"The Famous Carlos"

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.

Wilfred Bose (POLICE)

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.

Gabriele Tiedemann

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 communiqué 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

Vienna 21/XII/75

In addition, Carlos dictated a seven-page communiqué 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 communiqué 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 gun concealed under his arm, he told the police, "I came here to carry out the agreed execution of these criminals, but you have prevented me."

Some time later a group of journalists watched as a convoy of official black cars left the airport. As the convoy approached, one of the cars stopped beside them. Carlos leaned from the passenger's window and stared at them for several minutes before giving the order to go. Carlos the Jackal had escaped unscathed yet again.

In the years following the OPEC raid, Abu Sharif and Joachim Klein both confirmed that Carlos had received a large sum of money in exchange for the safe release of the Arab hostages and had kept it for his personal use. There is still some uncertainty regarding the amount that changed hands but it is believed to be somewhere between 20-50 million dollars. Who paid the money is also uncertain but according to Klein it came from "an Arab President."

Carlos later told his lawyers that the money was paid by the Saudis on behalf of the Iranians and was, "diverted en route and lost by the Revolution." He insisted that had he taken the money for himself he would have been tracked down and killed before he could spend it.  

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

<< Previous Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 >> Next Chapter
truTV Shows
The Investigators
Forensic Files
Suburban Secrets

TM & © 2007 Courtroom Television Network, LLC.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. is a part of the Turner Entertainment New Media Network.
Terms & Privacy Guidelines