FACTBOX-The Munich Olympics killings and their aftermath

March 7 (Reuters) - At the Munich Olympics in 1972, 11 sportsmen, coaches and a referee were killed in an attack by Palestinian gunmen. Here are some details about the attack and what happened:


-- On Sept. 5, 1972, during the 20th Olympic Games, eight gunmen from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) splinter group Black September raided the Israeli team’s quarters in the Olympic village in Munich, Germany.

-- They killed an Israeli weightlifter and a wrestling coach almost immediately, took nine others hostage and demanded the release of 236 prisoners held in Israel.

-- Later at Fuerstenfeldbruck military airfield near Munich, from where the gunmen were hoping to leave Germany, police opened fire and a gunfight erupted. All nine hostages were killed in two helicopters that had ferried them there from the Olympic site, and five of the gunmen and a policeman also died.


-- The tragedy brought the Games to a halt and cast a shadow over what had been a memorably joyful Games. All competition was suspended for a day when a memorial ceremony for the victims was conducted at the Olympic Stadium. Then-IOC president Avery Brundage’s decision to continue the Games after the attack was criticized by some.

-- He said: “Every civilized person recoils in horror at the barbarous criminal intrusion of terrorists into peaceful Olympic precincts. We mourn our Israeli friends victims of this brutal assault. The Olympic flag and the flags of all the world fly at half mast. Sadly, in this imperfect world, the greater and the more important the Olympic Games become, the more they are open to commercial, political, and now criminal pressure...”


-- Three remaining gunmen, who were captured alive, were freed when Palestinian hijackers took a Lufthansa airliner in Oct. 1972. They were flown to Libya where they received a hero’s welcome.

-- Israel responded by sending agents to kill the men it considered were the masterminds of the attack in an alleged covert operation that lasted a number of years. Several Palestinians were assassinated in various locations in Europe and the Middle East, but one operation was botched in 1973 when a Moroccan waiter whose identity was mistaken, was killed in Lillehammer, Norway. It led to the conviction and imprisonment in Norway of members of the Israeli hit squad.

-- Mohammed Daoud Odeh, also known as Abu Daoud, who masterminded the deadly assault, fled to Jordan and died of cancer in Damascus in July, 2010.

-- The tragedy was the subject of a number of books and films, including one by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, who used it and the subsequent Israeli assassinations as the theme of his 2005 film, “Munich”.

-- Israel has never formally acknowledged responsibility for the targeted assassinations -- shootings, bombings and military commando raids -- that killed members of the PLO blamed for the Munich attack.

Sources: Reuters/Dictionary of Arab-Israeli Conflict/Encyclopedia of Terrorism/Penguin Dict of 20th Century History

Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit