Eventually, Carlos went into hiding, faded into impotence, and was snatched from the Sudan in 1994 by French agents who brought him back for trial. He never became the celebrated pop icon that the Ché is, but in his time Carlos was almost as much a household name as Osama bin Laden is today, and he reveled in his fame. He was the subject of a five-and-a-half hour miniseries a year ago which romanticized him to some extent but did not rationalize or soften the edges of his misogyny, selfishness, and utter indifference to the victims of his class war.
Convinced that fundamentalist Islam is the new wave of anti-imperialism, the imprisoned Carlos became a Muslim and wrote a book about “revolutionary Islam,” which he says “attacks the ruling classes in order to achieve a more equitable redistribution of wealth.” As far back as 1995 he realized that “a new kind of militant, the Islamic revolutionist,” had joined the revolution of which he had become the spearhead. Quoted in Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist Carlos the Jackal by John Follain, Carlos says that “true Islamic revolutionaries… form the vanguard of the struggle against imperialism and Zionism.”
In a 2003 article entitled “The Axis of Terror,” Paris-based Iranian journalist Amir Taheri offers up a summary of the contents of Carlos’ book. In it, the “professional revolutionary” praises bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks, and claims that only a coalition of Islamic and Marxist revolutionaries can bring down America the imperialist oppressor, a pursuit Carlos describes as “the highest goal of humanity.”
And he has been embraced in turn by the jihadists. The publisher of a weekly al Qaeda bulletin from a Turkish terrorist organization said in an interview, “bin Laden, like our commander [Salih] Mirzabeyoglu and our soul-mate Carlos the Jackal, is one of the architects of the new world that will be built following the triumph of Islam.”
Unsurprisingly, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez too calls Carlos a friend. “They accuse him of being a terrorist, but Carlos really was a revolutionary fighter,” Chavez said during a televised speech to socialist politicians from various countries, who applauded.
But in the courtroom this week, lawyers for his victims asserted that “Carlos is going to have to realise that he’s not here to conduct a revolution but to answer for his acts,” and that the trial will mark “the end of the culture of impunity” for terrorists.
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