Patricia Hearst was kidnapped and brainwashed by a terrorist organization, the Symbionese Liberation Army. The heiress was brainwashed and committed armed robberies while with the SLA before being captured more than a year later. She was convicted, but served only 22 months of her 35-year sentence.
Image courtesy the state of California and Wikimedia

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  • On February 4, 1974, American heiress Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by an obscure American terrorist organization, the Symbionese Liberation Army.
    Hearst was kidnapped from her home, close to the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, where she was a student. Berkeley is just across the bay from San Francisco, where Hearst’s grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, established his publishing empire with the San Francisco Examiner newspaper. More than a year after being abducted, brutalized, and brainwashed, law enforcement personnel captured Hearst and an SLA member.
    Hearst’s kidnapping brought attention to the SLA, and started a national conversation about using violence to pursue a political goal. The SLA was supposedly concerned with prison reform, social justice, and civil rights for African Americans. The organization was also responsible for kidnapping, armed robbery, and murder. Kidnapping remains a powerful political tool for terrorist groups and drug cartels. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abduct Verb

    to kidnap or illegally take a person away.

    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    brainwash Verb

    to force a radical change in a person's ideas and beliefs, especially by coercive and manipulative psychological methods.

    brutal Adjective

    extreme, harsh, or cruel.

    cartel Noun

    group formed to regulate prices and production of a specific good or service, or a specific geographic area.

    civil rights Plural Noun

    set of fundamental freedoms guaranteed to all individuals, such as participation in the political system, ability to own property, and due process and equal protection under the law.

    heir Noun

    person who inherits property or money following the death of the property owner.

    kidnap Verb

    to hold a person hostage, usually for ransom.

    law enforcement Noun

    individuals or organizations that make sure people obey government rules.

    obscure Adjective

    vague or unknown.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    publish Verb

    to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

    reform noun, verb

    change or improvement of a policy or process.

    terrorist Adjective

    having to do with the use of non-military violence and/or threats of violence to achieve or advocate political change.