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Incensed that the Popular Front would have the audacity the carry out such an act on Jordanian soil without his consent, Hussein decreed marshal law and raised his Bedu army to drive the Palestinians out of Jordan. The resulting conflict was dubbed “Black September” and was to become Carlos’s first taste of real warfare.
Carlos fought alongside Abu-Sharif against the Jordanian army until 1970 but the war continued to rage another year before King Hussein claimed victory over his enemy. More than three thousand Palestinians died during the conflict, during which Carlos gained the reputation as a fearless fighter and a cool calculating killer. Following their defeat, most members of the Popular Front fled to Israel rather than be taken prisoner by the Bedu army. Carlos was not among them; George Habash had other plans for his young prot?g?.
Carlos the “playboy,” with mother and friend (Yallop)
He was selected for appointment as the Popular Front’s representative in London. His task was to ingratiate himself into British society and draw up a list of “high profile” targets that would either be murdered or kidnapped. On his return from Jordan, Carlos was sent to another training camp to learn the “finer points” of terrorism. By February 1971, Carlos was considered ready for his appointment and traveled to London to be reunited with his family. With his mother’s influence, he quickly slipped back into the “cocktail-party set” and resumed his playboy habits.
He attended the University of London to study economics and later took Russian language courses at Central London Polytechnic, all part of his carefully planned fa?ade. His Popular Front contact in London was Mohamed Bouria, an Algerian who, as one of Haddad’s most loyal followers, was responsible for European operations. In search of targets, Carlos poured over English newspapers selecting any prominent citizens who were either Jewish or had Israeli sympathies. Once he had created his list, he went to great pains to learn as much about his targets as he could, including home addresses, telephone numbers, nick names and as many personal details as he could glean. His list of names included famous film identities, entertainers politicians and prominent business figures.
By December 1971, he had compiled a detailed list containing hundreds of names. It was during this time that his early career as an undercover terrorist was almost terminated. Acting on a tip-off, members of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch raided the house in Walpole Street, Chelsea, where he lived with his mother, but after searching the house, found nothing of an incriminating nature. They were led to believe that Carlos was linked to a cache of illegal weapons that had been seized in a previous raid at the house of one of his friends. Incredibly, a fake Italian passport bearing a picture of Carlos was found in the raid but the police considered it unimportant. Apart from being placed under surveillance for several days after the raid, the police left him alone. The family later moved to a new apartment in Kensington.
Maria Tobon (Yallop)
Despite his Latin American charm and impeccable manners, the many eligible young society ladies that he came into contact with often rebuffed Carlos. One woman however, was attracted by his charm but became more enamored by his political fervor. Maria Nydia Romero de Tobon was an attractive, thirty-seven-year-old Colombian divorcee who moved to London following her divorce to resume her University studies. Nydia, whose grandfather had founded the Colombian Liberal Party, was a revolutionary at heart and was won over by Carlos and the passion he showed for his cause. Some months later, Carlos successfully recruited Nydia and enlisted her aid in securing a string of safe houses for visiting envoys.
At one point she posed as the wife of Antonio Dagues-Bouvier, the Ecuadorian guerrilla who had supposedly trained Carlos in Cuba, and rented three apartments in central London. Her other duties included transporting documents and funds. Carlos would later tell investigators that he and Dagues-Bouvier had, at that time, carried out several “missions” against selected targets. No record has ever been found of any such events having occurred. The general belief is that Carlos’s time in London was largely one of inactivity, while in other parts of the world; Haddad had selected others to play his deadly games.
During February 1972, while Carlos languished in London, one of Haddad’s teams was hijacking a Lufthansa airliner to Aden. One of the 172 passengers taken hostage was Joseph Kennedy, son of the late Robert Kennedy. Following a short period of negotiations, Kennedy and the other hostages were released safely after the West German government paid a $5,000,000 ransom. The following May, Haddad sent three members of the Japanese Red Army to carry out a brutal attack at Tel Aviv’s Lod airport. After arriving at the airport, the three men retrieved automatic weapons and grenades from their luggage and opened fire on the crowd. By the time the firing had stopped, twenty-three travelers were dead and another seventy-six were wounded.
