Carlos trapped after secret deal between France and Sudan: Richard Dowden and Charles Richards trace the undercover ties which sealed the terrorist's fate

LINKS between the French secret service and Sudanese security chiefs have been developing for almost a year but the details which emerged yesterday pose as many questions as they answer.

Which state put Carlos on a plane to the sleepy confluence of the White and Blue Niles? Why, and why did it take so long to apprehend him? And who were the mysterious Arab nationals identified as Carlos' fellow travellers?

Reports emerged yesterday of favours and payments made by France to Sudan in exchange for handing over Ilich Ramirez Sanchez - Carlos - undermining denials by French and Sudanese officials that there had been any deal. Contacts between the two governments and their security services have been traced in recent months by diplomatic gossip and specialist journals such as Africa Confidential and the Indian Ocean Newsletter.

In February the latter reported that representatives of several Sudanese ministries, including Defence, and the secret service, had been in Paris many times in past months. 'In addition to the Sudanese generals who visited France's Defence Ministry at the beginning of December and the joint ministerial delegation which in mid- January was trying to get in touch with major industrial companies such as Total and GTM (Les Grands Travaux de Marseille), members of the Sudanese secret service met their French opposite numbers in the DGSE (Direction general de la securite exterieure) four times in as many months . . .', the Newsletter said on 29 January. It added: 'The exchange of intelligence on the situation in Sudan's frontier zones with the Central African Republic, Chad, Uganda and Zaire was at the centre of discussions between French and Sudanese military men.'

In February, Africa Confidential carried a simlar report, describing the rush of Sudanese intelligence officers to Paris as a 'flurry'. It suggested that Paris was using Khartoum to open a dialogue with the Algerian Front Islamique du Salut (Islamic Salvation Front) and to try to curb what the French see as destabilising Islamic tendencies throughout Africa. There is also a commercial aspect involved: Sudan Airlines has recently bought four Airbuses from France and the French oil company Total has a substantial concession in Sudan's undeveloped oil deposits.

Sudan - huge, potentially wealthy and strategically important in East and Central Africa - has become increasingly isolated by Western countries because of its brand of Islamic fundamentalism and accusations that it is harbouring terrorists. For these very reasons it has become a prime target of French influence. Paris offered Khartoum an end to isolation, a resumption of aid and arms, and perhaps a defender on the top table, while for Paris Khartoum offered an extension of French influence in a traditionally Anglophone area, lucrative commercial prospects - and Carlos.

Yesterday, sources in Paris confirmed that el-Fatih Irwa, an East German-trained Sudanese security chief, visited Paris several times this year and is a friend of Colonel Jean Claude Mantion, who was the French 'pro-consul' in the Central African Republic until last year but since appears to have been a personal emissary of Charles Pasqua, the French Interior Minister. Yesterday, the French daily, Liberation, said that Sudanese security chiefs had been in Paris to visit the DGSE, and quoted French officials as saying that satellite pictures of rebel positions in southern Sudan had been given to the Sudan security chiefs by French intelligence officers who had also arranged for Sudanese troops fighting rebels of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army to cross the Central African Republic and Zaire in pursuit of the rebels.

A Sudanese government spokesman in London, however, quoted Mr Pasqua as saying that Sudan had asked for nothing in exchange for the extradition. He added that relations between Sudan and France were excellent; a French- Sudanese commercial and economic co-operation council would soon be set up.

As to where Carlos had come from when he arrived in Khartoum, the French and Sudanese authorities say they cannot reveal such details at present. They only say he was travelling on a forged Arab diplomatic passport. Rumours abound. All the usual suspects are cited: Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran. And in the murky world of intelligence, information and disinformation are liberally mixed.

Carlos' last known refuge was Syria, which for long has played host to a rogues' gallery of international ne'er-do-wells, including the Palestinians Ahmed Jibril and Fathi Shkaki. Syria not only provided a base for groups using political violence: it was itself accused by Britain of being behind the attempt in 1986 to blow up an Israeli jet flying out of Heathrow.

Syria would have had a motive in divesting itself of an embarrassment such as Carlos at little political cost. The French and Sudanese authorities agreed to declare that Carlos arrived six months ago or in December, depending on the account. Either date would have coincided with Syria's efforts to show it was not a state sponsor of terrorism, as part of its public relations campaign to prepare for the summit meeting in Geneva in February between Presidents Bill Clinton and Hafez al-Assad.

Syria would not have been able to claim credit for helping the fight against international terrorism without admitting it had harboured Carlos all along. It could, however, have tipped off the French, and told the Americans in full candour that Carlos was no longer lingering in Damascus.

Other countries in the region with a history of backing radical groups, including Iraq, Libya, and Iran, have less interest in currying favour with the international community. Indeed, Libya is still believed to be home to the most notorious assassin of all, Sabri al- Banna, known as Abu Nidal, whose targets have been Palestinian moderates and Britons. And Libya has still not handed over two intelligence agents wanted in connection with the blowing up of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

Carlos did not travel alone. His partner, Magdalena Kopp, left him some time ago and now lives in Venezuela, according to her mother. The international network of which Carlos was the hub was never disbanded, although his Palestinian mentor, Wadi Haddad, died in 1978.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices