Sunday 7th July 2013
In comparison, late Osama bin Laden and his minor mob of Islamist terrorists, Al Qaeda, were kindergarten pretenders. There were days when real hardnosed terrorists of all description and origin haunted us all, without exception, and the world was held hostage. None knew where a terrorist would spring from.
Continents spawned this human species – they’d claimed a race of their own – at an unequalled rate as we watched and trembled. From Australia to Argentina, Germany to Gambia, USA to USSR, Israel and Palestine, their shadowy movement was unstoppable. The worst of them was probably Carlos the Jackal. Mention his name and even two-year-olds scampered for cover!
Carlos wasn’t né that. He was born in the innocent names of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez in1949. But then, perhaps that Ilich – sounds Russian, doesn’t it? – had something to do with his terrorist nature. Or the fact that he was born in Venezuela, like a late fiery president that, I’m sure, immediately comes to mind. Of course, I talk of the selfsame late President Hugo Chávez.
He of the famous speech. That speech, doesn’t it tell us a lot about the courage of Venezuelans? Remember the speech to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2008? Excerpts: “The devil came here…..this table that I am now standing in front of still smells of sulphur today.”
At that point, Chávez made the sign of the cross, positioned his hands as if praying, and looked briefly upward as if in invocation of God. He continued: “Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the President of the United States……came here, talking as if he owned the world.” He went on to elaborate on how President George Bush Jr. “…..came……to share his nostrums to….preserve the……pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.”
Talk about anger! Like Chávez, Sánchez was an angry young man….. But first, the name Ilich. Ilich’s father was a Marxist lawyer who, against his wife’s pleas, refused to give his son a Christian name. He named him “Ilich”, instead, after Vladimir Ilych Lenin of the then USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now back to Russia, with republics gone).
At the age of 10, true to his name and his father’s wishes, Ilich joined the youth movement of the national communist party. When he was 17, he joined a guerrilla warfare school in Cuba. At 21, he was seething with anger, a burning anger to liberate the oppressed of the world. He travelled to Beirut, where he volunteered for the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). By 1973, he was a fighter and he conducted a failed assassination attempt on a Jewish businessman.
Undaunted, that same year Carlos pursued the businessman but the bullet he fired bounced off his face and only rendered him unconscious. He gave up and went to Paris the next year, where he made many failed bombing attempts. But in the end, he had mastered his art and when he threw a grenade in a Parisian restaurant, it killed two and injured 30.
In mid-1975, he shot and killed 3 Israeli secret service agents, who had identified him. In December the same year, he led a team of terrorists that attacked an international conference of OPEC leaders (OPEC: Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). They took more than 60 hostages and killed three. But for not killing all the hostages when PFLP demands were not met, Carlos was expelled from the organisation.
He left Lebanon and went to settle in Aden. With his own terrorist group, Organisation of Armed Struggle, he teamed up with Syrian, Lebanese, German, Swiss, Northern Irish, Russian and an assortment of other rebel groups. Together, they terrorised the whole of Europe and the Arab world. In the 1970-80s, terror stalked the globe and no single nook was safe. The world heaved a collective sigh of relief only when all governments found him too hot to handle.
After being expelled by almost all countries, Carlos found sanctuary in Sudan in 1991, where he led a dormant life. But the big powers wanted his neck and USA and France cut a number of deals with Sudan until it gave in. In 1994, Sudanese authorities handed him over and France pronounced him guilty of all crimes preferred against him and locked him up.
Today, he is still languishing in prison. But suggest a dialogue with him, let alone a pardon for him, and these powerful countries will go for your throat. Yet, while Carlos took the lives of a dozen or so, each of the génocidaires of Rwanda is responsible of the loss of as many as 10,000 lives. Planners are responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands.
So, the President of a neighbouring country who suggested Rwanda hold talks with génocidaires in FDLR, why doesn’t he shift his unsolicited and rejected advice to these powers that be? Or is it that there are those who think Rwanda is the proverbial short stalk of a banana plantain?
(In Rwanda, a short banana plantain, in reference to tall ones, implies the weaker party.)