Carlos the Jackal
|Ilich Ramírez Sánchez|
"Carlos" in a Paris courtroom in 2000
October 12, 1949 |
Michelena, Táchira, Venezuela
Carlos the Jackal
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (pronounced: [ilitʃ ɾaˈmiɾes santʃes]; born October 12, 1949), also known as Carlos the Jackal, is a Venezuelan citizen currently serving a life sentence in France for the 1975 murder of an informant for the French government and two French counter-intelligence agents. While in prison he was further convicted of attacks in France that killed 11 and injured 150 people and sentenced to an additional life term.
A committed Marxist-Leninist, Ramírez Sánchez is widely regarded as one of the most famous political terrorists of his era. When he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1970, recruiting officer Bassam Abu Sharif gave him the code name "Carlos" because of his South American roots. After several bungled bombings, Ramírez Sánchez achieved notoriety for the 1975 raid on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, which killed three people. This was followed by a string of attacks against Western targets. For many years he was among the most wanted international fugitives. Carlos was dubbed "The Jackal" by The Guardian after one of its correspondents reportedly spotted Frederick Forsyth's 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal near some of the fugitive's belongings.
For his part, Ramírez Sánchez denied the 1975 killings, saying they were orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and condemning Israel as a terrorist nation. During his trial in France in 1997, he said, "When one wages war for 30 years, there is a lot of blood spilled—mine and others. But we never killed anyone for money, but for a cause—the liberation of Palestine."
Early life 
Ramírez Sánchez, son of Marxist lawyer José Altagarcia Ramírez-Navas and Elba Maria Sánchez, was born in Michelena, in the Venezuelan state of Táchira. Despite his mother's pleas to give their firstborn child a Christian first name, José called him Ilich, after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, while two younger siblings were named "Lenin" (born 1951) and "Vladimir" (born 1958). Ilich attended a school in Caracas and joined the youth movement of the national communist party in 1959. After attending the Third Tricontinental Conference in January 1966 with his father, Ilich reportedly spent the summer at Camp Matanzas, a guerrilla warfare school run by the Cuban DGI near Havana. Later that year, his parents divorced.
His mother took the children to London, where she studied at Stafford House College in Kensington and the London School of Economics. In 1968, José tried to enroll Ilich and his brother at the Sorbonne in Paris, but eventually opted for the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. According to the BBC, it was "a notorious hotbed for recruiting foreign communists to the Soviet Union" (see active measures). He was expelled from the university in 1970.
From Moscow Ramírez Sánchez travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, where he volunteered for the PFLP in July 1970. He was sent to a training camp for foreign volunteers of the PFLP on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. On graduating, he studied at a finishing school, code-named H4 and staffed by Iraqi military, near the Syria-Iraq border.
On completing guerrilla training, Carlos (as he was now calling himself) played an active role for the PFLP in the north of Jordan during the Black September conflict of 1970, gaining a reputation as a fighter. After the organisation was pushed out of Jordan, he returned to Beirut. He was sent to be trained by Wadie Haddad. He eventually left the Middle East to attend courses at the Polytechnic of Central London (now known as the University of Westminster), and apparently continued to work for the PFLP.
In 1973, Carlos conducted a failed PFLP assassination attempt on Joseph Sieff, a Jewish businessman and vice president of the British Zionist Federation. On 30 December Carlos called on Sieff's home on Queen's Grove in St John's Wood and ordered the maid to take him to Sieff. Finding Sieff in the bathroom, in his bath, Carlos fired one bullet at Sieff from his Tokarev 7.62mm pistol, which bounced off Sieff just between his nose and upper lip and knocked him unconscious; the gun then jammed and Carlos fled. The attack was announced as retaliation for Mossad's assassination in Paris of Mohamed Boudia, a PFLP leader.
Carlos admits responsibility for a failed bomb attack on the Bank Hapoalim in London and car bomb attacks on three French newspapers accused of pro-Israeli leanings. He claimed to be the grenade thrower at a Parisian restaurant in an attack that killed two and injured 30. He later participated in two failed rocket propelled grenade attacks on El Al airplanes at Orly Airport near Paris, on January 13 and 17, 1975.
