, Volume 90, Number 5

Geraint Hughes

Following the Munich Olympics massacre of September 1972, the British government conducted a series of contingency plans to ensure that Whitehall, police constabularies and the armed forces were prepared for similar crises affecting the UK and its citizens. This article examines the evolution of British counterterrorist planning during the 1970s, which still shapes Whitehall’s crisis management procedures for responding to international terrorism, and also procedures for calling for military support in response to hijackings, hostage-taking and similar incidents both domestically and overseas. It demonstrates that while there are differences in the character of the terrorist threat 40 years ago and today, there are also parallels between the practical and political challenges of counterterrorism in the era of the Baader–Meinhof group and Carlos the Jackal, and the struggle against al-Qaeda and its affiliates today.

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