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Carlos the Jackal
Organisation of Arab Armed Struggle

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez was the son of a wealthy Venezuelan Communist party leader. Illich Ramirez Sanchez, better known to the world as Carlos the Jackal, was responsible for numerous terrorist acts in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. By more recent standards, it all seems rather tame, if not quaint.

Trained in Cuba, Sanchez’ nickname comes from a character in the 1971 Frederick Forsyth novel The Day of The Jackal. Forsyth's book was set in the early 1960s in France. The Organisation de l'armée secrète attempted to kill DeGaulle, who had granted the country of Algeria independence, but failed. The result was that DeGaulle was the most closely guarded man in the world. As a desperate act, they hire The Jackal, the code name for a hired killer who agreed to kill French President De Gaulle.

One of history’s most infamous terrorists, "Carlos the Jackal" participated in murders in Europe and the Middle East. During the Cold War, kidnapping, assassination, skyjacking, hostagetaking, bombing, and armed robbery were the principal methods of terrorism. Carlos the Jackal — former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist, was mastermind of the infamous December 1975 Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hostage crisis in Vienna. The Jackal claimed “operational and political responsibility” for the PFLP’s operations in Europe. In the early 1980s, the terrorist group led by the infamous “Carlos the Jackal” planted bombs aboard France’s passenger trains.

Carlos, the most notorious terrorist of his time, was believed to have worked for Mohamar Qaddaffi ofLibya, Saddam Hussein ofIraq, President Assad of Syria, Fidel Castro of Cuba, George Habash and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Italian Red Brigade, Columbia's M-19 Movement, the BaaderMeinholf Gang, and any number of other "Communist and Socialist" employers.

However, Carlos was a freelancer and worked for anyone, never establishing any permanent reciprocal nation state loyalties. Ilich Ramirez Sanchez seemed at the time to be more bon vivant than committed ideologue. But as a self-proclaimed "professional revolutionary", he was responsible for twenty-four deaths and 257 wounded during his career of violence.

Carlos went on to form his own terrorist group, which he named the Organisation of Arab Armed Struggle. They attempted to hijack a nuclear power plant in 1982 but failed. The group then carried out a series of bombings in Paris. By this time Carlos was forced to flee Europe, eventually settling in Damascus. He lived in Syria between 1985 and 1991, after which he moved to Jordan and then the Sudan.

Douglas Farah, Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center, noted in 20012 that ‘Carlos the Jackal’ was among the first to articulate the possible merging of radical Shite Islamic thought with Marxist aspirations of destroying capitalism and US hegemony. In his writings Sánchez Ramirez espouses Marxism tied to revolutionary, violent Palestinian uprisings, and, in the early 2000s after becoming a Muslim, militant Islamism. Yet he did not abandon his Marxist roots, believing that Islamism and Marxism combined would form a global anti-imperialist front that would definitively destroy the United States, globalization and imperialism.

In his seminal 2003 book "Revolutionary Islam", written from prison where he was serving a life sentence for killing two French policemen, Sánchez Ramirez praised Osama bin Laden and the 9-11 attacks on the United States as a “lofty feat of arms” and part of a justified “armed struggle” of Islam against the West. “From now on terrorism is going to be more or less a daily part of the landscape of your rotting democracies,” he wrote.

The repeated, public praise of Chávez for Sánchez Ramirez were a crucial element of the Bolivarian ideology and an acceptance of his underlying premise as important to Chávez’s ideological framework. Chávez ordered his ambassador to France to seek the release of Sánchez Ramirez and on multiple occasions referred to the convicted terrorist as a “friend” and “true revolutionary.”

In a 1999 letter to Sánchez Ramirez, Chávez greeted the terrorist as a “Distinguished Compatriot” and wrote that "Swimming in the depths of your letter of solidarity I could hear the pulse of our shared insight that everything has its due time: time to pile up stones or hurl them, to ignite revolution or to ignore it; to pursue dialectically a unity between our warring classes or to stir the conflict between them—a time when you can fight outright for principles and a time when you must choose the proper fight, lying in wait with a keen sense for the moment of truth, in the same way that Ariadne, invested with these same principles, lays the thread that leads her out of the labyrinth. …"

For more than half a century, Special Forces and CIA legend Billy Waugh dedicated his life to tracking down and eliminating America's most virulent enemies. Happily ensconced in squalid, sweltering Khartoum in the early 1990s, he surveiled all-star terrorist Carlos the Jackal and kept tabs on up-and-comer Osama bin Laden.

Billy Waugh’s persistence, knowledge of human character traits, and ability to establish an unobtrusive urban observation post allowed him to find and fix international terrorist Carlos the Jackal for later apprehension by French security forces. Waugh recounts tailing them in the early 1990s (ruing that his proposals to kill them weren't accepted).

Carlos eluded intelligence agencies and police for twenty years b efore his capture in Sudan in 1994. Seized by his own bodyguards, the Jackal was handed over to French intelligence. On 14 August, the Jackal was handed over to agents from the French Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST).

The Jackal returned to court in May 2013 to appeal against his conviction for a series of deadly bombings in France 30 years ago. The 63-year-old, who had been imprisoned in France since being captured in Sudan in 1994, was found guilty in 2011 of masterminding attacks in 1982 and 1983 on two French passenger trains, a train station in Marseille and a Libyan magazine office in Paris.

Already serving life for murder at the time, Carlos was given another life sentence for his role in the attacks that left 11 people dead and nearly 150 injured, earning him the mantle of the world's most wanted fugitive.

Carlos the Jackal faced a possible third life sentence as he wents on trial in Paris on 13 March 2017 for a 1974 grenade attack that killed two people and injured 34. The 67-year-old Venezuelan, was alleged to have thrown a grenade from a mezzanine into a busy restaurant in a shopping arcade in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris on September 15, 1974. The grenade attack case was initially dismissed due to lack of evidence, but was later reopened following his 1994 arrest in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The prosecution maintain that the grenade attack was linked to a larger plot, which included a hostage situation at the French embassy in The Hague on September 13, 1974. A member of the Japanese Red Army, a communist militant group, had been arrested at a Paris airport two months previously. This group was alleged to have had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), of which Carlos was a key member.

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Page last modified: 12-03-2017 15:15:56 ZULU