Industry Focus

A September to Remember

The fall festival, otherwise known as ASIS, kicks off later this month. Thankfully, it is in Orlando, though I can hardly wait until next year when it is scheduled for Dallas.

I’m looking forward to ASIS this year for several reasons, but chief among them are the many new products that are launching during this event. Numerous manufacturers have indicated that they will be showcasing some of their new products there this year. One of the most interesting, and I think mostly likely to receive attention, is the development of body-worn cameras.

Body-worn cameras protect lives, and in the case of law enforcement, the time has come to increase their protection.

Going for the Gold

By the time this issue of Security Products has been printed and delivered, the Olympics will have come and gone. At the time of this writing, so far the worldwide event has been free of terrorism and any issues of security have been minimal.

The Olympics are not a stage for political statements, but that hasn’t always been the case. In 1936, politics was at the front and center of the sporting stage. At stake was the inclusion of U.S. athletes of Jewish descent and African American sports stars. While there could have been serious conflict, I believe speedster Jesse Owens dominated the Games, proving there was room for tolerance. Owen’s feat of grabbing four gold medals and a world record isn’t a bad accomplishment either.

The idea of tolerance went by the way during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. In fact, the German Olympic Organizing committee had hopes of dispelling the military image of Germany, especially that of the Hitler regime.

As I am sure you are aware, the competitors have their own village to live in during these events. As secure as these living quarters were at the time, the Munich massacre was an attack in which 11 Israeli Olympic team members were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer, by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. Shortly after the crisis began, they demanded 234 prisoners jailed in Israel and the German-held founders of the Red Army Faction (Andreas Baade and Ulrike Minho) be released. Black September called the operation “Iris and Bigram,” after two Palestinian Christian villages whose inhabitants were expelled by the IDF in 1948.

The attack was motivated by secular nationalism, with the commander of the terrorist group having been born to Jewish and Christian parents. German neo-Nazis gave the attackers logistical assistance. Police officers killed five of the eight Black September members during a failed rescue attempt. They captured the three survivors, whom West Germany later released following a Lufthansa airliner hijacking in October. Mossad responded to the release with Operation “Spring of Youth” and Operation “Wrath of God,” tracking down and killing Palestinians suspected of involvement in the massacre.

The documentary film “One Day in September” claims that security in the athletes’ village was unfit for the Olympic Games and that athletes could come and go as they pleased. Athletes were able to sneak past security and go to other countries’ rooms by going over the fencing that encompassed the village.

The absence of armed personnel worried Israeli delegation head Shmuel Lalkin even before his team arrived in Munich. In later interviews with journalists Serge Broussard and Aaron Klein, Larkin said that he had expressed concern with the relevant authorities about his team’s lodgings. The team was housed in a relatively isolated part of the Olympic Village, on the ground floor of a small building close to a gate, which Lalkin felt made his team particularly vulnerable to an outside assault. The West German authorities apparently assured Larkin that extra security would be provided to look after the Israeli team, but Lalkin doubts that these additional measures were ever taken.

Olympic organizers asked West German forensic psychologist Georg Stieber to create 26 terrorism scenarios to aid the organizers in planning security. His “Situation 21” accurately forecast armed Palestinians invading the Israeli delegation’s quarters, killing and taking hostages, and demanding Israel’s release of prisoners and a plane to leave West Germany. Organizers balked against preparing for Situation 21 and the other scenarios, since guarding the Games against them would have gone against the goal of “Carefree Games” without heavy security.

Experts understand the need to protect others, and as I watch the Olympics off and on prior to this publication, I have the hope that all will go well.

On Aug. 3 two days prior to the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee officially honored those fallen eleven Israeli team members for the first time.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Security Today.

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