A gunman during the Munich Olympic Games attack
Two of the terrorists died during the attack, but not from opposing fire. One was killed accidentally when hit by a stray round from one of his companions and the other died when a grenade he was holding detonated prematurely. In September of the same year, a commando squad made up of members of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah calling themselves “Black September” launched a pre-dawn raid on the Israeli dormitory at the Munich Olympics. After killing one of the athletes and a coach, the group held the other athletes hostage and demanded the release of 200 of their countrymen who were imprisoned in Israel.
After a day of terse negotiations, the West Germans agreed to supply a jet that would take the group and their hostages to Cairo. All went according to plan until German snipers at the airport fired upon the commandos. In the gun battle that followed, nine Israeli athletes and five of the terrorists were killed. When news of the raids reached Carlos he became angry and vented his frustration at having been left out of three decisive strikes that had rocked the world. His frustration mounted as news of the exploits of another of the party faithful reached him.
Mohamed Boudia served as the Popular Front’s chief operative in Paris in the guise of a theatre director. He was notorious for his ability to seduce young women and convert them to his cause. In 1971 Boudia, an explosives expert, took his young German girlfriend and traveled to Rotterdam in Holland. Their mission was to blow up an Israeli goods depot but the mission failed when the explosives were placed incorrectly and destroyed a Gulf oil refinery instead. Unperturbed, Boudia later sent the same girlfriend, and two other women, to Jerusalem during the Easter holiday period, to blow up a string of holiday hotels. The plan failed when Israeli police detained them at Tel Aviv airport where they were searched and found to be carrying plastic explosives and timers secreted under their clothing and in their make-up. In addition, their underwear had been impregnated with inflammable liquid.
Some months later, Boudia and another woman named Therese Lefebvre, tried to attack Schonau castle in Austria, which was used as a transit camp for Russian Jews traveling to Israel. That plan failed but their next attack on an oil refinery in Trieste, Italy succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. The twenty kilos of plastic explosive they planted not only destroyed the refinery, it also crippled the Transalpine pipeline that supplied Bavaria, Vienna and central Europe. The resulting oil fire burned for two days and destroyed 250,000 tons of crude oil, causing damage worth $2.5 billion dollars.
On 28 June 1973, shortly before midday, Boudia left the home of one of his mistresses on the Rue des Fosses-Saint-Bernard. He approached his car and being a cautious person, checked it to see if it had been tampered with. Satisfied that it had not, he climbed into the drivers seat but before he could settle himself in the vehicle, an explosion tore through the car killing him instantly. A later investigation by the DST, the French intelligence organization, revealed that a team of Israeli assassins called the “Wrath of God,” had planted a mine under Boudia’s driver seat. The device, activated by a pressure plate, was a rudimentary one by Israeli standards but proved effective. Boudia had been one of the last targets of the “Wrath of God” group that had been formed to avenge the killings at the Munich Olympics. The group operated with the express approval of the Israeli Prime Minister of the time, Golda Meir.
Three weeks after the attack, Carlos returned to Beirut and asked to be sent to Paris to replace Boudia. Although the leaders of the Popular Front were impressed with his work in London, they felt that he did not have the experience for the job and sent him back to London. On his return he was advised that Michel Moukharbal was to be Boudia’s successor and Carlos was to serve as his second in command. Carlos was not pleased with the decision and resented Moukhabal’s appointment, as he believed that he was unsuitable for the task. Regardless of his disappointment, Carlos made every effort to assist his new leader and agreed that Boudia’s death would have to be avenged by striking at Zionist targets in Europe. The attack on Joseph Sieff in London was the first such strike that Carlos would claim responsibility for but it was only the beginning.
A month after the attack on Sieff, Carlos made an aborted bomb attack on the Israeli Hapoalim Bank in London. The attack was a straightforward one. Carlos arrived at the bank during morning trading and opened the front doors and threw the device inside. The device, made from a Russian hand grenade attached to 600 grams of plastic explosive failed to detonate fully and only succeeded in blowing a small crater in the floor and breaking a window. The only casualty was a nineteen-year-old secretary who received minor cuts.
Office of Minute newspaper after the bombing.
The next chapter in the campaign that Carlos and Moukharbal had devised was the bombing of the offices of three French newspapers that were deemed to be pro-Israeli. Cars full of explosives were left outside the offices of L’Aurore, L’Arche, Minute and Maison de la Radio. The bombs were set to explode at two a.m. and Carlos later claimed that the hour was selected to limit human casualties. In addition he advised the papers of the attack. At the appointed time, three of the four bombs exploded causing massive damage. There were no casualties. The only paper to escape damage was the Maison de la Radio when the vehicle bomb left in front of it failed to detonate.
