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Key figure in resolving 1975 AIA building hostage crisis, Osman Samsuddin, dies at 93

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 06:46 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the key figures who played an instrumental role in resolving the 1975 American International Assurance (AIA) Building crisis, Tan Sri Osman Samsuddin Cassim, died yesterday.

He was 93.

The news of Osman's passing was confirmed by his nephew-in-law, Dr. Anwardi Jamil.

"He passed away at Gleneagles Hospital at 9.30pm last night. He was admitted to the hospital the day before for fever.

"His remains will be buried today at Bukit Segambut cemetery, near the grave of his wife who passed away last year.

"Family and friends will miss him dearly as he was one of the kindest persons we knew," he said when contacted.

Osman served in government service for three decades, holding several key positions such as secretary-general of the Home Ministry.

His last position was the Public Service Department director-general where he served the role from Dec 1, 1980, to July 31, 1985.

He was awarded the 'Royal Order of the Polar Star' by the Swedish government in 2009, commending him for his bravery as one of the Japanese Red Army (JRA) hostages who were flown to Tripoli, Libya following a raid on the AIA Building in the city.

The 1975 AIA building hostage crisis was the first hostage situation reported in the country.

On August 5, 1975, five members of the JRA stormed the AIA building, which housed the United States Consulate and other embassies. They seized over 50 hostages, including diplomats and employees.

The JRA demanded the release of several of their imprisoned leaders and threatened to massacre all hostages if their demands were not met.

After intense negotiations, Japanese government eventually agreed to the demands and released five JRA leaders, who were flown to Kuala Lumpur via a Japanese Airlines DC-8 plane.

The four-day-long crisis ended after the JRA militants freed the hostages, and Osman Samsuddin, who was the Home Ministry secretary-general at the time, along with Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ramli Omar and two Japanese representatives, traded places with them.

The JRA members then boarded the DC-8 plane and flew to Libya with the released JRA leaders and the Malaysian representatives on August 8.

Upon reaching Libya, the JRA members were sheltered by the country's then-leader, Muammar Gaddafi, while Osman Samsuddin and Ramli Omar returned unharmed to Malaysia two days later.

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