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The founder of one of the world’s most infamous terrorist groups in the 1970s walked free from a Japanese prison Saturday after serving a 20-year sentence, apologizing for the damage she and her group had inflicted on the innocent decades ago, Sky News reported.
Fusako Shigenobu, 76, was the co-founder of the Japanese Red Army, an armed group that was labeled a terrorist organization in Japan and the United States. Formed in 1971, the radical leftist organization had strong ties to Palestinian militants and conducted a series of attacks worldwide in support of the Palestinian cause.
Shigenobu, who has been labeled the “empress of terror,” is alleged to have masterminded the 1972 attack on Tel Aviv’s Lod airport in Israel, which left 26 people dead and injured about 80, Agence-France Presse added.
Her organization is also responsible for storming diplomatic missions worldwide: In one incident, the group took more than 50 people hostage at the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1975.
Shigenobu lived as a fugitive in the Middle East for decades but was arrested in Osaka after secretly returning to Japan, disguised as a man, and with a forged passport, in 2000. She was later found guilty of involvement in the 1974 siege of the French embassy in the Netherlands.
One year after her imprisonment, she declared the Japanese Red Army dissolved. Following her release, she apologized for causing “damage to innocent people who were strangers to us.”
Meanwhile, some other Red Army members remain at large. Kozo Okamoto was arrested in Israel following the 1972 airport attack but was later released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israeli and Palestinian forces. He is believed to be living in Lebanon.