While Carlos was making his presence felt in Paris, Haddad was hatching another plot. He advised Carlos and Moukharbal to align themselves with members of the Japanese Red Army. Prior to the planned alliance, Yutaka Furuya, a member of the JRA, had been arrested at Orly airport in Paris. He was detained because he carried three fake passports in various names and $10,000 in counterfeit bills. When questioned he admitted to being a member of the JRA and a supporter of the Palestinian cause. The DST searched their files and found that Furuya had been involved in an attack on a Shell oil refinery in Singapore organized by the Popular Front. Other encrypted documents in Furuya’s possession revealed plans to attack Japanese embassies and companies in seven major European cities.
Furuya was later charged with minor offences relating to the passports and currency and jailed for several months. While he was serving his term of imprisonment, eight other Japanese Red Army members were expelled to Switzerland. The Swiss, wanting no part of terrorists, expelled them to West Germany who in turn sent them to Holland. Within days of their expulsion to Holland, the Japanese Red Army attacked the French embassy in The Hague. The three members who took part in the attack had been equipped and supported by Carlos and Moukharbal prior to the attack.
The plan was for the terrorists to capture the French ambassador when he arrived at the embassy. The attack was late but the JRA commandos succeeded in capturing the ambassador’s driver and forced him to take them to the ambassador’s office. At that point, a random police patrol encountered the terrorists and a gunfight ensued. During the skirmish the leader of the terrorists and two policemen were wounded but the terrorists managed to capture the ambassador, Jacques Senard, and ten other people and hold them hostage in Senard’s office.
They demanded that Furuya be released from jail and that a Boeing 707 be placed at their disposal. While the demands were considered, Furuya was removed from his cell and taken under armed guard by members of France’s Brigade Anti-Commando, to Schipol airport in Amsterdam to await the outcome of the negotiations. The Brigade were under strict orders to execute Furuya if any of the hostages were harmed, an order that came directly from the French Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac.
While the negotiations continued, Carlos devised a plan that he hoped would force the release of the terrorists. On a busy Sunday afternoon he entered the trendy Deux-Magots caf? and made his way to the first floor balcony and threw a fragmentation grenade down into the crowd that milled around the boutiques on the ground floor.
Carlos left just before the blast scattered hundreds of lethal fragments through the crowd killing two and injuring thirty-four innocent shoppers.
Two days later, the French government agreed to the terrorist’s demands. They not only released Furuya and supplied the jet but also paid a $300,000 ransom. They have since insisted that the grenade attack at Deux-Magots had no bearing on their decision. Regardless of the lack of importance placed on the attack, it succeeded in attracting Haddad’s attention with the result that he “upgraded” Carlos and ordered him and Moukharbal to seize an El Al jet at Orly airport in December 1974. Finally, Carlos had been selected to take part in “high-profile” operations. Unfortunately for Carlos the planned attack coincided with a strike by El Al staff, which prevented any Israeli aircraft from landing in Paris. Carlos, anxious to prove himself, was told to sit and wait for the strike to end. Finally on January 13 1975, Carlos and Johannes Weinrich, a new accomplice, were sent into action.
Johannes Weinrich (Yallop)
Shortly after midday, the terrorists were sitting in a rented car at the side of an airport access road waiting for an El Al flight to take off. The plan was to wait until the aircraft was in the air and shoot it down with an RPG-7, a Russian made bazooka.
At the appointed time, Weinrich stood at the side of the road and shouldered the weapon and took aim at the approaching El Al 707. He was clearly visible to a Lufthansa employee who stood at his desk less than twenty meters away and an El Al security guard on a nearby rooftop. When the plane was 130 meters away, Weinrich fired but the rocket missed its target and slammed into a parked car. The warhead did not explode.
The recoil of the second shot, fired in haste, pushed Weinrich and the bazooka backwards smashing their cars windscreen. The rocket streaked away toward the airport and passed through a Yugoslav DC9, which was parked off the side of the tarmac, before hitting a building that was used as a kitchen. Fortunately the building was empty at the time of the attack. Following the failed attack, Carlos and Weinrich sped away to a nearby cemetery where they dumped the vehicle and switched to another, leaving the bazooka behind. A later phone call to the Reuters news agency in Paris claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of the Mohamed Boudia Commando. The person making the call promised that, “Next time we will hit our target.”
