April 7, 1971: Two men murder Yugoslav ambassador in Sweden

On April 7, 1971 two men took the Yugoslav Ambassador to Sweden hostage and soon killed him as police moved in.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – Some hatreds never seem to ebb over time: some of these are terrorist in nature.

I remember the fall of the Soviet Union very well. After all, I was working at Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in the 1980s, one of a handful of SIGINT analysts NOT focused on the USSR and its allies. My colleagues toiled for decades trying to collect and produce intelligence to help senior officials what was happening and what to do about it.

And then….it was over. The regime fell, its allies (the ‘Warsaw Pact’ nations) went their separate ways, and we all celebrated our ‘victory’. Democracy had been shown to be the better system over communism, right?

Um, tell that to Ukraine now.

About that victory parade boys… (Photo: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the more shocking episodes to emerge from the end of a half century of enmity was the civil war in Yugoslavia. Ancient hatreds re-rose to the fore as incredibly barbaric acts of violence against civilians were employed by all sides in the early to mid 1990s. I recall a Doonesbury cartoon of the era in which an American reporter asks a cab driver why there was so much hatred: the cabbie replied that it was personal as he was nursing a grudge for his family which dated back to the 14th century!

Acts of violence predated the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

On this day in 1971

Two men entered the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden and grabbed Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic. The original plan was to hold him hostage in exchange for a Croat terrorist but the men put a gun in the diplomat’s mouth and pulled the trigger when Swedish police arrived.

Long live the independent state of Croatia!

Terrorist Miro Barešić as he was arrested by police

Barešić and his partner in crime Andelko Brajković were convicted of murder and began serving their sentences at a Swedish high security prison but were released a year later as part of a demand made by the hijackers of a domestic airline at Sweden’s Bulltofta airport. Judging by the news coming out of the Balkans a half century on not much has changed.

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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.

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