After the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Germany cooperated with Black September, the Palestinian terrorist group that orchestrated the deadly attack, the German weekly Der Spiegel revealed Sunday. Following the tragedy in September 1972, Germany tried to establish a relationship with the group’s leaders, hoping that this would dissuade them from carrying out any more attacks in the country, the paper reported.
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In this context, the German ambassador to Lebanon, Walter Novak, met with Yusuf Najjar, also known as Abu Yusuf, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s intelligence arm, which ran Black September. Just a week after the meeting, in April 1973, Najjar and two other PLO operatives were killed by Israel in a reprisal raid in Beirut called Operation Spring of Youth.
At the meeting, attended by other members of Black September, Novak suggested the parties sign a contract that would be “the basis for a new understanding” between Germany and the terrorist organization. To further advance this understanding, a meeting between Abu Yusuf and German foreign minister Walter Scheel was planned in Cairo, but it never took place.
Najjar’s death did not end the Germans’ courtship of the Palestinian group. According to Der Spiegel, high-ranking German officials met with Ali Hassan Salameh, the Black September operations chief who masterminded the Munich massacre (he was assassinated by the Mossad in Beirut in 1979) and with Amin Hindi, another of the organization’s leaders, who later became the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief. These meetings were attended by representatives of the Bundespolizei, Germany’s federal police force.
German cooperation with the terrorists was not limited to secret agreements between the parties; it also included expressions of sympathy toward the terrorists. For example, the Munich massacre was called “an act of resistance” in internal German correspondence. This is especially true in the case of the German Foreign Ministry; Novak told Abu Yusuf that Germany empathizes with and can understand the suffering of the Palestinian people, since many Germans live as refugees around the world.