Jaan Karl Laaman grew up in Roxbury, MA and Buffalo, NY. His family emigrated to the US from Estonia when he was a child.
He is currently serving a 53 year prison sentence for his role in the bombings of United States government buildings while a member of the United Freedom Front, an American leftist group which robbed banks, bombed buildings, and attacked law enforcement officers in the 1980s.
In the 1960s Laaman worked in Students for a Democratic Society, community organizations and advocated against the Vietnam War and racism. He facilitated youth development in the Black Panther Party and the Puerto Rican Young Lords street gang.
New Hampshire Case:
In 1972 he was arrested and charged with bombing a Richard Nixon reelection headquarters building and a police station in New Hampshire and was sentenced to 20 years. However, he was released in 1978 after winning an appeal and having his sentence reduced.
The Ohio 7 case:
Jaan quickly stepped back into the political life and in 1979 he and Kazi Toure helped to organize the Amandla Festival of Unity. This concert, which featured Bob Marley, helped to fight racism in Boston, where it was held, and raised money to send to freedom fighters in South Africa. This activity along with the anti-racist and community security work he was doing led to increased police and Klan harassment, so Jaan, once again, went underground and joined the armed clandestine movement.
Jaan joined up with a group known as the United Freedom Front, which consisted of former members of the Sam Melville-Jonathan Jackson and other revolutionaries. The group targeted government institutions and major corporations that had ties to the South African Apartheid system or right-wing paramilitaries in Central America. This included taking actions directly against the South African and United States governments, attacking various government buildings.
The UFF continued their activities for several years, funding their actions through bank expropriations. Then on February 7, 1982, Jaan Laaman and another UFF member, Kazi Toure, were involved in a shoot out with police. While Jaan managed to escape, Kazi was arrested. Despite the arrest, the group continued their operations. However, on November 4, 1984, five members of the group, including Jaan Laaman were arrested. Nearly six months later, the last two remaining members were arrested and referred to collectively as the Ohio 7.
While originally charged with seditious conspiracy, Laaman was found guilty of five bombings, one attempted bombing, and criminal conspiracy, and was sentenced to 53 years in prison.
Jaan is an editor of 4 Struggle Mag which regularly published his writings.