On December 21, 1975, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez aka Carlos the Jackal led a six-person team in an attack of 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 requested.
Sánchez is widely regarded as one of the most famous political terrorist of his era. When he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1970, he was given the code name “Carlos" because of his South American roots. After several bungled bombings, 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 the 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal near some of the fugitive's belongings.
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, who flew him to Paris for trial. He was charged with the 1975 murders. The trial began on December 12, 1997 and for his part, Sánchez denied the 1975 killings, saying they were orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and condemning Israel as a terrorist nation. During the trial 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." He was eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison along with two others.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949, it can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble through the following links:
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