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September Today in Terrorism

September 13, 1974: JRA hostage crisis at French embassy in The Hague

On September 13, 1974 Japanese Red Army terrorists stormed the French embassy in The Hague and took 11 hostages, including the ambassador

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – This may sound like the beginning of a joke – three Japanese walk into a French Embassy in the Netherlands – but terrorism is not funny.

Do you have triskaidekaphobia?

You may not be entirely familiar with that term. It is Greek for ‘fear of the number 13’. And it is tied to a fear – or desire to avoid – the number 13. Apartments often skip that floor, going from 12 to 14.

And then there is Friday the 13th. As if the belief that this day on the calendar was not scary enough, we have the whole Friday the 13th horror movies to contend with!

If this does not make you avoid Friday the 13 nothing will! (Photo: Arden on flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

That particular day is so bad that even terrorists like it!

On this day in 1974

Japanese Red Army (JRA) terrorists stormed the French embassy in The Hague (Netherlands) and took 11 hostages, including the ambassador. They did so apparently on orders of their leader Fusako Shigenobu and demanded the release of Yatsuka Furaya, another JRA member. Dutch officials believed at the time that there was a better‐than‐even chance that they would carry out their threat to kill the hostages.

We were continuously under the threat of their revolvers and deprived of food and water for 60 hours.

Ambassador Jacques Senail

After lengthy negotiations, on Tuesday 17 September the French government agreed to free Furuya from a French prison, in return for the release of the hostages, US$300,000, and a flight out of the Netherlands to Yemen and on to Syria. Some of the terrorists were eventually captured and some are still at large. And I bet there are some who won’t go to ANY embassy on Friday the 13th after reading this!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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