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Ilich Ramirez Sanchez

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Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (born October 12, 1949) was a terrorist, a "professional revolutionary" and playboy better known by the nom de guerre Carlos the Jackal.

Sánchez was born in Caracas, Venezuela. His rich Marxist lawyer father gave him the forename Ilich Lenin. He was educated at a local school in Caracas and joined the youth movement of the national communist party in 1959. In 1966, after the divorce of his parents, his mother took him and his brother to London to continued their studies in Stafford House Tutorial College[?] in Kensington, UK[?]. In 1968 his father tried to take him and his brother Lenin to Sorbonne University but eventually opted for Patrice Lumumba University[?] in Moscow. He was expelled from the university in 1970.

Apparently he traveled from there to a training camp run by the PFLP in Amman, Jordan. It was there that he gained the pseudonym Carlos. He claimed to have fought along side the PFLP members as they resisted the Jordanian government's efforts to expel them in 1970. When he did leave Jordan it was for London where he attended courses at the University of London and apparently worked for PFLP.

In 1973 Sánchez performed his first terrorist act for the PFLP, an attack on businessman Joseph Sieff[?] in revenge for the Mossad murder of Mohamed Boudia[?] in Paris. He also claimws responsibility for a failed bomb attack on the Hapoalim Bank in London and a car bomb attacks on three French newspapers who were accused of pro-Israeli leanings. He claimed to be the grenade thrower at a Parisian restaurant, an attack that killed two and injured thirty. He later participated in two failed rocket propelled grenade attacks on El Al airliners at Orly[?] airport on January 13 and 17, 1975.

On June 27 Sánchez’s PFLP contact Michel Moukharbal[?] was captured and made to talk. When three policemen tried to apprehend him in at a house in Paris in a middle of a party, he shot two detectives and Moukharbal. Sánchez escaped through Brussels to Beirut.

From Beirut Sánchez participated in the planning for the attack on the headquarters of OPEC in Vienna,Austria. In December 1975 he led the six-person team that assaulted the meeting of OPEC leaders and took over sixty hostages. On December 22 the terrorists and forty-two hostages were given an airliner and flown to Algiers, where thirty hostages were freed, the DC-9 was then flown on to Tripoli where more hostages were freed before flying back to Algiers where the remaining hostages were freed and the terrorists were granted asylum. Sánchez soon 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, oil ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran. He might have also embezzled some of the ransom money. PFLP leader Wadi Haddad[?] expelled him.

In September 1976 Sánchez was briefly arrested in Yugoslavia and then flown to Baghdad. From there Sánchez chose to settle more permanently in Aden, where he set about forming his own group, the Organisation of Arab Armed Struggle[?], of Syrian, Lebanese and German terrorists. He also formed a contact with East Germany’s Stasi. In one stage, Romanian Securitate[?] hired him to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and destroy Radio Free Europe offices in Munich. With conditional support from the Iraqi regime and the death of Haddad, Sánchez offered the services of his group, to the PFLP and other groups.

The group did not perform its first terrorist acts until early in 1982, with a failed attack on a nuclear power station. When two of the group, including Magdalena Kopp[?], wife of Sánchez, were arrested in Paris the group set off a number of bombs in retaliation against French targets. Operations in 1983 included attacks on the "Maison de France" in Berlin in August and two bombs on TGV services in December. These attacks led to pressure on European states that tolerated Sánchez. He was expelled from Hungary in late 1985 and was refused aid in Iraq, Libya and Cuba before he found limited support in Syria. He settled in Damascus with Kopp.

The Syrian government forced Sánchez to remain inactive and he was soon no longer seen as a threat but rather a pathetic figure. However in 1990 the Iraqi government approached him and in September 1991 he was expelled from Syria and eventually found a temporary home in Jordan. He found better protection in Sudan and moved to Khartoum. The French and US intelligence agencies offered a number of deals to the Sudanese authorities and on August 14, 1994 he was handed over to French agents and they flew him to Paris. He was charged with the Paris murders of 1975 and sent to La Sante de Paris[?] prison to await trial.

The trial began on December 12, 1997 and on December 23 he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

During his “career”, most of it during the Cold War, western accounts persistently claimed he was a KGB agent but the link is tenuous at best. He did not take part of the attack on Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 or a 1976 hijacking to Entebbe[?]. Some terrorists attacks may have been attached to him for lack of anyone else to claim the credit. His own boasts about probably nonexistent “missions” confuse the matter even more.


  • Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist Carlos the Jackal; by John Follain. Arcade Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1559704667.
  • To the Ends of the Earth; by David Yallop. New York: Random House, 1993. ISBN 0-679-42559-4. Note that this book was also published under the name Tracking the Jackal.

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