Alleged Japanese Red Army Member Arrested in Tokyo
TOKYO (AP) _ Police said Tuesday they had arrested an alleged Japanese Red Army member who had been wanted in connection with a bloody attack at Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport in 1972 and the hijacking of a jetliner over India in 1977.
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the man as Osamu Maruoka, 37. He was sought by Japanese police through Interpol on charges of murder in connection with the Lod Airport attack, which killed 26 people, and violation of laws against hijacking.
The official said police first arrested Maruoka Saturday night on a charge of obstructing police when he butted a police officer trying to question him on the street near the Tokyo City Air Terminal.
He said Maruoka was carrying a passport with the name Hideo Iraba, but was identified by fingerprints as the wanted man and arrested again on a charge of forging a passport.
The official said Maruoka allegedly was involved in the Lod Airport attack, but that he was not one of the three Japanese who sprayed the terminal with gunfire. Two of the attackers were killed and one was sentenced to prison in Israel.
In the hijacking case, a Japan Airlines plane was seized shortly after it left Bombay, India. At Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Japanese government handed over $6 million in ransom and six prisoners, including some linked with the Red Army, in return for the release of the passengers. The hijackers then went to Algiers, Algeria.
The official declined to say whether Maruoka had been linked to other Red Army actions including raids on Shell Oil’s refinery in Singapore in January 1974 and on the French Embassy in The Hague in September 1974.
It was the first arrest of an alleged Red Army member since Yoshiaki Yamada, 37, a leading member of the radical group since its formation in the late 1960s, turned himself in to Tokyo police on Feb. 25.
Kyodo News Service said Maruoka was believed to have arrived in Tokyo via Hong Kong, and was carrying 5 million yen ($37,000) in cash when police arrested him.
It said Maruoka was No. 2 commander of the Red Army, following Fusako Shigenobu, who is also sought by Japanese police in connection with several hijackings and other terrorist acts in the 1970s.
The group was believed never to have grown beyond 300 members. Its actions appeared aimed at striking at symbols of power and authority. Police action and internal feuding, climaxing with the murder of 14 members at the group’s mountain hideout in Japan in 1971, sharply sapped its strength within Japan.