September 13, 1974: Hostage situation at French embassy in the Netherlands

Japanese Red Army terrorists seized hostages at the French Embassy in the Netherlands to push for the release of one of their members in prison.

THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS — Some of you know, because I have written it so many times (!), that I am a real Star Trek fan. Yep, going back to the very beginning with the original series in the mid- to late 1960s (yes I am THAT old) I have watched most of the offerings over the decades – except Deep Space Nine: did ANYONE like that chapter in the Star Trek universe?? (Cue the hate mail!)

I found that this creation from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, even it was supposed to occur in the 24th century, spoke to day’s social challenges. All kinds of ills we are beset with, or made ourselves, were covered: racism, poverty, injustice, hate…and yes, terrorism.

Also on this day: September 13, 2006: Gunmen hit U.S. embassy, 3 attackers die

In one episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation (for sure the best! Cue the hate mail!), named ‘Starship mine’ (aired in season 6 as episode 18), members of the intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise found themselves on a planet where, in the midst of a diplomatic reception, they were taken hostage by terrorists who are trying to steal ‘warp core waste’ (don’t ask!) from the ship. The funniest scene by far is seeing the android Data, who is always seeking to become human, engage in ‘small talk’ with a star base’s commanding officer, Commander Calvin Hutchinson.

Of course, being held hostage is no laughing matter. Seizing people and keeping them against their will is a time-honoured terrorist tactic. As this day in 1974 showed.

Lt.Commander Data, waiting to practice his ‘humanity’

On this day in 1974

On September 13 of that year three armed members of the terrorist organisation known as the Japanese Red Army (JRA) seized part of the French Embassy in the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague, and threatened to kill the Ambassador and eight other hostages one by one unless a comrade was freed from prison in France. A policeman and a policewoman answered the call for help. Both were wounded by gunfire as they rushed into the building.

Some people say that terrorists engage in ‘aimless’ violence: nothing could be more wrong.

In the end the crisis was averted when the French government agreed to release the JRA inmate and provide the terrorists with a plane to leave the Netherlands: they were eventually arrested, tried and sentenced (in Japan, after extradition).

At least this hostage taking concluded with no deaths. That is not always the case.

Phil Gurski

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