Terrorist group also known as the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade. It was founded by Shigenobu Fusako in 1970 as an offshoot of the Japanese Communist League, dedicated to overthrowing the government of Japan and removing the emperor from power, and generally spreading the seeds of Marxism/Leninism across the globe. The JRA emerged during the riot-heavy Japanese 1960's, when everybody and their brother were fighting in a revolution of some sort: the difference with the Red Army was that they just didn't know when to quit. (Not to be confused with the "Red Army" or "Red Army Faction," both of which have their own nodes.)

March 31, 1970. The first recorded criminal action of the JRA. Tanaka Yoshimi and seven others take katana in hand and hijack a Japan Airlines plane. They tell the pilots to fly it to Pyongyang, North Korea, where they get off and ask Kim Il Sung for political asylum. None of them are heard from again for the next thirty years.

February 1971. Shigenobu leaves Japan and travels to Lebanon, where she plans to start the JRA as a real terrorist group, with the support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

May 1972. Massacre at Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion Airport) in Tel Aviv. JRA members kill 24, injure 80, and achieve worldwide notoriety. Shigenobu's fiancee, Okudaira Takeshi, dies in the attack.

July 21, 1973. Four PFLP guerillas, led by a JRA member, hijack another Japan Airlines plane in Amsterdam, fly it to Libya, release the passengers and crew, and blow it up for no apparent reason.

August 1974. Eight are killed and 264 wounded in a JRA attack on the headquarters of Mitsubishi and Mitsui in downtown Tokyo. Ekita Yukiko is arrested as the suspected mastermind of the attack.

September 1974. The JRA seizes the French embassy in The Hague and holds the ambassador hostage until a JRA member is released from prison. The standoff ends peacefully when the Japanese government complies.

August 1975. Red Army raids four embassies in Kuala Lumpur, and releases 53 hostages in exchange for—yup, you guessed it—more Red Army members.

September 1977. The JRA hijacks yet another Japan Airlines plane in Bangladesh, and demands that six Red Army members, including Ekita, be freed in exchange for return of the aircraft and its passengers. The Japanese government again complies.

April 1988. The Red Army strikes again, this time destroying a U.S. military club near Naples, Italy, killing five.

March 1995. Ekita Yukiko is arrested in Romania for possession of a forged passport.

November 1995. Ekita's trial resumes after an eighteen-year hiatus.

February 1997. Lebanese authorities arrest five more Red Army members, including cell leader Okamoto Kozo.

November 1997. Nishikawa Jun, involved in both embassy attacks and in the 1977 hijacking, is found in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The Bolivians extradite him to Japan.

March 2000. Four of the imprisoned Red Army members in Lebanon are sent back to Japan to stand trial. Okamoto Kozo is given political asylum.

November 9, 2000. Shigenobu is found in Osaka and arrested.

September 11, 2001. Al-Jazeera and AFP both receive anonymous phone calls from callers claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in the name of the Red Army. This is subsequently debunked by the media when al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are officially blamed for the attacks.

January 10, 2002. Ekita is sentenced to life in prison.

April 26, 2002. Two daughters of Okamoto Takeshi, another of the Pyongyang hijackers in exile, file for Japanese citizenship.

July 30, 2002. Konishi Takahiro, Akagi Shiro, Wakabayashi Moriaki, and Abe Kimihiro, four of the Pyongyang hijackers in exile, announce their desire to return to Japan after 32 years in North Korea.

The Red Army has two major cells today, one in Lebanon and one in North Korea. The North Korean cell is still largely a mystery, but the Lebanese cell is known to be supported by Hezbollah and several other Arab terrorist groups.

For more information: http://www.sooderso.de/online/2000/november/jra.htm

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