On 21 December 1975 just before 12 o’clock a six-member
terror squad storms the conference of the oil-exporting
countries (OPEC) in Vienna. During a gunfight, an Austrian
detective, an Iraqi security officer and the Libyan delegate
Jusuf al-Azmarly are killed. A man later identified as the
terrorist Hans-Joachim Klein gets wounded. The terrorists,
under the leadership of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez alias “Carlos”
(pictured left), take about 70 hostages, among whom are
eleven oil-ministers from OPEC countries,
and enforce the reading of an anti-Israeli statement on the radio.
He shot me in the a…, but I showed him!
Hofrat Ernst Wallaschek, once an officer with the state police,
remembers well the words of his friend Kurt Leopolder who was staggering
towards him. Leopolder, who was working at the security department of
the Vienna Police, was one of the first to confront the OPEC terrorists
on 21 December 1975. He was wounded by the German terrorist Hans-Joachim
Klein. The policeman returned fire and hit Klein in the stomach. Three
days before the raid, the perpetrators were provided with weapons by the
Libyan embassy. That did not prevent Carlos from shooting and killing
Jusu Ismirli, the chief statistician of the Libyan government, during
the raid on the conference hall.
The wounded terrorist
Hans-Joachim Klein is led
out of the OPEC headquarters.
A wounded policeman
is carried out of
On the following day, the terrorists set
free those hostages resident in Austria. With the remaining 33 hostages
they board the DC-9 which was provided in the evening. During the first
intermediate landing in Algiers, the wounded Klein is taken to hospital.
In Algiers, some of the hostages are released and during the next
stopover in Tripoli, Libya, the oil-ministers of Algeria and Libya are
set free. The DC-9 lands in Algiers again on 23 December 1975. The last
two hostages, the Saudi and Iranian oil-ministers, are released in
return for safe conduct. The terrorists are accommodated in a villa. The
Arab authorities ignore the Austrian extradition request.
Above: Badly injured, Klein is taken
to Algiers by his accomplices.
Left: After the wild shootout, the
OPEC headquarters features a
scene of devastation.
Unimpeded, the terrorists leave for
Libya on 31 December 1975. In January, an Austrian police report
charges the only female member of the squad with murdering the
policeman and the Iranian security officer. This woman was later
identified as the German Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann, who was found
not guilty at a trial in Cologne in 1990 through lack of evidence.
She died of cancer in October 1995. After her death, Klein also
mentioned her name as one of the participants. According to
witnesses, the Libyan delegate was shot by “Carlos”.
In Austria, there is still a warrant of arrest for “Carlos” from the
year 1976. Ilich Ramirez Sanchez alias “Carlos” is serving a
sentence of life imprisonment in France for the murders in the case
of a policeman and a Libyan informant in June 1975 in Paris.
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