The World: Terror and Triumph at Mogadishu

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Oscar X Ray headed for Aden in pursuit, but it too was refused permission to land. Bonn advised Wischnewski to try to buy his way in: "Reach the Southern Yemen authorities. If landing permission given, clarify that negotiations will include development plans for Southern Yemen. Major development plans and funds for Yemen. Did you understand?" Southern Yemen still refused, and Wischnewski flew on to Jidda in Saudi Arabia. Before landing he received another urgent message from Schmidt: "The minister [Wischnewski] has a free hand in all the negotiations with all countries. Is that clear?" This may have been a coded advisory that West Germany had made the final decision to use force against the terrorists.

The hijackers' most shocking act of savagery had already taken place in Aden. Because the Aden authorities had blocked the airport runway with fire trucks, Captain Schumann landed on an adjacent stretch of sand. After considerable argument, he convinced the terrorists that he should leave the plane to examine the nosewheel, which had been slightly damaged during the landing. When he climbed back aboard, Mahmud confronted him in a towering rage. "Are you guilty or not guilty?" he yelled, forcing the pilot at gunpoint to kneel at the head of the cabin aisle. Then Mahmud placed a pistol in Schumann's face and killed him with one bullet. After that, one passenger said later, "we didn't have any hope left."

Next morning, with Co-Pilot Jürgen Victor, 35, at the controls, Charlie Echo flew on to Mogadishu, capital of Somalia. It was followed by Wischnewski's plane from Jidda. For a full hour, Chancellor Schmidt talked by telephone with Somalia's President Siad Barre, who finally agreed to permit a rescue operation to take place. Both Bonn and Mogadishu have denied reports that the Germans gave Somalia cash or promised assistance. But the Somalis, involved in a desert war with Ethiopia (TIME, Oct. 24), unquestionably need military aid.

Meanwhile, the German 707 with the second contingent of G.S.G. 9 men aboard took off from Crete. "This is Uniform Bravo, airborne over Egyptian territory," the captain told Frankfurt. "Got clearance to fly southward." Frankfurt replied: "Urgent that you reach Mogadishu airport as soon as possible. Rush your flight plan to Somalia. Do not waste time." A short time later, Frankfurt reversed itself and asked Uniform Bravo to slow down and see if it could land at Djibouti for a while. Uniform Bravo then reported that Djibouti was "asking too many questions we cannot answer," so Frankfurt ordered: "Keep holding over the area." Four hours passed before Frankfurt sent the vital message to Uniform Bravo: "Fly to Mogadishu. Make landing after dark and avoid using inside lights. Your new identification is Juliet Kilo 66." Presumably, this code-name change was a way of telling the commandos to prepare to attack.

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