Japanese Red Army (JRA)
The Japanese Red Army (JRA) also operates as, or is known as, the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB).
The JRA is an international terrorist group formed around 1970 after breaking away from the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. Fusako Shigenobu led the JRA until her arrest in Japan in November, 2000. The JRA's historical goal has been to overthrow the Japanese government and monarchy and to help foment world revolution. After her arrest, Shigenobu announced she intended to pursue her goals using a legitimate political party rather than revolutionary violence, and the group announced it would disband in April, 2001. JRA may control or at least have ties to the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade (AIIB) and also may have links to the Antiwar Democratic Front—an overt leftist political organization—inside Japan. Details released following Shigenobu's arrest indicate that the JRA was organizing cells in Asian cities, such as Manila and Singapore. The group had a history of close relations with Palestinian terrorist groups—based and operating outside Japan—since its inception, primarily through Shigenobu. The current status of the connections is unknown. During the 1970s, JRA carried out a series of attacks around the world, including the massacre in 1972 at Lod Airport in Israel, two Japanese airliner hijackings, and an attempted takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In April, 1988, JRA operative Yu Kikumura was arrested with explosives on the New Jersey Turnpike, apparently planning an attack to coincide with the bombing of a USO club in Naples, a suspected JRA operation that killed five, including a U.S. servicewoman. Kikumura was convicted and is serving a lengthy prison sentence in the United States. Tsutomu Shirosaki, captured in 1996, is also jailed in the United States. In 2000, Lebanon deported to Japan four members arrested there in 1997, but granted a fifth operative, Kozo Okamoto, political asylum. Longtime leader Shigenobu was arrested in November 2000 on charges of terrorism and passport fraud.
The JRA has about six dedicated members and an undetermined number of sympathizers. At its peak, the group claimed to have 30 to 40 members. The exact location of JRA is unknown, but intelligence estimates indicate that it possibly operates in Asia and/or Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.
█ FURTHER READING:
CDI (Center for Defense Information), Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. < http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm > (April 17, 2003).
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (April 16, 2003).
Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001." Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002. < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17, 2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).