In today's world the fine line between terrorist and revolutionary is quickly fading. Ultimately that line disappears altogether in the face of gun smoke. Carlos the Jackal, aka Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, one of the biggest living revolutionaries, was condemned to a second life sentence in France on Thursday according to Reuters. He was convicted of being behind four different bomb attacks in France in the early 1980s, which left 11 people dead.
Despite describing himself as a 'man of combat,' and linking himself to men such as Muammar Gaddafi, Sanchez denies having anything to do with the bombings. Whether he is guilty or not of these attacks, he has certainly spent his life deep within counter-cultural political movements and has chosen to support violence repeatedly. He is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars in the Clairvaux Prison, and eventually die a martyr. He is the epitome of the old revolutionary and the modern terrorist, respected `by the few, feared by society, and condemned by establishment.
Cultivating a Revolutionary
What was Carlos the Jackal fighting for? His father a Marxist lawyer and with time spent studying and training in Russia and Jordan as a youth, Sanchez clearly was meant for a more leftist lifestyle. He was fighting for the liberation of Palestine and for Marxist principles. He may have had a hand in myriad attacks in the 1970s and 1980s, but has been serving his first life sentence only for the death of two French secret agents and a Lebanese informer.
The Legacy of Carlos the Jackal
On Thursday the French court gave Sanchez, who was at one point one of the most wanted men internationally, a second life term. He is still considered a threat to society and is unlikely to ever be released. His name and his story are likely to remain very active, however. He was involved in the hostage-taking of OPEC oil ministers in 1975, he was backed by Soviet bloc and Middle Eastern countries during the Cold War era, has converted to Islam in prison and has praised the attacks by Osama bin Laden in his book, Revolutionary Islam. While many may not agree with his actions, he may still be a revolutionary force even while behind bars through his words. At the very least, he will inspire a very interesting movie.