THE TERROR ATTACK ON ISRAELI ATHLETES
at the 1972 Munich Olympics marked an escalation in the war between Arab guerillas and Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. TIME covered not only the initial attack, but also the "series of chillingly executed missions" that Mossad carried out to liquidate those behind the Munich murders. Some highlights of TIME's coverage:
The Arabs made their move at 4:20 a.m. as the sprawling Olympic Village ... lay quiet and sleeping in the predawn darkness. Two telephone linemen saw a group of young men wearing sporty clothes and carrying athletic equipment scale the 6 2/7-ft. fence surrounding the village. It was a fairly common occurrence; many of the Olympic athletes had broken training to enjoy a night on the town, and then scaled the fence to re-enter the compound. But once out of sight, the Arab group stopped to blacken their faces with charcoal or put on hoods, and pull weapons out of their bags. Then they set off toward the Israeli quarters at 31 Connollystrasse, named, in an Olympic tradition, after U.S. Hammer Thrower Harold Connolly and his Czech-born wife, Olga, a discus thrower.
From Horror and Death at the Olympics
Sep. 18, 1972
'The elite of our sportsmen have died and the Olympic spirit died with them.' So said Israeli Deputy Premier Yigal Allon last week as his countrymen buried their dead
From Israel's Dead Were the Country's Hope
Sep. 18, 1972
Black September has been difficult to combat partly because its members operate in extremely small cells. It gets its money from Al Fatah—which is largely underwritten these days by Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi—as well as directly from other governments and wealthy Palestinians. Whether Arafat knows what goes on is a closely held secret.
From Black September's Ruthless Few
Sep. 18, 1972
Last week, in the aftermath of the Munich murders, the Israeli government vowed to carry the war of terrorism back to the Arabs—guerrillas and host countries alike—and to strike at times and places of Israel's own choosing.
From Israel's New War
Sep. 25, 1972
In all their activities in Europe, the terrorists have access to Arab business offices as well as embassies and consulates, which often provide money, or even a quick change in passports. The Algerian, Iraqi, Egyptian and South Yemenite embassies are said to be especially helpful; the Libyans are also cooperative, particularly at their consulate
From Europe's Black September
Sep. 25, 1972
Last week, the latest round of terror that began with the murder of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich reached a new and deadly level. Before the week ended, 64 similar letter bombs flooded Israeli diplomatic offices in New York City, Ottawa, Montreal, Paris, Vienna, Geneva, Brussels, Buenos Aires and Kinshasa as well as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; fortunately, all were discovered before they could do any damage.
From And Now, Mail-a-Death
Oct. 2, 1972
Mourning the eleven Israelis who were murdered by Arab guerrillas of the Black September movement at the Munich Olympics last fall, Premier Golda Meir promised a war to avenge them. Israel, she said, would fight 'with assiduity and skill' on a 'farflung, dangerous and vital front line.' Mrs. Meir never explained where that front line was to be, but it is now becoming ominously evident. Across Europe and the Middle East, Israeli intelligence agents and Palestinian Arabs are fighting an ugly, deadly battle of attrition. For each, the targets and victims are the other side's suspected spies.
From Deadly Battle of the Spooks
Feb. 12, 1973
In agony and outrage over the murder of its athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Israeli government organized a 15-man group of killers to liquidate the leadership of Black September.... In a series of chillingly executed missions, the counter-terror squad has since gunned down at least 13 Arab conspirators in such cities as Paris, Rome, London, Stockholm and Beirut. The team has also aborted, by its estimate, 37 plots against Israel. But last week the assassins made their first known mistake: they killed the wrong man.
From Fatal Error
Aug. 6, 1973
One of the least known but most feared intelligence operations in the Middle East is a special branch of Mossad—the Israeli version of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, known familiarly as the 'Institute'—which was organized in 1972 to conduct anti-terrorist campaigns against the Palestinian guerrillas. Last week there were indications that Mossad was on the offensive again.
From The 'Institute' Strikes Again
Jul. 14, 1975
Abu Daoud (real name: Mohammed Daoud Mohammed Auda) is a mysterious figure in the P.L.O.'s terrorist operations who is widely believed to have had a key role in the 1972 Munich massacre in which 17 people died, including eleven Israeli athletes.
From L'Affaire Daoud: Too Hot to Handle
Jan. 24, 1977
In the summer of 1972, Abu Daoud was given the most important assignment of his underground career. He was sent to Munich as an advanceman for the Black September terrorists who carried out the Olympic Games massacre. Traveling under the nom de guerre Sa'ad ad-Din Wali, he spent several weeks in Munich, securing and stashing guns and scouting the Israeli quarters in the Olympic Village.
From Abu Daoud--Terror's Advanceman
Jan. 24, 1977
When students of the gray world gather, the conversation—whispered, of course —often turns to the quality of intelligence services. The CIA and KGB rank, on a scale of 1 to 4, at the top. Here, with help from intelligence operatives in the U.S. and abroad, TIME rates the other services.
From Spy Guide
Feb. 6, 1978
Abu Hassan, 36, was a trusted lieutenant of and potential successor to Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. As chief planner for the terrorist organization Black September, Abu Hassan was behind the raid at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in which eleven Israeli athletes were killed, and a wide assortment of other terrorist attacks and murders. Five times the Israeli intelligence organization, Mossad, had tried to kill him; the most memorable failure was a 1973 operation in Lillehammer, Norway, that resulted in the death of an innocent Moroccan waiter who the Israeli hit team thought was the 'Red Prince,' their code name for Abu Hassan.
From Death of a Terrorist
Feb. 5, 1979
The documentary 'One Day in September' aired by HBO Monday night is a timely reminder, on the eve of the Sydney Olympiad, of the day the Games lost their innocence.... The Munich Olympiad was sandwiched between two bloody wars in which the Jewish state fought for its survival, and its athletes and coaches were clearly part of a nation prepared for war.
From Revisiting the Olympics' Darkest Day
By Tony Karon
Sep. 12, 2000
Following indignant words from the paladins of the Olympic movement, after a little mournful Beethoven, the Games of Munich went on. It's an article of faith that The Games Must Go On. For the 30 years since, the Olympics — indeed, all sports events of any great scale — have carried on, even if permanently altered by the awareness that terrorists could again strike.
From When The Terror Began
By Alexander Wolff
Aug. 25, 2002
The first and most important thing to say about Munich, Steven Spielberg's new film, is that it is a very good movie--good in a particularly Spielbergian way.
From Spielberg Takes On Terror
By Richard Schickel
Dec. 12, 2005