News / Europe

    Terrorism Trial Offers Diversion from European Debt Crisis

    Convicted Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka "Carlos" waits at Paris Court House prior his questioning by German prosecutors about the involvement of a former comrade-in-arms in the bloody attack on an OPEC conference in Vienna in 1975, (Fil
    Convicted Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka "Carlos" waits at Paris Court House prior his questioning by German prosecutors about the involvement of a former comrade-in-arms in the bloody attack on an OPEC conference in Vienna in 1975, (Fil

    Besides Europe's financial crisis, France has been riveted this week by the trial of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known to many as Carlos the Jackal. The trial has sparked debate about old-style terrorism - and what has, and hasn't, changed.

    Sanchez high-profile trial begins

    This is not the first time Ilich Ramirez Sanchez has gone on trial. The man better known as "Carlos the Jackal" is already serving a life sentence killing two French police and a Lebanese informer in Paris in 1975.

    The media has been captivated by 62-year-old Ramirez, who has filled the courtroom with rambling but colorful speeches.

    This time, he is being tried in connection to four bombings in France between 1982 and 1983, that killed 11 people and wounded at least 150 more. His lawyer and wife, Isabelle Courtant-Peyre, claims he is innocent.

    In an interview on French radio, Courtant-Peyre says Ramirez has been condemned without proof.

    Ramirez has a colorful past. Born in Venezuela, he was expelled as a student from the former Soviet Union. He spent a decade on the run in the Middle East, Europe and parts of Africa. He mixed with Palestinian radicals and worked for several Eastern European intelligence services.

    "He was a really iconic terrorist at the time. He was the specter of the bogey man [monster] that had all the counter-terrorist organizations and all the governments running around trying to catch him," stated London-based terrorism expert Bob Ayers.

    The French finally did -- in Sudan -- acting on a tip from the CIA, according to former French terrorism prosecutor Alain Marsaud.

    Change in terrorism

    Speaking to French radio, Marsaud says Ramirez defines a bygone era of so-called state-sponsored terrorism, used by countries like Libya, Iraq and Syria. Today, he says, terrorism is carried out by groups -- many of them, like Al Qaida, embracing radical Islam.

    But Ayers disagrees. He believes the real change in terrorism is that countries are much better at fighting it. "Terrorist groups -- their purpose is to go off and get a lot of attention to do some very heinous activities to, at least ostensibly, promote their cause. So there's really no difference between people like Ramirez, or Carlos the Jackal, and people like [Osama] Bin Laden," he said.

    Despite Ramirez' notorious reputation, Ayers says he was a chameleon figure, more focused on himself than any cause.

    "He claimed responsibility for a lot of things that he didn't do, and he didn't do many things very well," said Ayers. "As a matter of fact, as he went through his career, he got bumped around from intelligence service to intelligence service - from the East German intelligence to the KGB -- and everyone was trying to find a place to put this man so he wouldn't embarrass them."

    Many Europeans today were not even born when Ramirez was in his prime. But his high-profile trial does offer a diversion from Europe's bleak and very current financial crisis.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora