TEL AVIV (Dec. 3)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Thursday that Israel was not contemplating asking Japan for the extradition of Osamu Maruoka, reportedly the No. 2 man in the Japanese Red Army who helped plot the massacre at Lod Airport in 1972.
Japanese police arrested the 37-year-old Maruoka Nov. 21 as he entered Japan from Hong Kong. Twenty-seven people were killed in the bloodbath at the Israeli airport, now named Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Japanese authorities, who waited several days before announcing Maruoka’s apprehension, did not explain how they had tracked and captured the terrorist leader. They said, however, that when caught he had about $37,000 on him and a passport in the name of someone living in Okinawa. They believe Maruoka may have been planning an attack on the Seoul Olympics to be held next September.
The Israel airport attack was perpetrated by three terrorists, one of whom died in the shootout with Israeli police. The third, Kozo Okamoto, who was released by Israel in a 1985 prisoner exchange involving 1,150 terrorists incarcerated in Israel, went to Libya. Okamoto had been sentenced to multiple life terms for his part in the massacre.
The Japanese Red Army surfaced in the 1960s, supporting Palestinian groups. Since the Lod massacre, it has mounted several attacks, including the hijacking of a Japan Air Lines flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo in 1973, a 1975 attack on the Japanese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and another hijacking of a Japan Air Lines plane from Bombay to Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1977.
The current Red Army leader is believed to be a woman, Fusako Shigenobu, 42, thought to be living in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Japanese police said about 40 members of the terrorist organization remain active, many in the Middle East.