One Man's War

In January 1982, Carlos began to lay plans for an attack in France.  After forming an alliance with a Swiss extremist group, plans were laid to destroy a nuclear plant that was under construction in Central France.  Shortly before midnight on January 18, a group including Magdelana Kopp fired an RPG-7 rocket launcher across the River Rhone at the outer shell of the reactor but, despite firing five rockets, failed to penetrate the thick concrete causing only minor damage.   

Prior to the rocket attack, Kopp's involvement had been limited to forging documents and maintaining communications with other guerrilla groups, but she was soon selected for another mission.  In February 1982, she left Budapest and travelled to Paris.  Her companion on the trip was a Swiss revolutionary named Bruno Breguet who had previously served seven years of a fifteen-year sentence for attempting to smuggle explosives into Israel.  As an active member of the Popular Front at the time, he was the first European to be imprisoned for pro-Palestinian activities.

After arriving in Paris, the mission suffered a setback when Kopp's handbag, containing $50,000 in cash and several fake passports, was stolen.  Two days later she and Breguet were apprehended in an underground car park by security guards when their old car aroused suspicion because it bore new number plates.  When the pair failed to produce any papers to verify the origin of the vehicle or the plates, they were detained while the police were called.  The pair then made their escape when Breguet pulled a pistol and pointed it at the guards and ran away.  On reaching the street, Kopp was caught by the police and shortly after Breguet was also apprehended.  During the arrest, his attempt to shoot a policeman failed when his pistol jammed.

After the arrest Kopp was found to be carrying $2000 in cash while Breguet carried two passports.  A later search of their vehicle uncovered another pistol, two kilos of explosives, two grenades, an alarm clock and a battery complete with electrical wiring.  Despite undergoing intense questioning for several hours, the pair refused to talk other than to tell police that they were International revolutionaries who were not about to commit any acts on French soil.  What they did not divulge was that their mission was to bomb the Paris office of Al Watan al Arabi a magazine that had printed a story alleging the involvement of the Syrian government in the assassination of Louis Delamare, the French Ambassador to Beirut.  The story angered the Syrian government and the SDECE believes that Carlos was hired to carry out the bombing on their behalf.

At the time of her arrest, Kopp had no identity papers and the passports found in Breguet's possessions were found to be false.  Later checks correctly identified them both together with the fact that Breguet had already served time for smuggling explosives and the German authorities sought Kopp for supplying explosives to the Baader-Meinhoff group. 

Carlos learned of the arrest a day later while waiting in Budapest but it took him a full week to respond.  His response, in the form of a letter, was addressed to Gaston Deffere, the French Minister of the Interior, demanding the release of Kopp and Breguet within thirty days and their safe passage out of France.  It contained no threats of any kind ending simply with, "We hope that this affair will end soon and in a happy way."

It was signed, "Carlos - Organisation of Arab armed struggle - Arm of the Arab Revolution" and bore a sample of Carlos's thumbprints.

The letter was given to Christa-Margot Froelich, a woman that Weinrich had recruited from the German Revolutionary Cells, who took it from Budapest to the French Embassy in The Hague where it was passed on to Ambassador Jurgensen with a covering letter instructing him to take it to Deffere.  Although both Carlos and Deffere had wanted the letter kept a secret, it's contents were later printed in a Paris newspaper angering both parties. 

Against his advisors wishes, Deffere began negotiations with Carlos through his envoy Jacques Verges, a prominent defence attorney who had a history as a communist revolutionary.  Verges lobbied the French government for the release of the prisoners on several occasions but was turned down.  As the trial of Kopp and Breguet approached, the judge in charge of the proceedings dropped the charge of attempted murder and ordered the pair to stand trial on April 15 in a magistrate's court where they would receive lighter sentences. 

Capitole after the bombing

While the legal machinations continued, the thirty-day deadline that Carlos had set was almost up with no indication that the French authorities would accede to his requests.  Although his letter did not contain any direct threats, the SDECE believed that a reprisal was inevitable.  They did not have to wait long.  On March 15, ten days before the deadline, five kilos of explosives were detonated in the French Cultural Centre in Beirut wounding five people.  Four days after the deadline had passed a bomb ripped apart a section of the Capitole, the Trans Europe express train that runs between Paris and Toulouse, killing five passengers and injuring thirty others.  Responsibility for the bombing was later claimed on Carlos's behalf by a group calling themselves Terrorist International which was a front for the Basque ETA group that Carlos had hired to bomb the train in exchange for weapons.  The bomb, which was carried in a small suitcase, had been placed in the VIP section of the train.  A later inquiry revealed that Paris Mayor and former President Jacques Chirac should have been on the train at the time but had changed his plans at the last moment.

On April 5, the Red Army Faction sent another letter to The Hague on Carlos's behalf threatening additional violence if Kopp and Breguet were not released.  When the demands were not met by April 15, Guy Cavallo, a French embassy employee stationed in Beirut was gunned down when he answered a knock at the door.  His wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was also killed in the attack.  While the authorities described the man as a lowly employee of the embassy, he was in reality an SDECE agent.  This fact, together with the information concerning Chirac's travel plans, indicated that Carlos had a very well developed intelligence network.

Rue Marbeuf aftermath

On April 21, another bomb exploded outside the French embassy in Vienna, killing an Austrian policeman who was guarding the building.  At 9.02am on April 22, as Kopp and Breguet were led into court, a massive car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in Rue Marbeuf.  Above the restaurant were the offices of Al Watan al Arabi.  By the time the smoke had cleared, one woman was dead, ten people were seriously injured while fifty-eight others escaped with minor injuries.  The same afternoon Magdelana Kopp was sentenced to four years in prison while Breguet was given five years.  Within hours of the verdict, Deffere announced the expulsion of two Syrian diplomats and explained to the media that the expulsions were not linked to the Marbeuf bombing but were in relation to previous spying offences.

Several weeks later a grenade was fired at an accommodation block of the French Consulate building in Beirut but no injuries were reported.  Two weeks later, a large bomb exploded inside the French Embassy grounds in Beirut killing eleven and wounding twenty-seven.  In June, Christa-Margot Froelich, the woman who had carried the letter of demand to The Hague and was suspected of driving the car containing the bomb to Rue Marbeuf, was arrested at Leonardo da Vinci airport in Rome.   Froelich was travelling under a false German passport and was carrying a suitcase that contained over three kilos of explosive, detonators and an alarm clock.  She was later convicted and sentenced to six years.  In a later incident, a group of gunmen supposedly sent by another terrorist, Abu Nidal, attacked the patrons of Jo Goldberg's restaurant in a Jewish neighbourhood in the heart of Paris.  After throwing a grenade through the window, the gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons killing four and wounding another thirty, many of them seriously.  While Carlos was not directly linked with the Goldberg attack, the SDECE believed that it was carried out on his behalf.  Over the ensuing months Carlos considered many other plans to secure the release of his wife and her accomplice but none came to fruition and the pair were left to languish in jail.

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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