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The Munich Massacre

(Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)

Terrorism has been with us for centuries. Instilling fear in others has always been a tactic used to control groups of people by dictators and radicals. We got our first real look at terrorism up close and personal in Munich, Germany on September 5, 1972 at the Summer Olympics. It was carried live on TV’s around the world forty-one years ago today.

A Palestinian group known at Black September took 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. They demanded the release of 234 prisoners held by the Israelis. They also demanded the release of Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof of the German Red Army Faction who were held in German prisons at the time.

“Iqrit” and “Biram”

Black September named their attack after two Christian Palestinian villages, “Iqrit” and “Biram” which were depopulated and destroyed in 1948 by Israeli Defense Forces. The villagers of the two cities fled to Lebanon and nearby Palestinian villages after expulsion. The two villages eventually became part of the new State of Israel.

Moshe Weinberg

When the attackers forced their way into the athletes quarters wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg fought with them and they shot him through the cheek. Weinberg led the terrorists to the apartment housing other wrestlers and weight lifters in the hopes that the bigger men could overpower the terrorists.

On the way back to the Weinberg’s room he attached them again allowing one of the wrestlers to escape. Weinberg knocked one unconscious and slashed another with a knife. He was shot and killed in retaliation. They threw his body out the door during negations to prove their resolve.

Rescue Attempt

Five of the eight terrorists holding the Israeli Olympic team where killed by police officers when a failed rescue attempt failed. All 11 member of the Israeli team were killed. The three surviving members of Black September were captured but later released by West Germany as a trade for the hijacked airliner Lufthansa. It’s suspected that Black September might have gotten help from German neo-Nazis who were sympathetic to East Germany.

The Mossad

Israel was unhappy with the release of the three surviving terrorists and decided to take action on their own. They enlisted the help of the Mossad, The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, responsible for collecting intelligence, covert operations, and counterterrorism.

The Mossad created two operations to deal with the terrorists, “Operation Spring of Youth” and “Operation Wrath of God.” The Mossad would use these two operations to systematically track down and kill all Palestinians suspected of involvement in the Munich Massacre.

Some Final Thoughts

The world is much different than it was 41 years ago. I’m not sure Israel could go around the world killing individuals today as they did then. Unfortunately terrorism seems to have been accepted as a way of life in many parts of the world. Compared to attacks in other countries I suppose you could consider us very lucky. There have been at least ten or more attempted terrorist attacks on the US since 9/11 but no successful ones. Of course, tomorrow’s another day.

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