisoners but captured only 300 horses to replace his 1,500 weary mounts. He quickly moved into Kentucky, added another 200 volunteers to his own force, and on March 25th,  threatened the vital union supply depot at the mouth of the Tennessee river - Paducah, Kentucky.
Forrest's standard approach was to throw skirmishers at the defenses, and then threaten to slaughter the garrison if they did not immediately surrender. Usually isolated rear echelon units folded under the pressure, but if they did not Forrest rarely risked his men's lives, preferring to steal horses and supplies to fighting for them. But in a troubling breakdown of discipline, after the federals rejected his surrender demand, one rebel officer led an unauthorized charge against the federals, losing almost 50 men. His nose uncharacteristically bloodied, Forrest then retreated back into Tennessee.
For the first time Forrest's raid had not made him stronger. There was the lapse in discipline, and a scarcity of fresh horses which slowed his retreat. Union politicians might be panicking, but Bedford Forrest was frustrated and his men tired and hungry as they approached Fort Pillow. Inside they knew were horses and weapons, and food. Advance parties opened fire on the fort's pickets before dawn on April 12th.
Unknown to the rebels, about 9 that morning, as Major Booth was making a reconnaissance of the assault, and after he had sent a fast boat to Memphis seeking reinforcements, the union commander was struck in the chest by a ball and killed. By the time Forrest arrived with his 90 man personal guard an hour later, the union pickets had retreated into the main defense line trenches atop the high ground. As he scouted the perimeter, placing his weary men as they slowly arrived, Forrest had two horses shot and killed out from under him, both times throwing the commander to the ground and bruising his ribs.
Finally, about 3:30 p.m., after having outflanked and overrun the defensive line on the high bluffs, Forrest sent his standard demand under a flag of truce. “...I demand the unconditional surrender of the entire garrison, promising that you shall be treated as prisoners of war. My men have just received a fresh supply of ammunition, and from their present position can easily assault and capture the fort. Should my demand be refused, I cannot be responsible for the fate of your command.” It was a lie, as usual. His men were short of ammo, short of horses, and exhausted, having ridden all night to get ahead of pursuing federal cavalry.
Inside the fort, William Bradford was convinced Forrest had 6,000 fresh, well arm battle hardened men on three sides, now attacking him from high ground. But since his casualties to this point were light, Bradford decided to hold out for reinforcements from Memphis. He ordered Captain John Young to the river bank with boxes of ammunition, for a possible last stand. While the truce held, both black and white soldiers taunted the rebels from the walls, shouting, “If you want the fort, come and take it.” And only when he could delay no further, after an hour and 20 minute delay, did Major Bradford respond to General Forrest's demand. “I will not surrender.”
The end took just about 20 minutes. A bugler sounded the charge. And while snipers on the high ground suppressed the union gunners, rebels who had used the truce to filter unseen into the ditch, now boosted each other onto the parapet, and swarmed the defenders. The fighting was for the most part, short lived. A wounded Bradford told his men, “Save yourself boys”. And then the slaughter began.
The next day a Confederate trooper in the 20th Tennessee cavalry, Achilles Clark, described what happened in a letter to his sister. “The slaughter was awful,” he wrote. “The poor, deluded, Negroes would run up to our men...and...scream for mercy, but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. The white men fared but little better. Their fort turned out to be a great slaughter pen....General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs...Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased."
Private George Shaw, one of the black artillery men, sought escape at the riverbank, where he was grabbed by a rebel soldier. The unarmed Shaw begged, “Please don't shoot me. The rebel answered, “Damn you, you are fighting against your master,” and shot Shaw in the mouth. The union soldier was left bleeding and floating downstream in the Mississippi River.
Charles Robinson, a white civilian from Minnesota, had come to Fort Pillow to practice his trade as a photographer, taking photos the soldiers sent home to their families. He wrote his own family five days after the fight. “Our boys...threw down their arms...but no sooner were they seen than they were shot down, ...I...could see our poor fellows bleeding and hear them cry “surrender...I surrender”...The rebels ran down the bank and putting their revolvers right up to their heads would blow their brains out or lift them up on bayonets and thrown them headlong into the river below. One of them soon came to where I was laying with one of the “C Company” boys. He...shot the soldier in the head...scattering the blood and brains in my face and then putting the revolver right against my breast he said, “You'll fight with the niggers again, will you? You damn Yankee!” He snapped the revolver but she didn't go off”. The break seemed to break the rebels fury, and he took Robinson prisoner, later stealing his watch.  Robinson added, “I saw them laugh and cheer when they were shooting our boys who had jumped in the river.”
