DAMASCUS, July 3 (Reuters) - The Palestinian who masterminded the
deadly assault on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics died in Syria on
Saturday, Palestinian officials said.
Mohammed Daoud Odeh, also known as Abu Daoud, died in Andalus Hospital in
Damascus after suffering kidney failure. He was 73.
A former leader of the Black September Palestinian guerrilla group, Abu Daoud
said he planned the Munich hostage-taking in which 11 Israelis died.
But Abu Daoud, who did not take part in the attack, said he was not directly
responsible for the deaths.
I didn't kill anybody and I didn't order anybody's killing, Abu Daoud told
Reuters 1999 after publishing memoirs in which he boasted of planning the
He was buried on Saturday at the Martyrs Cemetery in Yarmouk Palestinian
refugee camp near Damascus. His funeral was attended by officials from various
Palestinian groups, including President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
On September 5, 1972, eight Black September gunmen scaled the perimeter fence
surrounding the Olympic athletes' village, their weapons concealed in sports
bags amid relaxed security.
Within 24 hours, 11 Israelis, five Palestinians and a German policeman were
dead after a standoff and subsequent rescue effort erupted into gunfire.
Abu Daoud said in his book the guerrillas killed two Israelis at the start of
the operation because they resisted as the commandos stormed their Olympic
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir then upset the guerrillas' plans, rejecting
their offer to free the hostages in exchange for the release of 236 Palestinians
held by Israel.
Then, Abu Daoud said, German police went back on their word, opening fire on
the guerrillas and their hostages at the airport after promising to let them
leave. When the smoke cleared, nine hostages and five guerrillas were dead on
He said he regretted that Palestinians had resorted to violence because the
killings backfired, creating a public outcry rather than sympathy for the
After the publication of his book Israel refused to allow Abu Daoud entry
into Palestinian self-ruled areas of the West Bank from Jordan, a decision he
The (Israeli) decision to bar my return is linked to an event that has
happened 27 years ago, the Munich operation, which we considered a legitimate
struggle against the enemy we were fighting, he told Reuters in Amman
(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jon