It’s often emphasized how much Europe took it in the chin during WWI. And it did. Although more than 100,000 American soldiers died and many more experienced the horrific conditions of the war, the U.S. was spared from having the action take place on our territory. But it turns out that American soil didn’t escape unscathed. Just before the U.S. entered the war, Germany instigated the little-known “first terrorist cell in America,” as described by journalist Howard Blum.
You see, the German government wasn’t keen on the U.S. supply support to the Allies, and formed a plan to strike back with what appears to be the most sophisticated intelligence organization of the time. Adding to the intrigue, spies were aided by the German Ambassador to the U.S., a Harvard professor, a resident of the swanky Yacht Club in New York, and an expert on germ warfare (who killed, with anthrax, many horses shipped off to the Allies).
The cell targeted bombings and sabotage of ships, factories and industry captains (they even put two bullets into J.P. Morgan—who luckily survived the assassination attempt) in New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The NYPD took the charge on forming an impromptu anti-terrorist squad to find the saboteurs. They fumbled their way through initially, but then began getting wise to the German tactics. All the while, President Woodrow Wilson tried to tamp down on the affair while keeping America out of the war (spoiler: he didn't).
Seedy stuff—wouldn’t you like to see this made into a movie? Well it’s your lucky day, because reportedly none other than Bradley Cooper is planning on producing and starring in a film based on these events! Let’s hope they work Jennifer Lawrence in there, too.
Image: Wikimedia Commons