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Former German terrorist released after 26 years - AP


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Former German terrorist released after 26 years
Notorious leftist leader was force behind Red Army Faction rampage in '77

"BERLIN - Throughout the 1970s, the Red Army Faction was the scourge of
capitalist West Germany and Christian Klar one of its most notorious leaders
— the force behind a murder spree that included the slayings of a federal
prosecutor, an industrialist and the chief of a major bank.

On Friday, Klar walked free from prison after 26 years — angering family and
friends of victims and many Germans who recalled the fear of living through
the Marxist-Leninist group's terror campaign, which killed 34 people and
injured hundreds before the group formally disbanded in 1998.

Opponents of Klar's release argue he has never expressed regret for his
crimes, nor explicitly distanced himself from the Red Army Faction mantra

that it was justified in its brutal response to what it viewed as capitalist
oppression of workers and U.S. imperialism in West Germany. "That a
hardened criminal who was handed six life sentences could be released
under such circumstances may be legally justifiable, but remains very d
ifficult to accept," said Stephan Mayer, a lawmaker for the conservative
Christian Democratic Union.

German law is based on the principle of rehabilitation and it is very common
for convicted murderers to serve less than 20 years for life sentences. Several
other former members of the Red Army Faction have also been released.
Only one former member of the group, Birgit Hogefeld, remains in prison.
She will be eligible for parole in 2011.

Yet as a ringleader of the group's second generation, which carried out the
"German Autumn," an especially bloody period of leftist violence in late 1977,
Klar is perhaps Germany's most prominent former left-wing terrorist to walk free.

As the decades have passed, the Red Army Faction has become the stuff of pop
culture, giving rise to a string of television dramas and feature films, many of
which have faced criticism for glamorizing the era and portraying the young
killers as Robin Hood-type characters.

A red star and machine gun

Several of the group's symbols, such as its trademark machine gun and red star,
have found their way into fashion items, from T-shirts to infant's bodysuits marked

The latest movie, "The Baader Meinhof Complex," directed by Uli Edel, came out
in September and has been chosen as Germany's contender for a foreign-language
Oscar nomination — despite criticism from families of the gang members that it
misrepresents the group and is too violent.

In its early years RAF was often referred to as the Baader-Meinhof gang, after
leading members Andreas Baader — who killed himself in prison after failed
efforts to secure his release through extortion — and Ulrike Meinhof, who also
committed suicide in prison.

Under Klar, the so-called second generation of the group went on to bomb U.S.
military targets and assassinate a string of business and political figures. Among
the murders for which Klar was convicted were those of chief West German
federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback, industrial association head Hanns-Martin
Schleyer, and Dresdner Bank chief Juergen Ponto — all carried out in 1977.

Buback's son has repeatedly urged Klar to explain who pulled the trigger on his
father when he and his two drivers were gunned down on April 7, 1977. Yet d
espite a fierce public debate and a review of the case, ordered by the nation's
top security official, Klar has remained silent. Asked Friday if he would be willing
to speak with Klar, Buback said that while he wouldn't seek him out, he wouldn't
hang up if he called.

"If Christian Klar would call me to tell me about what he or others did, of course I
would speak with him," Buback told Focus weekly. "After all, we are still searching
for the truth."

Looking forward to Berlin

Klar's lawyer, Heinz-Juergen Schneider, expressed doubt his client would seek to
make any statements to the public, insisting Klar was seeking to start a normal life.

Klar has been in prison since his arrested on Nov. 16, 1982. Ten years later, he was
sentenced to six concurrent life sentences, as well as individual 15-year, 14-year and
12-year sentences.

According to Schneider, Klar plans to move to Berlin, where he was taking up an offer
of apprenticeship at one of the nation's leading theaters, the Berliner Ensemble —
founded by legendary leftwing playwright Berthold Brecht — as a stage technician.

The theater's director, Claus Peymann said at the time he felt Klar deserved a chance
to try to reintegrate into society after so many years in prison. "

I wouldn't call him "former" terrorist ...


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I also recall that the RAF were responsible for many attacks against NATO targets, especially American ones.  The following list was found on Wikipedia and shows eight attacks spanning thirteen years.

-1) 11 May 1972, Frankfurt am Main. A bombing at the US barracks kills US officer Paul A. Bloomquist and wounds 13 others.

-2) 24 May 1972, Heidelberg. A bombing outside of the Officers Club is followed by a second bomb moments later in front of the Army Security Agency (ASA) facility, (HQ USAREUR) at Campbell Barracks.  Ronald A. Woodward, Charles L. Peck and Captain Clyde R. Bonner are killed and 5 are wounded.

-3) 4 January 1977, Giessen. An attack is made against the 42nd Field Artillery Brigade at Gießen. In a failed attack the RAF sought to capture or destroy nuclear weapons present. An assault on the armory was repulsed with several RAF members killed in the ensuing firefight. The presence of US warheads on German soil was classified and officially denied at the time. The incident received little publicity.

-4) 25 June 1979, Mons, Belgium. Alexander Haig, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, escaped an assassination attempt.

-5) 31 August 1981, Rhineland-Palatinate. A large car bomb explodes in the parking lot of Ramstein Air Base

-6) 15 September 1981, Heidelberg. An unsuccessful rocket propelled grenade attack is carried out against the car carrying the US Army's West German Commander Frederick J. Kroesen.

-7) 18 December 1984, Oberammergau. An unsuccessful attempt is made to bomb a school for NATO officers. The car bomb was discovered and defused. A total of ten incidents followed over the next month against US, British, and French targets.

-8) 8 August 1985, Rhein-Main Air Base (Frankfurt). A Volkswagen mini-bus exploded in the parking lot across from the base commander's building. Two people are killed: Airman First Class Frank Scarton and Becky Bristol, a US civilian employee who also was the spouse of a US Air Force enlisted man. Twenty people are injured. Army Specialist Edward Pimental was kidnapped and killed the night before for his military ID card which was used to gain access to the base.

It was confirmed after the collapse of the wall in 1989 that the RAF had been financed and supported by the East German Stasi.  Several wanted RAF members were arrested in the former eastern territories after reunification.  They weren't just urban guerrillas and freedom fighters, as they described themselves, but willing partners in heating up the cold war between East and West.  Still, as the article states, 26 years is a long time for a murder sentence in Germany.