OPEC raid

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.

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.

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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