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Comparison of the Munich Massacre and the Beslan Crisis Essay

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Updated: Nov 23rd, 2019


In the present fast-changing world, leadership concepts are becoming extensively crucial in the government organizations at policy development and implementation stages. This means that a sense of urgency is being provoked to advance the performance of public institutions to accomplish the interests and demands of citizens and nation at large.

It was also recognized that influential leadership can help government institutions make the significant transitions from intention to implementation, policy to practice and potential to performance (Martin, 2009). The ultimate aim of this context is to compare and contrast the Munich Massacre and the Beslan Crisis in Russia (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005). It also examines how different leadership models can foster proper coordination and cooperation of nations in fighting terrorism.

The Munich Massacre

Germany hosted the 20th Olympic Games in 1972, but tensions were extremely excessive since they were the first Olympic Games to be held in Germany from the time the Nazis hosted them in 1936. During those times, the level of terrorism was very high in the world, particularly in the Arab world and nations like Israel, as well as in some European nations (Klein, 2005). The Israeli athletes and their coaching teams were extremely anxious.

This is because several of them had family members and relatives who had been killed in terrorist attacks in Israel, particularly during the Holocaust. Some of them though were Holocausts survivors. The first couple of days passed well, and the competitors began to ease their tension. On September, 4, the Israeli team had gone out where they spent the evening at Fiddler on the Roof and went back to the Olympic Village.

It was around 4 a.m. on September 5 when eight affiliates of Palestinian terrorist organization jumped over the six-feet fence that surrounded the Olympic village and attacked the Israeli athletes while they were asleep. They entered the Connollystrasse building at around 4.30 a.m. and circled occupants of apartments number 1 and 3. Many Israeli athletes tried to fight back, but it was in vain and two of them were killed and some of them succeeded to escape out of the windows.

Nine of them were taken captive (Klein, 2005). The police were alerted 1 hour later, and the news began to spread to the entire world. The terrorists threw a list of their demands through the window where they had demanded 234 prisoners to be set free from the Israeli prisons and two from the Germany prisons within four hours though negotiations extended to noon (Klein, 2005).

They then asked for two planes to go together with captives and themselves to Cairo, Egypt and hoped that moving further would help get their demands fulfilled. The German officials concurred with their request but knew inside their hearts that, that would not be possible. Frantic to the last part of the standoff, the Germans arranged for Operation Sunshine, which was a set up to outbreak the apartment building (Martin, 2009).

The terrorist realized the set up through watching television, and the Germans opted for otherwise. They planned to attack them on their way to the airport, but they were unsuccessful because the terrorists implemented their plan again. At about 10.30 p.m., the fanatics and the captives were moved to Furstenfeldbruck airport by helicopter. The Germans decided to meet head-on with the terrorists at the airport and they had positioned snipers, but the terrorist discovered the trap once the plane landed on the ground.

The snipers began shooting at them and they responded by shooting back and in the process, two terrorists and one German police officer were shot dead. Then a stalemate emerged. The Germans asked for armored cars and stayed for about an hour before they were brought.

When they arrived, the terrorists knew they were done, thus one of them hurdled into the helicopter and killed four captives and flung in a grenade (Klein, 2005). Another terrorist jumped into the other helicopter and killed the other five captives with a machine gun. The armored cars and snipers killed three other terrorists in the second round of gunfire while three terrorists endured the attack and were imprisoned.

The Beslan School Hostage Crisis

Russia is a federal state whereby every year on September First, citizens celebrate a holiday called “Day of Knowledge” at every school, particularly at the public schools.

The event has the children accompanied by their parents and other relatives while dressed in their best clothes to celebrate the first day of the school year (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005). The event involves some sort of speeches on behalf of the school staff, parents and students, as well as giving presents, particularly flowers, to the last year students while the first year students are taken to their first class.

However, on September 1, 2004 at School Number One, the terrorists used this event as a good opportunity to perform an attack. When parents and students were celebrating, a group of about thirty men and women fully armed arrived at the Beslan School Number One in a Gazel vehicle and a GAZ-66 military lorry.

The terrorists ganged the middle of Beslan school where most of the students were children from seven to eighteen years old. The majority of terrorists wore black ski masks and few of them had explosive belts. Immediately after the arrival of these attackers, the police arrived (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005).

The terrorists demanded that the Russian troops in Chechnya leave the place immediately. However, the Russian government was exceedingly reluctant on the issue because the troops in Chechnya were preventing the Chechnya attackers from plotting other attacks in different parts of Russia (Martin, 2009).

Therefore, the government plotted to attack the terrorists but they realized the plan and announced that for every of their members killed, they would revenge by killing 50 hostages. The situation was extremely dangerous and involved a lot of gunfire that resulted into more than 350 people most of them children killed and several others wounded. Other nations like the US tried to help particularly in forcing the terrorist to release the hostages, but all was in vain (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005).

Comparison and contrast of the two Terrorist Attacks

The two terrorist attacks were similar in their nature. To begin with, the two attacks involved people being taken as hostages. The terrorists in black September Munich attack were on a revenge mission where they wanted to use the opportunity to help their people get freedom.

They thought it was a brilliant idea to attack the Israelis athletes because most of their people were imprisoned in Israeli while two others were in German prisons (Kakabadre, 2000). In the Beslan school siege, the terrorists were reported to demand several things. They demanded the Russian troops to withdraw from Chechnya. They knew the school function contained several prominent people who would influence the withdrawal of the Russian soldiers.

