NEWS
07/11/2011 10:27 GMT | Updated 06/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Carlos The Jackal: One Of The Most Notorious Terrorists In History (Pictures)

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, otherwise known as Carlos the Jackal, first hit international headlines in 1975 when he led a commando raid in Vienna on an Opec oil cartel meeting, taking dozens of ministers hostage to Algeria and extracting a ransom of £10m. His infamy was sealed when the raid ended in three deaths.

He went on to become one of the world's most notorious militants as he masterminded deadly attacks across Europe, avoiding capture throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

For the past three decades years, he has been the face of violent Marxist struggle. He became a romanticised, exotic figure with his penchant for Havana cigars, womanising, berets, and alcohol adding to his enigmatic allure. Outside his revolutionary supporters though, he is simply seen as a cold-blooded terrorist.

Working in the name of far-left groups and Palestinian liberation, he claimed to have been responsible for killing more than 1,500 people in the name of his cause.

His latest trial in Paris deals with four attacks in the 1980s, thought to be part of his war against the French authorities to free two comrades, including his future wife, who were arrested planning to attack the Kuwaiti embassy.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1949, Ramirez became a poster-boy for international militant Marxism as 'Carlos the Jackal'. Ramirez took 'Carlos' as his nom de guerre, and "The Jackal" was added by British journalists, after a Guardian writer saw a copy of Frederick Forsyth's book 'The Day of the Jackal' in his London flat.

In the 1960s, the family moved to London, where Ramirez was partly brought up. The son of a wealthy Marxist lawyer, Jose Altagracia Ramirez Navas, he and his brothers were home-schooled by Communist tutors and all given revolutionary Communist names: Ilich, Lenin and Vladimir.

Ramirez headed to Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University, famed as a training ground for leftist revolutionaries and guerillas all over the world, but he was expelled in 1970.

He later moved to Lebanon, where he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. His brother Vladimir explained to The Guardian that "he decided that the best way to defeat imperialism was to take up arms and the best place to do it was the Middle East."

He became increasingly in a range of international terrorist organisations, such as West Germany's Red Army Faction. Files released from police archives in Hungary, East Germany and Romania allegedly outline his involvement in a series of attacks.

With the collapse of European communism in 1989, Ramirez found life on the run more difficult. Eventually he took refuge in Sudan, where he was seized from a hospital room in 1994 and hauled to Paris on a private jet inside a sack by French agents.

Jailed for life in 1997 for three murders in Paris, he divorced his first wife Magdalena Kopp while in jail through the Muslim ritual of renunciation. He then married his French lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, whom he met and married in jail in 2001.

In a recent interview with French radio regarding his latest trial, he vowed to fight the charges with his characteristic revolutionary fervour, he insisted "I'm still in a combative state of mind".

He has also remained as controversial as ever. Last month he praised Osama Bin Laden in France's Liberation newspaper, as a martyr who served as an "example ... for authentic resisters against imperialism."