By WOLFGANG SAXON
Published: July 27, 1986
A principal actor in the violent past of the Black Panthers – sought for 14 years in connection with the hijacking of an airliner – arrived under guard from Paris at Kennedy International Airport yesterday.
Federal authorities had waited 14 years for the extradition of Willie Roger Holder to stand trial in the hijacking of a Western Airlines jet out of Los Angeles to Algiers in 1972.
When Mr. Holder, 38 years old, at last flew in shortly after noon aboard an Air France flight, he was escorted by French security officers who turned him over to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The F.B.I. said last night that he was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center pending arraignment in Federal court in Brooklyn on Monday. $500,000 Ransom Paid Mr. Holder and a companion, Catherine Marie Kerkow, were accused of seizing Western Airlines Flight 701 on June 2, 1972, to force authorities to free Angela Davis, a prominent black militant then on trial for murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in San Jose, Calif. Threatening the crew and passengers with what the F.B.I. called a ”bomb in an attache case,” they also demanded $500,000.
Flight 701, with 98 passengers and a crew of seven, was enroute to Seattle, where the ransom was paid and all passengers were set free. The plane then flew to New York, Boston and on to Algeria.
The 20-hour odyssey ended in Mr. Holder and Miss Kerkow being taken into custody by the Algerians, who also returned most of the ransom money Western Airlines had put up. But a request for their extradition fell on deaf ears as the Government in Algiers allowed them to stay.
Within days of the event, Federal authorities obtained indictments against Mr. Holder and Miss Kerkow on air-piracy and kidnapping charges from a Federal grand jury in Brooklyn. Davis Was Acquitted
The hijacking failed to free Miss Davis, who was being tried in connection with the slaying of a judge inside a San Rafael, Calif., courthouse during a shootout. Ironically, she was freed, just days after the hijacking when the jury acquitted her of all charges. She remained active as a black militant, ran for national office as a Communist, and took a job teaching women’s and ethnic studies at San Francisco State University.
In September 1972, the small band of Black Panthers exiled in Algeria proclaimed Mr. Holder their leader. After that, his whereabouts became clouded and the F.B.I. yesterday declined to say more than that he had traveled in France, where he ran afoul of the law.
Mr. Holder and Miss Kerkow were arrested in France in 1975. He was tried in Paris in 1980 on air-piracy charges, the first person ever to face a French court for having hijacked an airliner abroad. Found guilty, he was let go with a suspended five-year prison sentence.
By then, Miss Kerkow had disappeared from France.
Mr. Holder’s arrest by the F.B.I. was announced by John L. Hogan, assistant director in charge of the New York office. He said Miss Kerkow was a Federal fugitive, her whereabouts unknown.