“Carlos the Jackal” is a name I haven’t heard in a really long time.
I assumed he was dead.
In fact, he’s been serving a life sentence in France, and now is going on trial again.
Sky News reports, Carlos the Jackal faces trial for 1974 Paris shop bombing:
The self-styled “professional revolutionary” was one of the world’s most wanted terror suspects in the 1970s and early 1980s.
He was dubbed Carlos the Jackal, after the fictional terrorist in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day Of The Jackal, after a reporter saw a copy of the book next to the terrorist’s belongings.
The 67-year-old, whose real name is Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, a Venezuelan, was arrested in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in 1994 by elite French police and is serving a life sentence for the murders of two policemen in Paris in 1975 and a Lebanese revolutionary.
He was also found guilty of four bombings in Paris and Marseilles in 1982 and 1983.
Some of the atrocities targeted trains and a total of 11 people died and 150 were injured.
I remember the book and the movie, which of course, is only loosely based on the real Jackal:
Carlos cooperated with Palestinian terrorists, including in taking OPEC ministers hostage in 1975:
It is considered one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks in history. 40 years ago, on 21 December 1975, a commando of six stormed the Conference of Ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna and took 62 hostages, among them 11 oil ministers. Never before, and never again thereafter, were so many high-ranking politicians in the hands of terrorists.
The hostage-takers had received their orders from Wadie Haddad, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations Group (PFLP-SOG) residing in Aden. Among them were two Palestinians, two West German extreme left-wingers, a Lebanese Fatah member turned mole in the rival PFLP, and their leader, the 26 year old Venezuelan Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal.
While the crisis turned into a media spectacle with live broadcasts in radio and television, the Austrian government led by Chancellor Bruno Kreisky negotiated with the kidnappers. Although the terrorists had killed three people (an Austrian policeman, an Iraqi security guard, and a Libyan delegate), they were provided with a plane to fly out to Algeria in return for the release of a part of the hostages. After a nerve-racking flight back and forth between Algiers and the Libyan capital of Tripoli, a deal was finally struck on 23 December: For safe conduct and a ransom reportedly between 5 and 50 million dollars, all remaining hostages were freed, including the Saudi and Iranian oil ministers, which were supposed to be killed at the end of the operation.
Here’s what Carlos looked like in 2011 during one of his trials:
The Guardian has further details on the current charges:
Ramírez denies the charges, which include “murders carried out with a terrorist organisation”.
Al Watan Al-Arabi magazine published an interview in 1979 in which Ramírez is said to have admitted that he had thrown the grenade into the shop. He has since denied giving the interview.
The prosecution says the attack was linked to a hostage-taking at the French embassy in the Dutch capital, The Hague, that had begun two days earlier, on September 13, 1974.
The Japanese Red Army, a communist militant group that had close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in which Ramírez was the head of “special operations”, was demanding that French authorities free one of its members who had been arrested at Paris Orly airport two months early.
The prosecution says Ramírez orchestrated the Hague hostage-taking and carried out the Paris grenade attack to force the French government to give in to the Japanese group’s demands.
He achieved his aim – the Japanese suspect was released and was able to travel to Yemen with other members of the Hague hostage-taking team.
The case against Ramírez is also based on witness testimony from his former brothers-in-arms, including Hans-Joachim Klein, a German to whom the Venezuelan is said to have admitted he wanted to “apply pressure to get the Japanese man freed”.
Investigators have tracked the provenance of the grenade and say it came from the same batch as those used by the Hague hostage-takers and had been stolen from a US army base in 1972. One was also found at the Paris home of Ramírez’s mistress.
During a 2015 visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hugo Chavez sung Carlos’ praise as a hero of fighting against Israel (translation via AP)
“You have to remember that many Venezuelans fought as members of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation.) A few days ago I mentioned one of them. Carlos Illich Ramirez Sanchez. (Commonly known as Carlos the Jackal – Venezuelan citizen convicted of killing three French citizens, currently serving a life sentence in France.) Whom, to satanise him, the west called him the Jackal. They even released a film not long ago, about the Jackal. The Jackal was nothing less than a soldier of the PLO. And he represents all of us in the fight for Palestine. For the liberation of the Palestinian people.”
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