Black September: The Munich Massacre

Without doubt the most tragic event in Olympic history came in 1972 at Munich.

By its end 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer had been massacred by the Palestinian group, Black September .

The ’72 Olympics were meant to be the happy, carefree Games as Germany tried to put behind it the Nazi-led games of 1936.

But that ended on September 5 when eight members of Black September snuck into the security-lax Olympic village wearing tracksuits and carrying machine guns. They were even helped over the fence by unsuspecting Olympic athletes who were also sneaking back into the village.

Two Israeli athletes were killed in the village as the terrorists took the hostages. The remaining hostages were killed during a failed ambush attempt by German authorities at a German NATO airbase where the group had been lured with the promise of a passage to Egypt.

The terrorists were also killed in the gunfight but not before the leader of the group had turned his gun on all the remaining hostages.

The bodies of the five Palestinians assassins killed during the gun battle were delivered to Libya, where they received heroes' funerals and were buried with full military honors.

Israel responded to the killings with Operation Spring of Youth and Operation Wrath of God, during which Palestinians suspected of involvement in the massacre were systematically tracked down and killed by Israeli intelligence and special forces.