In the spring of 1999, newly-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sent a letter to a man serving a life sentence in a French prison. Chávez addressed the prisoner (who is Venezuelan by birth) as a "distinguished compatriot," and closed by writing, "With profound faith in our cause and our mission, now and forever!" The prisoner's name was Ilich Ramírez, known to the world as Carlos the Jackal, the international terrorist who carried out an amazing string of bombings, hijackings, and assassinations throughout Europe and the Middle East in the seventies and eighties. Chávez has called the Jackal "a good friend" and is pushing to extradite him back to Venezuela. "I defend him," Chávez said recently. "I don't care what they say tomorrow in Europe."