|NATO's Secret Armies|
As the Cold War ended, following juridical investigations into mysterious acts of terrorism in Italy, Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti was forced to confirm in August 1990 that a secret army existed in Italy and other countries across Western Europe that were part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Coordinated by the unorthodox warfare section of NATO, the secret army had been set up by the US secret service Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6 or SIS) after the end of the Second World War to fight Communism in Western Europe.
The clandestine network, which after the revelations of the Italian Prime Minister was researched by judges, parliamentarians, academics and investigative journalists across Europe, is now understood to have been code-named 'Gladio' (the sword) in Italy, while in other countries the network operated under different names including 'Absalon' in Denmark, 'ROC' in Norway and 'SDRA8' in Belgium. In each country the military secret service operated the anti-Communist army within the state in close collaboration with the CIA or the MI6 unknown to parliaments and populations. In each country, leading members of the executive, including Prime Ministers, Presidents, Interior Ministers and Defence Ministers, were involved in the
conspiracy, while the 'Allied Clandestine Committee' (ACC), sometimes also euphemistically called the 'Allied Co-ordination Committee' and the 'Clandestine Planning Committee' (CPC), less conspicuously at times also called 'Coordination and Planning Committee' of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), coordinated the networks on the international level. The last confirmed secret meeting of ACC with representatives of European secret services took place on October 24, 1990 in Brussels.
As the details of the operation emerged, the press concluded that the 'story
seems straight from the pages of a political thriller'. The secret armies were
equipped by the CIA and the MI6 with machine guns, explosives, munitions and high-tech communication equipment hidden in arms caches in forests, meadows and underground bunkers across Western Europe. Leading officers of the secret network trained together with the US Green Berets Special Forces in the United States of America and the British SAS Special Forces in England. Recruited among strictly anti-Communist segments of the society the secret Gladio soldiers included moderate conservatives as well as right-wing extremists such as notorious right-wing terrorists Stefano delle Chiale and Yves Guerain Serac. In its strategic design the secret army was a direct copy of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), which during the Second World War had pararachuted into enemy-held territory and fought a secret war behind enemy lines.
In case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe the secret Gladio soldiers under NATO command would have formed a so-called stay-behind network operating behind enemy lines, strengthening and setting up local resistance movements in enemy-held territory, evacuating shot-down pilots and sabotaging the supply lines and production centres of the occupation forces with explosives. Yet the Soviet invasion never came. The real and present danger in the eyes of the secret war strategists in Washington and London were the at-times numerically strong Communist parties in the democracies of Western Europe. Hence the network in the total absence of a Soviet invasion took up arms in numerous countries and fought a secret war against the political forces of the left.
The secret armies, as the secondary sources now available suggest, were involved in aFrom Chapter 17 NATO's Secret Armies (book by Daniele Ganser):
whole series of terrorist operations and human rights violations that they wrongly blamed
on the Communists [i.e. "false flag operations"] in order to discredit the left at the polls. The operations always aimed at spreading maximum fear among the population and ranged from bomb massacres in trains and market squares (Italy), the use of systematic torture of opponents of the regime (Turkey), the support for right-wing coup d'etats (Greece and Turkey), to the smashing of opposition groups (Portugal and Spain). As the secret armies were discovered, NATO as well as the governments of the United States and Great Britain refused to take a stand on what by then was alleged by the press to be 'the best-kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War II'.
The history of the secret army in Turkey is more violent than that of any other stay-behind in Western Europe....Although Turkey was officially neutral during the Second World War, and in order to side with the winners only in 1945 declared war on Germany, the support for Hitler and Mussolini was strong among the nationalists of the Pan-Turkism movement. Under the influence of racial theories of the fascist movement in Germany Pan-Turkism increasingly emphasised the common racial ties of the Turkish people and preached a doctrine of racial superiority....
After the end of the Second World War the main priority of the United States with regard to Turkey was to integrate the country solidly within the Western anti-Communist defence system. Due to its geographic location Turkey was a highly valuable strategic territory. Both during and after the Cold War it functioned as an important balcony for US and NATO operations in the oil countries of the Middle East and the Caucuses region, most prominently during the Second
Gulf War in 1991. Furthermore the country represented the most eastern land post of NATO during the Cold War. Nobody else, not even Norway in the north, was closer to Moscow and hence Turkey was equipped with high-tech gear and used as a listening post....
In order to integrate Turkey firmly within NATO the United States had to exploit the dominant and violent Pan-Turkism movement. In this process, which the Pan-Turkism movement in turn used to its own advantage, right-wing extremist Colonel Alparsan Turks played a central role. During the Second World War Colonel Turks had been the contact person of the German Nazis in Turkey. He first came to national prominence in 1944 when he and 30 others were
arrested for having participated in an anti-Communist demonstration.
Convinced of the theories of racial superiority in general and the superiority of the Turks in particular, Colonel Turks in many of his speeches during his career quoted from Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Following the war he made contacts with the CIA in 1948 and allegedly during this time on the orders of the CIA started to set up a secret anti-Communist stay-behind army in Turkey. As the collaboration with the United States intensified, charismatic leader Colonel Turks travelled extensively between his home country and the United States and established intimate contacts both with the Pentagon and the CIA. From 1955 to 1958 he served in Washington in the Turkish military mission to NATO....
The MIT in 1965 had replaced the MAH secret service (Milli Amele Hizmet, Organisation for national security affairs). Both were dominated by military personnel and strongly dependent on the CIA....The CIA was so effective in penetrating the web of Turkish secret services that even the leading officers of the MIT admitted that they were dependent on the White House. Vice Director of MIT Sabahattin Savasman, upon having been arrested on the charge of having cooperated with the CIA, in 1977 declared that such an accusation was ridiculous and ignorant of the most basic facts of the Turkish security system....So most of us first heard Clarridge's name during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987. Ten years later he wrote his memoir, still averring that he had been misled by Oliver North. He had been indicted in November 1991 on seven counts of lying to Senate and House committees and a presidential review board about a secret shipment of Hawk missiles to Iran that entangled the CIA in the Iran-Contra scandal. He received a pardon from President Bush I before he could be tried, after years of investigation by Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh. He subsequently was hired as an executive with General Dynamics Corp. in San Diego, where he now lives.
Due to this strong US influence on the Turkish security system investigations into the operations of the CIA and MIT have remained scarce. Duane Clarridge, born in 1933 and maybe the most powerful chief of the CIA station in Istanbul during the Cold War, in his 1997 memoirs 'A Spy for All Seasons' has particularly praised MIT agent Hiram Abas for his services. According to his own testimony, Abas 'was closer to him than his own brother'. Clarridge stressed that 'Hiram was one of a kind. In his time he was the best intelligence gatherer in Turkey. All members of the foreign intelligence community who knew him held this view. By the end he was assistant to the chairman of the Turkish intelligence service; he was the first civilian to hold this position.'
Duane R. Clarridge--spy
Abas had been trained in the United States in covert action operations and as an MIT agent first gained notoriety in Beirut where from 1968 to 1971 he cooperated with the Israeli secret service Mossad and carried out numerous bloody attacks on Palestinians. Sabahattin Savasman, Vice Director of MIT, on trial confirmed that Hiram Abas 'took part in joint operations with the CIA in Lebanon, winning for himself a considerable salary and financial rewards, targeting left-wing youths in the Palestinian camps and receiving bounty for the results he achieved in actions'. Upon his return to Turkey Abas due to his close links with the CIA was constantly promoted within the MIT hierarchy and continued to engage in sensitive terror operations. His career did not stop even when his mentor CIA chief of station Clarridge was transferred to head the CIA station in Italy. Clarridge stayed in touch with Abas, when he served under President Ronald Reagan and CIA chief Bill Casey in 1981. At that time, he worked on the Latin American desk at CIA headquarters in the United States, where he was involved in US sponsorship of the Contras in Nicaragua, an activity he then lied about to the US Congress during the Iran Contra scandal.
Clarridge in Iran Contra
Ronald J. Ostrow of the L.A. Times wrote on November 27, 1991:
Not more than two days after the meeting, Clarridge "became operationally involved" in helping North with the weapons shipment. The involvement included informing North that a CIA proprietary airline was available to deliver the weapons to Iran, directing CIA agents overseas to provide shipment assistance and allowing North to coordinate the delivery from Clarridge's office at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the indictment said.
The CIA proprietary airline delivered the Hawk missiles to Iran on Nov. 25, 1985, and details of the arms-for-hostages operation began to be reported in the press nearly a year later, leading to the questioning of Clarridge.There is an excellent review of Clarridge's book (A Spy for All Seasons: My Life in the CIA. New York: Scribner's, 1997), by Alec Chambers, in which the reviewer states:
The mining of harbors was his idea, and he claims that the mines used were not typical anti-shipping mines, but more along the lines of scare charges. Furthermore, he is at odds with the generally accepted story. Although it goes that the only information Congress received about the mining operation was a dissembling mumble from DCI Casey, Clarridge states that the House and Senate Intelligence committees were briefed more than once and Lloyd's of London was informed every time mines were laid. Even committee members later admitted that they had been briefed....
An oversized Contra army and the mining of harbors proved to be more effective in Congress than they were in Nicaragua. The Reagan administration had never convinced the US public or its representatives of their views on the Sandinista government and the uproar over the mining led to the passing of the first Boland amendment and the cutting off of Contra funding....
