Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israeli Olympians
The Modern Olympic games has usually been a uniting force for nations around the globe. The spirit of competition, even amongst serious rival countries, has been handled peacefully and without serious incident.
From the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, to the American boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and the Russian response at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 no political violence ever occurred. The only exception to this remarkable stretch of global unity came on September 5th and 6th, 1972 in Munich.
On that date an act of terrorism destroyed the peace that the Olympics represent. Early that morning eight members of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Black September movement snuck into the Olympic Village with murder on their minds.
The eight terrorists located the Israeli team’s living quarters and broke in. Members of the Israeli Wrestling team saw the heavily armed intruders and tried to fight them off. Two Israeli’s were shot and killed but gave several of their teammates the opportunity to escape.
The Palestinian gunman succeeded in taking 9 Israelis hostage and a standoff ensued. The terrorists demanded the release of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two members of the Red Army Faction (a German terrorist group) Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof.
German authorities attempted to negotiate with the Black September terrorists, but they did not waiver in their demands. West German Police were tasked with devising an assault and rescue plan. And it did not go well. Live TV was in its infancy, but with the Olympics going on there were live feeds everywhere. The Palestinian were able to watch cops prepare their assault right on live TV. Realizing this, a new plan had to be hatched.
The new plan wasn’t much better. This scenario was more than local cops could handle, but the post WW2 constitution prevented the West German Army from operating domestically. Negotiators were able to arrange for the terrorists to access helicopters to an airport and then a plane that would take the group and their hostages to Cairo.
The German police acting as an assault team would attempt overpower the terrorists as they left the helicopters and boarded the plane. A group of cops who were better than average shots, but not trained snipers, were designated a sniper team and issued rifles. At the last minute, the assault team decided to scrap the idea. A communications error left the snipers unaware of this cancellation.
As the terrorists and their captives left the helicopters, the sniper team opened fire, expecting the assault team to take action. But that never happened. As shots rang out, the terrorists began killing the hostages, burning the helicopters, and returning fire at the cops.
All nine hostages were killed along with five of the Black September gunmen. The remaining three were soon captured, but the damage was done. A total of eleven Israelis were killed along with a German police officer.
Much of the hostage crisis was captured by cameras and broadcast around the world. The attention that the Black September group received caused a spike in terrorism and the growth of international terror organizations. The Olympics would never be the same.
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