Red Army Terrorist Suspect Captured in East Berlin
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ Authorities caught one of the most notorious terrorist suspects in West German history and said Thursday she lived for years as a homemaker in East Germany, perhaps with the approval of the old Communist regime.
East German authorities arrested Susanne Albrecht, 39, in front of her apartment in East Berlin on Wednesday, ending a 13-year hunt for a woman believed to be a key member of the leftist Red Army Faction.
The Red Army Faction is blamed for assassinations and arson and bombing attacks in West Germany since the 1970s. The latest attack in November killed the country’s leading banker.
Miss Albrecht has been accused in the 1977 slaying of Juergen Ponto, the head of Dresdner Bank - West Germany’s second-largest. She also has been linked to the kidnapping and murder that year of wealthy industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer.
Miss Albrecht did not resist arrest and was unarmed, Interior Minister Peter-Michael Diestel said. She produced her identification, which had the phony name of Ingrid Jaeger, he said.
She also had a special travel visa that allowed her more travel freedom than other East Germans under the former Communist regime, he said.
Diestel said Miss Albrecht had been a resident of East Berlin for the past 10 years and was married to an East German man. He said she had a child who apparently was born in East Berlin.
She had been employed for the last two years as a laboratory worker in another country but maintained a residence in East Berlin, Diestel said.
Chief Detective Wolfgang Pauleit told reporters he presumed that she was on vacation from her job and returned because she wanted to be in East Germany for the economic union with West Germany.
Diestel would not give the age or gender of Miss Albrecht’s child or details about her husband, nor would he identify the country in which she had been working.
The West German tabloid Bild, in a report made available in advance of publication Friday, said Miss Albrecht had been in the Soviet Union and was an operative for East Germany’s former secret police. The newspaper gave no attribution.
It said she was exposed when the vast files of the former secret police network were examined by the country’s new democratic government.
There has been much speculation about the wealth of information in the 6 million secret police files, and whether there is proof that the former Communist government sponsored leftist terrorism.
Diestel said there was no evidence Miss Albrecht worked for the secret police.
But he said he could not rule out the possibility that she was living in East Germany with the approval or knowledge of the hard-line Communist government, which was ousted amid massive pro-democracy protests in October.
The Red Army Faction got its start with a series of arson and bombing attacks in the early 1970s. Most were aimed at the U.S. military for American involvement in Vietnam.
About 25 Red Army Faction members were still being sought up to the time of Albrecht’s arrest.
The latest attack claimed by the Red Army Faction was the Nov. 30 bombing death of Alfred Herrhausen, head of Deutsche Bank, West Germany’s largest commercial bank. He was killed when a bomb was detonated under his armored car as he was being driven to work.