April 24, 1975 | Hostage Crisis in Sweden

Members of the German Baader Meinhof terrorist group stormed the German Embassy in Sweden in an attempt to get Germany to free incarcerated members.

Terrorist groups often take action to gain the freedom of incarcerated members: sometimes they take hostages to make their point.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN — A lot of terrorist groups often point to states as their #1 enemy. Have a gander at any propaganda issued by such organisations and you will inevitably see this or that country overtly mentioned as having done – or continuing to do – this or that, all of which deserves to be singled out for punishment.

Sometimes the words used to identify countries on the ‘shit list’ are borderline comical. Iran always referred to the US as ‘the Great Satan’ and held that nation responsible (not unfairly to be honest in some instances) for lots of things that harmed Iran. That state also framed the Soviet Union on occasion as ‘the Little Satan’: I wonder whether the Politburo saw that as an insult?

Then there was US President George Bush’s unfortunate Axis of Evil: North Korea, Iraq and Iran (that’ll teach the ayatollahs for putting us in league with Satan!). I can’t help but think that US Christian evangelicalism had a lot to do with Mr. Bush’s choice of vocabulary. After all, what modern Western state in the 21st century talks in terms of ‘evil’? As an aside, here is a great parody of putting countries into such categories.

Islamist terrorist groups as well regularly cite countries they would love to attack. I remember when Canada first was listed by Al Qaeda (AQ): we took it as ‘Woo-hoo! Someone finally noticed us!!’ No, but seriously, this did cause quite a stir in Canadian government circles.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that some terrorist groups will do anything to attack a given polity once they have decided it is the enemy. A direct siege is sometimes out of the question: can you imagine AQ launching a full frontal assault inside the US? No, 9/11 was no such thing – it was a calculated operation. We do see exceptions in places like Afghanistan but that is very much an outlier. Terrorist groups are the Davids to the states’ Goliaths.

On this day in 1975, members of the German Baader Meinhof terrorist group stormed the German Embassy in Sweden in an attempt to get Germany to free incarcerated members.

To these terrorist entities, ANY facility associated with the country it is seeking to harm is fair game. Hence, the attack featured here. On this day in 1975 members of the German Rote Armee Faktion (RAF – better known as the Baader-Meinhof group after two of its leaders) held 11 people hostage, including the ambassador, at the German Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Shortly before midnight, a cache of dynamite detonated, setting the building on fire: in all, two diplomats were shot dead, the military and economics attaches. Four terrorists also died.

The RAF had chosen the embassy to put pressure on the German government to release 26 Baader-Meinhof co-conspirators then in prison in Germany. For its part, the government in Bonn was anxious to avoid a second humiliation after being forced to release five Baader-Meinhof prisoners in an earlier exchange and refused the demands point-blank.

We normally associate embassies and other diplomatic premises as sanctuaries/safe places. This is all enshrined in internationally-recognised treaties. Tell that to the terrorists.

April 23, 2013 | Massacres in Iraq

Over four days in April 2013, more than 330 Iraqis were killed and close to 600 wounded in terrorist attacks and other forms of violence.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply