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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid