BLOGGING FROM A TO Z
A 1970’s Time Capsule
NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY
MUNICH OLYMPICS AND TERRORISM
Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.
The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on. Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE
In the early morning hours of September 5, 1972, six members of the Arab terrorist group known as Black September dressed in the Olympic sweat suits of Arab nations and jumped the fence surrounding the Olympic village in Munich, Germany, carrying bags filled with guns. Although guards spotted them, they paid little attention because athletes often jumped the fence during the competition to return to their living quarters.
After changing into disguises, the terrorists, toting machine guns, burst into the apartments of 21 Israeli athletes and officials. Yossef Gutfreund, a wrestling referee who valiantly tried to keep the terrorists out, saved Tuvia Sokolovsky, who was able to climb out a window and escape.
In another apartment, Moshe Weinberg was shot 12 times but still managed to wound one of the terrorists and save the life of one of his teammates.
The terrorist group, Black September was created in 1970 by a few survivors of the “ten terrible September days” of fighting against Jordan for a Palestinian homeland.
The group’s name is derived from the Black September conflict begun on 16 September 1970, when King Hussein of Jordan declared military rule in response to a fedayeen coup d’état to seize his kingdom — resulting in the deaths or expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from Jordan. The BSO began as a small cell of Fatah men determined to take revenge upon King Hussein and the Jordanian army. Recruits from the PFLP, as-Sa’iqa, and other groups also joined.
Initially, most of its members were dissidents within Fatah who had been close to Abu Ali Iyad, the commander of Fatah forces in northern Jordan who continued to fight the Jordanian Army after the PLO leadership withdrew. He was killed, allegedly through execution, by Jordanian forces on 23 July 1971. It was alleged by them that the Jordanian prime minister at the time, Wasfi al-Tal, was personally responsible for his torture and death. There is newsreel about the events of 1970 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_September_%28group%29
On September 5, 1972, Black September succeeded in taking nine hostages before demanding the release of 234 prisoners-most of whom were Arab terrorists. The demands were categorically refused, but it was eventually agreed that the terrorists and the hostages would be taken to the Furstenfeldbruck airport by helicopter and given a plane.
The German government planned an ambush at the airport, stationing sharpshooters around the runway and officers in the airplane. However, the plan quickly disintegrated when the officers in the plane, worried about their lack of preparation, deserted. There weren’t nearly enough sharpshooters to effectively take down all of the terrorists either, partly because the Germans didn’t realize that two other terrorists had joined the Black September attack.
Still, the ambush was carried out. Three terrorists were taken out in the first wave of shots, but the others were able to hide out of range. One threw a grenade into a helicopter where five hostages were still tied up, instantly killing them all. Another terrorist fired his machine gun into another helicopter, killing the remaining hostages.
Early on September 6, 1972, American reporter Jim McKay makes history, telling the world, “When I was a kid my father used to say, ‘Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized.’ Our worst fears have been realized.” He announces that all 11 Israeli athletes are dead.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Munich Games were temporarily suspended. A memorial service for the 11 slain Israelis drew 80,000 mourners to the Olympic stadium on September 6.
International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage, who was widely criticized for failing to suspend the Games during the hostage crisis, was further criticized for his decision to resume them on the afternoon of September 6. On September 11, closing ceremonies ended the XX Olympiad.
Twenty hours after Black September had begun their attack, a German police official, 5 Palestinian terrorists, and 11 Israeli athletes lay dead.
A few days after the tragic event at the Olympics, Israel retaliated with air strikes against Syria and Lebanon, killing 66 people and wounding dozens. In addition, Israel sent out assassination squads to hunt down members of Black September while Israeli troops broke through the Lebanese border, igniting the heaviest fighting since the Six-Day War of 1967.
On October 29, Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa jet in Beirut and ordered it flown to Munich, where the three surviving Munich terrorists were being held. Germany agreed to turn the terrorists over in exchange for the release of the airliner’s passengers and crew, which was carried out after the jet landed in Libya. The Black September terrorists, however, did not enjoy their freedom for long. Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, formed an assassination squad that eventually killed two of the three terrorists along with at least six others believed to have been involved in the attack on the Israeli Olympic compound. One of the Munich terrorists, Jamal al-Gashey, survives in hiding.
If you are interested in reading more about these events, there is a very good article that presents a timeline
All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.