The families and friends of the victims of the Black September massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes 40 years ago need to know that they’re relatives and friends did not die in vain. As they campaign for a minute’s silence at the 2012 London Olympics they should be aware of the fact that the security operation around the most major sporting championship in the world has been created specifically to ensure that there isn’t a repeat of the tragedy that took their loved ones.
They may not succeed in their campaign for a minute’s silence but security officials everywhere are painfully aware of the failure of the West German security forces in 1972 and have ensured that it will not be something easily repeated.
In the wake of Munich counter terror strategies became a crucial part of any government’s security policy. Counter measures such as the German GSG 9 and the British Counter Revolutionary Warfare wing of the SAS were developed and the British Police spent a great deal of time training up their own armed response forces for handling just such a situation. The US Delta force, local SWAT teams and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team spend their lives training to counter exactly the same kind of attack that succeeded so cruelly in targeting Israelis.
Terrorists became the victims of their own success as the tragedy of Munich gave way to the successes of security services in countering their activities. In the years that followed 1972 the SAS succeeded in killing the terrorists who took over the Iranian embassy, the nascent GSG 9 killed the terrorists who had hijacked a plane in Mogadishu and of course Operation Yonatan came a mere 4 years after the Munich Olympics and put terrorists on notice that there was no where in the world for them to hide.
These operations put terrorists on notice that it was no longer possible to blackmail governments or to use people as bargaining chips in a murderous game of extortion. Terrorists were left with the understanding that the chances are that they wouldn’t survive the attempt and they certainly wouldn’t achieve their objectives. Such was the horror of this terrorist atrocity that it has lived on in the minds of people everywhere, never to be forgotten regardless of whether the Olympic officials allow for a minute’s silence at the upcoming games or not.