Dr. Charles Fitch had set up a field hospital just below the bluff, and saw his patients shot and “chopped to pieces by sabres”. He watched as 20 surrendered black union soldier were ordered into a line and neatly cut down by a single volley of musket fire. Spotting General Forrest,  Fitch demanded he stop the slaughter. Forrest responded by asking if Fitch was a doctor for the black or the white soldiers. And when Fitch refused to choose between them, Forest shouted, “I have a great mind to have you killed for being down there!” Instead, Forrest assigned a soldier to guard the doctor, and finally ordered a halt to the butchery, even shooting one Confederate soldier who continued the killing. Three days later Forrest himself admitted in an official dispatch, “The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for 200 yards” He went on to hope this would show, “negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.”
Union witnesses reported some rebels hunted for black union survivors through the night, killing those they found. The wounded Major Bradford was taken prisoner, but was shot and killed several days later “while trying to escape.” Of the entire garrison of 560 men, about 285 survived, 61 with wounds. But among those wearing blue, 69% of the whites survived, while just 35% of the African-American soldiers survived.
Northern newspapers and politicians labeled it a war crime. Southern newspapers and politicians downplayed the slaughter or denied it. But the truth is that slavery had so twisted southern culture, that after the war Bedford Forrest could insist, “I am not an enemy of the negro. We want him here among us; he is the only laboring class we have.”
And if you talk to the current residents of Ferguson, Missouri, or Staten Island, New York, or police officers in almost any American city,  the shooting of unarmed African American males, is a continuing theme in America. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court may believe we live in a post-racial United States, but that ideological driven contention is as absurd as Bedford Forrest's contention that he was in any way shape or form, the Negro's friend. 
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Sunday, November 09, 2014


I am certain Robert Harte died knowing he had made a terrible mistake. But by then it was too late to fix. He should have acted before the man came around the corner from Morelos Street, and approached the two Mexico Police officers guarding the single story hacienda at 19 Avenida Viena (below). It was just after four on Friday morning, 24 May, 1940, in the quiet farming suburb of Carranza, at the edge of the arroyo of the Churubusco River. The man raised an arm in greeting. The officers were deceived for a moment by the large military looking overcoat he wore, and then, as he came closer, his huge, almost comical mustache. But before they could say anything, the man suddenly shouted “Viva Almazan!”, and pulled his pistol. The right wing revolutionary Juan Almazan was one of the richest and most famous men in Mexico, and currently an unpopular candidate for the Presidency The use of his name kept the two officers bewildered just long enough to be disarmed.
A half dozen men appeared out of the darkness and shoved the officers through the front door of the villa. In the reception hall were three more police officers, sleeping. At the same time the telephone lines into the villa were cut. All five prisoners were quickly gagged and tied up, and left on the floor, under guard, while another score of armed men filed silently into the dimly lit foray. The mustached man knocked heavily on the left hand inside door After a moment, a voice was heard from inside the villa, asking “Qué es ?” The mustached man demanded, “Abra la puerta! La policía de la ciudad de México.” There was a hesitation, and then the voice said, “Un momento”, followed by the sound of a bolt being lifted, and a lock being turned.
The second it began to move the door was violently shoved fully open, bowling the young man opening it off his feet. Instantly, eager hands lifted him up and spun him around. Without pause he was hustled across the Villa's 100 yard long garden (above) There was a seven foot wall to the left, topped by barbed wire, and a series of doors to the villa's separate rooms to the right. At the end of the garden stood a small, two story brick guest house, painted white (below). 
With military precision the men divided. Several spread out in front of the guest house (above), while others filtered to the gate beyond, which opened on Churubusco street, while others ran to a Ford pickup and a Dodge passenger car, both parked against the back wall.  At that moment, the electrical power to the villa was cut off.  At the same time  a new handful of armed men men raced through the front door, turned left in the hall and out into the garden, where they split up, one man stopping in front of each of the villa's doors. Just as they did so, a voice called out from the guest house, “Es que usted , Roberto?. Lo que está mal?” A loud blasts of automatic gunfire ripped the suburban night apart. Over the next two minutes, the only exit from the guest house was blocked by a continuous hail of lead..
