Mentioning Ilich Ramirez Sanchez’ famous nickname brings up memories of the original terrorist’s most impressive feats, like the 1975 raid of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria. After the takeover of the meeting, in which three people died, he and his commandos flew their hostages to Algiers, and, eventually, an ex-Royal Navy pilot called Neville Atkinson flew the Jackal and his team out of Algeria. What makes the situation ironic is that Atkinson was the personal pilot of then Libyan dictator, and obviously still alive , Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. I wonder how those two got to know each other in the first place and what meetings between them would have been like. In any case, the Jackal was eventually captured in Sudan in 1994 and was trialed for the murder of two French DST agents and a Lebanese informer in 1975.
By now the Venezuelan has been in prison for roughly 15 years, mostly in solitary confinement, and is 62 years old. Unlike Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama who is set to be extradited from France to his native homeland after Washington’s approval, the Jackal will most likely die behind bars as he is serving a life sentence for the DST killings. He is currently on trial again“on terrorism charges, including complicity in killings and destruction of property using explosive substances He faces another life sentence.”
As a history aficionado, it is interesting for me to see how several of the iconic figures that appeared in the 1970s and 1980s during the Cold War have met their end. Osama bin Laden rose to international prominence after the 9/11 attacks, but it is well known that he fought in the Afghanistan war against the Soviet army. Meanwhile individuals like the Jackal and even Noriega carry out their actions, or in the latter’s case, his rule, throughout those turbulent decades. Now some people look at such individuals, and the well-known Ernesto “Che” Guevara”, with an almost romantic longing. For example, just like with Che’s face, there are t-shirts of the Jackal. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has called Ramirez a “revolutionary fighter.”
I wonder if any journalist has ever asked Ilich what he thinks about the fact
that, after all of his revolutionary declarations, his daring raids and his professed struggle against Western imperialism, people can now, in true capitalist fashion, buy a t-shirt with his face for roughly 24-25 dollars.