What advice would Nelson Mandela give to Julienne Busic?

Julienne Busic (L) Zvonko Busic (R)

Translation into English of article written by Ivan Pepic, Vecernji List 

„Julienne Busic is once again the target in certain media of cyber-bullying and false accusations. This time the impetus is her support for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in the second round of presidential elections on January 5“, writes Ivan Pepic in his Vecernji List blog-sphere.

Certain journalists have defined Julienne and Zvonko Busic as terrorists due to their participation in the hijacking of an American passenger plane in 1976. It might seem incomprehensible today, but in the 1970s, there were over 60 recorded plane hijackings. They differed in goals, ideology, and, most of all, in their approach toward hostages, cooperation with authorities, and views regarding the murder of civilians and politicians.

The goal of the Busic hijacking was to throw leaflets from their plane over London and Paris describing the oppression of Croatians in Communist Yugoslavia. Witnesses claim that the treatment of passengers by the hijackers was excellent, as well as their behaviour toward authorities. This is confirmed by numerous letters from the plane passengers, many of whom still communicate today with Julienne Busic. Unfortunately, due to the proven negligent handling of the explosive (left in New York’s Grand Central Station) during the deactivation procedure four and a half hours later at the detonation site, an American police officer died. Zvonko and his then 28-year old wife were sentenced to life imprisonment in the U.S., with parole eligibility for Zvonko after ten years, and for Julienne after eight years.

Several Croatian web sites have described Julienne Busic as a „convicted terrorist“. The truth is that the Busics were never convicted of terrorism, nor did they intend to kill, in contrast to scores of other 1970s hijackers. Federal judge John Bartels stated in 1976 during their sentencing that „before I begin, it would be incorrect and unfair if I did not say that I do not consider Zvonko Busic, his wife, or the others war criminals or terrorists“.



United States District Judge John R. Bartels letter 1992 (click to enlarge)

He said the same thing in 1986, when parole was being considered: „there is no question in my mind that Julienne was not a terrorist in any sense of the word.“ And in 1992, he supported parole for Zvonko Busic, stating that he „was not a terrorist.“  The word „terrorist“ is also not mentioned anywhere in the sentencing statement.

However, when the Croatian media oligarchy promotes censorship instead of freedom of speech – assisted by immoral „paragons“ such as Vesna Pusic (who falsely accused Croatia of committing aggression against its neighbouring country) – and labels Julienne Busic a terrorist, as well as other Croatian defenders who took up the gauntlet outside Croatia and returned in the 1990s – who cares what the American courts have to say?

US District Court Judge John R. Bartels letter 1986:
“There is no question in my mind
that Julienne Busic was not a terrorist in any sense of the word…”

Telegram’s journalist, Jasmin Klaric, expressed no outrage when Karl-Heinz Dellwo, convicted member of the terrorist, Communist organisation Baader-Meinhof, which was responsible for the deaths of no less than 34 people and the wounding of 296 more in terrorist attacks between 1973-1995, gave an interview to Zarez and other media financed by Croatian taxpayers.  Karlic was mute when Dellwo held lectures at the Philosophy Department during the Subversive Festival in 2008, and actively participated in promoting Yanis Vaoufakisa in Zagreb in 2015. Dellwo was sentenced to life imprisonment for a hostage crisis and murders of two employees in the West German Embassy in Stockholm  He served 20 years, seven more than Julienne Busic, the object of their vilification.  On the other hand, Dellwo enjoys media and intellectual space in Croatia, although her liability is far less than that of the German terrorist group.

The same applies to the Italian Marxist, Antonia Negri, member of the Red Brigade.  Negri was convicted of terrorism and directly participated in murders and assassinations.  He went on the run, but ultimately served twenty years in an Italian prison. The Red Brigade is known for its cruel murder of the Italian premier, Aldo Moro.  Negri was presented recently in the Croatian media as, and I quote, the „guru of the post-modern left“.  He was also a guest at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, as well as other events financed by the state budget.

These same people also glorify Nelson Mandela. Mandela received a life sentence for 221 acts of sabotage and terrorist actions consisting of the deaths of innocent civilians, and blowing up public and government buildings in the name of freedom from the ongoing repression of the South African apartheid. Amnesty International even refused to name him „Prisoner of Conscience“ in 1964 due to his advocacy of violence, in contrast to the Busics, who did not. His struggle left deep scars on South African society, which is today suffering from its own type of apartheid, but in the opposite direction.

For years Mandela was considered a terrorist, until the United States and several other countries began to militate against racial discrimination. Support for this effort was needed from leftist political organisations such as the French Socialist Party of Francois Mitterand, who also offered assistance to members of the Red Brigade through the „Mitterand Doctrine“; it offered political asylum which was enjoyed predominantly by Communist fugitives.

Mandela went to prison in 1964 and was released in 1990, after serving 27 years. Ten years later, in a Larry King interview on CNN, Mandela had this to say about whether he was a terrorist: „Well, terrorism depends on…who wins…I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.”

The accuracy of his statement was illustrated by Bill Clinton’s clemency for members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), in 1990. The FALN was responsible for 130 terrorist attacks, murders, and wounding of scores of people.  It is noteworthy that the clemency was granted just before Hillary Clinton’s election to the American Senate. More Puerto Ricans reside in New York, the state in which Hillary was a candidate, than in Puerto Rico. The clemency guaranteed Hillary their votes.

The same applies in Croatia.  Ideological apologists on the left, usually blind followers of Yugoslav-style censorship, control who gets „pardoned“, who is censored in schools, and which subversive guests appear in public. For these kind of people, Julienne Busic will always be a „terrorist“, although she never was.

Busic’s actions cannot be compared with the actions of the convicted terrorists and guests of Zagreb salons, Negri, Dellwo and others, but a lot of time will apparently have to pass before the anti-democratic journalists indoctrinated in Yugoslav press schools will accomplish what Mandela envisioned.

Charles Sullivan, President of International CURE letter 2019 (click to enlarge)


Who Killed Zvonko Busic?

Zvonko Busic (L) Tihomir Dujmovic (R)

Until 2008 the U.S. officially considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist. During the Cold War, both the State and Defense departments dubbed Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, a terrorist group, and Mandela’s name remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list till 2008. Mandela was imprisoned in 1964 after being arrested and charged with sabotage, specifically a campaign against the country’s power grid, and plotting to overthrow the government. He was released in 1990, at age 71. He was elected president of South Africa in 1994, in the country’s first full and free elections, and served until 1999. In 1986, Ronald Reagan condemned Mandela’s group (as did the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), the ANC, which was leading the black struggle against the apartheid regime, saying it engaged in “calculated terror … the mining of roads, the bombings of public places, designed to bring about further repression.” After the apartheid regime in South Africa declared the ANC a terrorist group, the Reagan administration followed suit. In August of 1988, the State Department listed the ANC among “organizations that engage in terrorism.” It said the group ”disavows a strategy that deliberately targets civilians,” but noted that civilians had “been victims of incidents claimed by or attributed to the ANC.” The U.S. Defense Department stood by its language, and Mandela and other ANC officials remained on the terror watch list even as President Bush welcomed Mandela, newly released from prison, to the White House in 1990. Because of what was described as a “bureaucratic snafu,” their names were kept on the list until 2008, 14 years after Mandela had been elected president and nine years after he had left power. He was 90 at the time.

All this tells us that even though terrorism is real today there is a need for caution in the way we respond and particularly when responding to actions of freedom fighters of past eras prior to the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. Regimes imposed brutal oppression and repression against people, which led to numerous expressions of retaliation or rebellion including actions that may appear of terrorist nature particularly to those associated with the keeping of the regime but never to those wanting freedom from the regime. Indeed, in those days it would appear that “terrorist-like” activities were the only choices available for those who wanted freedom from oppression changes for nations.

Croatia’s Zvonko Busic was a freedom fighter, seeking with others in his group to topple the murderous and oppressive Communist regime in former Yugoslavia; specifically to topple it in Croatia and free Croatia from Yugoslavia.

As with Nelson Mandela, very very few today would see Zvonko Busic’s actions and the actions of his group during the 1970’s in the same light as, say, the atrocities of al-Qaeda.

Zvonko Busic, a Croatian freedom fighter, served 32 years in prison in the United States for hijacking a plane and planting explosives that, through members of New York Police Department’s reportedly reckless disregard for Busic’s instructions as to how to safely defuse the explosives, killed one policeman (Brian Murray) and injured three others.

Busic was working in New York when he led a group of five people who on September 10, 1976, hijacked TWA Flight 355 flying from New York to Chicago with about 80 passengers and crew members on board.