On June 27, 1975, Carlos's PFLP contact, Lebanon-born Michel Moukharbal, who later turned out to be an agent for the Mossad, was captured and interrogated by the French domestic intelligence agency, the DST. When two unarmed agents of the DST interrogated Carlos at a Parisian house party, Moukharbal revealed Carlos's identity. Carlos then shot and killed the two agents and Moukharbal. Carlos fled the scene, and managed to escape via Brussels to Beirut.
OPEC raid and expulsion from PFLP 
From Beirut, Carlos participated in the planning for the attack on the headquarters of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) in Vienna. On December 21, 1975, he led the six-person team (which included Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann) that attacked the meeting of OPEC leaders; they took more than 60 hostages and killed three: an Austrian policeman, an Iraqi OPEC employee and a member of the Libyan delegation. Carlos demanded that the Austrian authorities read a communiqué about the Palestinian cause on Austrian radio and television networks every two hours. To avoid the threatened execution of a hostage every 15 minutes, the Austrian government agreed and the communiqué was broadcast as demanded.
On December 22, the government provided the PFLP and 42 hostages an airplane and flew them to Algiers, as demanded for the hostages' release. Ex-Royal Navy pilot Neville Atkinson, at that time the personal pilot for Libya's leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, flew Carlos and a number of others, including Hans-Joachim Klein, a supporter of the imprisoned Baader-Meinhof group and a member of the Revolutionary Cells, and Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann, from Algiers. Atkinson flew the DC-9 to Tripoli, where more hostages were freed, before he returned to Algiers. The last hostages were freed there and some of the terrorists were granted asylum.
In the years following the OPEC raid, Bassam Abu Sharif, another PLFP agent, and Klein claimed that Carlos had received a large sum of money for the safe release of the Arab hostages and had kept it for his personal use. Claims are that the amount was between US$20 million and US$50 million. The source of the money is also uncertain but, according to Klein, it was from "an Arab president". Carlos later told his lawyers that the money was paid by the Saudis on behalf of the Iranians and was "diverted en route and lost by the Revolution."
Carlos left Algeria for Libya and then Aden, where he attended a meeting of senior PFLP officials to justify his failure to execute two senior OPEC hostages – the finance minister of Iran, Jamshid Amuzgar, and the oil minister of Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Zaki Yamani. His trainer and PFLP-EO leader Wadie Haddad expelled Carlos for not shooting hostages when PFLP demands were not met, thus failing his mission.
After 1975 
In September 1976, Carlos was arrested, detained in Yugoslavia, and flown to Baghdad. He chose to settle in Aden, where he tried to found his own Organization of Armed Struggle, composed of Syrian, Lebanese, and German rebels. He also connected with the Stasi, East Germany's secret police. They provided him with an office and safe houses in East Berlin, a support staff of 75, and a serviced car, and allowed him to carry a pistol while in public.
From here, Carlos is believed to have planned his attacks on several European targets, including that on the Radio Free Europe offices in Munich in February 1981. On February 16, 1982, two of the group—Swiss terrorist Bruno Breguet and Ramírez Sánchez's wife Magdalena Kopp—were arrested in Paris, in a car containing explosives. Following the arrest, a letter was sent to the French embassy in The Hague demanding their immediate liberation. Meanwhile, Carlos unsuccessfully lobbied the French government for their release.
In retaliation, France was struck by a spectacular wave of terrorist attacks, including : the bombing of the Paris-Toulouse TGV train on March 29, 1982 (5 dead, 77 injured); the car-bombing of the Lybian newspaper Al-Watan al-Arabi in Paris on April 22, 1982 (1 dead, 63 injured); the bombing of the Gare Saint-Charles in Marseille on December 31, 1983 (2 dead, 33 injured), and the bombing of the Marseille-Paris TGV train (3 dead, 12 injured) on the same day. In August 1983, he also attacked the Maison de France in West Berlin, killing one man and injuring twenty-two. Within days of the bombings, Carlos sent letters to three separate news agencies claiming responsibility for the bombings as revenge for a French air strike against a PFLP training camp in Lebanon the previous month.
