The New York Post
December 7, 1997


                            By DOUGLAS MONTERO

                            Convicted Puerto Rican terrorist William Morales wants to come home.

                            But he doesn't want to serve any jail time - not a day of his 99-year sentence.

                            The fingerless chief bomb maker of the FALN - the pro-Puerto Rican independence group that
                            planted more than 100 bombs in the city in the '70s - is negotiating with the U.S. government
                            for amnesty.

                            "It's been something that I've been thinking about for quite some time," Morales, 48, told
                            The Post in a telephone interview from Havana, Cuba, where he lives in exile.

                            "A person cannot spend life living in limbo. If they want to give amnesty to me, they should
                            do it. If not, I will just continue living my life. It's not good to live life with false hopes. I like things
                            to be clear."

                            Morales was the subject of one the country's largest manhunts in May 1979 when he
                            escaped from a guarded third-floor room in the Bellvue Hospital prison by shinning down
                            elastic bandage he dangled outside a window.

                            His escape made him a folk hero to many Latinos and riled red-faced law-enforcement
                            officials who couldn't figure out how their fingerless prisoner eluded them.

                            Morales was believed to be the leader of the FALN - the Spanish acronym for the Armed
                            Forces of National Liberation - which conducted a 10-year terror bombing campaign
                            in New York in its "war" for independence.

                            The bombings - including a 1982 New Year's Eve blast at police headquarters and a January
                            1975 blast at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan - killed six, injured hundreds and
                            caused $3.5 million in damage.

                            Asked about his role in the bombings, Morales refused to be specific: "I participated in a
                            political movement, a revolution. I can't talk about what happened or who did what."

                            As for those killed or injured in the blasts, he said he has "no regrets."

                            "It's a shame that things happened to me, to cops, and to innocent people. But that comes
                            with the job."

                            Morales stressed that he would not return to the U.S. if he has to go to prison, become an
                            informant or "sell out my principles."

                            He was arrested and sentenced to 99 years behind bars in 1978 after his bomb-making
                            factory in Elmhurst, Queens, blew up in a "careless accident" that claimed nine of his

                            He refused to detail his escape from Bellevue, where he was being prepared for artificial

                            Investigators believe someone slipped him clippers and he snipped the wire mesh that
                            covered his prison window.

                            "It was easy, no one helped me escape," Morales claimed. "But there were people
                            waiting for me in a car when I slipped out the window."

                            He added that handicapped people "invent ways to do things. Once the human mind is set
                            on doing something, you could do it."

                            Morales went underground after his escape - first hiding out in Chicago and then fleeing to
                            Mexico, said a source close to him.

                            Although officials linked him to numerous bombings after his hospital Houdini act, he
                            insisted, "I never gave any orders or told people what to do after I escaped."

                            In 1983 he was captured in Mexico after a shootout in which one Mexican cop died and
                            another was injured.

                            The Mexican government turned down a U.S. request for Morales' extradition, and instead
                            tried him for murder and sentenced him to a 12-year jail term.

                            He was freed in 1988 and allowed to flee to Havana, where he works as a journalist and
                            lives with his wife, Rosa, and their 1-year-old son, Rodrigo.

                            "I live peacefully here, like everyone else," he said.

                            But he misses his mother, Lucy, and his two brothers, who live in Manhattan.

                            With or without amnesty, Morales said, he will continue to "fight for the liberation of Puerto

                            But he added, "I can't participate in an armed struggle because I'm past that stage in life."

                            "I don't think one country should dictate the politics of another country - no matter how small
                            it is," he said. "The U.S. wouldn't like it to happen to them, that's why they fought against
                            the British, right?"

                            Morales' lawyer Ron Kuby said his amnesty talks with government officials are "extremely
                            preliminary" and "sensitive."

                            The amnesty bid coincides with a campaign to free about a dozen FALN terrorists held in U.S.
                            prisons as the 100th anniversary of the American occupation of Puerto Rico nears.

                            It would be "in the interest of justice," said Kuby, to mark that anniversary by freeing FALN
                            prisoners, letting exiles like Morales go home.

                     Copyright (c) 1997, N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.