Posts Tagged ‘murder’

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As a teenager during World War II, Freddie Oversteegen was one of only a few Dutch women to take up arms against the country’s Nazi occupiers. (Courtesy of National Hannie Schaft Foundation)

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A recent image of Ms. Oversteegen. (Courtesy of National Hannie Schaft Foundation)

By Harrison Smith

She was 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance, though with her long, dark hair in braids she looked at least two years younger.

When she rode her bicycle down the streets of Haarlem in North Holland, firearms hidden in a basket, Nazi officials rarely stopped to question her. When she walked through the woods, serving as a lookout or seductively leading her SS target to a secluded place, there was little indication that she carried a handgun and was preparing an execution.

The Dutch resistance was widely believed to be a man’s effort in a man’s war. If women were involved, the thinking went, they were likely doing little more than handing out anti-German pamphlets or newspapers.

Yet Freddie Oversteegen and her sister Truus, two years her senior, were rare exceptions — a pair of teenage women who took up arms against Nazi occupiers and Dutch “traitors” on the outskirts of Amsterdam. With Hannie Schaft, a onetime law student with fiery red hair, they sabotaged bridges and rail lines with dynamite, shot Nazis while riding their bikes, and donned disguises to smuggle Jewish children across the country and sometimes out of concentration camps.

In perhaps their most daring act, they seduced their targets in taverns or bars, asked if they wanted to “go for a stroll” in the forest — and “liquidated” them, as Ms. Oversteegen put it, with a pull of the trigger.

“We had to do it,” she told one interviewer. “It was a necessary evil, killing those who betrayed the good people.” When asked how many people she had killed or helped kill, she demurred: “One should not ask a soldier any of that.”

Freddie Oversteegen, the last remaining member of the Netherlands’ most famous female resistance cell, died Sept. 5, one day before her 93rd birthday. She was living in a nursing home in Driehuis, five miles from Haarlem, and had suffered several heart attacks in recent years, said Jeroen Pliester, chairman of the National Hannie Schaft Foundation.

The organization was founded by Ms. Oversteegen’s sister in 1996 to promote the legacy of Schaft, who was captured and executed by the Nazis weeks before the end of World War II. “Schaft became the national icon of female resistance,” Pliester said, a martyr whose story was taught to schoolchildren across the Netherlands and memorialized in a 1981 movie, “The Girl With the Red Hair,” which took its title from her nickname.

Ms. Oversteegen served as a board member in her sister’s organization. But she “decided to be a little bit out of the limelight,” Pliester said, and was sometimes overshadowed by Schaft and Truus, the group’s leader.

“I have always been a little jealous of her because she got so much attention after the war,” Ms. Oversteegen told Vice Netherlands in 2016, referring to her sister. “But then I’d just think, ‘I was in the resistance as well.’ ”

It was, she said, a source of pride and of pain — a five-year experience that she never regretted, but that came to haunt her in peacetime. Late at night, unable to fall asleep, she sometimes recalled the words of an old battle song that served as an anthem for her and her sister: “We have carried the best to their graves/ torn and fired at, beaten till the blood ran/ surrounded by the executioners on the scaffold and jail/ but the raging of the enemy doesn’t frighten us.”

Freddie Nanda Oversteegen was born in the village of Schoten, now part of Haarlem, on Sept. 6, 1925. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and Freddie and Truus were raised primarily by their mother, a communist who instilled a sense of social responsibility in the young girls; she eventually remarried and had a son.

In interviews with anthropologist Ellis Jonker, collected in the 2014 book “Under Fire: Women and World War II,” Freddie Oversteegen recalled that their mother encouraged them to make dolls for children suffering in the Spanish Civil War, and beginning in the early 1930s volunteered with International Red Aid, a kind of communist Red Cross for political prisoners around the world.

Although living in poverty, sleeping on makeshift mattresses stuffed with straw, the family harbored refugees from Germany and Amsterdam, including a Jewish couple and a mother and son who lived in their attic. After German forces invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, the couples were moved to another location; Jewish community leaders feared a potential raid, because of the family’s well-known political leanings.

“They were all deported and murdered,” Ms. Oversteegen told Jonker. “We never heard from them again. It still moves me dreadfully, whenever I talk about it.”

Ms. Oversteegen and her sister began their resistance careers by distributing pamphlets (“The Netherlands have to be free!”) and hanging anti-Nazi posters (“For every Dutch man working in Germany, a German man will go to the front!”). Their efforts apparently attracted the attention of Frans van der Wiel, commander of the underground Haarlem Council of Resistance, who invited them to join his team — with their mother’s permission.

“Only later did he tell us what we’d actually have to do: sabotage bridges and railway lines,” Truus Oversteegen said, according to Jonker. “We told him we’d like to do that. ‘And learn to shoot, to shoot Nazis,’ he added. I remember my sister saying, ‘Well, that’s something I’ve never done before!’ ”

By Truus’s account, it was Freddie Oversteegen who became the first to shoot and kill someone. “It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards,” Truus said. “We did not feel it suited us — it never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals. . . . One loses everything. It poisons the beautiful things in life.”

The Oversteegen sisters were officially part of a seven-person resistance cell, which grew to include an eighth member, Schaft, after she joined in 1943. But the three girls worked primarily as a stand-alone unit, Pliester said, acting on instructions from the Council of Resistance.

After the war ended in 1945, Truus worked as an artist, making paintings and sculptures inspired by her years with the resistance, and wrote a popular memoir, “Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever.” She died in 2016, two years after Prime Minister Mark Rutte awarded the sisters the Mobilization War Cross, a military honor for service in World War II.

For her part, Freddie Oversteegen told Vice that she coped with the traumas of the war “by getting married and having babies.” She married Jan Dekker, taking the name Freddie Dekker-Oversteegen, and raised three children. They survive her, as do her half brother and four grandchildren. Her husband, who worked at the steel company Hoogovens, is deceased.

In interviews, Ms. Oversteegen often spoke of the physics of killing — not the feel of the trigger or kick of the gun, but the inevitable collapse that followed, her victims’ fall to the ground.

“Yes,” she told one interviewer, according to the Dutch newspaper IJmuider Courant , “I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/freddie-oversteegen-dutch-resistance-fighter-who-killed-nazis-through-seduction-dies-at-92/2018/09/16/7876eade-b9b7-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc5eb2caed7f

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By Stephanie Pappas

Thirty-two years after his last murder, the Golden State Killer may be behind bars, according to California authorities.

Local and federal law enforcement arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. on Tuesday, saying that DNA evidence shows him to be responsible for 10 murders and at least 46 rapes from the 1970s to 1986. According to the Los Angeles Times, DeAngelo, now 72, has been married since 1973. He and his wife have three children.

DeAngelo’s apparent quiet suburban life may not be unusual for serial killers, experts say. There is no foolproof estimate for how many such criminals are living in communities, uncaptured, but Thomas Hargrove, the founder of the Murder Accountability Project, argued that there are as many as 2,000 serial killers at large — and that financial woes affecting city services could be making the problem worse.

The FBI defines a “serial killer” as someone who murders two or more victims, with a cooling-off period between crimes.

Hargrove, a retired investigative journalist, arrived at his estimate of about 2,000 at-large serial killers by asking some contacts at the FBI to calculate how many unsolved murders linked to at least one other murder through DNA were in their database, he explained to The New Yorker last year. Those officials determined that about 1,400 murders, or 2 percent of those in the database, met that classification.

However, not all murder cases involve DNA evidence, and not all cases are reported to the FBI, so that 2 percent is a low estimate, Hargrove said. Two thousand is a ballpark figure, but the numbers shouldn’t be a surprise, he said.

“There are more than 220,000 unsolved murders since 1980, so when you put that in perspective, how shocking is it that there are at least 2,000 unrecognized series of homicides?” he said.

The most prolific serial killer of the modern era was probably Harold Shipman, an English doctor who may have murdered as many as 250 patients with fatal doses of painkillers. The 2,000 theoretical killers don’t have to meet such a staggering standard, considering that killing a minimum of two victims in separate incidents meets the FBI definition of serial killer.

By a far more conservative method of accounting, there are about 115 serial killers dating back to the 1970s in the United States whose crimes have never been solved. That estimate comes from Kenna Quinet, a criminologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. It’s based on linkages between cases made by journalists or law enforcement, and includes a slightly different metric than Hargrove’s estimate: The killer had to have murdered at least three victims, not two.

In the same time period as Quinet’s estimate for unsolved serial murders, there were roughly 625 solved serial murder cases, she told Live Science. There aren’t many differences between unsolved and solved cases, geographically or in terms of factors like the type of victims, Quinet said. But her database doesn’t include cases where no one has ever made the link between murders. If a serial killer killed a person in one state and then drifted off to the next to kill two more, for example, the crimes might have never been flagged by anyone as related and thus wouldn’t appear in Quinet’s count.

“Somewhere in between my number and Thomas Hargrove’s number is probably the right number,” she said.

According to research by psychology professor Mike Aamodt at Radford Universityin Virginia, there were likely about 30 active serial killers operating in the United States as of 2015.

Serial killings peaked in the 1980s, Quinet said. Aamodt estimates that an average of 145 serial killers (under the two-victim minimum definition) were active in the 1980s each year, compared with an average of 54 each year between 2010 and 2015. There doesn’t seem to be any single reason for serial killings’ decline, Quinet said. People engage in fewer behaviors today that make them a target — hitchhiking is far rarer now than 30 years ago, for example — but the decline has largely tracked with an overall drop in the homicide rate since the early 1990s, a drop that criminologists cannot fully explain.

Why serial killers avoid capture

The biggest reason that killers of two or more people can still live free is the problem of “linkage blindness,” Hargrove said. Homicide detectives are assigned single cases, and unless one happens to chat with a colleague who has a very similar case on his or her docket, those cases are unlikely to be linked, he said.

“If the murders occur at separate jurisdictions, such conversations never happen,” Hargrove said.

Despite an advent of forensic DNA databases, there is still no central clearinghouse for homicide cases or serial killer cases, said retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole, who worked on several serial killing cases during her career.The FBI collects data through the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), O’Toole said, but it is not mandatory for local law enforcement to report their cases to that program. If it were, she said, it might be easier to connect homicide cases.

In the Golden State Killer case, proper storage of forensic evidence plus advances in technology seem to be the key to cracking the murders. It’s possible to process very old forensic evidence with new methods, O’Toole told Live Science.

“The case itself may be cold, but forensic evidence doesn’t die,” she said.

Unfortunately, if technology opens new doors for solving serial murders, a lack of money may slam them shut. Insufficient funding for detectives and technicians keeps police from solving many murders, Hargrove said. According to FBI estimates, only 59 percent of homicide investigations in the U.S. have resulted in an arrest, much less a conviction. The numbers are even worse for rape (36.5 percent) and robbery (29.6 percent).

The rate for cleared homicide cases is “the lowest in the Western world,” Hargrove said.

Other reasons may also explain the low rate of arrests, including a high bar for making an arrest as well as what some call an increasing no-snitch culture, especially among some minority groups who are reluctant to come forward as witnesses, according to experts interviewed by NPR.

“The problem is,” Hargrove said, “everything’s going the wrong way.”

By Doug Criss

There’s a predictable pattern to the aftermath of too many deadly police shootings: Neighbors and anti-police brutality groups take to the streets. Groups supporting the officers stand up for them. Social media lights up over whether the victim “did something” to provoke the officer.

But none of that holds true in the case of Justine Ruszczyk, a white Australian bride-to-be who was killed by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American black police officer in Minneapolis.

And that, say experts, speaks volumes about the state of America today.

What didn’t happen the days after the shooting

Ruszczyk was shot to death on Saturday after she called 911 to report a possible sex assault in an alley near her home.

A vigil was held for Ruszczyk, but there weren’t widespread protest marches, like the ones Black Lives Matter held last year after Philando Castile’s shooting death at the hands of an officer in nearby Falcon Heights.

When one pro-police Blue Lives Matter website had a story about the shooting, it only offered a theory on why the officers’ body cams were off.

Why the reaction is different this time

David Love, a Philadelphia journalist who’s written about race issues for CNN and others, has a theory why.

Because the race and nationality of the victim and police officer aren’t what has typically garnered headlines, people who normally speak up aren’t saying much.

There is no centralized structure for the Black Lives Matter movement, which results in non-uniform response.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King wrote a column in which he said “Police brutality jumped a racial fence.” Otherwise, Love says he hasn’t seen too many people from the movement express any anger or outrage about the shooting. That’s surprising, because in some past cases, Black Lives Matter has spoken up when the victim was white.

As for those who “back the blue,” Love says he hasn’t seen a lot of pro-police groups rally to Noor’s side, either.

“It seems very often that their response is in the lens of ‘black vs. blue,’ which is unfortunate because life is a little more complicated than that,” he told CNN.

What we’re likely to see

Love theorizes a different group of people may take the lead in rallying for the victim in this case: “people who may not have emphathized with the victims (in police shootings in the past) because the victims have been mostly black.”

Love compares it to media coverage of murders during the civil rights era. Killings of black people in the South during that period often received scant national attention. But if the violence took the life of a white person — such as the “Mississippi Burning” case — more people across America paid attention.

What else accounts for the different response

Pro-police groups are often quick to speak out when an officer is accused in a fatal shooting. But Noor isn’t white and that has made a difference, says Marcia Chatelain, a fellow at the New America Foundation and co-host of a podcast on the death of Freddie Gray.

“Because it’s an officer of color who, so far, is the only one accused of something here, it has shaped the response from pro-police groups like Blue Lives Matter, which usually has a very defensive response to officer-involved shootings,” she told CNN.

Chatelain feels the media response has been different, too.

“I’m pretty sure reporters haven’t been digging into (Ruszczyk’s) background, trying to find narratives to justify the shooting,” she said.

Too often in cases involving unarmed black men, Chatelain says, information on the victim’s criminal history or prior arrests makes its way into stories — even when they are irrelevant to the case.

What it says about America

So what does this say about America in 2017, where the race, gender or national identity of a victim or police officer can affect the public’s reaction to a shooting?

“It says despite the rhetoric about the US being a melting pot or whatever, people have different experiences based on their racial background,” Love said. “Those experiences give us, sometimes, a different set of lenses and a different view of reality. And we have to find some way of bridging that divide … to help people understand the experiences of other people.”

The different reaction to the shooting also proves that America is still learning how to deal with its tortured racial past, said Phillip Atiba Goff, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and president of the Center for Policing Equity.

“We haven’t reckoned with our history,” Goff told CNN, “so it shouldn’t surprise us to see a different reaction.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/us/minneapolis-shooting-upended-outrage-trnd/index.html

By Sarah Kaplan

Noela Rukundo sat in a car outside her home in Melbourne, Australia, watching as the last few mourners filed out. They were leaving a funeral — her funeral.

Finally, she spotted the man she’d been waiting for. She stepped out of her car, and her husband put his hands on his head in horror.

“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying. “Is it a ghost?”

“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.

Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. Five days earlier, he had ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. And they did — well, they told him they did. They even got him to pay an extra few thousand dollars for carrying out the crime.

Now here was his wife, standing before him. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Rukundo recalled how he touched her shoulder to find it unnervingly solid. He jumped. Then he started screaming.

“I’m sorry for everything,” he wailed.

But it was far too late for apologies; Rukundo called the police. The husband, Balenga Kalala, ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder.

The happy ending — or as happy as can be expected to a saga in which a man tries to have his wife killed — was made possible by three unusually principled hit men, a helpful pastor and one incredibly gutsy woman: Rukundo.

Here is how she pulled it off.

Rukundo’s ordeal began almost exactly a year ago, when she flew from her home in Melbourne with her husband, Kalala, to attend a funeral in her native Burundi. Her stepmother had died, and the service left her saddened and stressed. She retreated to her hotel room in Bujumbura, the capital, early in the evening; despondent after the events of the day, she lay down in bed. Then her husband called.

“He told me to go outside for fresh air,” she told the BBC.

But the minute Rukundo stepped out of her hotel, a man charged forward, pointing a gun right at her.

“Don’t scream,” she recalled him saying. “If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”

Rukundo, terrified, did as she was told. She was ushered into a car and blindfolded so she couldn’t see where she was being taken. After 30 or 40 minutes, the car came to a stop, and Rukundo was pushed into a building and tied to a chair.

She could hear male voices, she told the ABC. One asked her, “You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”

“What are you talking about?” Rukundo demanded.

“Balenga sent us to kill you.”

They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.

“You’re a fool,” they told her.

There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband’s voice.

“Kill her,” he said.

And Rukundo fainted.

Rukundo had met her husband 11 years earlier, right after she arrived in Australia from Burundi, according to the BBC. He was a recent refugee from Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them get on their feet. Since Kalala already knew English, their social worker often recruited him to translate for Rukundo, who spoke Swahili.