Historians' examination of Stasi files, recently accessible after the German reunification, demonstrate a link between Ramírez Sánchez and the KGB, via the East German secret police. When Leonid Brezhnev visited West Germany in 1981, Ramírez Sánchez did not undertake any attacks, as the KGB had requested. Western intelligence had expected activity during this period. At one point, the Romanian Securitate hired Carlos to assassinate Romanian dissidents living in France.
With conditional support from the Iraqi regime and after the death of Haddad, Ramírez Sánchez offered the services of his group to the PFLP and other groups. His group's first attack may have been a failed rocket attack on the Superphénix French nuclear power station on January 18, 1982.
These attacks led to international pressure on East European states that harbored Ramírez Sánchez. For over two years, he lived in Hungary, in Budapest's second district known as the quarter of nobles. His main cut-out for some of his financial resources, such as Gaddafi or Dr. George Habash, was the friend of his sister, "Dietmar C", a known German terrorist and the leader of the Panther Brigade of the PFLP. Hungary expelled Ramírez Sánchez in late 1985, and he was refused sanctuary in Iraq, Libya and Cuba before he found limited support in Syria. He settled in Damascus with Kopp and their daughter, Elba Rosa.
The Syrian government forced Ramírez Sánchez to remain inactive, and he was subsequently seen as a neutralized threat. In 1990, the Iraqi government approached him for work, and, in September 1991, he was expelled from Syria. After a short stay in Jordan, he was accorded protection in Sudan where he lived in Khartoum.
Western accounts long claimed Ramírez Sánchez as a KGB agent. Some attacks may have been attributed to him for lack of anyone else to claim credit. His own boasts about probably nonexistent missions have further confused the issue.
Arrest and imprisonment 
The French and US intelligence agencies offered a number of deals to the Sudanese authorities. In 1994, Carlos was scheduled to undergo a minor testicular operation in a hospital in Sudan. Two days after the operation, Sudanese officials told him that he needed to be moved to a villa for protection from an assassination attempt and would be given personal bodyguards. One night later, the bodyguards went into his room while he slept, tranquilized and tied him, and took him from the villa.
On August 14, 1994, Sudan transferred him to French agents of the DST, who flew him to Paris for trial. He was charged with the 1975 murders of the two Paris policemen and of Moukharbal and was sent to La Santé Prison to await trial. In 1996, a majority of the European Commission of Human Rights rejected his application related to the process of his capture.
The trial began on December 12, 1997 and ended on December 23, when he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was later moved from La Santé to the Clairvaux Prison.
In June, 2003, Carlos published a collection of writings from his jail cell. The book, whose title translates to Revolutionary Islam, seeks to explain and defend violence in terms of class conflict. In the book, he voices support for Osama bin Laden and his attacks on the United States.
In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights heard a complaint from Ramírez Sánchez that his long years of solitary confinement constitute "inhuman and degrading treatment". Although the court rejected this claim, it was on appeal as of early 2006.
New trial 
In May 2007, anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguière ordered a new trial for Ramírez Sánchez on charges relating to "killings and destruction of property using explosive substances" in France in 1982 and 1983. The bombings killed eleven and injured more than 100 people. Ramírez Sánchez denied any connection to the events in his 2011 trial, staging a nine-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment conditions. The trial, which had been expected to last six weeks, began on November 7, 2011, in Paris. Three other members of Ramírez Sánchez's organization were tried in absentia at the same time: Johannes Weinrich, Christina Frohlich, and Ali Kamal Issawi. Germany has refused to extradite Weinrich and Frohlich, and Issawi, a Palestinian, "is reportedly on the run." Ramírez Sánchez continues to deny any involvement in the attacks. On December 15, 2011, Ramírez Sánchez, Weinrich and Issawi were convicted and sentenced to life in prison; Frohlich was acquitted.
