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Lod Airport Massacre

On May 30, 1972 three members of the Japanese Red Army undertook a terrorist attack in Lod Airport in Tel Aviv on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The airport security was set-up with a Palestinian attack identified as the main threat, the use of Japanese terrorists circumvented much of the protection in place at that time, and the terrorist's commitment to a suicide mission simplified the planning.

Kozo Okamoto, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda had been trained at Baalbek, Lebanon. They arrived at the airport aboard an Air France flight from Paris. Dressed conservatively and carrying slim cases they attracted little attention. Entering the waiting area, they produced automatic firearms from their cases and began to fire with little discrimination at the airport staff and visitors, they also used grenades. The trio quickly expended their ammunition and then either committed suicide or fell under the fire of airport security staff. They killed twenty-four people and injured seventy-eight others, most of the dead were pilgrims from Puerto Rico. Yasuda and Okudaira died at the scene, Yasuda from Israeli fire and Okudaira by his own hand – he had moved from the airport building onto the landing area, after firing at passengers disembarking from an El Al aircraft he committed suicide using a grenade. Okamoto was severely injured but survived to be tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1972.

Okamoto was released in 1983 with over a thousand other prisoners in an exchange with captured Israeli soldiers. He settled in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley. He was arrested in 1997 but in 2000 was granted political refugee status in Lebanon. Four other JRA members arrested at the same time were extradited to Japan.








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