Zvonko Busic, his Oregon-born wife, Julienne Busic (formerly Eden Schultz), Frane Pesut, Petar Matanic and Mark Vlasic said at the time they wanted to draw attention to Croatia’s bid for independence from communist-led Yugoslavia. The passengers on the hijacked plane had testified to the fact that they were treated well and never felt their lives were threatened during the hijacking. Indeed, several testified in New York court in favour of the hijackers.

Soon after takeoff from New York’s La Guardia Airport, Zvonko Busic got word to the pilot that he had planted a bomb in a locker at New York’s Grand Central railway station. He handed the written instructions as to how the bomb must be defused so that it hurts nobody. The hijackers demanded that a statement about Croatian independence be published in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald Tribune. All the papers except the Herald Tribune complied. When the skyjackers confirmed that their statements had been printed by the newspapers, they surrendered.

In 1977, Zvonko and Julienne Busic were convicted of air piracy resulting in death, which carried a mandatory life sentence with parole eligibility after 10 years. Julienne Busic was released from prison in 1989 after serving the minimum13 years and Zvonko Busic was released on parole in 2008 after serving 32 years upon which he was deported from U.S. and returned to Croatia, where in 2013 he committed suicide.

The others involved — Frane Pesut, Petar Matanic and Mark Vlasic — received 30-year sentences, released on parole in 1988.

I did not do this act out of adventuristic or terroristic impulses,” Zvonko Busic told the court in New York before receiving his sentence. “It was simply the scream of a disenfranchised and persecuted man.”

If I had ever imagined that anyone could have been hurt,” he added, “I would never, even if it had cost me anonymous death at Yugoslav hands, embarked on that flight.”

In Croatia, which gained independence from Yugoslavia, but not without untold devastation and death at the hands of Serb aggression in the 1990s, Zvonko Busic received a warm welcome from masses in 2008 as a hero of the country’s struggle for statehood. But, holding positions of power in the country at the time, the former communists and their supporters did not participate in this warm welcome. Indeed, they went out of their way at times to ensure Zvonko Busic continues to be labelled as a terrorist. These were the same people that did not want an independent Croatia in the first place and drove the persecutory wagon that would, for quite a number of years, attempt to criminalise Croatia’s defensive Homeland War with lies and false accusations. The best example of the latter, of the crucifying lies, may be seen in the indictments by the Hague International Criminal Tribunal of Croatia’s generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, who were in 2012 finally acquitted of all charges.

That politics determines whether an act previously seen as terrorism becomes, after diligent consideration, an act of courageous freedom fight from oppression is well demonstrated by the Nelson Mandela and Zvonko Busic cases. Nelson Mandela was escalated to the ranks of Nobel Prize (1993) winner for peace, while Zvonko Busic committed suicide reportedly from sheer desperation at seeing that although free and democratic on paper, Croatia was still in the grips of repressive communist mentality and control.

Elevating Zvonko Busic’s freedom fighting to that which Nelson Mandela lived to enjoy will, if it occurs at all in the communist minded surrounds, most likely take a number of years. In this path of true believers in true Croatian freedom we come across an extraordinarily skilful and dedicated author, journalist, columnist, television presenter, publicist – Tihomir Dujmovic. Tihomir Dujmovic has recently completed the manuscript of his new book on Zvonko Busic and he plans to launch it in early March 2018. Parallel to this,

Tihomir Dujmovic is all set for the March 2018 premiere of his theatre play “Who Killed Zvonko Busic”, the plot of which is based on his book “Croatia in the Jaws of the Children of Communism”.

Both the new book and the theatre play on Zvonko Busic by Tihomir Dujmovic hold a torch for true delights all freedom fighters will surely embrace. The humanity found in freedom fighting, such as the one Zvonko Busic engaged in, Nelson Mandela engaged in, and scores of others around the world, does, always, in the end, shine through.

At the 1970’s trial to Busic and his group in New York the judge said that Zvonko Busic’s actions were motivated by a noble cause, i.e. Croatian independence. The judge also determined that any harm to others was completely unintentional.

His whole life Zvonko Busic cherished the ideal of a democratic and free Croatian society in which people would live with equal rights and opportunities. It is an ideal he lived for, he tried to achieve at enormous personal risks and in the end – an ideal for which he died. Croatia, the world, must never lose this from sight. Ina Vukic

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