GSG9 (Grenzschutzgruppe 9)
The Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (known by its colloquial, GSG 9) is Germany’s premier counterterrorism force. It specializes in hostage rescue, particularly in aviation terrorism. Originally, GSG 9 contained only 175 – 200 members at any time. Today, the group has expanded but it remains a focused unit dedicated to reducing the domestic and international terrorist threat to Germany. The group has separated into three conjoined but distinct departments to address various areas of specialty. These operatives are trained to perform naval (GSG 9/1), aerial (GSG 9/2), and terrain (GSG9/3) response missions and to address scenarios ranging from hostage rescue to assassination to bomb threats. Though GSG 9 is small, it is extremely effective and maintains top-notch departments to expertly stabilize each of the aforementioned scenarios. Its operatives also undergo extensive training in parachuting, munitions, hand-to-hand combat, and improvised explosive disarmament. GSG 9 has been recognized on multiple occasions as one of the most successful and effective counterterrorism group in the world.
GSG9 grew out of the failed German response to the Black September attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. German security forces were weak and mismanaged; unfortunately they severely bungled the hostage rescue attempt. All of the hostages were killed before German police could clear the plane where terrorists were seeking refuge. The Palestinian terrorist attack awakened Germany to the growing threat of terrorist violence. 6 months after the bloody ordeal in Munich, the German government officially commission GSG9 as the official counterterrorism response unit of the German government. Notably, GSG9 was placed under the direct control of Germany’s border protection services, not the official military branch.
GSG 9 directed most of its efforts toward thwarting the notorious Red Army Faction, a home-grown German terrorist group. One notable exception to their domestic focus is the GSG 9’s exceptional tactical success in Mogadishu when they rescued 90 hostages on a hijacked flight from (en route from Lufthansa to Majorea). GSG 9 has eliminated countless threats to German civilians since 1973 and has completed many operations with such speed and precision that virtually no shots were fired. Currently, the GSG 9 still functions as an appendage of the German border security forces, though its mission is distinct and its legacy strong.
One of the GSG 9’s most successful and publicized successes occurred on October 18 th, 1977. On October 13th, 1977, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an international flight and demanded the release of notable terrorist leaders in exchange for the 90 hostages on board. The terrorists landed the plane in Mogadishu, Somalia and toyed with the negotiators for a short time. Five days later, at 2 A.M., the GSG 9 made it into the plane undetected and killed or captured all four terrorists in less than ten minutes. GSG achieved a similar success in 1993 when they rescued nine hostages and captured the hijacker on a KLM flight without discharging a single round.
Current action/important events or cases
GSG 9 recently worked with the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to bring down an Al-Qaead plot. The Al-Qaeda operatives, known as the “Dusseldorf Cell”, were targeting public transportation in a major German city. Using a trojan horse, counterterrorism specialists were able to read communication between the plotters. Investigators discovered that the cell was attempting to contact notorious terrorist leader Anwar Al-Awlaki in an effort to gain funds and weapons. Three of the four plotters were apprehended by April 2011. Officials speculate that the attack was planned for late December 2011 or January 2012. In December 2011, GSG 9 forces arrested the final cell member in his home while he was chatting online.