Carlos the Jackal, pseud. of the revolutionary and international terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, 1949–, b. Caracas, Venezuela. Son of an affluent Marxist lawyer, he joined the Communist party at 15 and may have had guerrilla warfare training in Cuba; he later attended university in Moscow. A member (1970–75) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he acquired the name Carlos ("the Jackal" was added later by the press) and committed (1973) his first confirmed terrorist act, a botched assassination attempt in London. Becoming a widely feared terrorist with his own small network of operatives, he allegedly worked during the 1970s and 80s for Muammar al-Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Fidel Castro, for revolutionary groups, and for East European security agencies. He is said to have been responsible for more than 80 deaths as well as hijackings, bombings, and other violent acts. His most notorious exploit occurred in 1975 in Vienna when he held OPEC oil ministers hostage. Captured (1994) in Sudan by French agents, he was tried (1997) in France, convicted of murder in a 1975 case, and sentenced to life in prison. In 2011 he received a second life sentence in a case arising from bombings in 1982–83.
See biography by J. Follain (1998, repr. 2000).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.