The State University of New York at Brockport has invited a convicted domestic terrorist and co-founder of an anti-Semitic organization to be its featured speaker at an April 6 event.
Anthony Bottom, also known as Jalil Muntaqim, was a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a domestic terror group that was responsible for a series of bombings and murders during the 1970s and ’80s. A 1991 Maryland State Police report said that killing police officers were among the BLA’s stated goals. Group members killed at least 15 police officers.
Bottom was involved in three of those murders. He was convicted in the cold-blooded 1971 shooting deaths of two New York City Police Department officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones.
Piagentini’s widow, Diane, urged the parole board to keep Bottom in prison in 2019, saying he “assassinated my husband and Waverly Jones because they wore the blue uniform.”
Bottom wouldn’t dispute that. He knew nothing about his victims and wasn’t even a New York resident. He simply was out to ambush police. “It could have been any officers,” he admitted years later.
He was also held responsible for the shooting death of SFPD Sgt. John Young in August of that same year. He was sentenced to life in prison for the killings.
On Sept. 11, 2020, a New York State Parole Board appointed under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted Bottom’s release from prison.
His upcoming appearance at SUNY-Brockport triggered a significant public backlash.
New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt asked university president Heidi Macpherson to rescind the invitation, calling it “absolutely shameful. Let’s be very clear: Anthony Bottom was not a ‘political prisoner.’ He’s a convicted cop-killer. Calling this an ‘intellectual conversation’ on a taxpayer-funded state campus is intellectually dishonest. It’s an insult.”
But in a public statement, Macpherson indicated she would not step in.
“We do not support the violence exhibited in Mr. Muntaqim’s previous crimes, and his presence on campus does not imply endorsement of his views or past actions,” she wrote. “However, we believe in freedom of speech. SUNY Brockport has routinely held speaking events involving controversial speakers from various background and viewpoints, and will continue to do so. These conversations are uncomfortable. They are meant to be. They’re about gaining a new perspective.”
It was in defending those very rights that Piagentini, Jones and Young died in the line of duty.
During his time in prison Bottom, co-founded the Jericho Movement, a group whose stated goal is the release of what it calls political prisoners.
The list of names that the Jericho Movement considers “political prisoners” is a virtual who’s who of those who have murdered law-enforcement officers, bombed and attacked American institutions, and killed innocent civilians.
The list includes:
- Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, head of the radical Dar-ul-Islam movement. He is serving a life sentence for the 2000 murder of Fulton County Deputy Sheriff Ricky Kinchen.
- Abu Jamal Mumia, aka Wesley Cook, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
- Marie Mason, a member of the Earth Liberation Front, a group designated as a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI. She is serving a 22-year sentence for an arson spree.
These are not, as Bottom would have us believe, innocent people who were simply exercising their right to protest against social injustice.
They are violent domestic terrorists.
In sentencing Mason, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney described her as someone who “elevate[d] her grievances beyond the norms of civilized society” through violence.
Bottom’s organization also supports the BDS movement and the destruction of Israel as a nation:
“Zionism is a form of white supremacy and European colonialism. ‘Israel’ was founded on Zionism and is therefore an unjust and illegitimate state.”
“We understand Zionism to be a central pillar of U.S. imperialism that has integrated itself into U.S. projects globally.”
The Jericho Movement also is a vocal supporter of terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas.
You might wonder when or where did Anthony Bottom acquire such virulent anti-Semitic beliefs.
As I outlined many years ago in my book, The Fertile Soil of Jihad, Anthony Bottom met a number of Middle Eastern inmates in a New York State prison, all serving time for violent crimes.
One was Yousef Saleh, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, who was convicted in 1980 for arson. He had set fire to a Jewish deli in New York City, killing two people.
Another was Nophan Hamdan, a Palestinian serving a life sentence for firebombing a building in Brooklyn, owned by a Jewish company, which left one man dead.
A third was Abdel Zaben, a Palestinian from Ramallah, serving time for a series of kidnappings and robberies in New York City to “raise money for the cause.”
Prior to his arrest, Zaben worked for Ali Kased, one of the founders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Zaben’s uncle, Khalil al Zaben, was an advisor to the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat. Zaben also expressed his support for Hamas in conversations with other inmates.
And finally, Rashid Baz, responsible for the 1994 terror attack on a vanload of students traveling across the Brooklyn Bridge that killed Ari Halberstam, and wounded several others. “I only shot them because they were Jewish,” he later said.
All of these inmates, including Bottom, attended services in the prison mosque. There, according to a confidential source, the Muslim inmates from the Middle East exercised enormous influence on the other Muslim inmates like Bottom.
Bottom claims he is not anti-Semitic. Yet in a 2020 essay, he describes those who believe in the ancestral home of the Jewish people as “those who wear an ethnocentric-narcissistic xenophobic (white supremacist) religio-idealist cloak.”
And when you partner with organizations seeking a Palestinian return “to all of their lands and properties stolen since 1948,” you’re advocating the destruction of Israel as a country for the Jewish people.
A charlatan is someone who makes false claims about themselves in order to promote themselves and their cause.
Anthony Bottom is just that. He would have you believe that he was a political prisoner, unjustly imprisoned for seeking social justice for the repressed of the world.
Nothing could be further from the truth. He is a convicted killer with the blood of honorable public servants on his hands, who founded an organization that would like to see the nation of Israel wiped off the face of the Earth.
Macpherson said that she is aware of Bottom’s violent background. It’s still not too late for her to rescind the speaking invitation. (You can write to her at: president@Brockport.edu.)
Having a cop-killing domestic terrorist speak with the students on campus dishonors the memory of the lives taken.
“He is a criminal, bank robber and a killer of police officers, and apparently, he is proud of what he has done—not remorseful,” Diane Piagentini wrote to SUNY-Brockport officials. “I am formally requesting that this lecture be canceled. He is not and never was a political prisoner.”
(IPT senior fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former deputy inspector general for the New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad)