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Jul 26, 2010

On this day in 1972 ...

On this day in 1972 ...

three members of the Japanese Red Army attacked Lod (now Ben Gurion) Airport near Tel Aviv. Two of the JRA members involved killed themselves after killing 24 people. Okamoto Kozo (pictured here with Shigenobu Fusako) survived and was jailed in Israel until 1985, when he was released in a prisoner exchange.

July 25, 2010

A United States federal court has handed down a historic decision finding the government of North Korea and its intelligence service, the Cabinet General Intelligence Bureau, liable for an infamous terrorist attack perpetrated in Israel in 1972.  The U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico has ordered the defendants to pay $378,000,000 in damages to two families.

The case arises from a lawsuit brought by victims of the 1972 terror attack at the Lod Airport in Israel in which 26 people were killed and 80 injured. The plaintiffs alleged that the government of  North Korea trained and financed the terrorists who carried out this heinous massacre.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv, Israel,  the Gary Osen Law Group of  New Jersey, Robert Tolchin of New York and Manuel San Juan of Puerto Rico.

In May 1972, terrorists from the Japanese Red Army (JRA), working in league with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), placed automatic weapons, ammunition, and grenades in their check-in luggage on a flight from Italy to Israel. When their bags emerged on the luggage carousel in Tel-Aviv, the terrorists took out the weapons and opened fire in every direction, gunning down passengers, flight crew members and airport workers. They also attempted to blow up airplanes on the ground using hand grenades. Two of the three attackers were killed, and a third, Kozo Okumoto, was captured, tried, and sentenced to prison in Israel.

Most of the victims were Catholic-American pilgrims from Puerto Rico who had come to visit the Holy Land for the first time.The plaintiffs accused North Korea of being behind the massacre. In the months leading up to the massacre the leaders of the JRA and PFLP organized the attack, along with North Korean officials, who provided funding, intelligence, training, and other material support for the terrorists. The attack was part of the JRA's declared strategy of exporting their anti-Western violence and plans of communist revolution to other parts of the world, beginning with Israel  -- a strategy strongly encouraged by the North Korean government and its intelligence agency.

The District Court found North Korea liable for the Lod Aiport Attack and the resulting injuries inflicted on the families.

As the Court wrote in its decision:  "As a matter of its official policy, North Korea provided training, resources, weapons and safe haven to the JRA and the PFLP during the period relevant to this case. Defendants ran roughly 30 terrorist training camps from 1968 to 1988 within North Korea's borders; those camps specialized in terrorist and guerilla warfare training. These camps serviced in excess of 10,000 terrorists, including members of the JRA and PFLP, and provided courses lasting from three to eighteen months."  The Court also found that members of North Korea's military and intelligence agencies served as instructors in the training camps.

This is the first time that North Korea has been held accountable in a U.S.court for its support of terrorism over many decades. The government in Pyongyang has also been responsible for building an enormous underground bunker system for Hezbollah in South Lebanon prior to the 2006 Lebanon War, that dramatically increased the Islamic terrorist group's fighting capacity against  the IDF.

Because of its blatant support for terrorism, the U.S. State Department put North Korea on its official list of states that sponsor terror in 1988, a fact that made it possible for American victims to sue the North Korean government and collect against their assets in the United States.  In late 2008, however, the Bush Administration surprisingly removed North Korea from the State Department's list of terror sponsors to encourage Pyongyang to enter into talks concerning its nuclear policy.  Now the State Department is considering returning North Korea to the list.

For the first time the the terror victims are showing North Korea that there is a cost involved for its blatant support for terrorism

What happened at the Lod Airport in 1972?

On May 30, 1972, a three-man hit squad from the Japanese Red Army arrived at the Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, via Air France Flight 132. They were dressed in business suits and carried what appeared to be violin cases. The operation was planned and supported by the General Command of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC).
As the three men passed the ticket counter area, they suddenly pulled automatic weapons from their cases and began to spray the crowd indiscriminately. As they changed magazines in their weapons, the men threw hand grenades into the mass of sprawling bodies. One of the terrorists, Yasuyuki Yasuda, ran out of ammunition and was cut down by his companions. A second terrorist, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, committed suicide by pulling the pin on a grenade and detonating it against his body. The third terrorist, Kozo Okamoto, was captured while attempting to flee from the terminal.
Twenty-six people were killed in the massacre and 78 were injured. Sixteen of the dead were not even Israelis or Jews, they were Puerto Ricans in Israel on a pilgrimage. Okamoto is the younger brother of Takedia Okamoto, one of the JRA terrorists who hijacked a Japan Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970. As the sole survivor of the Lod assassin team, Okamoto was sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel. He was released, however, as part of a 1983 prisoner exchange with Palestinian militant factions. He reportedly dropped from sight in Beirut, supposedly to reunite with his former comrades in the JRA.
After his capture, Okamoto addressed accusations that they had been drugged during the incident by saying:
  • The only drugs for us are Marxism-Leninism. The world of Che Guevara is the only stimulus we need.
Investigations have shown that the JRA received considerable training and/or funds from Iran, Libya, Syria, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other Palestinian factions. JRA was founded by Fusako Shigenobu, a Japanese woman who traveled to Lebanon in 1971 and founded the JRA, which then linked up with Palestinian extremists to become an implacable foe of Israel. She was best known for having masterminded the Lod Airport massacre. After the incident she made the following statement:
  • It is time to show the imperialists that armed struggle is the only humanistic way to advance the cause of oppressed people.
In November 2000, Shigenobu was arrested in Osaka after being wanted by international law enforcement agencies for 26 years.

1 comment:

Will said...

Hi Alex.Thank you for refreshing our memory!
Strange how all these terrorist think they are acting "Humanly" Almost sounds like we're the aliens.