Popular culture references 
- In 1976 Colin Smith, reporter for The Observer, wrote the authoritative biography Carlos: Portrait Of A Terrorist, published by Andre Deutsch (ISBN 0 233 968431).
- Charles Lichtman wrote a novel entitled The Last Inauguration, in which Carlos is hired by Saddam Hussein to carry out a terrorist attack on the Presidential Inauguration Ball.
- Carlos the Jackal features prominently as the antagonist in Robert Ludlum's fictional Bourne Trilogy in the first and third books. In the trilogy, Carlos is depicted as the world's most dangerous assassin, a man with international contacts that allow him to strike efficiently and anonymously at locations anywhere on the globe. Bourne is sent to trap Carlos.
- In the Tom Clancy novel, Rainbow Six, terrorists attempt to have Carlos freed from prison by staging a terrorist attack on an amusement park in Spain.
- Aline, Countess of Romanones (née Aline Griffith), whose first three books were memoirs of her work with the OSS, wrote the 1994 novel, The Well Mannered Assassin, about Carlos the Jackal. The Countess knew Carlos as a charming playboy in the 1970s.
- To the Ends of the Earth, the Hunt for the Jackal, by David Yallop (1993). A detailed account of Yallop's attempts through the 1980s to unearth the true story of Carlos, as he attempts to secure an interview with him.
- The 2004 nonfiction book Hunting the Jackal, by Billy Waugh, reveals the CIA operation in Sudan to locate and photograph Carlos, which led to his arrest in Khartoum.
- In 2010 Spanish journalist Antonio Salas published El Palestino (The Palestinian), following five years of infiltration as a Palestinian-Venezuelan terrorist, during which he did an extensive research on Carlos Ramirez, arriving to meet his kin and have direct correspondence with him from prison.
- 1979 Mexican film Carlos el Terrorista, starring Dominican-Mexican actor Andrés García, is loosely inspired by Ramírez Sánchez.
- 1990 film Death Has a Bad Reputation directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark and presented by Frederick Forsyth, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Tony Lo Bianco
- 1994 film True Lies, includes Bill Paxton playing a car dealer named Simon who is falsely accused of being Carlos the Jackal.
- 1997 film The Assignment, starring Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland, and Ben Kingsley, is a fictional account of the U.S. government's efforts to hunt down Carlos.
- 2007 documentary film Terror's Advocate features a chapter on Carlos.
- 2009 Danish film Blekingegadebanden about a far left wing Danish organization robbing money to send to the PFLP, includes an interview with Sánchez.
- 2010 Olivier Assayas-directed series Carlos documents the life of Ramírez Sánchez. The film won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Movie. Carlos is played by Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez, who is also from the same home state as him.
- Carlos was profiled in a 1979 episode of the series In Search of... called "Carlos, the Most Wanted Man in the World".
- In the 1982 TV series, Whoops Apocalypse, the character of Lacrobat (John Cleese) was a parody of Carlos the Jackal. In the film version of the series, released in 1986, actor Michael Richards played Lacrobat.
- The TV series, Frederick Forsyth Presents, which was made between 1989 and 1990, featured an episode, Death Has a Bad Reputation, in which Carlos (Tony Lo Bianco) is spotted in Rome and killed.
- Daniel Leconte, the producer of the 2010 Carlos, in 1995 produced a two-episode documentary about Carlos called The Carlos Years.
Video games 
- In James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire, one of the player's adversaries is a female assassin named Carla The Jackal. As a further allusion, the mission where Bond confronts her is called "Night of the Jackal".
- «Schakal Carlos» schafft es auf die Kinoleinwand, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, July 4, 2010. Photo is attributed to DPA.
- 'Carlos the Jackal' goes on trial in France. By Kim Willsher. November 7, 2011. Los Angeles Times.
- "Venezuela's Hugo Chavez defends 'Carlos the Jackal'". UK: BBC News. November 21, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- Communists want ‘Carlos the Jackal’ repatriated
- "Carlos the Jackal convicted for 1980s French terrorist attacks". The Daily Telegraph (London). December 16, 2011.
- "Carlos the Jackal given another life sentence for 1980s terror attack". The Guardian (London). December 15, 2011.