While the security around Orly was being strengthened with additional gendarmes and riot police, Carlos and Moukharbal were laying plans for their next attempt. Four days after the first attack, obviously undaunted by the increased security, Carlos and three other Palestinian guerrillas were at the airport “rehearsing” for the next strike. The following Sunday the terrorists returned to the airport and after retrieving another, less powerful bazooka from it’s hiding place in a public toilet, they ran out to an observation terrace and prepared to open fire on an El Al jumbo jet that was nearby. Before they could get into position, a security officer on an adjoining rooftop opened fire with a submachine gun. As the crowd ran for cover, one terrorist fired his pistol into the air and threw a grenade. The terrorist with the RPG took the weapon from under his coat and aimed it at the jumbo which by this time was 400 meters away preparing for take off, too far for an effective shot.
To make their escape, the terrorists ran into the passenger lounge firing their pistols and throwing grenades. Carlos was not among them as he had slipped away when the shooting had started. Shortly after they entered the lounge they were intercepted by a security patrol. After a short gunfight, eight people, including one of the security officers, lay seriously wounded while the terrorists selected hostages and barricaded themselves in a toilet. In all, they succeeded in taking ten hostages including a priest, a four-year-old girl and a pregnant woman. Ten hours later, after terse negotiations, the French government yielded and supplied a Boeing 707 to fly the Palestinians unharmed to Baghdad in return for the hostages. Annoyed by yet another failed attack, Carlos and Moukharbal flew to London and on to Paris to lie low and make plans for the next phase of their campaign.
While Carlos remained in Paris and spent his time finding new locations to stash his growing arsenal of weapons, Moukharbal was making regular trips to Popular Front headquarters in Beirut. On June 7 1975, during one such trip, the Lebanese police arrested Moukharbal at Beirut airport, as he was about to board a flight to return to Paris. In his possession they found detailed notes on the movements of several prominent politicians and business identities in Paris and London. Anxious to connect Moukharbal to terrorist activities, the Beirut police asked a former DST officer who was resident in Lebanon, to conduct the interrogation. After questioning the prisoner for nearly two days, Jean-Paul Mauriat, learned that Moukharbal was a member of the Popular Front and worked for a man called George Habash. During the interview, he also mentioned another man he called Nourredine. When asked for further information, Moukharbal told them that the man in question was a “hit man, a killer.”
Moukharbal was released on June 13 and put on a plane to Paris, unaware that an undercover Lebanese policeman was tailing him. When the flight arrived in Paris, the Lebanese officer pointed Moukharbal out to a DST team waiting at the airport. Moukharbal was then followed as he caught a cab to Latin Quarter and entered a small apartment building at 9 Rue Toullier. A short time later, Moukharbal left the apartment with a heavily built man with dark hair who carried a suitcase. The DST agents took several photographs of the men but called off the surveillance shortly after.
On June 20, supposedly under constant observation, Moukharbal left Paris and traveled to London. Realizing too late that their man had slipped away, the DST notified London’s Special Branch and had him picked up and sent back to Paris. On his arrival at Calais, Moukharbal was taken into custody and questioned by members of the Renseignments Generaux, the French domestic intelligence section. Initially, Moukharbal refused to cooperate with his captors but seven days later, after being threatened with expulsion to Beirut and told that his superiors were not impressed that he had talked to the Lebanese police, Moukharbal cracked and gave them information regarding Nourredine. One piece of information that he did not reveal was the fact that Nourredine was actually his second in command, Carlos.
9 Rue Toullier (Yallop)
He told them that Nourredine often visited 9 Rue Toullier, the home of one of his girlfriends. Acting on the information, Commissaire Herranz and three other officers immediately drove to the address with Moukharbal in the hope that the man might still be there. At the time of their arrival, Carlos was entertaining several Venezuelan students and was partially drunk. When the police knocked at the door of the apartment, Carlos was in the bathroom with one of the girls, showing her an automatic machine pistol, one of the many weapons that he had stashed there.
The police attempted to question Carlos but he resisted and threatened to call his embassy to complain. The talk became heated and Carlos went back to the bathroom, retrieved his weapon and slid it down the back of his trousers. Re- entering the room, Carlos offered the policemen drinks and asked one of the women to play a song. The atmosphere in the tiny flat became more relaxed until one of the other police officers entered the room with Moukharbal. When asked if he could identify anyone in the room he raised his arm and pointed at Carlos.
