On October 1, 1965, the kidnapping six high ranking Indonesian generals was discovered by government authorities in Jakarta prompting a massive response. As anti-communist authorities scrambled to respond, one of their number General Suharto took control of the situation and blamed his rival, the PKI – the Indonesian Communist Party, which was tied “30th September Movement” that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Suharto brutally repressed the PKI whose ties to the coup attempt were tenuous at best. A few days later the kidnapped generals were found dead outside of Jakarta and Suharto really cracked down. He became the true power in Indonesia and would become president in 1968 (and would remain so until 1998!). During his regime, there would be a very bloody crackdown on perceived Communists in Indonesia that resulted in the deaths of about 500,000 people.
On this date in 1975, fifty-three people were taken hostage in the American Insurance Association (AIA) Building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their captors were five members of the terrorist group the Japanese Red Army who was looking to overthrown the Japanese government and to contribute to a worldwide Communist revolution. Among the captives were the United States consul and a Swedish diplomat. American hostage negotiators sprung into action, but were hampered by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s regular reminders that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists. However, it soon became clear that the JRA were not asking anything of the U.S., but rather of Japan at which point Japanese negotiators took over. Japanese negotiators agreed to release several prisoners being held for previous acts of terrorism in exchange for the JRA ending the stand-off. The five JRA fighters demanded and receiving a plane to Libya on which they took several hostages and released them upon arrived safely in the country controlled by Muammar Gaddafi. It’s amazing how acts of terrorism were handled during the 70s!
Featured Image: “AIA Building.”
Source: “Terror on the 9th Floor: The Kuala Lumpur Hostage Crisis.” Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.
On July 24, 2001, Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburgotski II was sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria. With a name like that, you’d have expected him to be sitting on a European throne, not being a democratically elected Head of Government. In fact, that is exactly what he was. Simeon was born in 1937 to Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria. In 1943, the king died under mysterious circumstances (rumor has it Hitler had him poisoned) and the six year old Simeon came to the throne of Bulgaria as Tsar Simeon II. Two years later, the Bulgarian monarchy was abolished following a Communist coup in the country and Simeon went into exile. In 2001, Simeon had grown into a powerful political figure in a now-democratic Bulgaria and was elected Prime Minister, becoming the only European monarch to hold such an office. He remained Prime Minister until he was ousted via election in 2005.
The only other case in history of a monarch also being a Prime Minister is the strange case of
King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. King Norodom was monarch from 1941 – 1955 when he abdicated the throne in favor of his father and was elected Prime Minister. Norodom was then Prime Minister until 1970 when he was ousted by the Khmer Rouge. He then returned to Cambodia in 1993 to become king again. What a strange series of events!
Featured Image: “Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburgotski II” Cropped from Image:Simeon_Vtori_Popovo.jpg, Public Domain.
Image 1. “King Norodom Sihanouk” By Rob C. Croes / Anefo – Nationaal Archief, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl.
Connolly, Kate. “Once Upon a Time in Bulgaria.” The Guardian. 20 June 2001.
“His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk’s 84th Birthday.” Cambodia Daily Special Insert.
From late August into early September, 1972, the world gathered as it does every four years to celebrate peace and sport. This time the gathering was to be held in Munich, West Germany. Unfortunately, these Olympics were to be marred by one of the greatest tragedies ever to strike the games. On the evening of September 5, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian terrorism group, Black September, attacked the dormitories in which the Israeli delegation was staying. By the time the horror was over, 11 athletes and coaches lay dead along with 5 of the terrorists.
In retaliation for this horrific attack, the Israeli national intelligence agency, Mossad, struck out at the culprits and those who supported them in a series of assassinations that have been dramatized in movies such as Steven Spielberg’s Munich. However, not all of the victims of the so-called Operation Wrath of God were terrorists. On July 21, 1973, a team of Israeli assassins gunned down a man who was on his way home with his pregnant wife in Lillehammer, Norway. This man was Ahmed Bouchikhi, a Moroccan writer living in Norway. Bouchikhi had no affiliation with Black September or any other Palestinian organization. His only crime was looking somewhat like Hassan Salameh, an intelligence agent for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. This attack caused strained relations between Israel and Norway since Mossad had no authorization to conduct such an operation on Norwegian soil. To this day, Israel denies any wrong-doing in this event, but they did pay Bouchikhi’s wife a settlement. Six Mossad agents were captured by Norwegian officials and were found culpable for the death. A Norwegian court has issued a warrant for former Mossad agent, Michael Harari, whom they suspect of having masterminded the attack. Norway, however, does not expect Harari to ever be turned over to their custody.
Source: Mellgren, Dylan. “Norway Solves Riddle of Mossad Killing.” The Guardian. 1 March 2000.
Featured Image. “Mossad Logo.” By Source, Fair use.
“Munich Massacre.” By Source, Fair Use.
Seventy years ago, on June 9, 1946, Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne of Thailand as the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. His reign is the longest one in the history of Thailand and the longest reign of any current monarch. As if that were not enough, as of 2014, Forbes magazine estimated King Bhumibol’s wealth at about $30 billion, making him the richest royal in the world. His ascent to the throne, however, was marked by tragedy.
King Bhumibol came to the throne because of the mysterious death of his brother – King Ananda Mahidol, who was found dead in his bedroom of a single gunshot wound to the head on the morning of June 9, 1946. Next to his body was found a Colt .45 revolver. The dead king had been only twenty years old. Speculation has long reigned as to what happened on that fateful June day. Was it murder? If so, who committed it? The new king? The military? Someone else? Was it suicide? These questions remain open to this day, but are little discussed in Thailand. If you are interested in more details, check out this excellent Smithsonian article by Gilbert King from 2011.
Featured Image: “King Ananda.” By Unknown – Bureau of the Royal Household, Kingdom of Thailand, Public Domain.
On May 6, 1902, a new nation was declared, the Republic of Katagalugan, also known as the Tagalog Republic. This little known nation did not last long – only until 1906 and was not recognized by any foreign power. Its president, however, remains remembered in his homeland to this day – a hero or a villain, depending on who you ask.
Macario Sakay had emerged from a working class background in his native Luzon island just outside of Manila, Philippines to a position of military leadership during the Filipino wars of independence from Spain. However, the Filipino people’s struggle for independence was part of the larger conflict known as the Spanish-American War and their hard-fought struggle brought them from colonial status under a dying power (Spain) to an emerging one (United States). For many Filipinos this was an unbearable situation – they were still under the dominance of a foreign people.
Sakay led his followers in a struggle against the American troops that had helped in the liberation of the Philippines from Spain, but had not gone home. He declared his nation’s independence and set up a government. He has been, however, painted as a bandit and a criminal because he was, in the end, not victorious. In 1906, Sakay was captured by American troops and was sentenced to death for treason: a sentence that was carried out in 1907. Had he been victorious (or more so), Sakay could have been remembered with the likes of Che or Bolivar, but he was not. As we all know, history is written by the winners.