'Carlos the Jackal' on Hunger Strike in Prison
By CRAIG R. WHITNEY
PARIS -- The terrorist who calls himself Carlos has been on a
hunger strike for 11 days, protesting his four years of solitary
confinement in a French prison, where he is serving a life sentence for
Carlos, 49, whose
real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has been drinking
water, and his life is not threatened, said officials at the Sante Prison. They
said they had no intention of changing their treatment of him.
letters in French and English made available by his lawyers,
Carlos says he is preparing for his death and has called on his supporters
to kill one American or Israeli for every one of the 1,551 days he has
been held in France.
acting on a tip from the CIA seized Carlos from a hospital
room in Sudan in August 1994. He was brought here and tried for murder
in shootings, bombings and other acts of terrorism that the authorities
accused him of committing on French soil in the 1970s and against French
institutions elsewhere in the 1980s.
"I love France,
eternal France, and I would regard as personal betrayal
any attack in my name on a French citizen," Carlos said in a declaration in
French titled "In case of my death," distributed by one of his lawyers,
I ask as the last wish of a living martyr that a United States
or Zionist enemy be executed for each day that I have spent in prison in
France, and that's the duty of my comrades, of all mujahedeen and of all
the revolutionaries of the world," he wrote, using the Arabic word for holy
warriors and signing off with "God is great," in the name of the Palestinian
The son of a
Venezuelan Marxist lawyer, Carlos was named Ilich in honor
of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and was sent to Moscow to deepen his
knowledge of Marxism.
After being expelled
as a troublemaker from Lumumba University in
Moscow in 1970, he found his way to Beirut, Lebanon, and adopted his
nom de guerre at the suggestion of a leader of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine. Advocating violent struggle, the group gave
Carlos the first vehicle for his anti-American revolutionary ambitions.
a series of spectacular actions that included the kidnapping
of the oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
in Vienna in 1975, he allied himself with the West German terrorist group
Baader-Meinhof. For a few years during the Cold War, he was allowed
to operate from East Berlin, Budapest and other Communist capitals in
In a new book
about him ("Jackal," published in London by Weidenfeld
& Nicolson), John Follain, a British journalist, says Carlos sought refuge
in Syria when the Communists tired of him. The Syrians, learning that the
French were on his trail, tried to expel him to Libya in 1991, but the
authorities there did not want him, either.
wound up in Sudan, where he was recovering from an
operation when French agents, with the tacit approval of the Sudanese
authorities, pounced on him, wrapped him up in a burlap bag and flew him
to Paris in an executive jet.
He was convicted
in Paris last Dec. 24 of the murder of two French
police agents and a Lebanese informer in the Latin Quarter in 1975.
On Nov. 3 he
began his hunger strike, he said in an open letter to Justice
Minister Elisabeth Guigou, after being accused of insulting a prison guard.
The prison authorities
disciplined Carlos with five days of stricter solitary
confinement, saying he had cursed at and insulted the guard, who had
interrupted a meeting with his lawyers.
"I do not know
the professions of the mother of this individual, or his
sexual inclinations, and I did not yell at him questioning his virility or his
mother's morality," Carlos wrote. "On the other hand, I did criticize his
lack of civil courage and disregard for his own origins shown by
conducting himself like an agent of colonialism." The guard is of West
He then vowed
to refuse to take food or water to protest interference
with his mailing privileges and to demand the right to receive visitors other
than lawyers and take French lessons, Mrs. Coutant-Peyre said. The
prison authorities said Carlos had partly broken his fast on Tuesday night
by drinking nearly a gallon of mineral water.