Japanese terror group founder freed after serving 20-year sentence

Fusako Shigenobu co-founded the Japanese Red Army.

Fusako Shigenobu and her daughter Mei
Fusako Shigenobu and her daughter Mei

Fusako Shigenobu, who co-founded the terrorist group Japanese Red Army, has apologised for hurting innocent people upon her released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence.

Speaking in Tokyo alongside her daughter Mei, she said: “I feel strongly that I have finally come out alive.

“I have hurt innocent people I did not know by putting our struggles first. Although those were different times, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise deeply.”

Shigenobu was convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands.

Terrorist is released
Fusako Shigenobu was convicted of masterminding the 1974 siege of the French Embassy in the Hague (Kyodo via AP)

She was arrested in 2000 in Osaka in central Japan, where she had been in hiding.

The Japanese Red Army, formed in 1971 and linked with Palestinian militants, took responsibility for several attacks including the takeover of the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1975.

The group is also believed to have been behind a 1972 machine-gun and grenade attack on the international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed 28 people, including two terrorists, and injured dozens more.

Shigenobu was not physically present in the attacks.

Japan Red Army Release
Fusako Shigenobu, centre, co-founded the terrorist group Japanese Red Army (Kyodo via AP)

A year after her arrest, she declared the group dissolved. Japanese media reports said Shigenobu had undergone surgery for cancer during her incarceration.

Kozo Okamoto, who was injured and arrested in the Israeli airport attack, was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

He is reportedly in Lebanon. Okamoto and several other members of the group are still wanted by Japanese authorities.

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