A picture dated November 30, 2004, shows Venezuelan Illich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal," at a court house in Paris.
Credit: Thomas Coex

Carlos the Jackal, among the most-feared Cold War terrorists, goes on trial in Paris on Monday for bombings in France in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 and wounded over 100.

Venezuela-born Carlos, 62, real name Ilitch Ramirez Sanchez — whom President Hugo Chavez once praised as a "revolutionary fighter" — has been behind bars since 1994, when he was captured by French secret-service agents in Khartoum, Sudan.

Ramirez, a former member of the leftist Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and also linked to extreme-left European terror groups, was sentenced to life in prison for killing two French policemen and a Lebanese informer in 1975, The New York Times reported.

That was the year he first made world headlines, after he and a group of gunmen burst into a OPEC meeting in Vienna and taking 11 oil ministers hostage.

Newspapers dubbed him "Carlos the Jackal" after police found a copy of the thriller novel Day of the Jackal in one of his hideouts, according to VOA

Ramirez reportedly said at his 1997 trial in a Paris criminal court: "I’m a professional revolutionary. The world is my domain." And according to The Associated Press, he has "cultivated the image of an intrepid warrior, filing a legal complaint against then-Interior Minister Charles Pasqua for kidnapping."

Ramirez is serving his term at La Sante prison, where Manuel Antonio Noriega, the former dictator of Panama convicted last year of money laundering, is also incarcerated. 

Regarding the current trial, the Times writes that:

The charges against Ramirez stem from a bombing in March 1982 of a Paris-Toulouse train in southwestern France; an attack in April 1982 on the Paris offices of an Arabic-language newspaper, Al Watan; and the bombing in December 1983 of a high-speed train and the main rail station in Marseille.  

He is also the chief suspect in the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a French jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda, which ended with an Israeli commando raid, according to the AP.

However, the AP reported, "doubt has been cast on his alleged role in the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics."

Ramirez has contested the conditions of his 1994 arrest, according to the Wall Street Journal, with his lawyers saying there was no evidence linking him to the deadly attacks in France.

French prosecutors have charged three other suspects in the bombing cases, but Ramirez will be the only defendant present in court during the six-week trial. Germany has refused to extradite one of Ramirez's alleged accomplices and two others aren't in police custody.

However, Ramirez he has boasted of committing more than 100 attacks that claimed up to 2,000 lives, the Herald Sun reported.

Ramirez, the Herald Sun wrote, said that of those he killed there were "very few" civilian bystanders. "I calculated that they were fewer than 10 percent," he reportedly said. "So out of 1,500-2,000 killed, there were not more than 200 civilian victims."

He charged that former Cuban president Fidel Castro "killed more people," and reportedly said:

"Terrorism is going to exist as long as imperialists dominated the world, I am the enemy of terrorists like the United States and Israel."

He has also reportedly said that he regrets being an absent father.

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