Headquarters: Hangelar, Germany
GSG-9 was formed as a direct result of the inept response of German police to actions of Black September terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Following the end of World War Two, German authorities had been apprehensive about creating an elite military unit for any purpose. This, in addition to the desire to demonstrate to the world that Germany was no longer the fearsome entity it once was, caused planners to establish security that was as low-profile as possible. As a result, the terrorists were able to penetrate the Olympic compound, murder two athletes and take nine others hostage. The incident took an even worse turn when the on scene commander ordered his men to fire on the terrorists who were preparing to board two helicopters to effect their escape. Poor marksmanship, coupled with a number of snipers who refused to fire, led to the least desirable outcome - an open gun battle. When the smoke cleared on the Furstenfeldbruck military airfield, the nine remaining hostages and terrorists were dead. After this, the Germans vowed they would not be taken by surprise again and authorized the creation of a counterterrorist unit which was deemed operational in April 1973 - only six months after the incident at Munich. The only stipulation was that GSG-9 would be manned and controlled not by the military, but by the Federal Border Police Force (Bundesgrenzschutz) instead. One benefit that membership in the Federal Border Police provides to German government CT efforts is that these highly skilled operators can also conduct long-term infiltration of terrorist groups, which increases the potential for foiling any illegal act before it happens, rather than simply reacting after the fact.
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei, formerly known as Grenzschutzgruppe 9 ( Border Guards), is the counter-terrorist unit of the German Federal Police. It is considered to be one the best unit in the world.It served as a model for the creation of other counter-terrorist units around the world.
In 1972, the Palestinian terrorist movement Black September kidnapped eleven Israeli athletes during the Summer Olympic Games in Munich. They killed two athletesin the Olympic Village in the initial assault on the athletes' rooms.
The incident tragically culminated when German police, that wasn't trained or equipped for counter-terrorism operations, attempted to rescue the athletes. They failed miserably, and the operation led to the deaths of one policeman, five of the eight kidnappers and the remaining nine hostages (subsequently called the Munich massacre ).
As a consequence of this massacre, German officials created the GSG 9 units so that similar situations in the future could be responded to adequately and professionally. The unit was officially established on April 17 , 1973 as a part of Germany's federal-level police agency, the Bundesgrenzschutz (federal border guard service). This branch was renamed in 2005 to Bundespolizei ( federal police). The name GSG 9 stood for "Grenzschutzgruppe 9" (border guardsgroup 9) and was chosen simply because there existed eight regular border guard groups at the time, although after the 2005 renaming the expansion was dropped and the abbreviation "GSG 9" is now the single official way to refer to the unit. Its formation was based on the expertise of the British SAS (who also offered great support in the forming of GSG 9) and the Israeli Sayeret Matkal .
Other GSG9 activities include :
- The Arrest of Red Army Faction (1983 and 1993)
- The ending of the hijacking of a KLM flight from Tunis to Amsterdam (1993)
- The liberation of four German tourists held hostage in Egypt (2001)
- The arrests of terrorists linked to the September 11, 2001 attacks (2001, 2002)
- The protection of German embassy personnel in Baghdad, Iraq (2004). Two GSG9 operatives were killed during this operation.
- The arrest of 3 terrorists with links to al Qaeda, suspected of preparing a massive bomb attack on US facilities in Germany (2007).