Black September

Black September and the murder of Israel's Olympic Athletes

1972 Olympics Memorial

 Getty Images / Joerg Koch

Black September is both the name of Jordan's ruthless war on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in September 1970 and of a Palestinian commando and terrorist movement created in the aftermath of the war to avenge the Palestinians' losses in Jordan.

Arab nations colloquially referred to Black September after King Hussein's 1970 crackdown on the PLO because of the brutality of the three-week war, which put an end to the PLO's rogue state-within-a-state in Jordan as well as its guerilla attacks on Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Hussein, who was the target of numerous assassination attempts by the PLO and other Palestinian factions, and whose authority had been in doubt, first signed a cease-fire agreement with the PLO in late September 1970; he then expelled PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and the PLO in early 1971. The PLO migrated to Lebanon, weapons and destabilizing designs in tow.

The Black September movement was created by the breakaway Palestinian faction of Fatah to avenge the loss of Jordan and more directly target Israelis by terrorist means. On Nov. 28, 1971, Black September assassinated Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tel while he was on an official visit to Cairo. The group targeted the Jordanian ambassador to Britain the following month. But its most notorious attack was the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in September 1972.

In turn, Israel launched an assassination squad to target members of Black September. It killed several of them, but also killed innocent people through 1973 in Europe and the Middle East. Fatah eliminated the movement in 1974, and its members joined other Palestinian groups.

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Tristam, Pierre. "Black September." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Tristam, Pierre. (2021, February 16). Black September. Retrieved from Tristam, Pierre. "Black September." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 14, 2021).