As soon as they heard the gunfire, the figure outside the farthest door bent down and crashed through the five foot high door and into the study beyond (above). As he did so the man in front of the middle room, stood and pulled the bolt of his MP 35 German made machine gun, and the third man bent over and crashed through the remaining door into a bedroom. (below) 
 Immediately all three men opened fire, blasting the adobe and plaster walls separating them, filling the bedroom sandwiched between with 200 deadly 9mm lead missiles. The firing went on for less than fifteen seconds, over 70 bullets thudding into the wall and the bed's headboard. Then the middle gunman dropped his weapon, pulled a pistol and burst through the french doors, emptying a clip directly into the lumps on the bed (below).
As he did so the men in the foray silently filtered toward the back gate, followed in their turn by the kill squad, who dropped incendiary grenades behind them, and then the squad assigned to suppress the guards in the guest house. The raiding party then piled into the two stolen vehicles and disappeared into the night. Within five minutes of the two police officers being surprised at the front door, the raid was over. It would be some hours before the raiders realized they had failed.
The target had survived. His wife Natalia had been awakened by the crash of the inner door. She shook her husband and then pulled him onto the floor beside her. The hail of bullets, when it came, passed over their heads, and the pistol fire punctured the mattress they had been sleeping on, but the two elderly intended victims were safe, unseen, on the floor of their dark bedroom.
As soon as he was certain the raiders had left, the intended target, the old man man (above, center), asked Natalia (above left) to check on their 14 year old grandson Seva (above, right) , who was sleeping in the bedroom next to theirs. Even after pushing aside a burning chest of drawers, Natalia could not find her grandson. Her first panic was that he had been kidnapped. But then she heard his voice from the library at the end of the house, beyond, calling out in Russian, “Ded?” - grandfather?  She found Seva clutching his bleeding foot. He had been awakened when the gunfire at the guest house erupted, and had hidden under his bed.  A ricochet had clipped his toe. And that was the only blood spilled at 19 Avenida Viena that night.
Meanwhile, the bearded old man retrieved his wire rimmed glasses, and then ran into his study, next to the bedroom. Inside he found two small fires, which he quickly extinguished. That saved the secondary target of the would-be assassins – the biography he was writing of his old rival. Then he joined his wife and grandson in the library. He warmly hugged them both, and told his wife, “Natalia, they have given us one more day of life.” It was a phrase the old man, Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, more popularly known as Leon Trotsky, would repeat every morning for the rest of his life.
There was one resident of the villa missing after the raid,  25 year old New Yorker, Robert Harte (above).  But had he left with his fellow conspirators , or was he the victim of a kidnapping?   The day after the raid the Communist newspaper in Mexico City reported the shooting had been staged to garner public sympathy for Trotsky. The next day the police brought in   “The Old Man's” bodyguards for two grueling days of questioning. But at the same time they began taking a hard look at the communist members of the International Brigade  from the Spanish Civil War. First step in this line was to interview the chauffeurs for the Mexican Communist Party. And the name that kept popping up here was the famous painter, David Alfaro Siqueiros. 
Siqueiros had recently been paying visits to an isolated farm a few miles south of Carranza, rented by Siqueiros' sister. And the morning after the attack, not far from the farm, the stolen pickup truck had been found abandoned and burned. A week after the assault, the farm house and property were searched. On the property, beside the road from Carranza, recently disturbed earth was spotted. A month after the attack, in a shallow grave, the police found the disfigured corpse of Robert Harte (above). He had been shot twice, and then quick lime had been poured over the body. It burned some his features, but it also preserved most of the flesh and bones.
A warrant for Siqueiros' arrest was issued. But rather than surrender, Siqueiros (above) began issuing written statements to the communist newspaper, at first protesting his innocence, and condemning police incompetence. But as member after communist member of the International Brigade was arrested, 27 in all, and their confessions and connections to Siqueiros appeared in the general press, Siqueiros' statements to the Communist press began to sound defiant and arrogant, justifying the attempted murder of Leon Trotsky. And then, finally, when Sisqueiros turned him self in, he was immediately released without bail. And then promptly disappeared.
Trotsky was not surprised by the ease with which his attempted assassin escaped justice. Nor was he in any doubt that Sisqueiros was the actor but not the author of the murderous attack on his home and family. As “Bugs” Moran had insisted after the Chicago St. Valentines Day Massacre that “Only Al Capone kills like that”,  four years before the May 1940 attack on his own life,  Leon Trotsky had prophetically written, "(Joseph) Stalin...seeks to strike not at the ideas of the opponent,  but at his skull.”
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