“Carlos the Jackal” was, in fact, Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. He was nicknamed ‘The Jackal’ after the character in Frederick Forsyth’s novel Day of The Jackal.
He had converted to Islam, joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1970, and committed himself to bringing down Western democracies.
After attending a terrorist training camp in Amman, Jordan, he was given the pseudonym ‘Carlos’ and carried out a number of bombings in London and Paris.
In 1975 in Vienna, he organised the kidnapping of 42 members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Part of the plan was that he and his team would execute Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, and Iran’s Minister of the Interior, Jamshid Amouzegar while keeping the others hostage.
The group carried out the operation as planned, killing several police officers, security guards and anyone else who tried to disarm them. They did not, however, succeed in executing the Saudi and Iranian ministers, instead taking 42 hostages on a plane to Algiers.
Carlos was eventually paid off by an unknown Arab ruler, and he released the hostages, escaping unhurt with the vast sum of money, rumoured to be in the region of $20 million.
On 1 June 1992, a French court finally convicted Sanchez of shooting two French secret agents and a Lebanese informer and sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was also implicated in more than 80 killings and hundreds of injuries during a 25-year campaign of bombings and terrorist attacks for the Palestinian cause.
Carlos was also suspected of being involved in the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes and the hijacking of the Air France passenger jet which ended in the bloody raid at Entebbe.