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The minds of terrorists are hard to fathom. The utter condemnation of ETA terrorists by a Spain united in protest against them has no effect; the killings continue. Targets like Spanish prime minister José María Aznar respond with superhuman dignity. The ETA terrorists are trying to prod him into a harsh response, but he remains incredibly calm, even though ETA tried to blow him up. The same goes for Jaime Mayor Oreja, the PP candidate in the elections for head of the Basque government. He remains imperturbable, even though ETA has killed his three closest friends and tried to kill his wife. ETA would love to kill him.

Tim Brown comments: " I can sympathize with the targets of terrorists. While a Foreign Service Officer I once made a short assassination list in Martinique, had a terrorist come after my family in The Netherlands, had hotels I was staying at bombed several times, got shot at once by a sniper, was on several hit lists while runing the Contra project, and lived with armed guards 24/7 in three countries for about 10 years. Even my wife got tear gassed once. I goes with the territory and either you just take a few precautions while campaigning on, or you let them have their way, and leave.

Since retiring, my main interest has become trying to understand why they did what they did, and I've become personal friends with a number of former Marxist terrorists and revolutionaries in the process. During a research trip to interview one of them in depth, we spent as much time dodging some ETA terrorists who were trying to kill him as we did talking.All but two now say they were wrong at the time, one insists they were right then but terrorism is wrong now, while only one continues to cleave to the old line, and he's an unreconstructed Stalinist who thinks Uncle Joe got a raw deal! But it's more interesting than golf, keeps me young, and reminds me of how the fanatics can cow the rest of us into stepping aside if we let them. And, like my Stalinist buddy, I guess I'm just too set in my route to change."

Ronald Hilton - 3/24/01