PARIS, AUG. 15 -- Illich Ramirez Sanchez, who as "Carlos the Jackal" was synonymous with spectacular international terrorism for nearly a quarter of a century, has been arrested in Sudan and was extradited to France today to stand trial for the murder of two French counterespionage agents.
The baby-faced killer was blamed for 83 deaths in the 1970s and early 1980s, when he was perhaps the world's most notorious and elusive criminal. He was arrested without a fight Sunday in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, and flown to Villacoublay military airport near Paris early today on an official French executive jet, according to French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua.
His arrest apparently marked the end of a long underground career. He first burst onto the international stage with the kidnapping of ministers attending a Vienna meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1975. His career also included a number of assassinations and a series of operations designed to free a German woman whom he later married.
Carlos's arrest apparently came when the hired gun had outlived his usefulness to international sponsors. These once spanned a spectrum from extremist Palestinian guerrilla organizations to established radical Arab regimes and East European states of the Soviet Bloc.
Middle East specialists suggested that in the peaceful new atmosphere governing East-West and Arab-Israeli relations, Carlos simply had become expendable. High-ranking Sudanese officials, who refused to be identified, told reporters in Khartoum that an unnamed Arab country last December provided Carlos with a diplomatic passport and forced him onto a plane to Khartoum.
The U.S. government has put Sudan on a list of countries supporting terrorism, and Sudan's official news agency quoted Justice Minister Abdel Aziz Shido today as calling for the removal of Khartoum from that list. But the brand of messianic Islamic fundamentalism that has gotten the Khartoum authorities in trouble with the West has nothing to do with the Marxist-influenced revolutionary ideology that helped inspire Carlos's operations.
State Department officials in Washington said Sudan's surrender of Carlos is insufficient to erase the country from the department's list, Washington Post staff writer Daniel Williams reported.
The Clinton administration, they added, believes Sudan shelters members of terrorist groups including the Fatah-Revolutionary Council, the organization headed by Sabri Banni, known as Abu Nidal, as well as Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese group whose security units have been blamed for terrorist attacks. Iran also operates terrorist training camps in Sudan, administration officials said.
Carlos has spent most of the last 10 years in Syria, U.S. officials said. In 1991, photos in German magazines showed him living in Damascus. He left Syria at the beginning of this year, apparently losing the patronage of Syrian President Hafez Assad, the U.S. officials said.
The U.S. government has no outstanding warrant for Carlos's arrest because he never targeted Americans, they added.
Carlos, who was born in Venezuela on Oct. 12, 1949, and named Illich in honor of Soviet state founder Vladimir Illich Lenin, operated under many aliases and disguises.
Committed to the Palestinian cause and opposed to what he denounced as "imperialism and Zionism," the son of a prosperous Communist lawyer became undesirable in the post-Cold War world.
Carlos's network of safe houses and official support in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and especially East Germany -- all of which once made him such a successful terrorist -- collapsed abruptly with the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
His file with Stasi, the East German secret police, became public knowledge, and his relations with their Hungarian counterparts were shown on Hungarian state television.
Even his devotion to the Palestinian cause became suspect in a Middle East in which overall peace between Arab states and Israel is close to being taken for granted, and in which the Jewish state has recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Even in his heyday, Carlos was more adept at spectacular coups calculated to grab publicity than in the dogged organizational work that distinguished his more deadly Palestinian rival, Abu Nidal.
Pasqua told French television viewers that Carlos's arrest was accomplished thanks to a letter that the interior minister wrote to his Sudanese counterpart, Tayeb Ibrahim Mohamed Khair, "about two weeks ago."
Pasqua also credited cooperation of intelligence organizations of unnamed governments with helping France locate Carlos before Sudanese authorities arrested him at a rented house, apparently on Sunday, and handed him over to Interpol.
Khair justified the arrests on the grounds that Carlos and an undisclosed number of colleagues were indulging in "suspicious activities" and planning "terrorist plots against some foreign institutions in the Sudan." He did not elaborate.
