Former German militant's release highlights nascent terror tactics
Al Qaeda would later emulate the Red Army Faction's cellular structure.
The release of former German terrorist Eva Haule from prison on Monday draws attention to an earlier era of terrorism – and underscores how the threat has shifted and evolved over the past 20 years.Skip to next paragraph
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Ms. Haule had been sentenced to life in prison for, among other things, the murder of a US soldier in 1985 and the bombing of the US Rhein-Main air base. She belonged to the Red Army Faction, a radical leftist group that carried out a number of bombings and assassinations and was one of the most feared terrorist groups in Europe in the 1970s and '80s. The ideology of the group – one of the first "celebrity terrorist" organizations – was still largely rooted in the cold-war battle between capitalism and communism. Its cellular structure established a model that Al Qaeda would later follow.
At the peak of her involvement with RAF (also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang), Haule rose to become the highest-ranking female in the organization and one of the group's most-wanted members. She was also involved in an attempted bomb attack on a NATO facility in Bavaria and a raid on an arms dealer. At the time of her arrest, authorities found her with blueprints of a government building, leading investigators to believe she had designs to blow it up.
But 21 years in prison has apparently taken away Haule's radical edge, reports Deutsche Welle.
In recent years, Haule spoke through her representatives from prison of her "extremely heavy guilt" in regard to her terrorist past. Her behavior behind bars over the years also led to a downgrading of her security status; Haule was moved from the women's prison at Frankfurt Preungesheim to the women's custody institution in Berlin-Neukölln.
There, as an open prisoner, Haule studied social educational theory and took a training course in photography. In March 2005, an exhibition of portraits of fellow inmates was held in a parliamentary building in Berlin, which caused outrage among liberal and conservative politicians at the time. Her photos have since appeared in a number of publications and books.
Haule is the second RAF terrorist to be released early from a German prison recently, reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
She is the second former terrorist to be released this year. In March, Brigitte Mohnhaupt was freed after serving a 24-year sentence for her role in a series of murders of prominent officials in 1977 aimed at securing the release of Baader and fellow terrorists Jan-Carl Raspe and Gudrun Ensslin.
In May, German President Horst Koehler rejected an appeal for clemency from another member of the group, Christian Klar. Klar was arrested in 1982 and must remain in prison until 2009.
Today, there are relatively few people actively working to carry out the RAF's vision of violence in the service of class struggle. The British Broadcasting Corp. reports that this past February, two unnamed individuals voluntarily surrendered to German police. They were part of the Revolutionary Cells (RZ), which gave birth to RAF.
Confirming the report, federal prosecutors said they were not being detained, but were expected to stand trial.
The RZ is said to have carried out some 186 attacks, mostly aimed at causing material damage, before disbanding after the fall of the Berlin Wall. RZ members were also linked to the 1975 hostage-taking at the Opec conference in Vienna and the hijacking of the Air France plane stormed by Israeli troops in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976.