New York: The Monumental Plot

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To the Black Liberation plotters, things seemed to be going swimmingly. Little did they know that in their midst was an undercover agent: big Ray Wood, not a pro-Castro kook at all but a New York rookie cop. Last summer he was taken from his classes at the police academy, ordered to infiltrate left-wing groups like the Black Liberation Front that at the time were suspected of fomenting Harlem riots. Wood spent hours plodding picket lines and insulting cops, managed to gain Collier's confidence, and joined the conspirators' inner circle. He kept a daily diary of the lunatic schemings. Soon, every detail of the plot was known to New York cops, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Highly Volatile. Early last week in Montreal, Michelle Duclos loaded the trunk of her white 1961 Rambler with a brown cardboard box full of dynamite —each stick wrapped in pages of a French-language newspaper. The New Yorkers almost certainly could have purchased or stolen their dynamite closer to home, but getting it from Quebec terrorists added to the internationalism of it all.

It was not very good stuff. Ordinarily, dynamite is a stable explosive; it can be bumped and jostled without much danger. But old dynamite deteriorates, undergoing chemical changes that turn it into highly volatile nitroglycerin, which could explode at the slightest jiggle. Michelle's dynamite was old, deteriorated and dangerous. She was obviously unaware of this fact as she sped toward New York. So were the FBI agents who tailed her, constantly radioing news of her progress to other law-enforcement men along the way. Luckily, Michelle got to New York early on the morning of Feb. 16 without being blown to smithereens; she cached the dynamite in a vacant lot in the prosperous Riverdale residential section of The Bronx, checked into a Manhattan hotel, and got in touch with Ray Wood to report that the explosives had arrived.

A few hours later, FBI men swept in, arrested Bowe at his home, Sayyed at his father's store, and Michelle at the Hotel Excelsior. New York police grabbed Collier at the Riverdale vacant lot as he and Wood arrived to pick up the dynamite. The four were charged with conspiring to destroy Government property, which carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and ten years in prison. Collier was also charged with unlawful possession of explosives.

"Routine Case." At a press conference with beaming New York Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy, Ray Wood explained: "I just tried to do my best." Commissioner Murphy gave Wood an on-the-spot promotion from rookie ($6,325 annual salary) to detective third-grade ($8,126). Next day Murphy was even more impressed by Wood's performance, upped him once more, to detective second-grade ($8,572). Said Murphy: "There was nothing lucky about this case. An undercover man risked his life for months." Mumbled modest Hero Wood: "I thought this was just another routine case."

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