Carlos immediately drew his machine pistol and shot Moukharbal in the neck. Next he swung the gun towards Herranz and shot him, also in the neck. With deadly precision, Carlos shot the two remaining detectives before making his escape into the street via an adjoining apartment. Later, a badly wounded Herranz, was helped into a taxi by two of the students and taken to hospital, he was the only survivor. Incredibly, the attack had been so quick and deadly that the bodies of Moukharbal and the two detectives lay stacked on top of one another. Ironically, prior to the shooting, the French authorities had no knowledge of Carlos or his activities but the eyewitness account, provided by Herranz, gave them enough information to initiate one of the biggest manhunts in history.
Within days of the attack, while the authorities were busy rounding up anyone who had even the slightest connection to him, Carlos made a late night visit to the home of an old girlfriend and retrieved several documents including a Chilean passport that he used to make his escape to Beirut via Brussels.
On his return to Beirut, Carlos was feted as the conquering hero for his achievements in Paris. He was able to convince Haddad that he had executed Moukharbal for betraying the cause; a fact that was later confirmed when a former Mossad agent revealed that Moukharbal had been acting as a double agent for the Israelis since 1973 and had provided the information that had resulted in the death of Mohamed Boudia.
Having proved himself in Haddad’s eyes, Carlos was encouraged to select a new team to assist him with an attack that was not only ambitious but also highly dangerous. Carlos traveled to Frankfurt and selected two West Germans, Wilfred Bose and Joachim Klein. They were shocked when he informed them that they were about to embark on a mission that would strike a resounding blow for the Palestinian cause; an attack on the headquarters of the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna. The goal was to take over the conference, planned for December 1975, by force and kidnap all the government ministers in attendance and hold them for ransom with the exception of Arabia’s Sheik Yamani and Iran’s Jamshid Amouzegar, who were to be executed during the attack.
He allayed their initial skepticism assuring them that he had advance knowledge of the security arrangements at the conference, which were lax. Four others made up the remainder of the team. The first was Gabrielle Krocher-Tiedemann, a German woman, who had been jailed two years earlier after shooting a policeman when he attempted to arrest her for stealing number plates in a car park. The other three were two Palestinians and a Lebanese known only by their code-names, Joseph, Khalid and Yussef.
Having assembled his team and organized the weapons they would need, Carlos flew to Aden for a final briefing from Haddad. He returned to Europe via Switzerland and took a train to Austria where he booked himself into a plush suite at the Vienna Hilton. The rest of the team had to make do with less luxurious accommodation and criticized Carlos for his “bourgeois lifestyle.” Unperturbed, Carlos insisted that his choice of accommodation was necessary for his own security.
Although Carlos still retained his love of good food, fine wines and plush surroundings, he no longer resembled the well-groomed playboy of his earlier years.
In the months prior to the OPEC raid, he had grown his hair and sideburns, cultivated a goatee beard and wore a black beret; just like his childhood hero Che Guevara.
After renting two small flats on the outskirts of Vienna, the team carried out a surveillance of OPEC headquarters and researched the records of previous conferences. Carlos later moved out of the hotel and relocated his team to a larger flat closer to the city center. At Carlos’s insistence, team meetings were held in luxury restaurants whenever possible. At one such meeting, Carlos informed his team that, during the attack, any of the hostages or bystanders who resisted or caused any problem would be executed on the spot. Klein disagreed arguing that such a move would only serve to create an uncontrolled panic. The pair argued the point for over two hours before they realised that the other patrons in the restaurant could hear their raised voices, and the details of their plan, clearly.
On Friday 19 December, Carlos left the flat to meet with his contact, allegedly a member of the secret service for one of the OPEC ministers. A short time later, Carlos returned carrying two large bags containing M-16 rifles, P38 revolvers, Skorpion machine pistols and fifteen kilos of explosives. Klein’s Revolutionary Cell later supplied another suitcase full of weapons. After spending most of the evening cleaning and preparing the weapons, the team was ready.
On the following Sunday morning, Carlos, Klein, Krocher-Tiedemann and the three Arabs, left the flat carrying the weapons and explosives in sports bags. Bose did not take part in the attack. After a short tram ride they arrived at the seven story building that housed the OPEC headquarters, at half past eleven. Carlos entered the buildings lobby first and, after greeting the two young policemen at the door, he beckoned for the rest of the team to follow. In the hallway, he asked a small group of journalists if the OPEC meeting was still on. When they replied in the affirmative, Carlos thanked them and led his party up the stairs to the first floor where the meeting room was located.