- Clark, Nicola. "Ilich Ramírez (Carlos the Jackal) Sánchez". The New York Times.
- "Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (Carlos the Jackal) 1949". Historyofwar.org. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Feared Terrorist Mastermind Goes On Trial". Huffington Post. November 6, 2011.
- Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi. The Best of Enemies: The Memoirs of Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi, 1995. ISBN 978-0-316-00401-5
- Steve Rose (October 23, 2010). "Carlos director Olivier Assayas on the terrorist who became a pop culture icon". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- "'Carlos The Jackal' convicted, sentenced to life in prison". CNN.
- Follain, John (1998). Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. Arcade Publishing. p. 1. ISBN 1-55970-466-7.
- Follain (1998), p. 4.
- Follain (1998), p. 9.
- New York Magazine – Nov 7, 1977
- Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Harvey W. Kushner, p. 321
- "Carlos the Jackal", BBC profile, December 24, 1997
- Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi. The Best of Enemies: The Memoirs of Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi, 1995. ISBN 978-0-316-00401-5 pp 78–79
- Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi. The Best of Enemies, p 89
- Valentine Low (12 February 2008). "House where Carlos the Jackal first struck faces the bulldozer". Evening Standard.
- Christopher Andrew (2009). The Defence of the Realm. Penguin. p. 616. ISBN 978-0-14-102330-4.
- William Cash (8 Jan 2010). "Elizabeth Sieff's mission to put a low price on the high life". Evening Standard.
- "27 juin 1975, trois morts rue Toullier à Paris. Un carnage signé Carlos. L'ancien terroriste est jugé à partir d'aujourd'hui pour des faits qui lui ont valu une condamnation par contumace en 1992", Liberation Newspaper, France.
- Death On Small Wings ISBN 1-904440-78-9.
- Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi. The Best of Enemies, p164
- "Rescued from the shredder, Carlos the Jackal's missing years", The Independent, October 30, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010
- Mayer, Jane, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, 2008. p. 37.
- Follain (1998), pp. 274–276.
- EComHR admissibility decision on application no. 28780/95
- "Carlos The Jackal Ends His 20-day Hunger Strike", Orlando Sentinel. November 24, 1998. Retrieved on May 20, 2010.
- "Carlos the Jackal faces new trial", BBC. May 4, 2007. Retrieved on May 20, 2010.
- Willsher, Kim (November 7, 2011). "'Carlos the Jackal' goes on trial in France". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "My Love for Carlos the Jackal." The Age. March 25, 2004. Retrieved on May 20, 2010.
- James, Ian (November 21, 2009). "Chavez praises Carlos the Jackal". The Independent (UK). Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- Carlos the Jackal faces new trial.
- "Cold War Mastermind Carlos the Jackal on Trial in France". Fox news (UK). November 7, 2011.
- Associated Press. "Paris court sentences Carlos the Jackal to life in prison for 4 deadly attacks in 1980s". Washington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011.[dead link]
- "El Palestino". Antonio Salas. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- Carlos: Portrait of a Terrorist by Colin Smith. Sphere Books, 1976. ISBN 0-233-96843-1.
- Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist Carlos the Jackal by John Follain. Arcade Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-55970-466-7.
- To the Ends of the Earth by David Yallop. New York: Random House, 1993. ISBN 0-679-42559-4. This book was also published under the name Tracking the Jackal: The Search for Carlos, the World's Most Wanted Man.
- Encyclopedia of Terrorism by Harvey Kushner. SAGE Publications, 2002.
- Carlos the Jackal: Trail of Terror by Patrick Bellamy, The Crime Library
- Ex-guerrilla Carlos to sue France over solitary confinement by CNN
- Carlos the Jackal, imprisoned for life, looks in lawsuit to protect his image, Washington Post, January 26, 2010
- When Global Terrorism Went By Another Name – audio report by NPR
- Carlos the Jackal's Parisian trail of destruction – article and map of Carlos' alleged activities in Paris by Radio France Internationale
- Carlos sentenced to life by French court Radio France Internationale in English