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Ulrich Wegener, counter-terrorism operative – obituary

Ulrich K Wegener Credit: Gisbert Paech/ullstein bild via Getty

Ulrich Wegener, who has died aged 88, founded GSG-9, the elite German anti-terrorist unit which, aided by Britain’s SAS, won its spurs in 1977 when he led the successful storming of a hijacked Lufthansa jet at Mogadishu airport.

Five years before, Wegener, a lieutenant-colonel in the border police, had been the liaison for West Germany’s Interior Ministry at the Munich Olympics. He had watched aghast as, first, Palestinian terrorists took hostage 11 Israeli athletes, and then the Bavarian authorities, unprepared for such an eventuality, bungled an attempted rescue. Nine of the hostages died, as well as a police officer.

Three weeks later, Wegener was charged by his minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher with forming a force capable of responding to similar emergencies. Although Germany could lay claim to some of the first special forces’ operations, their Brandenburger commandos having caused havoc...

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