Symbionese Liberation Army

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SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY, a violent revolutionary group that espoused vaguely Marxist doctrines and operated in California from 1973 to 1975, undertaking a highly publicized campaign of domestic terrorism. Their 1973 assassination of the Oakland superintendent of schools, Marcus Foster, brought them to national attention. They became even more notorious the following year when they kidnapped Patricia Hearst, a wealthy newspaper heiress. In a bizarre twist, Hearst joined her captors and became an active revolutionary. A shootout with the Los Angeles police in May 1974 left six of the radicals dead, but they continued to operate throughout 1975. Subsequently, the group dissolved, as its members ended up dead, captured, or in hiding. In 1999 the SLA was once again in the headlines with the arrest of Kathleen Soliah, one of its fugitive members. She ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of aiding and abetting a plot to plant bombs in police vehicles. As of 2002, she and three other former SLA members were facing murder charges stemming from a 1975 bank robbery.


Bryan, John. This Soldier Still at War. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.

Hearst, Patricia. Every Secret Thing. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982.

Daniel J.Johnson

See alsoKidnapping ; Terrorism .