Once they reached the top of the staircase, the terrorists removed their weapons and ran towards the reception area outside the doors of the conference room and started shooting. Two Austrian police inspectors, Josef Janda and Anton Tichler who stood guard outside the doors leading into the meeting room, provided the only security on the floor. On reaching the reception area, Klein split from the main group to take control of the switchboard. As he approached, Edith Heller, the receptionist, dialed the police and managed to report the attack before Klein fired a bullet into the telephone handset she was holding next to her head.
Undaunted, Heller picked up another handset and attempted to dial. Klein then turned his gun on the switchboard and emptied his remaining bullets into it.
Meanwhile, Carlos and the rest of the team had entered the hallway that led to the meeting chamber. As they approached the two security guards, Inspector Tichler grabbed the barrel of Carlos’s machine pistol and attempted to disarm him, but Carlos was too strong for the sixty-year-old policeman and wrenched it from his grasp. Krocher-Tiedemann then walked behind Tichler and asked him if he was a policeman. When he replied yes, she fired a bullet into the back of his neck that tore a hole through his throat. Fatally wounded, he was then placed in an elevator and sent to the ground floor.
Returning from the elevator, Krocher-Tiedemann arrived in time to see a large man backing out of the reception area. She immediately ran to him and pushed her pistol against his chest. The man, a plain-clothed Iraqi security guard, grabbed her tightly and squeezed her against his chest. The pair struggled for a short time until Krocher-Tiedemann managed to draw a second pistol and fired a shot into the man’s brain.
While Krocher-Tiedemann was carrying out her second execution in as many minutes, Carlos grabbed inspector Janda and forced him along the corridor towards the inner office. Unaware that Janda was a policeman; Carlos pushed his prisoner into an abandoned office and locked the door. Janda immediately found a phone and called his headquarters. His message was short and to the point – “Criminal Officer Janda, Department One. OPEC attack. Shooting with machine-pistols.” The urgency of the call was intensified by the sounds of gunfire from the hallway as Carlos executed a Libyan economist who had tried to disarm him.
After shooting his latest victim four times, Carlos entered the conference room, firing a volley of shots into the ceiling. As the occupants ducked for cover, Carlos identified Sheik Yamani and approached him speaking to him in a sarcastic manner. He then approached Valentin Hernandez Acosta, the Venezuelan oil minister and engaged him in friendly conversation. It was at that time that Yamani realised that his masked attacker was the terrorist Carlos. The realization came as a shock to Yamani as he was aware that Carlos had previously plotted to assassinate him.
While Carlos and his accomplice were questioning their prisoners, a special detachment of police had arrived at the building in response to Inspector Janda’s phone call. Three of the members of Vienna’s special command unit entered the foyer of the building to be greeted by the site of Inspector Tichler’s body protruding from the floor of an elevator. The men dressed in helmets and bullet-proof vests and carrying Uzi sub-machine guns, then made their way up the stairs towards the first floor reception area only to be greeted by a volley of bullets from Klein and Joseph who were covering the reception area. Hampered by poor lighting and a pall of gun smoke, the police returned fire, wounding Klein in the stomach and thigh with a third bullet and knocking his weapon from his hand. During the exchange the leader of the police squad, Kurt Leopolder was shot in the buttocks. Seemingly unaffected by his wounds, Klein shouted, “Get out or everyone will be killed,” and prepared to throw a grenade towards the police. Fumbling the throw, the grenade landed just four meters away from where he stood. As it rolled across the floor everyone dived for cover and the grenade exploded, peppering the walls with metal shards.
The grenade attack and Klein’s threat to kill the hostages convinced the police to withdraw and seek safety on the ground floor. Klein examined his stomach and returned to the conference room to show Carlos the wound. Carlos patted him on the head and directed him to assist with the hostages. Stepping to the window Carlos looked down at the street where the police command units were assembled. He then ordered the sixty-three hostages to be split into three separate groups, “Liberals and semi-liberals,” “criminals” and “neutrals.” The “Liberals” consisting of the delegates from Algeria, Kuwait, Libya and Iraq, were told to stand against the windows that faced the street. Beside them, Yussef stacked the explosives and connected them to electronic timers. The “neutral” delegates representing Venezuela, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ecuador and Gabon were directed to stand on the opposite side of the room.
