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Carlos Wanted to Free War Criminal Klaus Barbie: Report

August 27, 1994

PARIS (AP) _ The terrorist Carlos the Jackal reportedly once plotted to free a prisoner almost as infamous as himself - Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie.

In perhaps the most bizarre twist yet in the Carlos case, a French newspaper citing East German secret police archives reported that the terrorist wanted Barbie’s lawyer - who is now defending Carlos - to help arrange the breakout.

Carlos, 44, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, had two decades of deadly terrorist attacks behind him when he was arrested earlier this month in Sudan and extradited to France. He faces charges in four cases involving the deaths of 15 people.

But of the daily revelations from archives of the Stasi secret police, who protected and watched Carlos, none seems odder than those in Saturday’s editions of the popular daily Le Parisien.

According to the newspaper, the Venezuelan-born terrorist, an extreme leftist, became intrigued in 1983 with the idea of abducting Barbie from a French prison and forcing him to reveal details of how the Allies coddled war criminals after World War II.

Barbie, dubbed the Butcher of Lyon, was Gestapo chief in the southern French city during the war. He was accused of torturing to death Resistance leader Jean Moulin and sending hundreds of Jews to their deaths.

Allowed to flee after the war by his U.S. captors in exchange for information on communist networks, Barbie was extradited to France from Bolivia in 1983. He was convicted of crimes against humanity and died in prison in 1991.

Barbie’s lawyer was the controversial French jurist Jacques Verges, who represented West German terrorist Magdalena Kopp - now Carlos’ wife, and his lieutenant, Bruno Breguet, on explosives charges in 1982. Verges now represents Carlos himself.

Le Parisien said in July 1983, when Carlos was being sheltered in Syria, he urged his chief henchman, Johannes Weinrich, who was in East Germany and under Stasi surveillance, to enlist Verges to provide information on Barbie’s custody.

Barbie would not be liberated, according to the scheme, but abducted and forced to reveal facts ″compromising Western regimes ... and their behavior toward war criminals.″

The information was to be made public to embarrass the West. It was unclear whether Barbie was to have been killed.

The East Germans, who considered Carlos a loose cannon, violently opposed the Barbie scheme, Le Parisien said.

But Syria backed it, according to notes between Weinrich and Carlos in the archives. Weinrich urged Carlos to ask Syria to put its embassy in Paris at Verges’ disposal. However, the project apparently never got beyond the planning stages.

Reports in several newspapers in the past two weeks have connected Verges to Carlos’ terrorism network.

Based on the Stasi archives, the reports have accused Verges of hiding rockets Carlos’ group fired at a French nuclear reactor in 1982, and of trying to get the French government to negotiate the release of Kopp and Breguet from prison.

Verges calls the secret police files worthless and says former government officials are trying to prevent him from serving as Carlos’ attorney.

Verges has also accused anti-terrorist advisers to President Francois Mitterrand of considering assassinating him in the early 1980s, which one of the advisers has confirmed.

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