They fell in love, moved in together in the Melbourne suburb of Kings Park, and had three children (Rukundo also had five kids from a previous relationship). She learned more about her husband’s past — he had fled a rebel army that had ransacked his village, killing his wife and young son. She also learned more about his character.

“I knew he was a violent man,” Rukundo told the BBC. “But I didn’t believe he can kill me.”

But, it appeared, he could.

Rukundo came to in the strange building somewhere near Bujumbura. The kidnappers were still there, she told the ABC.

They weren’t going to kill her, the men then explained — they didn’t believe in killing women, and they knew her brother. But they would keep her husband’s money and tell him that she was dead. After two days, they set her free on the side of a road, but not before giving her a cellphone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment, according to Australia’s The Age newspaper.

“We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened,” Rukundo said she was told before the gang members drove away.

Shaken, but alive and doggedly determined, Rukundo began plotting her next move. She sought help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, she told the BBC, and explained to him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home to her neighborhood near Melbourne.

Meanwhile, her husband had told everyone she had died in a tragic accident and the entire community mourned her at her funeral at the family home. On the night of Feb. 22, 2015, just as the widower Kalala waved goodbye to neighbors who had come to comfort him, Rukundo approached him, the very man whose voice she’d heard over the phone five days earlier, ordering that she be killed.

“I felt like somebody who had risen again,” she told the BBC.

Though Kalala initially denied all involvement, Rukundo got him to confess to the crime during a phone conversation that was secretly recorded by police, according to The Age.

“Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, ‘Why I did that thing?’ later,” he said, as he begged her to forgive him.

Kalala eventually pleaded guilty to the scheme. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by a judge in Melbourne.

“Had Ms. Rukundo’s kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother,” Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, according to the ABC. “It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo.”

Rukundo said that Kalala tried to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man — an accusation she denies.

But her trials are not yet over. Rukundo told the ABC she’s gotten backlash from Melbourne’s Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police. Someone left threatening messages for her, and she returned home one day to find her back door broken. She now has eight children to raise alone and has asked the Department of Human Services to help her find a new place to live.

And lying in bed at night, Kalala’s voice still comes to her: “Kill her, kill her,” she told the BBC. “Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers.”

Despite all that, “I will stand up like a strong woman,” she said. “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/05/wife-crashes-her-own-funeral-horrifying-her-husband-who-had-paid-have-her-killed/

by Stephanie McNeal

Petra Pazsitka was living in the city of Braunschweig when she disappeared without a trace on July 26, 1984.

According to The Telegraph, who quoted an unnamed friend, Pazsitka was studying computer science and had just finished her thesis paper.

She had gone to the dentist the last day she was seen, and had planned on going to visit her parents afterward. But she never made it there, sparking a huge manhunt, The Telegraph said.

Pazsitka’s disappearance initially stumped investigators, and her case was featured on a German true-crime show called Aktenzeichen XY.

Police suspected that her disappearance was connected to the case of a 14-year-old girl who had been raped and murdered near where Pazsitka vanished, NBC News reported, citing Joachim Grande, a spokesman for the police in Braunschweig.

However, a few years later there was a breakthrough in the case. A 19-year-old man identified as Günter K. confessed to killing the 14-year-old in 1985.

In 1987, he confessed to also killing Pazsitka – and authorities closed the case in 1989. The young woman’s body was never found.

But now, police said, Pazsitka’s “disappearance” appears to have been a carefully orchestrated plot to start a new life.

Pazsitka had been saving money for months before she vanished, and spent the next few decades living in different German cities, police said. She eventually settled in Düsseldorf, where she has been living for 11 years, according to The Telegraph, citing police.

She was able to evade notice because she never opened a bank account or had a social security card, a driver’s license, or a passport.

An official told NBC News the now–55-year-old paid for everything in cash and made money doing “illicit work.”

A woman claimed to be Pazsitka when she reported a burglary at her home and police arrived, according to NBC News.

When first asked who she was, the woman allegedly gave a fake name. But she then claimed to be Pazsitka.

She has remained mum on why she vanished, and said she wants no contact with the public or her living family members.

“We asked her if there was violence or sexual assault in the family, but she has clearly ruled that out,” an official said according to the The Telegraph.

According to NBC News, the woman’s brother and mother were “in shock and tears when they heard the news.”