Carlos joined Venezuela's Communist Party as a teenager and was sent in 1968 to Patrice Lumumba University, the Soviet Union's school for Third World students.
Less than two years later, his taste for high living prompted his dismissal from that breeding ground for Soviet intelligence agents, but not before he made enduring friendships with Palestinian students there -- especially those of the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
After training in its camps in Jordan, Carlos later told interviewers, he took part in the guerrillas' disastrous war and defeat at the hands of Jordan's professional army in 1970.
Known as "Black September," the name later given to Palestinian units sent to avenge the humiliation, the setback ushered in a decade of terrorism that included many of Carlos's early operations.
But Carlos soon lent his talents to groups as varied as the Japanese Red Army, the Basque separatists of the ETA, the German Baader-Meinhof gang and the Turkish Popular Liberation Front.
His name was linked with the Japanese Red Army's occupation of the French Embassy in the Netherlands in 1974 and a nearly successful rocket attack on an El Al airliner at Orly airport in Paris.
In June 1975, Carlos was holing up in Paris, in the Left Bank apartment of a girlfriend, when he shot and killed an accomplice-turned-informer and two inspectors investigating the attack on the plane.
Carlos was sentenced in his absence in 1992 to life imprisonment for the inspectors' deaths. He now will be retried.
Pasqua said Carlos's arrest was a high priority for French security through nearly two decades of right- and left-wing governments. On arrival in France, Carlos was questioned by France's counterespionage service and transferred to La Sante prison in Paris.
Carlos staged a string of bloody operations in 1982 following the arrest of Bruno Breguet, a Swiss, and Magdalena Kopp, a girlfriend who was a former member of Germany's radical Red Army Faction guerrillas. They were sentenced to four years in prison for transporting a car full of explosives that was found in an underground garage on the Champs-Elysees.
In an effort to secure the release of the woman who later became his wife and bore a daughter, Carlos surfaced for the first time in six years. He wrote a letter in March 1982 to then-French Interior Minister Gaston Defferre, authenticated by his fingerprints, warning of terrorist attacks unless Breguet and Kopp were freed.
That same month, a bomb exploded aboard the Paris-Toulouse express train, killing six people and wounding 15 amid suggestions that Carlos was responsible and had meant to kill then-Prime Minister Jacques Chirac -- who turned out not to be aboard.
The next month, a bomb exploded in a rush-hour crowd just off the Champs-Elysees, killing a pregnant woman and wounding 63 people.
On New Year's Eve 1983, bombs exploded in Marseille's rail terminal and on the Paris-Marseille express.
Kopp and Breguet were released in May 1985, and Kopp flew to Damascus to join Carlos.
His nickname, "the Jackal," was bestowed on him because of the similarity of his coldblooded modus operandi with that of the fictional character in Frederick Forsyth's novel "The Day of the Jackal" who was hired to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle.
Illich Ramirez Sanchez cultivated a reputation of nearly legendary proportions as Carlos the Jackal, globe-trotting terrorist, and many reports concerning him have been exaggerated. Here are the main operations attributed to him over the years.
* Wounding of British millionaire Edward Sieff, a Jew whose family owns Marks and Spencer stores, in London.
* Takeover of the French Embassy in The Hague.
* Killing of two French intelligence agents who were investigating attacks on planes of Israel's El Al airlines at Paris's Orly Airport.
* Held responsible for an attack on OPEC headquarters in Vienna, in which three people were killed and 11 taken hostage. The cartel's oil ministers were taken to North Africa in a hijacked plane in a $1 billion ransom drama.
* Hijacking of an Air France jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda.
* Bombing of the Paris-Toulouse express train that killed six people and wounded 15.
* Bombing just off the Champs Elysees in Paris killed a pregnant woman and wounded 63 other people.
* Bombings in Marseille's main railroad terminal and on the Paris-Marseille express killed five people and wounded 50.
* Bombing of French cultural center in West Berlin killed one and wounded 23.
source: Associated Press