Former neo-Nazi Reveals How He Switched From Palestinian Terrorism to CIA

Willi Voss, who abetted the 1972 Munich massacre, reveals in a new book that the CIA recruited him to help prevent anti-Israeli terrorism.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

A German criminal who worked for the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September has revealed in a new book that the CIA recruited him following the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics to thwart anti-Israel activities.

Willi Voss, 68, now lives in Europe and earns his living writing detective novels. His connections with the Palestinian terrorists were revealed in July when the German magazine Der Spiegel published classified documents released by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Germany, ahead of the 40th anniversary of the massacre of the Israeli athletes at Munich. In a correspondence with Haaretz this summer, Voss admitted to and apologized for his involvement in the massacre.

Now, half a year later, he has revealed another thrilling part of his tangled and shady biography: He was also an agent of the American Central Intelligence Agency, operating under the code name Ganymede - after a servant of the gods in Greek mythology.

In a feature article this week in Der Spiegel, Voss claims he provided the United States with information and documents that helped thwart terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe.

Beginning in 1975, Voss says, he worked as a CIA mole in the Black September organization, taking advantage of his closeness to three Palestinian terrorists: Abu Daoud, Abu Nidal, and Abu Jihad.

In his new capacity, Voss exposed terror cells in various countries, photographed documents at the Palestinian Liberation Organization intelligence headquarters, and provided information about connections between neo-Nazis and Fatah activists under Yasser Arafat's leadership.

Voss' control at the American organization confirmed the claims in a conversation with Der Spiegel, and added that the United States took Voss under its wing and saw to it that he would not be arrested in Germany, where he was a wanted man.

Voss recounts his life story in a book published recently in Germany, “UnterGrund” (“Under Ground”), describing his time as a petty criminal in Germany in the 1960s and his acquaintance with neo-Nazi right-wing activist Udo Albrecht, whom he met in prison.

With help from Voss, Albrecht escaped from prison hidden in a shipping container and made his way to Jordan – where he joined up with Palestinian terrorists headed by Abu Daoud – eventually the mastermind behind the Munich Olympics massacre.

Voss too linked up with the Palestinian activists and helped terrorists acquire forged passports, cars and weapons. In September of 1972, the terrorists carried out the massacre in Munich, in which the 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.

The real part Voss played in the massacre is not clear to this day. According to his version, he gave logistical help only and did not know about the terrorists’ intentions. In any case, several weeks after the massacre, the German police arrested him in possession of weapons from the same source that had armed the terrorists used in Munich. According to the reports in Germany, the weapons were intended for use in abductions and bargaining actions throughout Germany.

The German authorities' conduct toward Voss is still unclear to this day. Initially, a court in Munich sentenced Voss to two years in prison. However, his trial was suspended and he managed to slip out of Germany and reach Beirut, where he joined up with the Palestinian terrorists.

This might have had to do with his lawyer’s negotiations with the German authorities. According to the Der Spiegel report, he proposed Voss’ services as a mole in Black September to provide Germany with information that could prevent further terror attacks in its territory. In the end, the negotiations failed and Voss went back to helping the Palestinian terrorists.

In 1975 he “repented.” He and his girlfriend were arrested as they tried to smuggle a car loaded with explosives across Europe. He then realized, he says, that the innocent looking car he had been asked to drive from place to place on behalf of Fatah was booby trapped and could have killed him. At that point, he says, he decided to defect and connect with the CIA. He made contact with the American Embassy in Belgrade, introduced himself as an officer in Fatah and offered his services. He tells the rest of his story in the new book.

Memorializing the Munich 11.Credit: AP
Former neo-Nazi Willi Voss.Credit: Screengrab from the German television channel ZDF

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