16 January 2009
In August 1990, Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti brought to an end four decades of conspiracy, deceit and official denial, admitting that he knew of a covert paramilitary/intelligence group who may have been involved in the numerous bombings and assassinations Italy had suffered throughout the Cold War. Over the coming months it became clear that this parallel military structure extended far beyond Italy, and that the equivalent existed in most Western European countries. The implications of this were of such concern to the European Parliament that it passed a resolution condemning the project. As historian Daniele Ganser, writing in The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, recorded:
The existence of these clandestine NATO armies remained a closely guarded secret throughout the Cold War until 1990, when the first branch of the international network was discovered in Italy. It was code-named Gladio, the Latin word for a short double-edged sword. While the press claimed the NATO secret armies were the best-kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War II, the Italian government, amidst sharp public criticism, promised to close down the secret army. Italy insisted identical clandestine armies had also existed in all other countries of Western Europe. This allegation proved correct and subsequent research found that in Belgium, the secret NATO army was code-named SDRA8, in Denmark Absalon, in Germany TD BDJ, in Greece LOK, in Luxemburg Stay-Behind, in the Netherlands I&O, in Norway ROC, in Portugal Aginter, in Switzerland P26, in Turkey Counter-Guerrilla, and in Austria OWSGV. However, the code names of the secret armies in France, Finland, Spain, and Sweden remain unknown. - Ganser
For some reason he misses out the UK, though there's no question that they too had an equivalent covert paramilitary force. This was confirmed by Sir Anthony Farrer-Hockley, Commander of NATO forces in Northern Europe, as noted in his obituary in the Guardian. The article also notes how he was involved in 1983 in trying to set up a 'home guard' to help defend the country in the event of a Soviet invasion. This was the original purpose of the paramilitary structure, having developed out of the cooperation between the resistance movements on mainland Europe and the Special Operations Executive/MI6 (UK) and the Office of Strategic Services (USA). However, the Soviets never invaded and the command structure of the stay-behind network became more complex, retaining the dominion of the UK and USA in determining its operations.
As of 1948, the so-called Clandestine Committee of the Western Union (CCWU) united senior officers of European military secret services in order to coordinate secret anticommunist warfare. After the creation of NATO in 1949, the CCWU was secretly integrated into NATO, and as of 1951, operated under the label Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC). Next to the CPC, a second secret army command center, labeled Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC), was set up in 1957 on the orders of NATOs Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR). This military structure provided for significant US leverage over the secret stay-behind networks in Western Europe as the SACEUR, throughout NATOs history, has traditionally been a US General who reports to the Pentagon in Washington and is based in NATOs Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. The ACCs duties included elaborating on the directives for the network, developing its clandestine capability, and organizing bases in Britain and the United States. In wartime, it was to plan stay-behind operations in conjunction with SHAPE. According to former CIA director William Colby, it was "a major program." - Ganser
Indeed, calling it a major program is something of an understatement. In Italy alone the 40+ year operation involved 622 gladiators and over 100 arms caches stored all over the country, even in churches and cemeteries. Even today, most countries have refused to declassify the roles played in their countries by these secret NATO armies and only three have held parliamentary inquiries. The first of these was in Italy, led by judge Felice Casson, who'd discovered documents about the secret army in Italy connecting them to numerous terrorist attacks. It isn't clear exactly when the stay-behind network changed into a terrorist network but that it did so isn't disputed. The clandestine philosophy behind state-orchestrated domestic terrorist attacks was the strategy of tension. As Casson described, the aim was:
"to create tension within the country to promote conservative, reactionary social and political tendencies. While this strategy was being implemented, it was necessary to protect those behind it because evidence implicating them was being discovered. Witnesses withheld information to cover right-wing extremists." - Casson
It appears Casson was first made aware of at least the possibility of the clandestine network being responsible for terrorist atrocities during the trial of Vincenzo Vinciguerra in 1984. Casson had been looking into an unsolved bombing from 1972, in Peteano. A car had been left and a bomb warning called in. It appears one of three carabinieri (Italian military police) opened the bonnet of the car which detonated the bomb, killing all of them. A circled, five pointed star was scratched into the bonnet, a symbol associated with militant leftists the Red Brigades. Several members of the group were wrongly accused of having planted the car-bomb, and in court explosives expert and member of the militant right wing group Ordine Nuovo Marco Morin deliberately testified that the explosives were the same as those used by the Red Brigades, knowing that this wasn't true. The explosives actually came from a Gladio (i.e. NATO) arms dump, and the whole thing was set up by Ordine Nuovo and Italian Military Intelligence (SISMI) with the markings on the car and the bomb being planted by Vincenzo Vinciguerra. However, Vinciguerra was (and has remained) incredibly candid about what appears to be one of the most horrendous and gigantic conspiracies of all time. Questioned by judges including Casson in 1984 he said that:
"With the massacre of Peteano, and with all those that have followed, the knowledge should by now be clear that there existed a real live structure, occult and hidden, with the capacity of giving a strategic direction to the outrages. The structure lies within the state itself.
