Who is Carlos the Jackal? 5 things you need to know about the infamous terrorist

Sriparna Ghosh
Ramírez Sánchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal

Carlos the Jackal, the Venezuelan terrorist, will be tried in a court in France on Monday (March 13) over the deadly 1974 grenade attack in Paris. The attack at the Drugstore Publicis, a busy shop located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, killed two men and left 34 people injured.

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Apart from hurling the grenade at the pharmacy on the September 15, Carlos is also guilty of four bombings in Paris and Marseille in 1982 and 1983, which killed a total of 11 people and injured nearly 150.

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Here are five things to know about him:

  • His real name is not Carlos

Born Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, it is said that an officer called, Bassam Abu Sharif of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) gave Sánchez the code name 'Carlos' because of his South American roots. Later Carlos was dubbed as "The Jackal" by The Guardian, after a copy of the novel 'The Day of the Jackal' by Frederick Forsyth was found among his belongings.

  • Believer of Communist ideologies

Born in October 12, 1949 Carlos was born in Venezuela. His father, a Marxist lawyer, was a stark believer in communist ideology. In fact, despite his mother's request to give their firstborn child a Christian first name, his father named him Ilich, after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; while his two other brothers were named Lenin and Vladimir. As a teenager, Carlos was a member of the Venezuelan Communist party, who reportedly received his first guerrilla training in Cuba in the mid 1960s before joining the PFLP in the 1970s.

  • Not all of his attacks were successful

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Though he has a record of over 80 murders, including two French secret agents and a fellow revolutionary; Carlos often lost his plots. On December 1973, his attempt to assassinate Joseph Edward Sieff, the President of the Marks and Spencer retail chain, in Sieff's London home failed after the latter escaped with an injury. In January 1975, he failed twice to launch rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli airlines at an airport in France.

  • The OPEC hostage crisis

On December 21, 1979, Carlos and five others raided an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna. Three people including an Austrian policeman, an Iraqi OPEC employee and a member of the Libyan delegation were killed and several were wounded as they took over the building and took 60 people as hostages. Carlos and his accomplices were provided with an airplane which they boarded along with 11 hostages. The hostages were eventually released in exchange for a ransom of $50 million after which Carlos escaped to Algeria.

  • Pop culture reference

Carlos has been featured in many books and Hollywood movies. The first and third books of Robert Ludlum's Bourne Trilogy, featured Carlos the Jackal. The other books include John Follain's Jackal: The Secret Wars Of Carlos The Jackal, Colin Smith's Carlos: Portrait Of A Terrorist and Billy Waugh's Hunting the Jackal.

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Carlos was also portrayed in many movies. The Mexican film Carlos el Terrorista (1979), with Dominican-Mexican actor Andrés García in the lead, is loosely inspired by Ramírez Sánchez. The Bourne Identity, which is based on Robert Ludlums book, featured Carlos as the main villain of the movie. The other Hollywood movies include the 1997 film, The Assignment, which centres around a fictional CIA agent's mission to hunt down Carlos and the award-winning series, Carlos, by Director Olivier Assayas, which documented the life of Ramírez Sánchez.

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