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Remembering: Lessons of the Lod Airport massacre

Remembering: Lessons of the Lod Airport massacre

The Nairobi mall attack has conjured up memories of the first terrorist attack I ever remember, the Lod airport massacre.

You may never have heard of it—or of Lod airport, for that matter, which is the main airport in Tel Aviv and was later renamed Ben Gurion Airport after Israel’s founder and first prime minister. But the Lod massacre remains one of the most terrifying in the long list of terrorist attacks that have followed, and at the time it was perpetrated (1972) it was especially horrific. Masterminded by the PLO (specifically, its hard left wing the PLFP), it was also a prelude to the much-more-famous Munich Olympics massacre that gripped the world just a few short months later.

The PLO was involved in both, but the Lod massacre featured unusual perpetrators for that organization, and that was part of its shock value: leftist Japanese gunmen. This is how it went down:

…[T]hree inconspicuous Japanese men dressed in business suits disembarked Air France Flight 132 from Rome and strolled into the baggage claim area. After retrieving what appeared to be violin cases, the men pulled out machine guns, opened fire and threw grenades indiscriminately at the crowds of people…

The gunmen killed 26 people: 17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, one Canadian citizen, and eight Israelis, and 80 people were injured…Gunman Yasuyuki Yasuda was also shot dead during the attack – it is unclear whether by his own weapon or that of his partners or security forces. The lone surviving gunman, Kozo Okomato, was injured, arrested by security forces and given a life sentence. He was later freed in the 1985 prisoner swap known as the Gibril Deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Lod Airport Massacre

This attack had a number of characteristics that seemed new at the time, but with which we’ve become more familiar in the ensuing years. The Japanese killers represented a fusion between leftists and Islamists that became very important later on during the Iranian revolution, and which continues to this day for the many leftists who support and make excuses for Islamist terrorism. The Lod massacre was an eye-opener that led Israeli security forces to realize a new approach was needed, one that profiled not just on nationality but also on demeanor, and that expanded its sweep to include the airport in general rather than just the airplanes.

The fact that Okamoto is still alive and well and living in Lebanon is perhaps the most shocking of all. Despite its emphasis on security, that Israel allowed a perpetrator of that magnitude to be released in a prisoner swap (details here) seems nothing less than suicidal.

Some insight into the mindset of someone like Okamoto is provided by a 1976 prison interview with him that was conducted by Patricia G. Steinhoff, who was an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Hawaii. Take it with a hefty grain of salt, because who knows whether Okamoto was being truthful or not. But here’s what he said at the time about his motives:

One of the ambiguities of Okamoto’s revolutionary conception is that the enemy is not clearly defined. Sometimes the ordinary person living in bourgeois society is regarded as part of the enemy bourgeoisie. Yet at other times, he counts the same people as potential supporters of the revolution because they are victims of such things as pollution…Because he foresees total overthrow of the existing arrangements of society, he does not feel bound in any way by the moral values of the present world…On the other hand, he is not really certain of what society will be like after the revolution has occurred. When I asked him what kind of a world he envisioned after the revolution, he smiled and said, “That is the most difficult question for revolutionaries. We really do not know what it will be like.”

Revolution and violence for its own sake as well as to fulfill the goal of feeling personally powerful. Such a person is a useful tool for those such as the PLO, who know quite well what kind of a world they envision.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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I am trying to remember where I heard that Islam was a religion of peace.

It must have been at the Mall.

legacyrepublican | September 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

I first learned about Islamic terrorism because of the ’72 Olympic massacre.

I really do not understand why there are still so many people do not understand Islam. The book “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” have been around for over 50 years. There was a pirate issue over 200 years ago that made it clear to the world of the time.

Whether a Leftist revolutionary, or an Islamist extremist, a sociopath is a sociopath. They should be found and terminated; or tried, convicted and executed.


    Phillep Harding in reply to Redneck Law. | September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I’m not certain that “sociopath” is exactly correct. But, “true believer” certainly is. I recommend the book of that title by Eric Hoffer.

Yup. Terrorists OWN the first “surprise.’ At Lod, it was Japanese terrorists getting off the plane, and pulling their guns out of guitar cases.

Back then we lived in much more innocent times.

Now, in Nairobi (because Israelis live here.) And, the Westgate building was owned by Israelis, it became a “target.”

I have no idea how the Mossad will respond.

The first store hit was an Israeli jewelry store. Either on the first or second floor of this mall. 3 employees got out alive. And, yes, Israel sent in special forces. So did Britain. There were SAS on site.

And, over the 3 day period of this terrorist takeover … they had to eat, piss, shit, and sleep. By the time it was over, the terrorists had gone into the supermarket, and found a “strong” room. The refrigeration complex? They’re not in there anymore.

The black smoke rising at the end, I read, were mattresses put on fire.

Back to Lod: Now Ben-Gurion airport. Probably the safest airport in the world. And, it’s done without the TSA! When the Israelis want to question passengers … their system is way better than the TSA model.

Oh. And, the terrorists came in from Somalia. And, here, the saud’s do all the major funding.

PFLP has always been more Marxist than Islamist, but otherwise spot on. It was part of the PLO at the time, but from ’74 to ’81 they had split off on their own. Now they’re minor players on the West Bank.

Slight correction. The airport isn’t in Tel Aviv; it isn’t even in Lod, although it’s closer to it. It’s called TLV the same way Dulles airport in VA is referred to as being is Washington.

BTW, a soldier was murdered by a terrorist sniper in Hebron about an hour after we left it. Hebron (where the Patriarchs are buried) is where the Jews were massacred in 1929 and therefore it hurts the Arabs’ feelings for us to return to it.

FYI the Israeli government recently published some documents relating to the Lod massacre.

” Such a person is a useful tool for those such as the PLO, who know quite well what kind of a world they envision.”

I’m not sure what sort of world they envision, unless you mean a world where all Jews have been slowly raped and tortured to death. In that they are consistent. But they started out as a left-wing revolutionary group, and now they are playing the Islam card, and right now seem to just like being in power with no elections.