Munich 1972

Daniel Johnson reviewed David Clay Large’s Munich 1972 in the weekend Review section of the Wall Street Journal this past Saturday. The review is titled “Terror at the games.” Johnson hails the book, just published yesterday, as representing “an almost ideal matching of historian and subject.”

The subject of the book is the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes by the Arab terrorist group Black September. Johnson refers throughout his review to the group by that name without further ado. But what was Black September?

Black September was simply the first of the deniable Fatah/PLO covert units. When a Black September unit assassinated United States Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel, his deputy and a Belgian colleague in Khartoum the following year, American authorities quickly determined exactly what “Black September” was: a front for Fatah operating under the personal direction of Yasser Arafat.

Indeed, through a post in Cyprus that listened in on PLO communications, NSA analyst Jim Welsh had overheard Arafat planning the operation and confirming the coded orders given to Black September operatives to pull the trigger on Noel and the others. I put everything I learned about the story in the Weekly Standard article “How Arafat got away with murder.”

The story of Black September is history, but it is not merely of historical interest. Arafat’s right hand man is the current (illegitimate holdover) president of the Palestinian Authority and he served as the financier of the Munich operation. Even if justice is never to be rendered for the horrendous massacres in Munich and Khartoum, the least we can do is remember.


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