Another Dead Terrorist


As evidence emerges (and is quickly denied) that Osama bin Laden remains alive, another prominent terrorist has turned up dead. After four decades of fighting to rule Angola, Jonas Savimbi has been killed.

Trained in Maoist China, Savimbi took a rhetorical turn to the right after a Soviet-supported regime won control of his country: By spouting slogans of free enterprise, he hoped to convince the U.S. to become his new patron. Beltway Republicans rallied around the idea of having their own Che, and Savimbi's cause was soon touted by such figures as Jack Wheeler, the Edgar Snow of the right. Over $250 million in American aid was soon destined for the group that specialized in, among other things, shooting down civilian airliners.

There's little right-wing praise for Savimbi in these post-Cold War days, especially after he spent the '90s sabotaging every negotiated peace. But some conservatives still call for U.S. intervention in Africa, with little regard for just how poorly that worked out in Angola (among other places). Meanwhile, as America declares war on terrorism, Savimbi stands as a reminder that there have been times when the terrorists landed on "our" side.