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Wednesday, December 24, 1997 Published at 03:13 GMT


Carlos the Jackal - three decades of crime

1972: A car bombing in Paris that injured 63 is attributed to Carlos the Jackal

The trial of Carlos the Jackal closes a bloody chapter in world terrorism.

Perhaps the world's most elusive criminal, Carlos the Jackal - real name Ilich Ramirez Sanchez - is said to have masterminded a spectacular series of bombings, kidnappings and hijackings across Europe.

His career of crime spans three decades - for most of the 1970s and early 1980s, Venezuelan-born Ramirez was wanted for terrorist crimes in at least five European countries.

Ramirez has yet to be tried for most of the crimes he is suspected of having committed. In France alone, six other cases against him are pending trial.

Suspected of catalogue of crime

He is accused of a series of brutal bomb attacks in Paris. Ramirez is said to have masterminded one car bombing in the centre of the city in 1982 that killed a passer-by and injured 63 without any warning.

In addition to the Paris crimes, he is blamed for shooting and wounding Edward Sieff, the president of Marks and Spencer, at his home in London and also for a grenade attack on the English headquarters of an Israeli bank.

[ image: Munich Olympic Village, 1972: Carlos linked to murder of Israeli athletes]
Munich Olympic Village, 1972: Carlos linked to murder of Israeli athletes
More notoriously, it is thought that he was the "godfather" behind a number of murders of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

He established his reputation in 1975, with the seizure of 70 hostages at a meeting in Vienna of oil ministers from Opec - the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Three people were killed as he and the terrorists he led stormed in firing machine guns and demanded that a political statement they had prepared be read on radio stations all over the Middle East.

The Austrian Government agreed to negotiate and eventually allowed the terrorists to leave with their hostages, including ministers from 11 OPEC states.

All were eventually released unharmed in Algeria, although at least one recalled how Ramirez had courteously explained that it might become "necessary" to kill him.

The beginning of the end

Ramirez was captured in Khartoum, Sudan, on August 14, 1994, where he was living under an alias, and transferred to Paris under heavy security by French agents.

Born in Venezuela in 1949, he is a son of a millionaire Marxist lawyer, who demonstrated the depth of his Communist convictions by dividing the name of the leader of the Russian revolution between his three sons, calling them Vladimir, Ilich and Lenin.

In the mid-1960s, Ramirez moved with his family to London and began to polish the linguistic skills which would one day allow him to pose as a language teacher - the cover for his terrorist career.

He began acting in the name of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after leaving Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, a notorious hotbed for recruiting foreign communists to the Soviet Union.

After three years in solitary confinement in a Paris jail, Carlos the Jackal has been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing two French secret agents and a Lebanese fellow revolutionary in 1975.

Unrepentent to the end, he raised a defiant fist as he was led away to the cells.

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