This was the title of a panel discussion on March 8th, 2016 in Zürich. Organized by the association „Friendship Switzerland-Israel“, moderated by Sacha Wigdorovits, Marcel Gyr, author of the book „Swiss Years of Terror” and editor of the Swiss media outlet NZZ, Alfred Heer, member of the Swiss parliament, Swiss Peoples Party SVP and president of the commission of examinations, Prof. Dr. iur. Marcel Niggli, professor of criminal law and juridical philosophy and Prof. Dr. med. Franco Cavalli, ex member of the Swiss parliament, Socialist Party SP, regarding the background of the secret agreement between Switzerland and the PLO, and whether it actually exists in the described form.
Which topic can still be so explosive even after 47 years, that a book that tries to uncover backgrounds and to find facts, suggests such high media and political waves?
A quick look back into the years 1969 und 1970.
On February 18th, 1969, four terrorists of the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP, attacked an EL-AL plane, on the apron of the Airport Kloten near Zürich. The goal was to capture the airplane and to blow it up. While the plane was stopped with an explosive device in front of the nose wheel, the terrorists opened fire at the cockpit. The co-pilot of the plane was murdered. The Israeli sky marshal Mordechai Rachamim, left the plane and managed to neutralize one of the terrorists, before he could murder more people and before he could blow up the plane. The three surviving terrorists were seized and brought for trial to the nearby city Winterthur.
The three surviving terrorists were deported to Winterthur and sentenced in a process for premeditated murder to twelve years in prison. Mordechai Rachamim was accused of manslaughter, but the court finally decided that he acted in self-defense and found him not guilty. His release caused attention in Arab countries; they accused Switzerland to be too positive regarding Israel. Too many open questions could not be clarified during the court case. Why was the runway and apron used by the EL-AL plane not sufficiently secured? Was the terrorist who was shot already disarmed or not? Switzerland was not enough prepared for an emergency situation like this and unable to act cool-headed and efficiently in this terror attack.
On February 21st, 1970, were 47 passengers on board of Swissair flight 330 from Zürich to Tel Aviv victims of a terror attack aimed at an EL-AL plane. The plane arriving from Munich had so much delay; that the mail bags that should be applied to load, came into the cargo hold of the Swissair. The air-pressure-dependent igniter with a barometric timer who was installed in a package, exploded minutes after the start of the plane. The pilot tried to fly the plane back to Zürich but lost orientation because of dense smoke in the cockpit. The plane exploded shortly before crashing into a forest near Würenlingen, only about 30 km away from the airport of Zürich. The last words of the pilot directed to the tower were: „I can’t see anything, 330 is crashing. Goodbye everybody!“
George Habash (born 1926 in Lod, died 2008 in Amman), committed to be responsible for this terror attack. At that time, he was general secretary of the PFLP, maybe previously pediatrist at the children’s hospital in Zürich. How was the bomb parcel sent to Zürich? A day before the crash, Sufian Radi Kaddoumi had sent a parcel from Munich to a non-existing address in Jerusalem. Because the flying altitude between Munich and Zürich is not very high, the fuse with the installed barometric timer did not react.
Almost at the same time another similarly planned terror attack against a plane of Austrian Airlines, OS 402, on its flight from Frankfurt to Vienna, took place. On board was a insured parcel, sent from Frankfurt to the same non-existing business address in Jerusalem. Inside an alarm clock was a barometer that should trigger the bomb in the parcel at 3000-meter flying altitude. The pilot managed to fly the damaged plane back to Frankfurt and to land safely. Whether the terror attack was aimed against Austrian Air, or whether the terrorists assumed that the mail bags would be reloaded in Vienna into an EL-AL plane, is not cleared until today. The person who has sent the parcel was quickly identified: the Jordan citizen Mousa Jawher.
Terror experts assume that the mastermind behind both terror attacks was Ahmed Jibril, although there is no direct connection visible. However, it is the handwriting of Jibril who has one single goal: the destruction of Israel.
Although the names of the terror suspects were quickly found out, in this case there was never a court case after the investigation. The head of the investigation committee and district attorney of Bülach, Robert Akeret, said, that he passed the final report at the end of 1970 to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. There, he is somehow disappeared. Until today, there were no criminal proceedings and not to mention a verdict. The 47 murdered victims are still unatoned and the bereaved still do not know who are the murderers of their relatives and friends.
On September 6th, 1970, at the time of „Black September“ in Jordan, the third and last terror attack against Switzerland took place. Two terrorists hijacked the Swissair flight SR 100, on its flight to New York to Damascus. Practically at the same time, it was planned to hijack four other planes from other airlines, including a EL-AL flight to Damascus. In one of the planes was the female terrorist Leila Khaled. Her attack failed and she was jailed in London. Meanwhile, the passengers of the other three planes awaited their destiny in the Jordanian desert. The terrorists and the Swiss authorities negotiated about the extorted release of the three terrorists jailed in Switzerland regarding the terror attack against the EL-AL of February 18th, 1969 in Kloten-Zürich.
For the Swiss authorities, the negotiations were a crucial test. On which juridical basis could the three convicted terrorists be released? The director of the Federal department of Justice and Police, Ludwig von Moos, and Pierre Graber, Director of the political department, they followed the demands only reluctant. Also district attorney Robert Akeret showed Great lack of understanding, who also in this case had led the investigations. To him it is inexplicable why jailed terrorists are released, because at this time there was already no necessity to do that. Because all passengers in the three hijacked planes in the desert Zerqa, had left the planes in the meantime safely before there were blown up.
With this hijacked plane, the Palestinian terror against Switzerland ended, but the Palestinian terror continued globally. In the past years the suspicions emerged, that there possibly an agreement between Switzerland and the Palestinians exist, with the result to stop the terror against Switzerland. However, where are the proofs for such an agreement? And who has completed it in whose name?
translation: A. Scheiner/D. Grunwald
©esther scheiner, israel