Some of the prominent people who were taken to hostage included ALeksander Dzasokhov – the president of the North Ossetia, Murat Ziazikov – president of Ingushetia, Alu Alkhanov – president of Chechnya, and Vladimir Rushailo – Executive secretary for Commonwealth among others. According to the terrorists of those days, taking people to hostage was the best way to have their demands fulfilled (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005).

Moreover, both terrorist attacks involved serious gunfire that led to death of many people. In the Black September Munich Massacre (Klein, 2005), the terrorists attacked and killed two Israeli athletes to alert of danger to the Olympic Games, and to raise concern with the involved parties which were mainly the Israelis and Germans.

A lot of gunfire was experienced at the Furstenfeldbruck airport where more than eight Israeli hostages were killed: three terrorists killed with others taken into custody and a few snipers also killed in the process (Martin, 2009).

The Beslan crisis was the toughest because it involved the most dangerous gunfire where more than 330 people died with children being most of the victims (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005). A couple of terrorists, as well as police officers, also died in the attack. At the same time, more than 1000 people were taken as hostages, and the terrorists announced that if one of them was killed, they would revenge by killing 50 hostages. That showed how serious the incident was (Martin, 2009).

Nevertheless, the two incidents also had some differences in their natures. First, the Beslan crisis in Russia was so massive that it was pronounced to be a national tragedy. In fact, it was termed a crisis because the entire country was in a mourning mood for about a month. In several cases, if an incident involves more than 150 deaths, it is pronounced as a national tragedy, and that was the case with the Beslan crisis.

The Munich Massacre, on the other hand, was minor as compared to the Beslan crisis in Russia. This incident was an eminent threat to Germany as a nation because it interrupted with the international Olympic Games that were in the county thus made the international sports association to feel insecure in hosting such events in Germany. However, the incident was not that critical because the number of people killed was less than 50 though it raised a lot of tension in the entire country (Kakabadre, 2000).

Moreover, the two terrorist attacks took place in two different periods. The Munich massacre occurred in late 1972, which was in the period of 120h century. The Beslan Crisis, on the other hand, occurred in late 2004 which is just few years ago in the 21st century.

The weapons used in the two incidents were, therefore, different because the technology that was there in 1970s is much different from that experienced in 2004. The recent weapons are much modified and more dangerous than the weapons of those days (Martin, 2009). Generally, both incidents were highly dangerous and could lead to more deaths if tactics were not involved.

The question that must be asked is, “How do the internal governments of different countries in the world doing to prevent such terrorist attacks?” What type of association should be developed between different nations as a result of fighting such attacks? What type of government models must be developed to prevent such actions on nations? This leads us to examine different government models and their effect in such occasions.

Models of Leadership

Democracy is the most popular and widely used system of governance in the world today. It is a system of carrying out election where the winning candidate becomes the president of a nation and the rest of the authority are the elected delegates (Kakabadre, 2000). This model entails a strong constitution that issues authority for elected heads to govern the citizens and organize the affairs of the government.

The citizens are also obliged to complain strike and even have a vote for no confidence in any leader who fails to serve them. This means that the power of a state is clearly described in this model of state power. The elected leaders have the power to rule and manage all the affairs of the nation as specified by the constitution.

Such governments are usually associated well with international bodies that stand for various things. For example, frequently, such government usually works consistently with NATO in fighting terrorism (Martin, 2009). The citizens of the nation have the authority to inform its government about any form of invasion they observe anywhere in the country. Therefore, through association with important international bodies and its people, the government is able to prevent any form of terrorism in the country (Ewart & Woodhead, 2005).

Authoritarianism is another model of government whereby the authority and power originate from the state and are never designated by people to elected heads. This model of government may contain elected heads but have authoritarian power and mostly reign for an unspecified period of time.

In this type of governance, the constitution does not have the authority to control and forbid abuses by the state (Kakabadre, 2000). Terrorism is intense in such a nation because there is no clear coordination between the authoritarian government and its people as well as with international bodies like NATO and international criminal courts. The best example of a country with such a government is Syria where its citizens always protest against the cruel and humid authoritarian reign.

Another model of government is the totalitarianism where the government hypothetically does not allow individual freedom and strives to minion all aspects of life of a person to the powers of the government. The best example of countries with this type of leadership is China.

This type of leadership is praised for maintaining a robust economy and successfully fighting corruption. However, there is no proper coordination of the government and other international bodies especially in the fighting terrorism (Martin, 2009). Terrorism is the greatest threat that a country may experience since it can lead to massive lose of property and lives.

Other models of leadership include crazy states leadership where the country contains a lot of violence and struggles for power. Such reigns are always unstable and never last for a long time. The best example is Liberia and other African nations. Transformational leadership is also one of the best because it combines democracy and development thus making a nation to grow faster in terms of development and technology. The best example of such a state is the United States.


Ewart, E. & Woodhead, L. (2005). “Children of Beslan”. HBO Documentary Films and BBC co-production. London: Routledge.

Kakabadre, A. (2000). Essence of Leadership. London: International Thomson Business Press.

Klein, A. J. (2005), Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response. New York: Random House.

Martin, A. G. (2009). Understanding Terrorism Challenges, Perspectives and Issues. London: Sage Publications, Inc.

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