While other CT teams were created because of the Munich Olympics, GSG-9 has distinction because the massacre in 1972 was, at least in part, directly attributed to the German police's lack of preparation and training for such trials. Because of this failure, GSG-9 was created and was considered operational on April 17, 1973--six months after the massacre in Munich.
GSG-9 is organised into three separate groups; GSG-9/1, GSG-9/2, and GSG-9/3. GSG/1 is the "regular" counter-terrorist assault group. GSG-9/2 is tasked against maritime terrorism and GSG-9/3 is the airborne unit. The first two groups have about 100 men each and the third has about 50.
Although now experimenting with the SIG SG 551-1P 5.56 mm special operations assault rifle, GSG-9 has a large variety of Hk Mp-5s in its arsenal, including the MP-5SD (
A1-A4 and the MP-5K (
).The preferred assault rifle is the HK 7.62mm G8 special rifle. Sniper rifles include the HK PSG-1, Mauser SP86, and the Venerable Mauser SP66, all chambered in the 7.62mm size. Personal weapons include the Smith and Wesson or Ruger .357 magnum revolvers and the Glock 17 9mm. Use of the HK P7 is also optional.
GSG-9 has a wide variety of vehicles assigned to enable completion of their mission. Unmarked Mercedes 280s, Volkswagon mini-buses, and BGS arsenal trucks fill out the motor pool. A special aviation group, the Bundesgrenzschutz Grenzschutz-Fliegergruppe is used to ferry GSG-9 to their targets. Pilots for this group are considered to be the best in Germany.
GSG-9s best known mission is the 1977 takedown of a terrorist held Lufthansa 707 in Mogadishu, Somali. A team of two men and two women hijacked the plane, demanding the release of Baader-Meinhof terrorists held in German jails. After the captain of the plane was killed, the German Government ordered GSG-9 in.
They arrived at 17:30 hours on 17, October 1977. Two SAS officers were along to "observe" the takedown; They brought the new "flash-bang" stun grenades with them. Members of GSG-9 and the two SAS troopers begin approaching the aircraft from the rear. At 23:50, with the help of the local Somali military, diversions were set up to distract the terrorists. They were told their demands had been met. Then a huge bonfire set by the Somali special forces began to burn 100 yards in front of the plane. At 00:05 ( 12:05 for those of you who can't read military time ) the assault began.
Climbing up the rubber tipped ladders, 20 GSG-9 operators forced their way into the aircraft and tossed the flash-bang grenades towards the cockpit. One female terrorist was encountered immediately and killed. Another raced to the rear of the aircraft and barricaded herself in a toilet. She was critically wounded by a burst from an MP-5, but survived.
Two minutes after the assault began, the fuselage of the aircraft is secure and the evacuation of passengers begins as the battle rages for the cockpit. The leader of the terrorists tosses two fragmentation grenades at the GSG-9 operators; these detonate under a row of seats and do little harm. The leader is then dispatched by a burst of 9mm from a MP-5. The fourth and final terrorist is killed when the leader and father of GSG-9, Ulrich Wegener, places several .38 rounds into his head. Eleven minutes after the assault begins, the aircraft is secure, with no losses.
GSG-9's reputation was solid until June 27, 1993, when an operation went bad and Wolfgang Grams (member of the Red Army) was killed. Even though an investigation revealed that Grams had shot himself, statements from eyewitness that Grams had been shot in cold blood jeopardised the existance of the unit.
However, two months later a KLM flight from Tunis to Amsterdam was hijacked by a single terrorist who demanded the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was being held in New York in connection with the World Trade Center bombing. GSG-9 operators were dispatched to Dusseldorf ( the airport the highjacked aircraft landed at ) and managed to capture the hijacker without firing a shot. An editorial in the normally critical Aachener Volkseitung praised the units restraint and called for their continued existance.
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GSG-9's existance remains in jeopardy, however. Ironically, this is due to the effectiveness and reputation they have earned. Terrorist incidents have fallen dramatically recently, and the new SEK ( SWAT type units ) are gaining in popularity. Hopefully this distinguished unit will be able to secure their future.