Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Carlos the Jackal still haunts us

The man known as Carlos the Jackal, once one of the world's most feared and hunted terrorism suspects, went on trial in a Paris court Monday for a series of bombings nearly 30 years ago.

Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez was smiling and defiant as he was accused of being the mastermind behind four attacks in France in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 people and injured nearly 200.

Asked to state his occupation, Ramirez, 62, replied that he was a "professional revolutionary," adding, "of the Leninist tradition."

He then insisted that although he had been born in Venezuela he had been given Palestinian nationality by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose cause he espoused.

With his gray hair, beard and reading glasses and needing a chair for his "bad back," Ramirez bore little resemblance to the photographs of him with dark hair, Che Guevara beret and sunglasses when he was at the height of his notoriety in the 1970s. While on the run from police in his heyday, he was reported to have had plastic surgery to change his appearance.

However, he had clearly lost none of his ability to provoke, giving a clenched-fist salute to a supporter on the public benches and leaping up to rage, in heavily accented French, about the "racist, Zionist state of Israel."

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