Black September Essay

Black September is both the name of Jordan’s war on the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the early seventies and the name of Palestinian terrorist movement created in revenge of the aftermath of Palestinian losses of the war in Jordan. Black September was a movement created by a break away Palestinian faction of Fatah. Fatah Is a Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the PLO. In Palestinian politics it is a more liberal group on the left wing of the spectrum, it is mainly a nationalistic group with some traits of socialism.

Fatah’s goal was to have liberation of Palestine and eradication of the Zionist existence. Fatah is not considered a terrorist group by any government. In the late 1960’s tensions between Palestinians and the Jordan government increased dramatically. With the amount of Arab resistance in Jordan the country basically became a state within a state, they eventually took hold of many strategic positions throughout the country. After their victory in the battle of Karameh, Fatah and other Palestinian militias began taking control of citizens in some areas.

They set up roadblocks, molested women and created illegal taxes to the Jordan people, which was ignored by Chairman of the PLO. In 1970, the Jordan Government fought to regain control over its lost territory, and King Hussein declared martial law on September 25th. The Jordan government had taken back much of what was lost, and was dominating in battle, so on the 27th of September Arafat and Hussein agreed to a ceasefire. The Jordan army inflicted mass numbers of casualties against the Palestinians- including 3500 civilians. Two thousand of the Fatah members made their way to the groups headquarters in Syria.

In the 60’s and 70’s Fatah provided training to a wide range of European, middle eastern, and Asian insurgent groups that were aimed to take out many Israeli targets. Some militant groups were affiliated with Fatah and cells created new groups such as Fedayeen and made their own agenda of plane hijacking and terrorist attacks. One of those new groups being Black September. Black September a Palestinian militant group was founded in 1970, they called themselves Black September because of the conflict between Jordan and Palestine that killed more Palestinian civilians than soldiers in September of 1970.

The group wanted to take revenge against King Hussein and the Iraeli’s who supported the massacre in Jordan. Black September has been responsible for a variety of terrorist activity in the early seventies. On November 28th, 1971 the group assassinated the prime minister of Jordan Wasfi Tel in retaliation to the expulsion of the PLO in his country. The Prime minister was in Cairo, Egypt at the time. Wasfi was leaving his hotel when four men approached him and they all unloaded on him. He was shot close to 30 times.

All four of them shouted that they were members of Black September and fled the scene, two of them were caught and arrested in Egpyt. In December of 1971 they attempted to assassinate Zeid al Rifai, Jordan’s ambassador to London and former chief of the Jordanian royal court. In February of 1972 they sabatoged a gas and electric plant in west Germany. In May of 72 they hijacked a Belgian aircraft flying from Vienna to London. In September of 72 the group sent dozens of letter bombs from Amsterdam to Israeli diplomatic posts around the world.

Many of those bombs were identified at posts offices, 4 made it to the embassy and one made to the Agricultural Counselor Ami Shachori in Britain. It blew up his desk sending fragments of wood and metal into his chest and stomach killing him instantly. In August of 1973 two members of the group were at passenger lounge in an Athens airport, they opened fire killing 5 people and wounding 55. The group is best known for their hostage taking in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. The hostage taking did not happen until about two weeks into the games.

They called their operation “Ikrit and Biram” after the two villages that had been massacred in Hagannah in 1948. The group infiltrated the Olympics by getting two members of black September hired as janitors for the athlete village for that years games. The security for the games was minimal, there were West German officers patrolling the area but only during the events. Otherwise they had unarmed guards in the area and only a chain link fence separating the public from the athlete village. There were a number of athletes that admitted to leaving the village to go into the city at night.

The night black September snuck in they were wearing athletic pants and sweatshirts, they also had heavy duffel bags filled with weapons. Apparently a member of the Uraguay team and several members of the US team bumped into these men as they were scaling the chain link fence. They assumed they were athletes and helped them get the bags over the fence, the Americans said this never happened but the athlete from urguay admitted to this. Since Black September had men as janitors with keys to most parts of the building, they made their way to the Israeli teams rooms. The building hosted rooms to the Chinese and urguay teams.

They let everyone but the Israeli’s go. Yossef Gutfreund, a wrestling referee, was awakened by a faint scratching noise at the door of Apartment 1, which housed the Israeli coaches and officials. When he investigated, he saw the door begin to open and masked men with guns on the other side. He shouted a warning to his sleeping roommates and threw his weight against the door in an attempt to stop the intruders from forcing their way in. Gutfreund was fired upon with an AK-47 nearly cutting him in half but his actions saved his roommate, coach Tuvia Sokolovsky, and gave him enough time to smash a window and escape.

