Lod Massacre

CASE SUMMARY

Franqui v. Syrian Arab Republic et al. 1:06-cv-00734 RBW (D.D.C. 2006)

  • There were no clothes inside the luggage, as they did not plan on needing any change of outfit. Instead their bags were packed only with AK-47 submachine guns and grenades selected to cause destruction, death and  visit mayhem to the innocent airline passengers who had the misfortune of flying in or out of Lod Airport on May 30, 1972.
  • Syria and Libya consistently provided material support and resources to international terrorist organizations, including PFLP-EO and JRA, which included financial backing, guidance and direction, intelligence, weapons and ancillary items such as the forged documents the JRA 3 used to travel.
  • Dr. Engelberg acted as Attorney-in-Fact for six of the families who had a loved one die, and six of the injured victims, with all but one being part of the group of pilgrims.

Having disembarked their flight from Rome to Tel Aviv landing at Lod Airport  (now called Ben Gurion), three entirely unremarkable Japanese men clad in equally nondescript suits (selected for their blandness), proceeded to baggage claim to retrieve their suitcases. There were no clothes inside the luggage, as they did not plan on needing any change of outfit. Instead, their bags were packed only with AK-47 submachine guns and grenades selected to cause destruction, death, and mayhem to the innocent airline passengers who had the misfortune of flying into or out of Lod Airport on May 30, 1972.

The three men were part of the Japanese Red Army (JRA), a militant organization whose philosophy could be described as Marxist-Leninists meet Japanese Elitism, as illustrated by their plans for world unification (to occur after a Japanese communist revolution) that cast the JRA as the leaders of the masses. The JRA was recruited as an organization by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—External Operations (PFLP-EO), partly based upon the lack of suspicion that three Japanese men presumably touring Israel would arouse. They could not be mistaken for Arabs, which is exactly what the security team at Lod Airport was trained to vigilantly scan the crowds for, as they believed any threat to safety would be brought by a Palestinian.

 

All aspects of the terrorist attack the JRA 3 would carry out were planned far in advance by the governments of Syria and Libya and the officials that ran these governments, including the leaders of both nations and their various agencies. Syria and Libya consistently provided material support and resources to international terrorist organizations, including PFLP-EO and JRA, which included financial backing, guidance and direction, intelligence, weapons, and ancillary items such as the forged documents the JRA 3 used to travel. For this particular attack, weapons training was provided to the JRA 3 at terrorist camps in Syrian controlled areas of Lebanon, while all the practical necessities needed to implement the attack were provided, such as plane tickets, their suitcases, and cash.

The attack plan called for all of the JRA 3 to commit suicide by grenade when their ammunition ran out, hoping to succeed in obliterating their faces in the process. This was to be their small and final act of courtesy, saving their own families from the shame and dishonor their actions would bring if their identities were known.

Discarding the bags they were housed in, each JRA member extracted their machine gun, immediately unleashing rapid fire in all directions. There was no pause in the violence, as the terrorists indiscriminately threw grenades during reloads.

With just two minutes having elapsed from the start of the attack, one terrorist was shot, a second committed suicide, and the third, Kozo Okamoto was apprehended outside the arrivals hall while trying to escape despite his wounds and established plans for suicide.

Among the dead were 17 Puerto Rican Christians on a pilgrimage to Israel, 1 Canadian, and 8 Israelis; 80 were wounded.

Dr. Engelberg acted as Power of Attorney for six of the families who had a loved one die, and for six of the injured victims, with all but one being part of the group of pilgrims.

With the common goal of receiving compensation from the JRA and those who provided material support and resources to the attackers. It became his duty to find an attorney to take the case, with many firms declining, as a win was very uncertain, making  the case, or so the firms said, a potential money pit.

After much searching, Dr. Engelberg found an attorney fresh out of law school to pursue recovery for the plaintiffs, with the complaint against Libya, Syria, and others that assisted JRA filed on April 21, 2006. After two years, Libya’s efforts to restore relations with the United States were brought to fruition with the signing of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, S. 3370, 110th Cong., formalizing congressional support for the “President’s efforts to provide fair compensation to all U.S. nationals who have terrorism-related claims against Libya as part of the process of restoring normal U.S.-Libya relations.” As part of the Act, $1.5 billion was set aside to compensate Libya’s victims, including those that suffered in what would come to be known as the Lod Massacre.

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