Tracking the Jackal: The Search for Carlos, the World's Most Wanted Man

Overview

David Yallop spent ten years on the trail of the mysterious Carlos the Jackal, a man accused of some of the most heinous acts in the annals of international terrorism: the attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the kidnapping of the OPEC oil ministers, the massacre at Lod airport in Tel Aviv, and scores of bombings, murders, and hijackings. He found his man. But it was what he discovered along the way that shocks and surprises most. Yallop's intrepid search led him into dangerous territory. He was...
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Overview

David Yallop spent ten years on the trail of the mysterious Carlos the Jackal, a man accused of some of the most heinous acts in the annals of international terrorism: the attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the kidnapping of the OPEC oil ministers, the massacre at Lod airport in Tel Aviv, and scores of bombings, murders, and hijackings. He found his man. But it was what he discovered along the way that shocks and surprises most. Yallop's intrepid search led him into dangerous territory. He was in Beirut at a time when Westerners were being kidnapped and murdered in alarming numbers, and his guide was killed mysteriously. He continued his investigations in Tripoli, Tunis, Caracas, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Vienna, London, and Paris, moving through the murky worlds of terrorists and counterterrorists, intelligence and counterintelligence, spies and double agents. He drank orange juice with Colonel Qadaffi in his tent, talked until dawn with Yasser Arafat in a basement in Tunisia, and visited Carlos's old school chums in Venezuela and in quiet London neighborhoods. Tracking the Jackal is a real-life story about the world that Frederick Forsyth, John le Carre, and Tom Clancy turn into fiction - a world that runs on intrigue and deception, with governments and security forces operating outside their own laws when they see fit. Carlos himself turns out to be almost a mythical creation of that world, employed by various sinister forces for their own purposes. Tracking the Jackal reads like a thriller, but it is a major work of investigative reporting that reveals a complex web of political corruption and betrayal.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this compelling report from the Middle East, British journalist Yallop ( In God's Name ) chronicles his seven-year search for Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, who was born into an upper-middle-class family in Caracas in 1949 and by the age of 26 had become ``Carlos the Jackal,'' the world's most notorious terrorist. Based on extensive research and numerous interviews with such figures as Abu Nidal, Colonel Khadafy and Yasir Arafat, Yallop argues that much of the reason the jackal is so difficult to track is that he is more myth than reality. The author maintains that by attributing an astounding assortment of crimes to him, various governments were acting to make the Cold War colder and a tense Middle East tenser. Yallop has little sympathy for Carlos, whose crimes--such as arranging the 1972 murder of Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich and the 1975 kidnapping of OPEC oil ministers--are certainly those of a dangerous terrorist; yet when the two finally meet, Carlos seems less menacing than expected. Although too drawn out and repetitive at times, the book is nonetheless a dramatic and intriguing international thriller with relevance to recent events: witness an epilogue that takes into account the Israeli-PLO accord. Full of bravado and with surprisingly little strategic sense, Carlos, suggests Yallop, was used as a puppet by those whose bloody missions he carried out. Photos not seen by PW . (Nov.)
Library Journal
In riveting prose, Yallop asks how a man accused of so much can remain free. A decade-long search leads the author to conclude that Ilich Ramirez Sanchez--the Venezuelan-born Catholic turned Leninist turned bourgeois known as Carlos the Jackal--is in fact an agent who worked for a dozen intelligence services, including the CIA. Yallop refutes allegations that the real Carlos was at the 1972 Lod or Munich Olympic games massacres and shows how the 1975 OPEC Conference hostage-taking episode turned into a major blunder that was nevertheless used to help build a mystique around the ``terrorist.'' Indeed, the book is filled with interesting allegations about Carlos's so-called achievements--acts he may or may not have committed. Yallop concludes that Carlos ``was a useful asset'' to many folks who used his name to create the perfect terrorist scapegoat. Recommended for its inquisitiveness.-- Joseph A. Kechichian, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, Cal.
Joe Collins
It must have been frustrating for David Yallop to write this book, judging by his interviews with such Arab world luminaries as Yasir Arafat and Muammar Quadaffi and such terrorist leaders such as Wadi Haddad and Abu Nidal. All of them had something to hide when Yallop asked them about Venezuelan Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Carlos the Jackal, who, it is claimed, participated in numerous terrorist acts, including the 1972 Black September raid on the Munich Olympics and, later, the kidnapping of OPEC oil ministers. Yallop asked good questions. He asked a man claiming to be Carlos what lesson his terrorists were teaching when they bombed El Al Airlines; the answer was, "That they shouldn't fly El Al Airlines!" As the book wears on, however, just as in real life, things get muddled: It becomes clear, for instance, that the Arab world is anything but united in its support of terrorist activities, especially when many of those acts are carried out against other Arabs. Yallop also addresses Israeli abuses of the Palestinians and is unconvinced that the recent Israel-PLO accord will stem the tide of violence. Ultimately, the reader's curiosity is not satisfied: Why was there a Carlos, and for what purpose? "Tracking the Jackal" answers some questions but, as usual in books on the Middle East, leaves many more unanswered.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679425595
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/2/1993
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. ed
  • Pages: 629

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