Munich Olympics Massacre
Black September Organization
FBI - CIA - Department of State - Department of Defense Files, and White House Recordings
536 pages of CIA, State Department, Defense Department, FBI Files, and three hour-thirty-six minutes of White House recordings related to the Munich Olympic Massacre, Black September Organization, and Palestinian Hijackings.
The modern age of terrorism was ushered in by the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. At approximately 4:00 AM on September 5, 1972, Palestinian gunmen entered the complex containing the Olympic Village apartments. The gunmen made their way to apartment one and inserted a passkey. After successfully entering the apartment they captured five Israeli athletes. The terrorists expanded their search throughout the complex, capturing six additional athletes in apartment number three. By approximately 5:00 AM, the terrorists had killed two Israeli team members and captured nine. Due to an unanticipated battle and chaos, the terrorists failed to locate eight additional team members in apartments two, four, and five. Two other Israeli athletes in apartment one escaped and made their way to safety.
The Palestinian off-shoot group, the Black September Organization, claimed responsibility for the actions at the Village Apartments. The terrorists demanded the release and safe passage to Egypt of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, and an additional two German terrorists in German prisons. The Black September Group requested a jet to transport them to Cairo where the prisoners demanded for release by Israel would meet them. The German police determined that in order to conduct a successful hostage rescue, they had to confine the terrorists to Germany. To initiate a rescue, they decided the best option was to isolate the terrorists at Germany's Furstenfeldbruck Airport. Once at the airfield, West German snipers would attempt a hostage rescue operation.
It was only after the arrival at the airport that the West German Police realized there were eight terrorists, not the five originally estimated. Considering the early estimate of five terrorists, the police deployed only five German snipers at Furstenfeldbruck airport to initiate the rescue. The German police placed a dummy Lufthansa Boeing 727 at Furstenfeldbruck airport, located approximately fifteen miles from the center of Munich. Eight police officers deployed around the jet dressed as flight attendants and crew members. These police officers were without radio contact with the command post or other police units.
As the terrorists moved a 'safe' distance from the hostages, the police snipers were ordered to open fire. Their initial rounds went off-target and a full gun battle ensued. The Israeli captives were still sitting bound in the helicopters which had transported them to the airfield. The initial firefight between the fedayeen and police lasted approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. The German Police decided to initiate an 'infantry' attack to move the terrorists from the vicinity of the helicopters. As the attack began, one fedayeen tossed a grenade into one of the helicopters holding five of the Israeli athletes. The helicopter exploded, killing all five athletes. Shortly thereafter, another fedayeen member entered the second helicopter, shot, and killed the last four hostages. Three of the surviving kidnappers lay on the ground and were captured by police. Jamal Al-Gashey had been shot through his right wrist, and Mohammed Safady had sustained a flesh wound to his leg. Adnan Al-Gashey had escaped injury completely. Yusuf Nazzal, the final kidnapper, had escaped the scene, but was tracked down using dogs and tear gas 40 minutes later, and was shot dead after a brief gunfight.
Palestinian guerrilla group, The Black September Organization (BSO), claimed responsibility for the killing of the eleven Israelis in Munich. The Fatah originated in 1957 and boasted an estimated membership of over 11,000 by the late 1980's. The United States Department of State's 1988 publication of Terrorist Group Profiles, describes the Fatah as the military arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Fatah is an acronym spelled backwards representing Harakat al-Tahrir al Filistini. The phrase translates as Palestine Liberation Movement. Former Fatah leader Yasir Arafat (Abu Ammar) assumed leadership of the PLO in 1969. The Fatah utilized the name Black September Organization from approximately 1971 to 1974.
On October 29, a German Lufthansa jet was hijacked and demands were made for the release of the three Black September members being held for trial. Safady and the Al-Gasheys were immediately released by Germany and flown to Libya. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the Israeli Defense Committee made a decision, secretly authorizing the Mossad to track down and assassinate those responsible for the Munich massacre.
117 Pages of CIA files related to the Munich Olympic Massacre. Files are composed of Central Intelligence Bulletins and Weekly Terrorism Reviews dating from September 6, 1972 to December 3, 1984. Includes 57 pages of CIA briefings for the two months after the attack addressing: CIA assessment of Israel's likely response. Effect on West Germany's self-esteem and its upcoming elections. Response of Arab states to the murders. Information about Israeli strikes against Fadayeen installations. Israeli actions in Lebanon and the Lebanese response.
DEFENSE DEPT. FILES
Countering Terrorism: The Israeli Response to the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre and the Development of Independent Covert Action Teams.
A 48 page study published by the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in 1995. The purpose of this study was to examine the methodology of the covert action teams authorized by Prime Minister Golda Meir to find and assassinate those individuals responsible for the attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in September 1972. Specifically, the study addresses whether the operational and tactical methods utilized in this counterterrorist effort were successful relative to the original operational objectives.
In 1972, the Israeli Mossad initiated one of the most ambitious covert counterterrorist campaigns in history. Golda Meir and the Israeli cabinet's top secret 'Committee-X' devised a campaign in retaliation for the massacre of eleven Israeli's during the Munich Olympic Games, broadly referred to as Operation Wrath of God or Mitzvah Elohim. Black September's (BSO) assault on the Olympic Village apartments on September 5, 1972, set in motion a chain of events unparalleled in the history of terrorism and antiterrorism tactics.
