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pudge (1)

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Journal of pudge (1)

Sunday February 10, 2002
10:37 AM

A Day in September

[ #2751 ]

I watched A Day in September on HBO this weekend. It's a 1999 documentary about the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I am sitting here shocked at how the Germans botched the operation.

Worst Police Operation Ever.

They were going to ambush the room where everyone was being held, but didn't realize that they were being televised live while in preparations, and that there were TVs in each athletes' room. En route to the airport, the terrorists saw armed people running to hide, tipping them off. They discovered en route that there were eight terrorists instead of four or five, and had no way to let the people at the airport know of the change in intelligence. They had only five snipers, and the snipers, when they started firing, were dreadfully ineffective, and were positioned in each others' line of fire. A German officer in a building was killed with a stray bullet.

One German sniper, caught in the line of fire, shot only when a terrorist was heading right for him, and after he fired, additional Germans came up and, not knowing the locations of the men, mistook the sniper and a hiding helicopter pilot for terrorists and seriously wounded the both of them.

Over in the airplane there were German officers disguised as a flight crew. They unanimously abandoned the mission minutes before the terrorists and hostages arrived, because they felt it was a suicide mission. That's one of the worst things I've ever heard.

That is, at least, until the one remaining terrorist -- only three survived, and they were released by Germany after a plane was hijacked a few weeks later, and Israel hunted down and killed two of the survivors -- admitted in the documentary that the German government set up the whole hijacking to allow them to save face and hide evidence about how bad they botched the whole operation. And to top it all off, the German government returned the bodies of the killed terrorists to Libya, where they received a hero's welcome. I'd have had their bodies burned and flushed down the toilet, soon to be followed by their three executed brethren who survived their mission.

One great line from the documentary: "The operation disproved the long-standing myth of German ruthlessness and efficiency."

The living terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey, spoke on camera (in a shadow) and said he is proud of what he did, all for the Palestinian cause. He currently lives in Africa somewhere with his wife and children (maybe we can call all of Africa harborers of terrorists? ;-). He made me recall a scene I'd seen on TV from the new Schwarzanegger movie, Collateral Damage. The terrorist says to Arnold, "we're alike, you and me," or something just as typical. "We both kill for a cause. What makes you think we are not the same?" My immediate thought, recalling the Israelis who killed the Palestinian terrorists, was, "Because I'm only going to kill you." Which is what Arnold said moments later.

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  • ... that the German government set up the whole hijacking ...

    I've never heard that one before, and it doesn't make any sense to me.

    As to the botched police operation, that is precisely the reason: the people involved were ordinary policemen with no counter-terrorism experience at all. Mossad chief Zvi Zamir offered the help of Sayeret Matkal, but the German government arrogantly turned it down, claiming that their own "security forces" could handle the situation. It was only after the massacre that the
    • I'll readily admit that the source -- Jamal Al Gashey -- is suspect, since he's a horribly evil man who deserves to die. However, he has no motive that I can tell to lie; the German officer whom they interviewed (I can't recall his name) said that it was very possible; and the circumstances themselves were apparently suspect (small number of passengers on the hijacked plane, no women, no children, etc.).

      Zvi Zamir was interviewed for the documentary as well. It's a good work, you can see it and decide fo
  • I saw that documentary too. Quite staggering levels of incompetence on the part of the German police. Some of it forgiveable (security of the village for instance; it wasn't until there'd been attacks like this that people realised there was a threat), lots of it not. The behaviour of the press, in running the live feed of the German forces preparing to attack the appartments was utterly irresponsible for instance. As was letting the cameras that close in the first place.

    However, there was no way on this
    • Ironically, 5 years later they exactly the reverse situation: a hijacked Lufthansa machine was sitting on the Mogadishu airfield and they had to convince the Somalian government to let GSG9 (and SAS) operators perform the rescue attempt instead of Somalia forces. I believe they actually trained with the Somalians until they admitted that they couldn't pull it off themselves.

      I remember watching an interview with the German official (Wischnewski) leading the negotiations with the Somalian president. He pro
    • I believe the documentary said that German law prohibited the army from taking over, that they had to do it with their police or other domestic security forces. Maybe something like the CIA not being allowed to act inside America's borders? Dunno.
      • Ooh look, we have a sudden group of volunteer police officers with just the right training for this sort of thing. I do believe they've all just resigned their commissions in the German army...