Friday, June 18, 1999
Symbionese Liberation Army Member Fugitive Captured in MinnesotaLOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, June 18, 1999
On Wednesday, June 16, 1999, the Los Angeles Chief of Police Bernard Parks and Acting Assistant Director in Charge John Schiman announced the arrest of fugitive Kathleen Ann Soliah, 52, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who became a fugitive in 1976, and evaded capture for nearly twenty-three years. Kathleen Soliah was arrested by members of the Criminal Conspiracy Section and Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during a joint investigation. Soliah was placed under surveillance, and was detained by the Saint Paul Police Department at 8:30 am, Central Standard Time.
Soliah was charged in a federal warrant issued on March 25,1999 in the Central District of California for Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP). The UFAP warrant was based on an indictment by a Grand Jury, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles on February 26, 1976, on felony charges to include conspiracy to commit murder, possession of destructive device or explosives in or near certain places, explosion, attempt to explode or ignite a destructive device or explosive with intent to murder.
Soliah was apprehended near her residence without incident. At the time of her capture, Soliah was residing in St. Paul, Minnesota, using the alias Sara Jane Olson.
Soliah is alleged to have participated in several bombings of police patrol cars and bank robberies with other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). One incident occurred on August 22, 1975, at approximately 12:10 am, when a Hollywood Area patrol unit responded to an emergency radio call from the parking lot of the International House of Pancakes at Sunset Boulevard at Mansfield Avenue where two officers had completed eating dinner. As they drove from the parking lot, a citizen found an improvised explosive device on the ground which had been attached to their police vehicle. The device had failed to function as designed. The citizen notified the LAPD, and the Bomb Squad responded and rendered the explosive device safe.
At that time, an emergency notification was made to all LAPD Areas to check for possible explosive devices under other police vehicles. A second unexploded device was found under a parked plainclothes vehicle at Hollenbeck Station. This device was also rendered safe without injury.
In 1975, The Los Angeles Police Department's Criminal Conspiracy Section began a lengthy investigation of these incidents. It was believed that these two incidents were connected to two terrorist organizations, which existed at that time: The Symbionese Liberation Army and the New World Liberation Front. The attempted bombings were believed to be retaliation for the shootout and fire related deaths of six members of the SLA which occurred a year previously in Los Angeles.
Soliah is believed to be responsible for the bombs found under the two police vehicles. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bernard C. Parks adds: "This arrest demonstrates the resolve of law enforcement, particularly the LAPD, FBI, and the Saint Paul Police Department in the capture of a terrorist who had been wanted since 1975."
In September 1975, Soliah surfaced as a pivotal suspect in an investigation concerning the SLA, a Berkeley-based terrorist group that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in 1974.
On March 25, 1999, Soliah was profiled on the America's Most Wanted television program along with James Kilgore (another active participant in SLA activities in the mid-1970's who is wanted on a federal warrant for possession of an unregistered explosive device) in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the SLA shoot-out with the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI which resulted in six SLA members being killed on May 17, 1974. The FBI and LAPD commend the efforts of America's Most Wanted and consider the program's airing of the fugitives instrumental in Soliah's capture.
ADIC Schiman praised the cooperation among the various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation which include officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, Criminal Conspiracy Section; FBI Agents from Minneapolis and Los Angeles Divisions; officers from the Minnesota Fugitive Task Force and the City of St. Paul Department of Police.
Los Angeles Police Chief Parks stated, "This arrest serves as evidence that terrorism will never be tolerated in this country. I am very proud of the law enforcement personnel who participated in this investigation and brought this fugitive to justice."
It is anticipated that the federal UFAP warrant will be dismissed for Soilah following her arrest and that California authorities will then seek her extradition back to California on the underlying state charges.
For Release 2:15 pm PST
June 18, 1999