Ramírez, Ilyich Sánchez (Carlos the Jackal; 1949–)

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RAMÍREZ, ILYICH SÁNCHEZ (Carlos the Jackal; 1949–)

Terrorist, born in Caracas, Venezuala, to a Communist lawyer who named his three sons Vladimir, Ilyich, and Lenin. After failing to obtain entrance to the Sorbonne, he was sent to Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1967, where he became friendly with members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In the spring of 1970 he left Moscow for Lebanon and then for a PFLP camp in Jordan. Between 1973 and 1984 he participated in many attacks in Europe, with a high cost in human lives (over 1,500 according to his own claims). On 30 December 1973 he committed his first assassination attempt, a failed one, against the owner of the British Marks and Spencer retail chain. On 15 September 1974 he threw a grenade into a Paris drugstore, causing two deaths and leaving thirty-four wounded. In early 1975 he participated in two attacks on Israeli airliners at Orly Airport. On 27 June 1975 he killed two French internal security officers (they were about to arrest him) as well as Michel Mukharbal, his Lebanese PFLP contact in France, who had betrayed him under interrogation.

On 21 December 1976 he participated in the kidnapping of eleven Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil ministers (and fifty other people) to Algiers from their meeting in Vienna. The hostages were eventually released and Carlos had to answer to the PFLP for not killing the Saudi and Iranian oil ministers as he had been assigned to do. He was also suspected of having embezzled some of the ransom money and was expelled from the PFLP. After being arrested in Yugoslavia and expelled to Baghdad, he went to live in Aden, where he founded his own terrorist group, the Organization of Arab Armed Struggle, with some Arab and German terrorists. He established contacts with the East German and Romanian secret police and was hired by the Romanians to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France. In early 1982 the group attempted an attack on a French nuclear power plant.

After his then-wife, Magdalena Kopp, was arrested by the French police in February 1982, he mounted several attacks in France and Germany that were meant to persuade the French authorities to free her, including bombing a train on 29 March 1982 (5 dead, 27 wounded), an attack in Paris on 22 April (1 dead, 63 wounded), and twin attacks against the Paris-Marseille train and the Marseille railroad station on 31 December 1983 (5 dead, 50 wounded). Kopp was released in 1985 and joined Carlos in Damascus, and from there they went to Budapest. Expelled from Hungary later that year, they were denied refuge in Iraq, Libya, and Cuba but were allowed to stay in Damascus.

During this period Carlos's notoriety was such that terrorist incidents were frequently blamed on him if they could not otherwise be attributed (he was said to be a master of disguise); this was partly the result of his own boasting, which included taking credit for terrorist acts that he had had nothing to do with. The Syrians curtailed his activities until 1991, and he lived disguised as a Mexican businessman. He and Kopp had a daughter, and he was reportedly drunk most of the time. In 1991 the Syrians, newly allied with the United States over the Gulf War of 1991, expelled him; he was again denied refuge in several countries, finally entering Jordan with Syrian help; eventually he settled in Sudan during the summer of 1993.

On 14 August 1994, under pressure from the United States and France, the Sudanese police arrested him in Khartoum and handed him over to French authorities. In December 1997 he was convicted of the 1975 murder of the two French security officers and the Lebanese informer and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2001 he married one of his French lawyers, and in 2003, a Muslim convert, he published a book in defense of terrorism, Revolutionary Islam. In 2004 his French wife published an unapologetic memoir about their relationship.

SEE ALSO Gulf War (1991);Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries;Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

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Ramírez, Ilyich Sánchez (Carlos the Jackal; 1949–)

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