"She gave us a fistful of flags, and we had no recourse but to thank her," Abu Daoud writes. "She had no way of knowing that she had considerably facilitated our task. We now knew our first mission would be to take control of this ground-floor apartment. It had the most exits and controlled access to the upper floors and basement. Once the building was taken, the commandos would regroup here with the captured Israelis."
In the meantime six junior Palestinians—mostly shabab, "young guys" culled from refugee camps in Lebanon—were training in Libya, with an emphasis on hand-to-hand combat and jumping from high walls. Black September commanders told them that they had been selected for an unspecified mission in a foreign country. Using fake passports, they converged on Munich in pairs soon after the Games began. Although it is unclear where in the city they stayed, some attended Olympic events. Only on the eve of the attack did they assemble and learn the details of their mission.
That evening, in his room at the Hotel Eden Wolff, near the train station, Abu Daoud stuffed ammunition, grenades, food and a first-aid kit into eight sport duffel bags, each graced with the Olympic rings. He also included nylon stockings for making masks, rope precut to use for binding hostages and a supply of the amphetamine Predulin for keeping his men alert. Before Abu Daoud added the Kalashnikovs, Issa and Tony kissed each of the weapons and said, "Oh, my love!"
At 9 p.m. the Palestinians gathered at a restaurant in the train station for final instructions. Once the Israelis had been seized, no one was to be admitted to the building except a senior German official who might want to check on the condition of the hostages. Abu Daoud says he told the eight fedayeen to exercise restraint: "The operation for which you've been chosen is essentially a political one...to capture these Israelis alive.... No one can deny you the right to use your weapons to defend yourselves. Nonetheless, only fire if you truly can't do otherwise.... It's not a matter of liquidating your enemies, but seizing them as prisoners for future exchanges. The grenades are for later, to impress your German negotiating partners and defend yourselves to the death."
To which Issa added, "From now on, consider yourself dead. As killed in action for the Palestinian cause."
Each was issued a packed duffel and a track suit with the name of an Arab nation. Abu Daoud collected everyone's passports. Sometime after 3:30 a.m. they took off in taxis for the Village.
As they approached the fence, they noticed another group in warmup gear: American athletes back from a night on the town, laughing and tipsy. Abu Daoud urged his comrades to join them, to use the Americans' innocent comportment as cover while they all scaled the fence. "Not only did our men mix in with the Americans, we helped them over," he says. "And they helped us. 'Hey, man, give me your bag.' This was surreal—to see the Americans, obviously far from imagining they were helping Black September get into the Village."
Much of the Israeli delegation had been out on the town that night, too—at a performance of Fiddler on the Roof.
"Danger, guys! Terrorists!"
Perhaps Yossef Gutfreund was at the Games to provide security for his fellow Israelis. Perhaps not. An Israeli government report, commissioned by the Knesset in the aftermath of the massacre, surely settled that question, but the earliest the report would be made public is 2003. In its next-day account of the incident, The New York Times suggested that both Gutfreund, a wrestling referee, and Jacov Springer, a weightlifting judge, doubled as security personnel. "Rubbish," says Gilady, the Israeli IOC member. "Simply not true."