CRIME: The Cobra Strikes

Three months ago, not even police undercover agents in San Francisco had heard of a terrorist outfit called the Symbionese Liberation Army. Now, the bizarrely named group has burst into prominence across the U.S. by convincingly claiming responsibility for two spectacular crimes in the Bay Area.

The first was the November murder of Marcus Foster, the black superintendent of Oakland's public schools. After Foster was gunned down in a darkened parking lot, the S.L.A. issued "Communique No. 1," taking credit for the gangland-style execution. The S.L.A. said that Foster had "been found guilty...

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