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Abu Daoud
Born Mohammad Daoud Oudeh
Silwan, East Jerusalem
Died 3 July 2010 (aged 72–73)
Nationality Palestinian
Occupation Teacher, lawyer
Years active 1960s-2000s
Religion Islam

Mohammad Daoud Oudeh (Arabic language: محمد داود عودة‎), commonly known by his nom de guerre Abu Daoud or Abu Dawud (Arabic language: أبو داود‎) 1937, – 3 July 2010)[1] was a Palestinian known as the planner, architect and mastermind of the Munich massacre. He served in a number of commanding functions in Fatah's armed units in Lebanon and Jordan.


Oudeh was born in Silwan, East Jerusalem, in 1937.[2][3] He was a teacher by training.[3] He taught physics and maths in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.[3] Then he worked at the justice ministry of Kuwait[3] and studied law.[2] He lived in Jerusalem until the 1967 Six-Day War, when he was displaced as Israel captured the eastern portion of the city; he resettled in Jordan, where he joined the PLO. In 1970, Abu Daoud was one of the founders of Fatah. From 1971, he was leader of the Black September, a Fatah offshoot created to avenge the September 1970 expulsion of the Fedayeen Movement from Jordan and carry out international operations. The group gained international notoriety for its role in the Munich massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which a number of athletes on the Israeli team were taken hostage by Black September. Eleven Israeli athletes and a German policeman were killed by the end of the multi-day standoff.

After the Black September operations, Oudeh began to live in Eastern Europe and Lebanon.[4] He resumed his activity in Fatah and the PLO in close collaboration with Abu Iyad and other officials. He led armed units in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. In January 1977, Oudeh was intercepted by French police in Paris while travelling from Beirut under an assumed name.[5] Under protest from the PLO, Iraq, and Libya, who claimed that because Oudeh was traveling to a PLO comrade's funeral he should receive diplomatic immunity, the French government refused a West German extradition request on grounds that forms had not been filled in properly and put him on a plane to Algeria before Germany could submit another request.[5] Oudeh fled to Eastern Europe, then to Lebanon until the 1975 Lebanese Civil War broke out, then back to Jordan.

On 1 August 1981,[6] Oudeh was shot five times from a distance of around two meters in the coffee shop of the Victoria Inter-Continental Hotel in Warsaw, but he survived the attack, chasing his would-be assassin down to the front entrance before collapsing. Oudeh claimed the attempted assassination was carried out by a Palestinian double agent recruited by the Mossad, and claimed the would-be assassin was executed by the PLO ten years later.

After the 1993 Oslo Accords, he moved to Ramallah in the West Bank. Following a trip to Jordan and the publication of his memoirs, Oudeh was banned from returning to Ramallah. He settled with his family in Syria, the only country that would take him. He lived on a pension provided by the Palestinian Authority and gave interviews to Aljazeera and other Arab and international media outlets about his life, the Munich events, and Palestinian politics. Oudeh was allowed safe passage through Israel in 1996, so he could attend a PLO meeting in the Gaza Strip to rescind an article in the PLO charter calling for Israel's eradication.

Munich massacre

As a commander of Black September, Abu Daoud was the mastermind behind the Munich massacre. While he planned the operation, he did not personally take part in it. The day before the operation commenced on 5 September 1972, Abu Daoud briefed the assassination squad and issued final instructions over dinner in a restaurant at the Munich railway station.[7]

Then in 2006, Abu Daoud gave several personal interviews after the release of the Steven Spielberg film Munich revived discussions of the massacre. Abu Daoud remained unrepentant regarding his role in the Munich attacks, stating on Germany's Spiegel TV, "I regret nothing. You can only dream that I would apologize."[8] In an Associated Press interview, he legitimized the operation given its success, declaring, "Before Munich, we were simply terrorists. After Munich, at least people started asking who are these terrorists? What do they want? Before Munich, nobody had the slightest idea about Palestine."[9]

Published works

He published his autobiography Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich in French in 1999. It was later published in English as Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist, also titled Palestine-A History of the Resistance Movement, by the Sole Survivor of Black September by Arcade Publishing in hardcover format.[10] The English version is now out of print. The book is a first hand account of the rise of the Palestinian resistance movement from its inception to the attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Regarding the book and his subsequently being barred from returning to the West Bank, "The Israeli decision to bar my return is linked to an event which happened 27 years ago, the Munich operation, which we considered a legitimate struggle against the enemy we (the PLO) were fighting."[11]


On 3 July 2010, Daoud died of kidney failure at Al-Andalus Hospital[11] in Damascus, Syria.[12] After a funeral service in the Al Wasim Mosque in Yarmouk with his coffin draped in the Palestinian flag, he was buried in the Martyrs Cemetery of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of Damascus. He was survived by his wife, five daughters and a son.[4] His daughter Hana Oudeh, in the eulogy, said her father was "a great loving and sincere man whose dream was to go back to Palestine." Representatives of various Palestinian groups, including Fatah and Islamic Jihad, attended the funeral. Shortly before his death, Oudeh said in a statement to Israelis, "Today, I cannot fight you anymore, but my grandson will and his grandsons too."[2]


In a condolence letter to Abu Daoud's family following his death, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas wrote, "He is missed. He was one of the leading figures of Fatah and spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people's just causes."[8][13]

In 1999, the Palestinian Prize for Culture was granted to Abu Daoud for his book Palestine:From Jerusalem to Munich, in which he describes how he planned and executed the Munich operation. As part of the prize, Abu Daoud was awarded 10,000 French francs.[14][15]


  1. Bard, Mitchell. "Mastermind behind the Munich Olympics attacks dies". France24. 3 July 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, mastermind of Munich kidnappings". 10 July 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Jessup, John E. (1998). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 150.   – via Questia (subscription required)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mostyn, Trevor (4 July 2010). "Mohammed Oudeh (Abu Daoud) obituary". Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York: Basic Books. p. 319. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  6. "Suspected Olympic massacre mastermind shot", Montreal Gazette, 6 August 1981, p10
  7. "Abu Daoud". London. 4 July 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Suspected Munich massacre mastermind dead, reports say". CNN. 3 July 2010. 
  9. Zeina Karam (24 February 2006). "Munich mastermind has no regrets". 
  10. "Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist'". Amazon. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Makdesi, Marwan, Dominic Evans and Jon Hemming. "Palestinian who planned Munich attack dies in Syria". Reuters. 3 July 2010.
  12. "Planner of deadly Munich Olympics attack dies in Syria". Haaretz Daily Newspaper. 3 July 2010.
  13. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (6 July 2010). "Abbas on mastermind of Munich Olympics massacre: "A wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter"". Palestinian Media Watch. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  14. Fayez Abbas (14 November 1999). "Mastermind of Munich Massacre to Receive the Palestine Prize". 
  15. Arnold Beichman (5 May 2003). "Why Peace Can't Work". National Review. 

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