The heinous festivities in Lebanon were held in tribute of the murders of 26 people at an airport near Tel Aviv 50 years ago, featuring the sole surviving terrorist of the Japanese Red Army (JRA) who carried out the attack.
By Erin Viner
74-year-old Kōzō Okamoto made a rare appearance at the ceremony to lay a wreath at the gravesite of his fellow terrorists at a cemetery at the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp. He was decked out in “keffiyeh” scarves, the hallmark Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and flashed a “Victory” sign with his fingers.
17 United States Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, eight Israelis and one Canadian were murdered, and 71 other travelers injured in the machine gun shooting and grenade attack at the Lod Airport by the 3-man JRA cell, who had been recruited by the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. The PFLP is designated as a terror organization by Israel, the US, European Union and Japan. The other two JRA terrorists, Yasuyuki Yasuda was apparently shot and killed by a fellow assailant, while Tsuyoshi Okudaira was killed by one of his own grenades – either in an act of suicide or premature detonation.
Okamoto was captured and sentenced to a life term in Israel but was released after 13 years as part of the 1985 Jibril Agreement with Palestinian terror factions in exchange for captive IDF soldiers. After living in Libya and Syria, he ultimately settled in Lebanon – where he became the first person ever granted political asylum – to rejoin other JRA members, protected by the PFLP.
“This valiant hero suffered in the enemy’s prisons… but today his heart beats with Palestine,” said Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group official Abdullah Hamoud told the AFP news agency during the celebration. A senior PFLP leader who identified himself as Abu Yusef commented that Okamoto “came to defend the freedom of people [Palestinians] who had their lands stolen. He believes in their rights, he believes in justice and human freedom.”
The Japanese terrorist and other JRA members are still wanted by authorities in their home nation for suspected perpetration of several attacks in the 1970s and 1980, including the crimes at Lod.
Japanese Red Army co-founder Fusako Shigenobu, known as the “Empress of Terror, was freed from a Tokyo prison this past Saturday after serving a 20-year sentence.
The 76-year-old former terrorist as greeted by her daughter Mei Shigenobu, whose father remains unnamed but is believed to be a PFLP member. Both women also donned keffiyehs for the occasion, greeted by a crowd of supporters waving Palestinian flags.
Shigenobu was captured and arrested in Japan in 2000 and convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy at The Hague in the Netherlands.
In addition to the 30 May 1972 Lod massacre, the JRA also claimed responsibility for addition terror attacks. They include the hijacking of Japan Airlines Flights #351 in 1970, #404 with the PFLP in 1973, and #472 in 1977. The group also hijacked Malaysian Airline System Flight 653, which was the company’s first fatal air crash – killing all 93 passengers and 7 crew members; and perpetrated the 1975 takeover of the US Consulate in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
The Palestinian-linked Japanese Red Army was formed in 1971 with the aim of launching a global socialist revolution. Shigenobu disbanded the group one year after her arrest. Upon her exit from prison, the Associated Press reported that she apologized “deeply” for hurting “innocent people I did not know by putting our struggles first.”
So-called Palestinian human rights organizations celebrated Shigenobu ‘s release, which was livestreamed by the international Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The NGO said in a press release that it saluted her, describing her as a “revolutionary” and “political prisoner” who had been unjustly imprisoned.
“FUSAKO SHIGENOBU IS FINALLY FREE!” proclaimed the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), adding in a statement that, “Palestinians everywhere salute and celebrate Fusako Shigenobu for her extraordinary dedication to our national struggle, and her friendship with our people. On this glorious occasion for Shigenobu and her loved ones, we uplift her as a shining example of the power of international solidarity and anti-imperialism to unite our struggles and defeat our oppressors, no matter where in the world they may be. LONG LIVE FUSAKO SHIGENOBU! LONG LIVE PALESTINE!”