Wrestling coach Moche Weinberg fought back against the intruders, who shot him through his cheek and then forced him to help them find more hostages. Leading the kidnappers past Apartment 2, Weinberg lied to the kidnappers by telling them that the residents of the apartment were not Israelis. Instead, Weinberg led them to Apartment 3, where the terrorists corralled six wrestlers and weightlifters as additional hostages. As the athletes from Apartment 3 were taken back to the coaches’ apartment, Weinberg again attacked the kidnappers, allowing one of his wrestlers, to escape through the underground parking garage.

Weinberg knocked one of the group members out and stabbed another with a knife before being shot to death. A weightlifter also attacked and wounded one of the intruders before being shot and killed. “The terrorists were left with nine living hostages. They were, in addition to Gutfreund, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, athletics coach Amitzur Shapira, fencing master Andre Spitzer, weightlifting judge Yakov Springer, wrestlers Eliezer Halfin and Mark Slavin, and weightlifters David Berger and Ze’ev Friedman.

Gutfreund, physically the largest of the hostages, was tied to a chair. The rest were lined up four apiece on the two beds in Springer and Shapira’s room and tied at the wrists and ankles, and then to each other. Romano’s bullet-riddled corpse was left at the feet of his bound comrades as a warning. ”(wiki) Of the other members of Israel’s team, racewalker Prof. Shaul Ladany had been jolted awake in Apartment 2 by Gutfreund’s screams and escaped by jumping off a balcony and running through the rear garden of the building.

The other four residents of Apartment 2 (marksmen Henry Hershkowitz and Zelig Stroch and fencers Dan Alon and Moshe Yehuda Weinstain), plus Lalkin and the two team doctors, managed to hide and later fled the building. (wiki) The terrorists demanded the release and safe passage to Egypt of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two German radicals held by the German penitentiary system, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, who were founders of the German Red Army Faction. The hostage-takers threw the body of Weinberg out the front door of the residence to show they were serious.

While Genscher and Troger were talking with the hostages, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, speaking for his captive teammates, had told the Germans that the Israelis would not object to being flown to an Arab country, provided that strict guarantees for their safety were made by the Germans and whichever nation they landed in. At 6 p. m. Munich time, the terrorists issued a new dictate, demanding transportation to Cairo. The authorities feigned agreement (although Egyptian prime minister had already told the German authorities that the Egyptians did not wish to become involved in the hostage crisis), and at 10:10 p. m. bus carried the terrorists and their hostages from the village to two military helicopters, which were to transport them to a nearby NATO airbase.

The authorities who led the Black September members and hostages in a third helicopter, had a different agenda entirely, they planned an armed assault on the terrorists at the airport. The helicopters landed just after 10:30 p. m. and the four pilots and six of the kidnappers emerged. While four of the Black September members held the pilots at gunpoint (breaking an earlier promise that they would not take any Germans hostage), Issa and Tony walked over to inspect the jet, only to find it empty.

Realizing they had been lured into a trap, the two members sprinted back toward the helicopters. Since the roads to the airport had not been cleared, the carriers became stuck in traffic and finally arrived around midnight. The terrorists panicked at the thought of the failure of their operation. At four minutes past midnight, one of the terrorists turned on the hostages in the eastern helicopter and fired at them with a machine gun from point-blank range. Springer, Halfin, and Friedman were killed instantly; Berger, shot twice in the leg, survived the initial onslaught.

The terrorist then pulled the pin on a hand grenade and tossed it into the cockpit, it destroyed the helicopter and incinerated the bound Israelis inside. Issa then dashed across the tarmac and began firing at random was shot by police. Another terrorist, Khalid Jawad, attempted to escape and was gunned down by one of the snipers. What happened to the remaining hostages is still a matter of dispute. A German police investigation indicated that one of their snipers and a few of the hostages may have been shot on accident by the police.

The West German police said the shootout with the well-trained Black September members showed a lack of preparation on their part. They were not prepared to deal with this sort of situation. In the end the Munich police issued a statement saying they take full responsibility. A secret Israeli squad was sent out to kill the 11 members of black September who planned the attack. There is a movie based on these assassinations called Munich. And in the January 25, 2006 parlamentary election, Fatah lost its majority in the Palestinian parliament to Hamas and resigned all cabinet positions and now is he main opposion party.