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Farewell, Black September

Posted on:2008-07-25     Posted by :左茂红

The Beijing Olympics present a formidable security challenge for the Chinese government, which has devoted an enormous amount of resources toward making it the safest in the event's history. The EO interviews an Israeli counter-terrorism expert to assess the security of the Olympics and put them into a historical perspective.

By Zhang Jing

The infamous Black September incident might be the darkest moment in Olympic history.

In the wee hours of September 5, 1972, eight heavily armed members of the Palestinian militant group Black September snuck into the athletes' village in Munich, West Germany. They raided the Isreali quarters, killing two athletes and taking nine others hostage.

The after a 24-hour standoff and a gunfight between German police and the militants, all the hostages, five militants, and one policeman were left dead.

The Munich Olympics was interrupted for 34 hours as the city sank into fear and mourning.

Following the massacre, the Israeli government organized retaliation against Black September with a series of air strikes and assasinations under what was called Operation Wrath of God.

To prevent history from recurring, the Israeli government has strengthened protection for its own athletes, gathered vast experience in anti-terrorist operations and undertaken security operations in other countries.

For instance, Isreal was among the seven countries providing services to a special security taskforce for the  2004 Athens Olympics in Greece.

In the coming Beijing Olympics, scheduled to open on August 8, China too has tapped resources from Isreal.In March, the founder of Isreal's Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) Boaz Ganor visited China and met up with Chinese anti-terrorism experts. Later the same month, China sent a group of personnel to Isreal for training.
The EO has recently interviewed Ganor to poll his views on security issues concerning the Beijing Olympic.

Ganor is also a member of Israel's National Committee for Homeland Security Technologies, the International Advisory Board of Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in Singapore, and the International Advisory team of the Manhattan Institute (CTCT) for the New-York Police Department (NYPD).

He has served as a consultant to the Israeli Government on Counter-Terrorism. From 1989 to 2003, he was a member of the trilateral—Palestinian, Israeli, American—Committee on Incitement, established under the Wye Accords.

The EO: What are your experiences in working for Olympic Games' security? Compared with anti-terrorism measures in other cases, what part of security planning is unique to such a big sports event?

Ganor: The Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) was involved in some consulting projects for the Greek Authorities for the Olympic Games, and the challenge of thwarting attacks during the Olympic Games is much bigger than at other events. First of all, this is because the Olympics are a worthy target. Terrorists are eager to succeed in attacking the Olympics because there is a high concentration of international media covering the events. They also have many potential targets – crowded places, the games and events, Olympic facilities. They can also use this platform to specifically attack athletes from the states that they regard as their enemies.

The EO: What are the experiences in security planning could Isarel share with China? Would you give please state some examples?

Ganor: Together with Sri Lanka, Israel is one of the states that suffers more than any other state from the phenomenon of terrorism, and Israel has accumulated a lot of experience in not only prevention, but in managing the crisis when it happens and in fast recovery from suicide attacks. These are all skills that Chinese authorities should learn -- not just how to prevent such attacks, but, if one were to occur, how to recover in a way that would not destroy the Olympic Games entirely. It is important to recover fast and go on with life – not letting terrorism interfere entirely with the Olympics.

The EO: As for the security work during China's 2008 Olympics, do you have any suggestions? In your view, what are the difficulties and priorities?

Ganor: The main suggestions I would give security authorities is to be aware not just of the threats that terrorism poses to the Olympic facilities and personnel – delegations, the audience, events, etc – but also to the possibility of terrorist attacks against other crowded places in the main cities of China and air carriers to and from China during the Olympic Games. Terrorists' aim is to draw media coverage of their attacks and public attention to their grievances. The high concentration of mass media at the Olympic Games makes any attack, anywhere in China, appealing to terrorists.

The main difficulties are connected to the fact that China is living among dangerous neighbors. These neighbors -- Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc -- serve as a hub of global jihadi terrorism. An attack could come from external units sent by al Qaeda or another proxy organization, or it come from local, internal terrorism -- possibly from extremist elements from the Xinjiang province, which are influenced by global jihadism and Al Qaeda, and have been encouraged by them to attack China.

China is a huge continent with large territories, making it easier for terrorists to infiltrate the country or prepare a unit of terrorists in China to conduct an attack. As it hosts millions of western visitors, it will be very difficult for Chinese authorities to monitor all visitors. Terrorists may be able to infiltrate the country in that manner.

The EO: You have participated in editing some books on anti-terrorism. What roles do you think could other members of the society play, such as spectators, the media and other institutions, to ensure security for the Games?

Ganor: There is no way that governmental agencies, including security services and police, will be able to effectively counter terrorism without the active participation, support, and awareness of the public. Therefore, the experience we have in Israel is that awareness by the public has prevented many terrorist attacks. An educated public could also interfere and stop an attack before it causes an extensive number of causalities and damage.

The EO: During the Athens Olympic, Israel undertook security tasks together with America, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Spain. What did Israel do to achieve the goals successfully?

Ganor: I was not involved with official Israeli efforts but I would say that the international community sees the Olympics as an international event, and therefore sees thwarting attacks as an international challenge, and not just a Chinese challenge. With this in mind, one observes more and more international readiness to contribute and cooperate with the state hosting the games in order to share knowledge, experience, and skills to counter the threat.

The EO: Do you think an Olympics armed to the teeth would have some influence on people's enthusiasm for the Games?

Ganor: Counter-terrorism or security measures should be a combination of revealed – or visible --security measures, meant to deter terrorists from launching attacks, as well as concealed security measures including many security personnel that can not be recognized as such, who can give needed early warnings or intervene in the early stages of the attack. The combination of the two – revealed and concealed measures -- is best way to deal with the terrorist threat and encourage public confidence. I believe the Chinese would like to know that their leaders are taking threats seriously and doing their best to provide protection.

Originally appeared in Olympics, page 35, issue 375, July 7, 2008
Translated by Ren Yujie
Orginal article
: [Chinese]

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