It is unlikely the woman will face any charges – but if it is determined she is Pazsitka, she will have to be declared to be alive, The Telegraph reported.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemcneal/murder-victim-alive#.yclKLwgxq

by Greg Myre

plane1
Mourners carry coffins through the streets of Tehran, Iran, on July 7, 1988, during a mass funeral for victims of a downed Iran Air flight. The U.S. Navy shot down the civilian plane in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 onboard, after mistaking it for an Iranian warplane.

Ukrainian officials say pro-Russian separatists may have shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard.

It’s rare, but not unprecedented, for civilian airliners to be shot down. In fact, it’s happened before in Ukraine, just 13 years ago.

Back in 2001, the Ukrainian military accidentally shot down a Russian civilian plane while conducting an exercise on the Crimean Peninsula — the very territory that Russia seized earlier this year, prompting the current crisis in Ukraine.

Here’s a list of the deadliest such episodes:

Israel Shoots Down An Errant Libyan Plane: The Libyan Airlines Boeing 727 left the capital, Tripoli, on Feb. 21, 1973, heading east for Cairo when it suffered the double whammy of bad weather and equipment failure. It flew past Cairo and entered the Sinai Peninsula, which was controlled by Israel at the time. Two Israeli warplanes intercepted the Libyan aircraft, and when it refused to land, the Israelis shot it down, killing all but five of the 113 onboard.

plane 2
Men sift through the wreckage of an Air Rhodesia plane shot down by guerrilla fighters in September 1978 in northern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The rebels shot down another Air Rhodesia flight five months later.

Rhodesian Rebels Bring Down Two Planes: During the 1970s civil war in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), guerrillas shot down two Air Rhodesia commercial flights in the space of five months. In the first attack, on Sept. 3, 1978, rebels of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army shot down a plane going from Kariba to the capital, Salisbury (now Harare). Of the 56 people onboard, 18 survived the crash, but rebels killed 10 of them at the crash site. Then, on Feb. 12, 1979, the same rebel group used another missile to bring down a second Air Rhodesia plane traveling the same route. All 59 people onboard were killed.

Soviets Take Out A Korean Plane Carrying A U.S. Congressman: In a 1983 episode that dramatically raised Cold War tensions, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 strayed off course, apparently because of pilot error, on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to the Korean capital, Seoul. After the Boeing 747 entered prohibited Soviet airspace, a Soviet fighter jet blew it out of the sky near the island of Sakhalin, to the east of the Soviet mainland, killing all 269 onboard, including U.S. Rep. Lawrence McDonald of Georgia.


A Korean Airlines official, Suk Jin-ku, examines a piece of aircraft debris in Japan on Sept. 12, 1983. Eleven days earlier, a Soviet warplane shot down a Korean Air Lines plane that had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 people onboard were killed, including U.S. Rep. Lawrence McDonald.

U.S. Navy Shoots Down An Iranian Plane Over The Persian Gulf: In a tense time in a volatile region, the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, was in the Persian Gulf in 1988 to help keep the key oil shipping lane open and to monitor the war between Iran and Iraq. According to the U.S. government, a helicopter from the Vincennes came under warning fire from Iranian speedboats. Such small-scale incidents took place with some regularity at the time.

The Vincennes then entered Iranian territorial waters and spotted an aircraft that it thought was an Iranian F-14 fighter plane. However, it was actually a civilian Iran Air Airbus A300, flying over Iran’s territorial waters on its regular route from Tehran to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Vincennes fired a surface-to-air missile that destroyed the plane, killing all 290 onboard. Under a 1996 agreement at the International Court of Justice, the U.S. agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million.

Ukrainian Military Accidentally Shoots Down A Russian Civilian Plane: The Ukrainian military was carrying out exercises on the Crimean Peninsula on Oct. 4, 2001, when it launched a surface-to-air missile that struck a Siberia Airlines plane as it was traveling from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, Russia. All 78 people onboard were killed when the plane disintegrated over the Black Sea.

The episode came less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, and there was immediate speculation that it was a terrorist attack. As suspicion turned to the Ukrainian military, the government initially denied responsibility, but eventually it acknowledged that it was to blame for the accidental hit.

And that brings us to more recent events. Russia seized and annexed Crimea earlier this year, fueling the current crisis, which has included the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The pro-Russian separatists in that region have brought down several Ukrainian military aircraft in recent months.

Thanks to Ray Gaudette for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/07/17/332318322/a-brief-history-of-civilian-planes-that-have-been-shot-down