It was the worst tragedy to have ever hit the sporting world. The event took place during the Munich Olympics on September 5, 1972. A terrorist group called Black September raided the Israeli Olympic Team’s quarters in the Olympic Village and took most of the team members hostage. To everyone’s horror, eleven members of the team were murdered by the end of this ordeal. The photograph presented here is the one best associated with this tragic event. This iconic photograph was taken by Kurt Strumpf of the Associated Press and shows an unidentified terrorist standing in the balcony of the Building 31 of Munich Olympic village. Members of the Israeli Olympic team and Israeli delegation were staying in this building.
Munich massacre was caused by the ugly scuffle between Palestine and Israel. Black September was a Palestinian militant group and it decided to murder the Israeli sportsmen to attract world’s attention towards their cause.
Eight members of the Black September group entered the Israeli team’s quarters at 4:30am. Ironically this intrusion was assisted by the Israeli team members themselves who were also sneaking into the Olympic Village after enjoying a night-out. Upon entering the quarters; the terrorists immediately killed one team member and took others hostage. The Black September group demanded the release and safe passage for 234 Palestinians, who were jailed in Israel, to Egypt . Israel’s response to this demand was immediate and absolute: there would be no negotiations. Israel wanted to send a special commando unit to Germany to handle the crisis, but the German government refused the offer. A rescue operation was launched by the German security forces but they failed to save the hostages.
Once the hostage crisis was over with the murder of athletes and escape of terrorists; the Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered Mossad to hunt down and kill the terrorists involved in the killing of Israeli athletes.
Mossad is name of the Israeli intelligence agency (like RAW is for India, CIA for America, KGB for Russia, MI5 for UK and ISI for Pakistan). Mossad code named this operation as Operation Wrath of God and over the next 20 years Mossad continued to track down and murder the people involved in the Munich Massacre.
A Steven Spielberg movie called Munich (2005) depicts this entire episode and the aftermath. If you are interested in knowing more details about the event you should watch this movie. I did not find it to be a very good movie but it fulfilled the objective. There is another movie called Sword of Gideon (1986) on the same subject.
As I said above, the terrorist visible in picture could never be identified. He could be any of these: Luttif Afif (“Issa”), the leader, his deputy Yusuf Nazzal (“Tony”), and junior members Afif Ahmed Hamid (“Paolo”), Khalid Jawad (“Salah”), Ahmed Chic Thaa (“Abu Halla”), Mohammed Safady (“Badran”), Adnan Al-Gashey (“Denawi”), and his cousin Jamal Al-Gashey (“Samir”).
Did you know?
- After failing to save hostages, Germany realized that its counter terrorism expertise were far less than adequate. It then developed an elite counter terrorism force called GSG 9 (which, reportedly, at present is one of the best in the business)
- It is believed that Jamal Al-Gashey is still surviving and living in Africa or Syria. He is the lone terrorist who has survived the Operation Wrath of God. Jamal still fear that Mossad agents would eventually kill him.
- After these killings, the Olympic games continued. A mourning meeting of all the athletes and delegates from all the participating countries was organized in the main stadium. During this event flags of all the countries (as well as the Olympic Flag) were hoisted half-mast. However, the Arab countries protested against it and demanded their flags to be raised to full-mast. The demand was fulfilled.
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