Munich Olympics Terror
The 6th of September 1972 AD
We would like to recall Munich 1972 for the victory of Mary Peters in the Pentathlon, but the murderous attack on Israel’s Olympic team is etched deeper on the memory.
It was an event that shocked the world on many levels. In ancient Greece wars stopped and differences were put aside for the Olympic Games; yet Palestinian terrorists chose the Munich Olympics for one of its most devastating operations. The cold-blooded murder of peaceful athletes was surely impossible to understand or forgive for nearly all those around the world enjoying the sports. And West Germany’s dismal failure to protect the Israelis, its amateurish bungling when attempting to rescue them, were totally at odds with our ideas of German organisation.
On September 5 a team of eight well-trained Black September terrorists infiltrated the Olympic village, made its way to the main Israeli quarters, and captured 11 athletes and coaches. Two died fighting the gunmen. After negotiations the remaining nine men were transported late in the evening to a nearby airbase, where a plane awaited, supposedly to fly the terrorists and Israelis to Cairo; in fact an ambush had been arranged. Incredibly only five border policemen, amateur marksmen ill-suited to the task, were assigned as snipers following incorrect intelligence about the size of the terrorist group; their weapons were inadequate; and they were poorly placed (one badly injured by a fellow-policeman). Police officers posing as aircrew on the plane abandoned their mission unilaterally. The operation inevitably went horribly wrong. All the nine Israelis were murdered; one police observer was hit and killed in the control tower; and five Black September operatives died at the scene, the last at about 1:30am on September 6. Three were captured.
Astonishingly and disgracefully after a service of remembrance the Games recommenced. Yet more astounding is the fact that the following month another terrorist attack led to the suspiciously rapid release to Libya of the three held after the Munich killings.
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