(CNN)"In a world that thought itself accustomed to horror, it was yet another notch on an ever-rising scale of grotesquerie."
Reign of terror in 'The Seventies'
This was used to describe the terrifying attack on Olympic athletes in TIME's article "Terrorism: Horror and Death at the Olympics" from September 18, 1972.
The '70s gave rise to modern-day terrorism. Terrorist attacks were no longer seen as isolated incidents in other countries. Terrorism had hit home.
At the start of the decade, the Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, was overshadowed by the brutal murder of 11 Israelis. In the early morning hours of September 5, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September stormed the Olympic Village, killing two members of the Israeli Olympic Team and taking nine others hostage.
The terrorists demanded the release of 200 Arab prisoners. When the decision was made not to negotiate with the terrorists, a botched gunfight with German police ended in tragedy. All of the hostages were killed including five terrorists and one West German policeman.
The TIME article read:
The murders in Munich last week—preceded by 20 hours of high drama and precipitated by a horrendously bungled police shootout —gripped most of the world in attentive thrall. Because the drama was carried live on television, the suspense involved everyone...This time the final monstrous twist was that the killings were in Munich, the original spawning ground of Nazism—and the victims were Jews...
To counter the guerrilla terror, governments everywhere will have to pay far closer attention to security—not only on airliners, as they are learning to do, but at almost any public event or occasion that terrorists could disrupt, as they did the Olympics. Perhaps the ultimate significance of last week's horror in Munich is that the historic, bloody conflict between the Israelis and Arabs has now been exported from the Middle East to the rest of the world, first to Western Europe, and maybe eventually even to the U.S.
A group of homegrown radicals was thrust in the spotlight when they kidnapped 19-year-old Patty Hearst on February 4, 1974. Hearst, the granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, was dragged from her apartment at gunpoint by members of the California-based Symbionese Liberation Army. They stuffed her into the trunk of a car and sped off.
Trying to meet the demands of the ransom, her family gave away $2 million worth of food to the poor in San Francisco. But it wasn't enough.
Shocking news arrived nine weeks later on tape. The young heiress declared she had joined the SLA.
"I have chosen to stay and fight," she said on tape. Two weeks later, Hearst was caught on camera brandishing a rifle during a bank robbery in the city.
The FBI search ended with her arrest in a San Francisco apartment. TIME's article "Radicals: Patty's Twisted Journey" from September 29, 1975, read:
Standing in the room was the thin, pale young woman. "Don't shoot," said Patty Hearst. "I'll go with you." That quiet drama ended a 19½-month chase—one of the longest and most intensive in U.S. history—and climaxed a bizarre odyssey that had a special and disturbing fascination for Americans. They had been appalled by the violence of the whole affair: the strong-arm kidnaping near a college campus, then the bank robbery in which Patty herself wielded a gun, then the surrealistic, nationally televised shootout that left six of her companions dead. With some apprehension, parents debated just why Patty, the heiress to a celebrated fortune, had become a self-proclaimed revolutionary. Many people claimed to have spotted her in various parts of the world, yet she managed to elude the great chase—until last Thursday.
How could a young heiress have turned into a gun-toting radical? During her trial, Hearst claimed she had been brainwashed by her captors. She had served close to two years in prison when President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence in early 1979.
By the end of the decade, America would fall victim to one of the worst terrorist acts of the '70s. After Carter allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to come to the United States for cancer treatment, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took a group of Americans hostage.
TIME's article "Blackmailing the U.S." from November 19, 1979, read:
It was an ugly, shocking image of innocence and impotence, of tyranny and terror, of madness and mob rule. Blindfolded and bound, employees of the U.S. embassy in Tehran were paraded last week before vengeful crowds while their youthful captors gloated and jeered. On a gray Sunday morning, students invoking the name of Iran's Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini invaded the embassy, overwhelmed its Marine Corps guards and took some 60 Americans as hostages. Their demand: surrender the deposed Shah of Iran, currently under treatment in Manhattan for cancer of the lymphatic system and other illnesses, as the price of the Americans' release. While flatly refusing to submit to such outrageous blackmail, the U.S. was all but powerless to free the victims. As the days passed, nerves became more frayed and the crisis deepened. So far as was known, the hostages had been humiliated but not harmed. Yet with demonstrators chanting "Death to America" outside the compound, there was no way to guarantee that the event would not have a violent ending.
In April of 1980, Carter attempted a risky military rescue mission that failed miserably. Eight Americans died during the mission, which contributed to Carter's election defeat in November. TIME's article "Debacle in the Desert" from May 5, 1980, read:
The fire and the fury dramatized the dimensions of a new American tragedy—the inability of the U.S. to extricate 53 American hostages held by Iranian militants and the unstable, faction-torn government of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini. In a startlingly bold but tragic gamble, President Jimmy Carter had ordered a courageous, specially trained team of American military commandos to try to pluck the hostages out of the heavily guarded U.S. embassy in Tehran. The super secret operation failed dismally. It ended in the desert staging site, some 250 miles short of its target in the capital city. And for the world's most technologically sophisticated nation, the reason for aborting the rescue effort was particularly painful: three of the eight helicopters assigned to the mission developed electrical or hydraulic malfunctions that rendered them useless.
After 444 days in captivity, the hostages were finally freed, the same day President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.
Visit TIME magazine's vault for more of its coverage from the era.