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Japanese Terrorist Seized in Lebanon

February 20, 1997
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Lebanese security agents this week detained at least five people suspected of membership in the Japanese Red Army, including one involved in a 1972 attack at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Bouez confirmed Tuesday that the five were arrested in raids over the weekend. But he would not comment on the reasons behind the timing of the arrests.

The Japanese Red Army, an ultraleftist group sympathetic to Palestinian causes, was formed in 1971.

It claimed responsibility for a number of violent attacks and hijackings in the 1970s, including a 1972 shooting attack at Ben-Gurion Airport that claimed 26 lives and left more than 70 people wounded.

According to reports Tuesday, one of the detainees was Kozo Okamoto, the sole survivor among the three gunmen who carried out the airport attack.

Okamoto, who was arrested by Israeli forces and sentenced to life in prison, was released from jail in 1985 as part of a prisoner and soldier swap between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

A delegation of Japanese officials met with Lebanese diplomats Tuesday. Tokyo was expected to request the extradition of the Red Army members, who are still wanted in Japan.

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