Sheikh Ahmed Yamani
The final group of “criminals,” from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Qatar were assembled before Carlos. Stepping towards Yamani, Carlos asked, “Do you know me?”
“Very well,” Yamani answered.
Carlos then announced in Arabic that he was the head of the Palestinian commando whose main targets were Iran and Saudi Arabia. He told them that if they cooperated they would not be harmed. He then called for a British secretary to write a message of demand for the Austrian authorities. The note, in English was short and direct: -
To the Austrian Authorities
We are holding hostage the delegations to the OPEC conference.
We demand the lecture of our communiqu? on the Austrian radio and television network every two hours, starting two hours from now.
A large bus with windows covered by curtains must be prepared to carry us to the airport Of Vienna tomorrow at 7.00, where a full- tanked DC9 with a crew of three must be ready to take us and our hostages to our destination.
Any delay, provocation or unauthorized approach under any guise will endanger the life of our hostages.
The Arm of the Arab Revolution
In addition, Carlos dictated a seven-page communiqu? in French extolling the “virtues” of the Palestinian cause and demanded, among other things, the relaunch of Arab unification. When the documents were finished, Carlos ordered the secretary, Griselda Carey, to take them to the authorities. She was also directed to assist the wounded Leopolder to leave the building on the condition that the police agreed to stop firing at the terrorists. Leopolder agreed and the pair made their way out of the foyer on to the street.
After interviewing the secretary and learning about the separation of the delegates and the explosives, the Austrians had no choice other than to begin negotiations.
While he waited for an answer to his demands, Carlos played “mind-games” with the hostages. After freeing another secretary who had become hysterical, Carlos taunted his captives and left a loaded pistol on a table next to several of the ministers while still retaining his machine-gun. The delegates later recalled that they believed that Carlos was trying to tempt them to grab for the weapon so that he would have justification for killing them.
As Carlos played his sick games, Klein’s condition was deteriorating. Belaid Abdessalam, who was also a doctor, examined Klein and agreed to relay a message to the authorities demanding that Klein be taken to hospital for urgent treatment. Carlos then emptied Klein’s pockets and told Abdessalam to take him out of the building. When the pair reached the foyer, Klein was asked in German if he was a hostage.
Klein replied, in broken English – “My fight name is Angie,” before collapsing. He was conveyed to hospital where surgeons discovered that the bullet had torn through his colon, pancreas and duodenal artery. They were amazed that he had been able to function with such a serious wound.
The negotiations began with Carlos demanding that the Libyan ambassador to Vienna be appointed as mediator but was advised that he was out of the country. The negotiations stalled until Riyadh Al-Azzawi, the Iraqi Charge D’Affaires, offered his services, which proved acceptable to both parties. When Al-Azzawi made first contact with the terrorists he was told by Carlos, “Tell them I’m from Venezuela and my name is Carlos. Tell them I am the famous Carlos, they know me.” Through the mediator Carlos restated his demands. As well as the plane and crew, he wanted a radio, 25 meters of rope and five pairs of scissors. He also demanded that Klein be released from hospital in time to make the trip.
When Al-Azzawi told Carlos that Klein was on life support and could not be moved for a month, Carlos consulted with his companions and told the mediator, “I don’t care if he dies on the flight, we came together and we’ll leave together.”
At 6.22 that evening, the first concession was made and the communiqu? that Carlos had penned, was broadcast. Other broadcasts followed at two-hourly intervals. An emergency cabinet meeting was called at midnight to assess the situation. In view of the killings that had occurred and faced with the prospect of many more, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and his cabinet agreed to accede to the terrorist’s demands on the condition that all OPEC employees were to be released prior to the groups departure. On hearing the news Carlos was livid and shouted at the mediator that he was the one who decided who should be released. Within minutes, Carlos changed his mood drastically and agreed to the terms, telling Al-Azzawi that he had already decided to release the employees well before the Chancellor’s request.
Enroute to the airport
At 6.40 the following morning, a yellow postal bus with curtained windows, pulled up outside the rear entrance of the OPEC building. Shortly after, Carlos was standing brazenly beside the bus, as the hostages were loaded. After separating the employees that were to be freed, he provided a show for the television cameras by shaking hands with each of the hostages as they were released. When the remaining forty-two hostages were safely onboard, the bus drove towards the airport led by an ambulance and two police cars with flashing lights. Another ambulance carrying Klein, and a doctor who had volunteered to accompany him on the trip, had departed for the airport earlier.
