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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Sauce Recruitment: Partnership Sales Executive - TV

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global multi-media...

Sauce Recruitment: Account Director

£26017.21 - £32521.19 per annum + OTE $90,000: Sauce Recruitment: My client is...

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea