As Americans begin holding ceremonies in remembrance of the terrorist attach by al Qaeda on September 11, 2001 perhaps it is important to go back and remember another attack, which took place in Munich, Germany in 1972. The attack was planned and executed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. I was a young U.S. Army Captain and commander of a field artillery battery in Augsburg, Germany when this internationally televised terrorist attack happened. After the Munich attack my unit, the 1st Infantry Division (FWD) provided additional security for the Olympic village.
I learned a harsh lesson during those days, as Benjamin Franklin wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Jeff Dunetz in his article “The Munich Olympics Massacre 45 Years Later” wrote:
Yassir Arafat sent five Palestinian Terrorists into an Olympic Village dedicated to peace and international cooperation. The funding for the terrorist team was arraigned by the future President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Their successful mission was to shock the world–kidnapping and killing the Israeli Olympic team. This was the first terrorist tragedy played out live and worldwide on TV which is probably why we all remember that picture of the Ski-masked terrorist on the balcony.The Olympic committee did not feel the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes were important enough to cancel or even delay the Olympic games, after all, they were only Jews.
“Incredibly, they’re going on with it,” Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time. “It’s almost like having a dance at Dachau.”
In his book Abu Daoud, who was the mastermind behind the Munich attack stated:
“After Oslo in 1993, Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] went to the White House Rose Garden for a photo op with Arafat, President Bill Clinton and Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
“Do you think that … would have been possible if the Israelis had known that Abu Mazen was the financier of our operation? I doubt it.”
When Abu Daoud died, Abbas has eulogized him as he has done with many terrorists since:
He is missed. He was one of the leading figures of Fatah and spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people’s just causes.
At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and their surviving hostages to Munich’s little-used Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, where events went tragically awry. Within minutes all of the Israeli athletes, five of the terrorists, and one German policeman were dead.
Why did the rescue mission fail so miserably? And why were the reports compiled by the German authorities concealed from the public for more than two decades?
Simon Reeve takes on a catastrophe that permanently shifted the political spectrum with a fast-paced narrative that covers the events detail by detail. Based on years of exhaustive research Reeve, in his book One Day in September gives a definitive account of one of the most devastating and politically explosive terrorist attacks of the late twentieth century, one that set the tone for 45 years of renewed conflict in the Middle East and beyond.
September 5th, 1972 set the stage for September 11th, 2001.
As George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Watch Simon Reeve discussing his book One Day in September.