As the convoy made it’s way through the morning traffic, Carlos could be seen clearly, standing at the window in the front of the bus next to the driver, waving at passers-by. Ironically, the sign on the front of the bus bore the legend, Sonderfahrt or Special Trip.
Loading the hostages
After arriving at the airport, the hostages were loaded on the Austrian Airlines DC9 but as Carlos prepared to board, Otto Roesch, the Austrian Interior and a former member of the Hitler Youth, stepped forward to shake hands with Carlos. The scene was captured by the press who ran it as a cover story the next day under the banner, “handshake of shame,” which brought worldwide criticism of not only Roesch but also the entire Austrian government.
Once on the plane, Carlos again separated the hostages, placing explosives under the seats occupied by Yamani, and Amouzegar and their deputies. Finally at 9.00am on Monday, 22 December, the plane took off, bound for Algiers. On the flight Carlos seemed to relax and chatted casually with Sheik Yamani and the other delegates. He later strutted along the aisle handing out his autograph. Taking advantage of his captors change in attitude, Yamani asked about their destination and was informed that after a brief stopover in Algiers, they intended to fly to Tripoli. Carlos seemed unperturbed that one of his hostages was the Libyan delegate and when Yamani raised the question he was told that the Libyan Prime Minister would be there to welcome them and would supply a plane to fly them to Baghdad.
Two-and-a-half hours after leaving Vienna, the plane touched down at El Beida airport outside of Algiers. Carlos left the aircraft unarmed and was greeted warmly by Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s Foreign Minister who escorted him to the VIP lounge. An ambulance was then supplied to take Klein to hospital for treatment. After a brief conversation with Bouteflika, Carlos agreed to release the thirty non-Arab delegates and officials. The others were told to remain on the plane. Despite the warm welcome they had offered him, the Algerian government refused to give Carlos another plane. In frustration, Carlos asked for the DC-9 to be refueled and the plane took off bound for Tripoli.
The reception in Tripoli was totally different from that in Algiers, with the Libyan’s refusing to supply a plane and demanding the release of the Libyan hostages. Aboard the aircraft, the situation became tense with Carlos threatening to shoot the hostages if he didn’t get his way. Finally, early on Tuesday morning Carlos released the Libyans and five other delegates. Anxious to procure a larger aircraft with greater range, Carlos then contacted the Saudi Arabian government who also refused to help while ever Sheik Yamani was held against his will.
Frustrated that his plan was unraveling, Carlos again ordered the plane to be refueled and gave orders to return to Algiers. As the plane approached Tunisia, the local air traffic controller called the pilot by radio and informed him that the plane was forbidden to land in Tunis even though a request for permission had never been made.
Carlos was angered by the message and ordered the pilot to make an approach to the airfield but Tunis control turned off the runway lights making a landing impossible.
Carlos at Algiers airport
Tired and stressed from nearly four days without sleep, Carlos directed the pilot to return to Algiers. At 3.40am the plane landed a second time at Dar El Beida airport where Carlos was greeted by Foreign Minister Bouteflika who was obviously unimpressed that he’d returned. A short discussion followed after which Carlos returned to the plane in a dark mood and informed his hostages that their fate would be decided after he met with his colleagues. Yamani watched as the terrorists talked in another part of the plane but was only able to ascertain that they were arguing about something.
As Carlos returned to speak with the ministers, they were wondering if they were about to die. Instead Carlos informed them, “We have finally decided to release you at Midday and with that decision your life is completely out of danger.” When Yamani asked why they couldn’t be released earlier, he was told that they should get some sleep first. Krocher-Tiedemann was obviously displeased with the decision to release the hostages and cursed Carlos loudly. They were about to bed down for the night when Carlos was summoned by the Algerians for more talks. He returned two hours later and told Yamani and Amouzegar, “I am leaving the plane now and you will follow me out in five minutes.”
After the allotted time elapsed, the hostages did as they were told and left the aircraft, wondering if it was about to explode. When they reached the safety of the VIP lounge they discovered that the terrorists were already there. As the hostages began to relate the details of their ordeal to Bouteflika, an angry Khalid approached them and grasped at his shirt. Thinking quickly, Bouteflika passed Khalid a glass of juice giving the Algerian police time to hold and search him. When they found a
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