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Ilich Ramirez Sanchez once called himself a “professional revolutionary.” During a career in international terrorism lasting more than two decades, Sanchez–better known as Carlos the Jackal–murdered 83 people by his own count, once held several dozen oil ministers hostage during an OPEC meeting, and “freelanced” for, among others, Muammar al-Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and the Italian Red Brigade. Before his eventual capture in 1994 and subsequent trial and imprisonment in France, the Jackal’s reputation as a “terrorist’s terrorist” was unsurpassed. Dozens of hijackings, bombings, and assassinations were blamed on him, whether or not he was involved (which led him to stand before a French court and accuse everyone within view of libel).
From his fervent Communist upbringing in Venezuela, Carlos was set upon the revolutionary path at an early age. He was allegedly given training in guerilla warfare in Cuba while still a teenager, and soon thereafter studied in the Soviet Union. Jackal breathlessly follows Sanchez’s rapid rise up the world’s ladder of professional brigands and cutthroats and his international playboy lifestyle, but seldom reveals a private side to the man–perhaps, one guesses, because Carlos the Jackal never had the time or inclination to cultivate one. Follain attempts to make an icon of Carlos (“I will stay inside jail forever or I will be shot dead if I get out,” he mused to a reporter while imprisoned in France) in a valiant effort to lend a moral hook to his story, but, as he finally admits, “revolution for Carlos meant a state of mindless euphoria, chasing after women, and luxurious living.”

Author: Joh Follain


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