The terrorist Anis al Naqquash, who comes from Lebanon, died on Tuesday in the Syrian capital Damascus at the age of 69 from or with the corona virus. The “Kronen Zeitung” reported in its Thursday edition. In 1975 Naqqash was a member of a six-member terror squad led by the Venezuelan guerrilla fighter Carlos (“The Jackal”), which attacked OPEC headquarters in Vienna just before Christmas. He was considered “number 2” by Carlos.
Late in the morning of December 21, 1975, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez alias Carlos as well as Naqquash and four other terrorists attacked the then headquarters of the “Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries” (OPEC) on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. The result: three dead and numerous injured. However, after negotiations, the terrorists were given safe conduct and one day later were allowed to fly to the Algerian capital, Algiers, with several hostages using an AUA machine that had been provided. At the time, Interior Minister Otto Rösch (SPÖ) “said goodbye” to “Carlos” with a handshake at the Vienna-Schwechat airfield caused a stir. Born in Venezuela, he was caught in 1994 and is in custody in France after several trials.
Naqqash was a Sunni convert to Shiite Islam, who swore allegiance to the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran from 1979. As early as 1968 he had joined the radical Palestinian Fatah movement and had several missions in Lebanon, Palestine and Europe. He then became one of the earliest activists during the 1978 South Lebanon conflict.
In 1982 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for participating in an attack on former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar – the last head of government under Shah Reza Pahlevi – which had failed two years earlier. However, he and his accomplices were pardoned in 1990 by then President Francois Mitterrand.
Naqqash was a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and also supported him in the bloody civil war in Syria. At least propagandistically. Most recently, he ran a Beirut-based think tank, where he frequently commented on pro-Iranian media, including the Lebanese Hezbollah’s Al Manar television network. In a message of condolence to the family, Assad declared that the deceased had “spent his life as a resistance fighter against the occupation and as a defender of the Arab cause in body and mind”.
The 69-year-old was buried in Beirut by Reuters news agency on Wednesday. According to the media, his body was wrapped in the Lebanese and Palestinian flags and the mourners included “officials from the Lebanese Hezbollah and radical Palestinian factions”.