Clarridge still had to deal occasionally with his successor in support of the Contras (Alan Fiers), primarily to help him in keeping Oliver North from treading too heavily. It was an "open secret" in Washington that North was raising money for the Contras and he seems to have tried to get himself more involved in operational details than the CIA wanted. Contra operations were still a CIA matter, and as Clarridge points out, it is not obvious or even sensible to consider involving an organization that had neither the resources nor infrastructure to support it in a major CIA covert action, never mind handing over control....
Oliver North was a member of Clarridge's circle and their paths crossed more than once. At least one of these occasions, when North needed help flying a shipment (that turned out to be HAWK missiles) from Israel to Iran via Portugal almost entangled Clarridge in the arms-to-Iran case. The story as told by Clarridge is that this was a case of the NSC turning to the CIA in an emergency rather than a routine transaction. He eventually backed the CIA out when it became unclear who was paying for the air charters involved. It seems that this is a case where the bureaucratic properties of the CIA were more of a help to Clarridge than a hindrance.
UPDATE: All the foregoing is a mere prologue to the story that appeared in the New York Times just over a week ago under this most intriguing headline: "Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A."
Now 78, Clarridge has been performing work on a military contract, said to have been procured on his behalf by Michael Furlong ("a senior Defense Department civilian with a military 'information warfare' command in San Antonio."). Clarridge's "agenda," is apparently a desire to "discredit" the brother of the president of Afghanistan, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who "gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years," according to an earlier Times report.
The Times quotes Charles E. Allen, a "former top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security who worked with Mr. Clarridge at the C.I.A." Allen called Clarridge "an 'extraordinary' case officer who had operated on 'the edge of his skis' in missions abroad years ago," then added a warning about the private spying in which Clarridge is contractually engaged within the war zones of both Afghanistan and Pakistan by summing up in his conclusion: “We don’t need privateers.”It is a conclusion with which the Pentagon disagrees, judging from the fact that they sought out the services of his company, the Eclipse Group, in 2009. Although the contract was terminated in May 2010, shortly thereafter Clarridge indicated his commitment to remain in the business by setting up a "password-protected Web site, afpakfp.com, that would allow officers to continue viewing his dispatches." The article indicates that some of his dispatches go to fuel Glenn Beck and a prolific writer of thrillers who calls himself Brad Thor.
The article states that Clarridge "helped produce a dossier for commanders detailing allegations about Mr. Karzai’s drug connections, land grabs and even murders in southern Afghanistan. The document, provided to The Times, speculates that Mr. Karzai’s ties to the C.I.A. — which has paid him an undetermined amount of money since 2001 — may be the reason the agency 'is the only member of the country team in Kabul not to advocate taking a more active stance against AWK.'
The article then concludes as follows:
Ultimately, though, the military could not amass enough hard proof to convince other American officials of Mr. Karzai’s supposed crimes, and backed off efforts to remove him from power.
Mr. Clarridge would soon set his sights higher: on President Hamid Karzai himself. Over the summer, after the Pentagon canceled his contract, Mr. Clarridge decided that the United States needed leverage over the Afghan president. So the former spy, running his network with money from unidentified donors, came up with an outlandish scheme that seems to come straight from the C.I.A.’s past playbook of covert operations.
There have long been rumors that Hamid Karzai uses drugs, in part because of his often erratic behavior, but the accusation was aired publicly last year by Peter W. Galbraith, a former United Nations representative in Afghanistan. American officials have said publicly that there is no evidence to support the allegation of drug use.
Mr. Clarridge pushed a plan to prove that the president was a heroin addict, and then confront him with the evidence to ensure that he became a more pliable ally. Mr. Clarridge proposed various ideas, according to several associates, from using his team to track couriers between the presidential palace in Kabul and Ahmed Wali Karzai’s home in Kandahar, to even finding a way to collect Hamid Karzai’s beard clippings and run DNA tests. He eventually dropped his ideas when the Obama administration signaled it was committed to bolstering the Karzai government.
Still, associates said, Mr. Clarridge maneuvered against the Karzais last summer by helping promote videos, available on YouTube, purporting to represent the “Voice of Afghan Youth.” The slick videos disparage the president as the “king of Kabul” who regularly takes money from the Iranians, and Ahmed Wali Karzai as the “prince of Kandahar” who “takes the monthly gold from the American intelligence boss” and makes the Americans “his puppet.”
The videos received almost no attention when they were posted on the Internet, but were featured in July on the Fox News Web site in a column by Mr. [Ollie] North, who declined to comment for this article. Writing that he had “stumbled” on the videos on the Internet, he called them a “treasure trove.”
Mr. Clarridge, his associates say, continues to dream up other operations against the Afghan president and his inner circle. When he was an official spy, Mr. Clarridge recalled in his memoir, he bristled at the C.I.A.’s bureaucracy for thwarting his plans to do maximum harm to America’s enemies. “It’s not like I’m running my own private C.I.A.,” he wrote, “and can do what I want.”