The report contains an extensive overview of the Munich Massacre. The study contains two case studies. The first case examines the details of the attempted assassination of Ali Hassan Salameh in Lillehammer on July 21, 1973. This operation resulted in the death of a Moroccan man misidentified as Ali Hassan Salameh and the exposure of seven Israeli officers in a highly publicized media event. On January 22, 1979, the Mossad found and killed Ali Hassan Salameh in Beirut using a remote-controlled car bomb.
The second case examines an independent team organized by senior Mossad operations officer Mike Harari, referred to as Avner's team. The pseudonym "Avner" represents the unit team leader selected by Harari. Mossad Chief Zwi Zamir provided the group with the identities of eleven top targets for assassination. Avner's unit consisted of five highly trained individuals with varied specialties. Each officer had some second and third language proficiencies. The different specialties included: devising alias documents, stealing vehicles, improvised explosive devices (IED), small arms, electronics, business, banking, and operational security. The premise of the unit was total flexibility. Although each officer had specialized skills, each team member could essentially perform any task. To sever any official ties with the Israeli Government, Avner's team resigned from their positions in the Mossad. With no formal contractual agreements, the resignations effectively terminated any further paper trails. The unit's goal was to operate until the successful completion of the mission or until death or injuries rendered it inoperable.
The report includes names and backgrounds of the targets on Mossad's hit list. A chart shows the 11 targets, whether they were hard or soft targets, the team assigned to assassinate, the date, location, and method for the hit, whether the hit was successful, if any members of the team was arrested, and collateral damage during the operation.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DOCUMENTS
324 pages of Department of State documents, dating from 1969 to 1972, covering the Munich Olympic Massacre, the actions of the United States after the massacre, material dealing with hijackings performed by Palestinians in the years prior to Munich, with Black September Organization connections.
Highlights among the documents include: Memo from NSC Staff member Hoskinson to Henry Kissinger reporting on the Israeli hostage situation in Munich and commenting that the Department of State was at a loss over how to apply pressure on the terrorists. A National Security Council memo shows that President Nixon discouraged Israeli retaliation. A memo from Secretary of State Rogers, informing President Nixon of the anti-terrorism initiatives he planned to take after the Munich Olympics Massacre. A telegram details a September 8, 1972, conversation with Israeli Ambassador Rabin on how to respond to the Munich incident.
Memos give responses to the 1969 Israeli attack on Khaldeh Airport in Beirut Lebanon. Memos show Israel holding fast to its policies on dealing with terrorism, during hijacking incidents of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Memos chronicle the international reaction to the Dawson's Field hijacking of September 6, 1970, when four different jet aircraft bound from Europe to New York City, El Al Flight 219, Pan American Flight 93, TWA Flight 741, and Swissair Flight 100, were hijacked by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine members. Two of the four flights landed at a remote desert airstrip in Jordan called Dawson's Field. El Al security officers on El Al Flight 219 shot and killed one of the two hijackers and captured the other, Leila Khaled. The plane landed at Heathrow airport in London and Leila Khaled was taken into custody. Pan American Flight 93 was a Boeing 747 and was determined to be too large to land at Dawson. It was flown to Cairo, emptied of its passengers and blown-up. The next day a fifth plane, BOAC flight 775, was hijacked by unrelated sympathizers during its flight from Bahrain to Beirut, and brought to Dawson's Field. The passengers were taken off the planes and all three planes were blown-up. All the hostages were released in exchange for the release of Leila Khaled and three PFLP members jailed in Switzerland. The Jordanian government's outrage over the incidents triggered the "Black September" Palestinian conflict in Jordan.
3 Hours 36 Minutes of President Richard Nixon White House recordings. Each tape has a log of the conversations. Mention is made of the Munich Olympic Massacre during the course of these nine different conversations, taking place between September 6, 1972 and September 8, 1972. Participating in conversation with President Richard Nixon are Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State William P. Rogers, H.R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman.
Points of conversation include: Israeli response to the Olympic murders. Kissinger's views of the events. Effect on the U.S. presidential election. Yitzhak Rabin's attitude concerning the events. Whether the Olympic Games should be canceled. Possible U.S. actions. President Nixon's conversations with Yitzhak Rabin. Fear that Israel would enter Lebanon. Prime Minister Meir's previous agreement on Beirut. The effect of the incident on Kissinger's secret trips to the Vietnam War peace talks in Paris. Israeli request for the U.S. to support cancellation of the Munich Games. Possible loss of Jewish votes if a misstep is made. Mark Spitz. The athletes' funerals in Israel. The politics of the Munich incident.
47 pages of FBI files concerning a discredited tip that the Black September Organization planned on blowing-up a U.S. plane to coincide with the closing of the Munich Olympics and a discredited alleged threat by BSO against President Nixon in November, 1972.
Targeted Killings: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Counterterrorism Policy
In addition to the 536 pages of material above, included on the disc is a 46 page report published in 2005 by the Bank of Israel, "Targeted Killings: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Counterterrorism Policy," which mentions the Munich Olympic retributions.
The files contains a text transcript of all computer recognizable text embedded into the graphic image of each page of each document, creating a searchable finding aid. Text searches can be done across all files in the collection.