By Patrick Bellamy  

First Strike

On Sunday, December 30, 1973 in an affluent suburb of London, a young man opened the front door of the mansion, where he was employed as a butler, only to be confronted by a young, dark-complexioned man with a gun.  The man pointed the gun at the butler and demanded in heavily accented English, to be taken to Joseph Sieff, the owner of the house.  Sieff at sixty-eight, was one of the most successful and influential Jewish businessmen in London. Not only was he the president of Marks and Spencer, one of the largest department stores in England but, more importantly to his uninvited guest, was also an honorary vice-president of the British Zionist Federation, an organization that had been instrumental in raising millions of pounds for Israeli charities.

With the gun pressed against his spine, the butler, Manuel Perloira, led the stranger through the house to the staircase that led to the master bedroom.  As they climbed the stairs, Seiff's wife Lois saw them from the first floor landing and quickly stepped back into her bedroom and, locking the door behind her, called the police.  The police operator logged the call at 7:02pm.

At the time of the forced entry, Sieff was in the bathroom preparing for dinner.  Hearing the butler call his name, he pushed open the door and was confronted by a gloved hand clutching an automatic pistol.  Before he could react, the pistol fired sending a nine-millimeter bullet tearing into his face from less than a meter away.  As Sieff slumped to the floor seriously wounded, the stranger stepped forward and aimed the pistol at his victim's head and pulled the trigger a second time.  The gun jammed. 

Before he could clear the weapon and finish the task, a police car pulled up outside the house, just two minutes after Lois Sieff had placed the call.  The gunman fled, but in the shock and confusion neither Lois nor the butler saw him leave the house. 

Joseph Sieff,
Carlos's first victim

Miraculously, Sieff survived.  The bullet, which had entered just above his upper lip, had been deflected by his teeth and had lodged in his jaw.  The track of the bullet had come within millimeters of his jugular vein.  Even though he had survived the shooting, the wound bled profusely and Sieff may have choked on his own blood had it not been for his wife's decision to turn him onto his stomach.

After he was stabilized by ambulance crews, he was rushed to hospital where surgeons spent several hours removing the bullet and shattered fragments of his jawbone.  Some weeks later when he had recovered sufficiently to talk, he told friends that he could only remember the gloved hand clutching the gun, followed by the blast in his face.

The daring assassination attempt was the first act of violence by this young man with the unusual name.  Even though he had failed to carry out his deadly task, he had succeeded in escaping unharmed.  Had he been arrested on that cold December night, we might never have heard of the man who became known as "Carlos- The Jackal," the world's most notorious terrorist.

1. First Strike

2. A Born Revolutionary

3. A Terrorist In Training

4. Mother Russia

5. A Popular Choice

6. Black September

7. Our Man In London

8. Carnage

9. Wrath of God

10. Campaign

11. Betrayal

12. "The Famous Carlos"

13. Terrorist For Hire

14. New Beginnings

15. One Man's War

16. Hunting The Jackal

17. A Fall From Grace

18. Taken By Force

19. Trials And Tribulations

20. Love and Death

21. Bibliography

22. The Author

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