News / Europe

Terrorism Trial Offers Diversion from European Debt Crisis

Convicted Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka
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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More