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1972 attack planner blasts Spielberg's ‘Munich’

Former Black September coordinator echoes ex-Mossad chief's criticism
/ Source: Reuters

The Palestinian mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics raid, in which 11 Israeli athletes died, said director Steven Spielberg should have consulted him about a new film on the episode to be sure to get the story right.

In an irony worthy of a John le Carre novel, Mohammad Daoud echoed veterans of Israel’s Mossad spy service in questioning the sources used for “Munich,” a thriller chronicling the massacre and the Israeli revenge assassinations that followed.

“I know nothing about this film. If someone really wanted to tell the truth about what happened he should talk to the people involved, people who know the truth,” Daoud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

“Were I contacted, I would tell the truth,” Daoud said.

As planner for Black September, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) splinter group, Daoud sent gunmen to abduct Israeli athletes at the 1972 Games. Two hostages were killed in the raid, another nine during a botched rescue by German police.

Daoud blames Israel and West German authorities for the deaths.

Reeling from the loss of its countrymen -- particularly on what had been the staging ground for the Nazi Holocaust -- Israel retaliated with shootings, booby-trap bombings and commando operations that killed at least 10 PLO men and drove their comrades into hiding.

Not alone
Daoud, who survived a 1981 gun attack in Poland which the PLO blamed on the Mossad, said Israel targeted some innocents and he hoped that would also be portrayed in the film.

“They carried out vengeance against people who had nothing to do with the Munich attack, people who were merely politically active or had ties with the PLO,” he said.

“If a film fails to make these points, it will be unjust in terms of truth and history.”

Spielberg is best known in Israel for his Holocaust epic “Schindler’s List”, which ends with a stirring scene of survivors seeking new lives in the nascent Jewish state.

He has vowed that “Munich” will be sensitive to all sides.

“Viewing Israel’s response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms,” Spielberg said in a statement.

An Israeli actress cast in the film confirmed press reports that it is based, at least partly, on “Vengeance”, a book on the reprisals campaign that has been widely discredited.

“I am surprised that a director like him has chosen, out of all the sources, to rely on this particular book,” retired Mossad chief Zvi Zamir told Israel’s Haaretz daily in July.

The ex-spook’s view was supported by ex-guerrilla Daoud.

“I read ‘Vengeance’. It is full of mistakes,” he said.