Commending the Cowards: Mahmoud Abbas and the 1972 Munich Murderers

"The repeated eulogising of the Munich terrorists by Abbas and his clique is a scathing reflection of the low character of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority regime."

In 1966, when the Bavarian city of Munich was announced as the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics, it was a sign of Germany’s gradual normalisation with the rest of the world, 20 years after the end of World War II. The previous summer Olympic games held on German soil were the infamous Berlin games of 1936 which had been used by Hitler and his regime to promote Nazi ideology.

The Cheerful Games

These games were to be  “Die Heiteren Spiele ” or “The Cheerful Games” – a chance to show the world that another German nation was emerging from the darkness of the recent past. In keeping with this, the 1972 games were the first Olympic games to have an official mascot: a happy-looking and multi-coloured dachshund called Waldo. The opening ceremony on August 26th was spectacular and perfectly organised.

There were 15 athletes in the Israel team. Perhaps some of them felt some sense of apprehension in being in West Germany and the city where Hitler had launched his abortive 1923 putsch. Most notable in this regard was probably Shaul Ladany who competed in the 50-kilometre walk. He spoke perfect German and when congratulated on this by locals, he responded by pointing out that he was a Holocaust survivor and had learned the language in Bergen-Belsen.

The attack begins

For the first 10 days of the games, everything was going according to plan. Then in the early hours of September 5th, eight heavily-armed members of the Black September group (a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation) broke into the Olympic Village. Once inside the village, the attackers gained access to one of the three apartments where the Israeli team was staying. They also broke into another of the apartments and took hostage the residents, forcing them at gunpoint to go back to the first apartment. They now had a total of 9 hostages under their control. Their demands were the release of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails as well as the freeing of two leading members of the notorious Baader-Meinhof gang.

It’s not the intention here to give a detailed account of what transpired over the following 20 hours. There are in-depth accounts in the various sources at the end of this article. However, it is necessary to give some context. The Black September organisation was founded in 1970 following the deaths of thousands of Palestinians in September of that year in a 10-day war that has been largely forgotten. Is it possible that this is because the war was between – not Palestinians and Israelis but – Palestinians and Jordanians? The conflict began on 16 September 1970, when the Jordanian monarch, King Hussein started to take action against Palestinians terrorists who were trying to overthrow him and seize control of the Hashemite Kingdom.

This was in response to a rapidly deteriorating situation in Jordan with the country becoming the unwilling destination for numerous planes hijacked by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They had also tried twice to assassinate the king. The final provocation was the blowing up of several empty planes by the PFLP at the airfield where they were hijacked in a stunt staged for the international media – with King Hussein and his government unable to intervene. However, the result of the conflict was a crushing victory for the Jordanians. Thousands of the terrorists were killed and the others eventually left for Lebanon, where incidentally they played a major role in the destabilisation of that country leading to the outbreak of a bloody 15-year civil war.

Astonishing incompetence by authorities

Attempts by the authorities to deal with the Munich hostage crisis were marked by astonishing incompetence. A rescue endeavour by the West German police had to be abandoned when it was realised that it was being broadcast live around the world, to television sets in the Olympic Village, and presumably was being watched by the terrorists. Later that night, another attempt to rescue the hostages at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base fell apart disastrously due to a complete lack of training by police officers and inadequate coordination between them.

The idea had been to convince the terrorists that they’d be allowed to fly to Cairo on a Boeing 727 jet after releasing the hostages. Two helicopters were provided to take the terrorists and hostages from the Olympic village to the airbase. However, and to this day it seems incredible, the 17 West German police officers disguised as flight crew on the Boeing decided to abandon the plane without bothering to inform anyone. When the two terrorists designated to inspect the plane found it completely empty, they warned their fellow terrorists. Chaos ensued with poorly trained West German police snipers exchanging fire with the terrorists in conditions of almost complete darkness as the terrorists had been able to shoot out the tarmac floodlights.

Chaos at the airfield

To make matters even worse, a West German official announced around midnight that all the hostages had been freed and all the terrorists had been killed. This was completely untrue as the situation on the ground at the airfield was still in chaos. Shortly afterwards, the terrorists were able to murder all the remaining Israeli hostages. One of them threw a grenade into one of the helicopters where some of the Israelis were waiting to be rescued, killing all the occupants. Another opened fire inside the second helicopter killing the five remaining hostages.

The 11 Israeli victims of the Munich attack (Times of Israel)
The 11 Israeli victims of the Munich attack (Times of Israel)

The only good news from this whole atrocity is that in the initial stages of the outrage, some of the occupants of the apartments that were attacked did manage to escape. Numbered amongst these was the Holocaust survivor Shaul Ladany, the athlete mentioned in the third paragraph above who competed in the 50 km walk. For the second time in his life, he evaded death at the hands of evildoers trying to murder him.

Nevertheless, the world was horrified at the atrocity. It wasn’t just the killings. It was that during the long, lonely hours from their being taken as hostages to their deaths at Fürstenfeldbruck, there is evidence that the tied-up and unarmed Israelis were subjected to bestial degrees of torture by their cowardly but heavily-armed captors.

Disturbing details of the torture of the victims

According to sources that have come to light in more recent times, Yossef Romano – who was a weightlifter on the Israeli team – was shot while trying to defend his fellow team members in the initial stages of the attack. Following his shooting, he was left to die in full sight of his other team members who were also hostages. The terrorists also subjected him to what can be best described as mutilation of the genitalia. We can only hope that he had passed away before they did this. However, one cannot even imagine the daily pain of his family as they wonder – even now – as to whether or not he suffered in those last few dark hours.

There is also extensive evidence to suggest that some of the other hostages were repeatedly beaten to the extent that they had broken bones and/or shot wounds. That previous sentence might read as a quite innocuous statement, considering what has been described before in this article. However, how would you feel if you had to spend more than 20 hours with a shot wound or with one or more broken limbs, whilst being subjected to the cruelties of a psychotic terrorist who unconditionally hates you?

Abbas hails the killers

No-one should be surprised to hear that these terrorists are heroes to the current Palestinian leadership. In a Facebook post in April 2020, Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas honored Mahmoud Yusuf al-Najjar, Kamal Nasser and Kamal Adwan who participated in the atrocity. In September 2016, the official website of Fatah, hailed the murderous attack as a “heroic operation” and “one of the most important actions in modern history.” When Mohammed Daoud Odeh (the alleged mastermind who planned the atrocity) passed away in Damascus in July 2010, a large delegation from Fatah including Mahmoud Abbas attended his funeral to honour his memory and pay their respects.

A month later, when Amin al-Hindi (who was widely suspected of having played a major role in organising the attack) died, President Mahmoud Abbas along with other Palestinian leaders held a ceremony with military honors for him at the Palestinian Authority’s presidential headquarters in Ramallah. At the 2012 Olympics, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to allow a minute’s silence to commemorate the victims, the head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee made a bizarre intervention, sending a letter to the IOC President praising the refusal and saying that such a gesture would have been racism!

Nations and their heroes

And so it goes on. The Portuguese writer, Antonio de Figueiredo once wrote that nations can be known by the heroes they celebrate. He wrote this some years after the death of the dictator Salazar and was an expression of concern that at some future time, the Portuguese nation might choose to ignore all his misdeeds and might instead start to eulogise him, as some have done with Franco in neighbouring Spain.

So, what are we to make of the ongoing veneration by Palestinian society of the terrorists who tortured and killed 11 unarmed Israelis in Munich? In fairness, it would be wrong to say that all Palestinians regard them as heroes. Many Palestinians might be privately horrified at the crime but are not free to express their horror. 

However, the fact that Abbas and his cabal never pass up an opportunity to glorify those who planned and/or took part in this cowardly atrocity is a far more scathing comment on the low character of the PA regime than anything this writer could type. It is also one more reminder that in the quest for resolution of the Israel-Palestine issue, Israel is still waiting for the emergence of a real peace partner on the Palestinian side.

By Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh


  1. Munich massacre – (
  2. September 05 1972: Massacre begins at Munich Olympics – (
  3. 1972 Summer Olympics: The Munich massacre – Deutsche Welle (
  4. PA and Fatah honor Munich Massacre terrorists in anniversary posts – Jerusalem Post (
  5. PA official applauds decision to forgo ‘racist’ moment of silence for Munich victims – Times of Israel (
  6. Amin al-Hindi, Former Palestinian Intelligence Chief, Dies at 70 – New York Times (
  7. Palestinian Celebration of Munich Olympic Massacre Shows They Are Not Ready for Peace – Newsweek (
  8. Palestinian who planned Munich attack dies in Syria – Reuters (
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