5 September 1972

A Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September of 1972” attacks and takes hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Two die in the attack and nine are murdered the following day.

The Palestinian terrorist group known as “Black September” was not a separate entity but rather a faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Black September gained notoriety for its involvement in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, which targeted Israeli athletes.

Formation: Black September emerged as a splinter group or faction within the PLO in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was named after the events of September 1970 when the PLO and the Jordanian government clashed in what is known as “Black September” in Jordan.

Munich Olympics Massacre: The most infamous and significant action associated with Black September occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. On September 5, 1972, a group of eight Palestinian terrorists, believed to be affiliated with Black September, infiltrated the Olympic Village and took 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Tragically, the hostages were later killed during a botched rescue attempt by German authorities.

Motivation: Black September’s actions, including the Munich massacre, were primarily aimed at drawing international attention to the Palestinian cause and demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. They saw acts of violence as a means to raise awareness and achieve their political goals.

Response: The Munich Olympics massacre shocked the world and drew widespread condemnation. Israel launched Operation Wrath of God, a covert operation to track down and assassinate individuals believed to be involved with Black September. Several members of the group were targeted and killed in the years following the Munich attack.

Disintegration: Over time, Black September lost influence and eventually dissolved, as the PLO distanced itself from the group and its tactics. The PLO sought to pursue a more diplomatic approach to achieve Palestinian national goals, which culminated in the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.

Legacy: The Munich Olympics massacre and Black September remain as a significant and tragic chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The events of 1972 underscore the complex and violent nature of the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and the challenges involved in addressing the conflict.