Spymaster Wolf Says Carlos Was a ‘Wildcat’
BONN, Germany (AP) _ The terrorist Carlos the Jackal was a ″wildcat″ who once threatened to seize the East German embassy in Paris unless its agents helped free his girlfriend from a French jail, East Germany’s spymaster says.
The East German secret police, the Stasi, hosted Carlos the Jackal for much of the 1980s in East Berlin. Their role in his terrorist career has figured prominently in reports since the 44-year-old Venezuelan, whose real name is Illich Ramirez Sanchez, was arrested Aug. 15 in Sudan.
Former Stasi spymaster Markus Wolf, in an interview Thursday in the Berlin newspaper tageszeitung, says the Stasi were afraid of Carlos and his friends and mainly tolerated them to stay on Carlos’ good side.
″He’d spend all night at the bar of the Palace Hotel, his pistol holster unbuckled, surrounded by women, drinking like a fish. He seemed ready to do anything. He even threatened us,″ Wolf said.
Wolf, 71, was East Germany’s foreign intelligence chief. He was sentenced in December to six years in prison for treason but is free on bond pending his appeal. The interview with Wolf was published simultaneously in the French magazine Nouvel Observateur.
Wolf conceded that not all the Stasi’s dealings with Carlos came under his purview. He said Erich Mielke, the longtime Stasi chief, himself ran high- profile cases like Carlos, who entered East Germany in 1979 on a Syrian passport.
Helmut Voigt, another former Stasi agent, was sentenced last year to 2 years in prison for helping Carlos smuggle explosives into West Berlin in 1983. They were used in the bombing of a French cultural institute that killed one person and injured 23.
Mielke thought that in case of a war, people like Carlos and the West German terrorists of the Red Army Faction - who also hid out in East Germany - could be formed into sapper bands that would destroy bridges and launch commando raids against West German installations.
East Germany gave Carlos a free hand because ″we wanted to avoid problems with our Arab friends,″ Wolf said. ″And we were afraid of Carlos.″
″He was a real wildcat, an uncontrollable adventurer,″ Wolf said.
The Stasi men assigned to keep an eye on Carlos at his residence in the Palace Hotel in East Berlin were flummoxed by his violent, reckless behavior, Wolf said.
At one point, Carlos threatened to seize the East German embassy in Paris unless the East Germans helped him free his German girlfriend, Magdalene Kopp. She had been arrested in 1982 in France with a Swiss terrorist, Bruno Breguet.
Wolf said he didn’t remember exactly what help Carlos asked for, or whether it was forthcoming.
Kopp and Breguet were freed in 1985 after a bombing campaign in France apparently orchestrated by Carlos. Kopp and Carlos were later married.
Around the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, Carlos changed his residence to Syria.