Apparently, back in the 1970s and 1980s New York City had its very own Croatian nationalist terror attacks. Who knew?
The group was called the Croatian National Resistance, or Otpor (or Odpor) for short. It was founded by Vjekoslav “Maks” Luburic, a leader of Croatia’s World War II-era Ustasha government.
Aside from New York City, the group was also active in Chicago and Los Angeles, with other members also in Cleveland, San Francisco and Toronto as well as in South America and in Europe.
Their primary goal was to secure the independence of Croatia from the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia but their activities mostly consisted of attacks on pro-Yugoslav or moderate Croats in the US and elsewhere.
Among the incidents:
29 December 1975 – LaGuardia Airport attack. Croatian Nationals at LaGuardia Airport kill 11 and injure 75 after detonating a bomb with the force of 20 sticks of dynamite in a coin operated locker at the TWA terminal. The force of the explosion turned locker doors and metal pieces from baggage carousels into deadly shrapnel.
10 September 1976 – TWA hijacking. Terrorist Zvonko Busic, his wife and three other Croatian terrorists, as a result of concerns about the plight of Croatia within then communist Yugoslavia, hijack a TWA jetliner from LaGuardia Airport, bound for Chicago and re-routed to Paris, seizing 86 passengers. There were no weapons aboard the plane, but genuine explosives were left behind in a Grand Central Station baggage locker in order to create the impression that there were weapons on the plane. Bomb Squad Officer Brian Murray tragically lost his life attempting to deactivate the bomb. Another Glory of Carniola reader adds, that was the flight where Vesna Vulović secured the most terrifying world record of all: surviving the highest fall without a parachute. And apparently Vesna landed straight into a folk song, “Vesna stuardesa” (check out Aviation Security International, How to Survive a Bombing at 33,00 Feet)
1977 - Assasination attempt on Radomir Medic at United Nation mission.
1978 - Two killed. Yugoslav immigrants Ante Cikoja and Krizan Brkic were killed in New York City and Los Angeles, resp.
1978 - Two critically wounded. Another two Yugoslav immigrants critically wounded in an attack in New York City.
2 July 1982 – Landmark sentencing of six Otpor activists on racketeering charges, including two planned murders.
6 July 1982 – Bombings in New York. Four New York Yugoslav sites bombed by Otpor in retaliation.
25 January 1983 - The First Otpor RICO Trial in New York City. Decision handed down in the case of USA vs. Franjo Ivic Nedjelko Sovulj, Ivan Cale and Stipe Ivkosic. All four Otpor members were convicted on various charges; Cale was sentenced to 35 years, Ivic to 30, Ivkosic and Sovulj both to 20.
14 April 1983 - The Second Otpor RICO Trial in New York City. Thirteen-week trail results in the conviction of six more Otpor activists. Defense lawyers accused the prosecution of being in bed with UDBA, the Yugoslav secret police, and alleged their clients were victims of the communist Yugoslav government, which influenced the US government to bring forward the charges.
The group was the subject of an episode of the FBI Files on the Discovery Channel which aired about this time last year.
DarkoV concludes: It was not a pleasant time to be an American of Croatian birth, who had no interest in any violent overthrow. Luckily, the main organizers were arrested or they disappeared, so life returned to normalcy again, namely, back to the times when most Americans didn't know who or what a Croatian was.
Thanks for the info, DarkoV!Previously on Slavs of New York: Slovenes in the East Village and Manhattan's Croats