Fifty years after hostage-taking went global, we’re still learning lessons


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I sat quietly transfixed, not fully processing what was playing out on the black and white screen before me as I unblinkingly watched a masked, ghostlike terrorist on the balcony of a building. The raw scene chillingly brought terrorism into sharper focus as the media inexorably grasped the details of a live hostage-taking spectacle. Some 900 million people watched a surreal hostage-taking event in real-time, which until then was unprecedented in history’s long arc of political violence. This scene took place at the Munich Olympic Games 50 years ago this month. I was 10 years old. On Sept. 5, 1972,...