There exists in Italy a secret force parallel to the armed forces, composed of civilians and military men, in an anti-Soviet capacity - that is, to organise a resistance on Italian soil against a Russian army... A secret organisation, a super-organisation with a network of communications, arms and explosives, and men trained to use them... A super-organisation which, lacking a Soviet military invasion which might not happen, took up the task, on Nato's behalf, of preventing a slip to the left in the political balance of the country. This they did, with the assistance of the official secret services and the political and military forces..." - Vinciguerra, Guardian
He also laid out the psychological and political strategy of this secret 'super-organisation' at his own trial, where he confessed to the Peteano bombing:
You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force ... the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security." - Vinciguerra, globalresearch
As much as Vinciguerra is a murderous fascist, his testimony is
incredibly valuable to understanding the Gladio phenomenon, and indeed the
strategy of tension identified in the 2000 report
published by the Left Democratic Party in Italy. If the public are under attack,
particularly from what they are told are communist terrorists, they are more
likely to turn to the right, to ask the state to protect them against such a
threat. It also discredits the left in general and communism specifically which
was getting as popular a following in Italy in the 60s and 70s as anywhere in
western Europe. While it is true that major financial and technological
companies in America and elsewhere were helping the Soviets throughout this
period, as Anthony Sutton's earlier
work documents in incredible detail, the western powers did not want
spontaneous, democratically determined communist/socialist movements. The
overthrow of numerous popular leftist leaders, even in countries that posed
virtually no military or even economic threat illustrates this.
Also, the assassination of Aldo Moro. Moro was a former Italian Prime Minister whose own Christian Democratic party was forming a compromising alliance with the Italian Communist party. He was kidnapped in March 1978, apparently by the Red Brigades, though at that time all their original leaders were in jail and they'd been infiltrated by intelligence services. He was held for nearly two months before being killed. While in captivity, Moro wrote a series of letters, many of which weren't made public until the 1990s.
Among Moros released letters, which he was writing while in captivity, he stated that he feared that a shadow organization, with other secret services of the West ... might be implicated in the destabilisation of our country. During his interrogation while in captivity, Moro even referred to Nato's anti-guerrilla activities. However, the Red Brigades did not use this information, perhaps because, according to the founders of the Red Brigades, the leader of the organization at the time of Moros kidnapping, Mario Moretti, was working for the Italian or US intelligence services. - globalresearch
Evidently Moro knew at least of the existence of the Gladio army, and suspected their links with a secret government working across the military intelligence apparatus of NATO countries. That he was murdered by Gladio operatives, or as part of the same strategy, is more than a possibility. Mino Pecorelli, an Italian investigative journalist and member of the P2 lodge, wrote an article alleging that Moro had been murdered by those in the secret government, not by communist militants. Pecorelli wrote that the attacks were inspired by 'the logic of Yalta', referring to the Yalta conference between Britain and the Soviets towards the end of WW2.
Many Italian commentators attribute the tacit understanding between superpowers that each should have a free hand in their own sphere of influence to what they call the logic of Yalta. Just as, according to this interpretation, the Americans were unable to intervene when Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia or Hungary, so it was unthinkable that a Communist Party could be allowed to come to power in a country of the capitalist West. - globalresearch
Pecorelli was shot dead a few months after writing the article. In
November 2002 Giulio Andreotti, whose admission started the investigations into
Gladio, was convicted of
ordering the Mafia hit on Pecorelli, though this conviction was overturned a year
later and he never served any of the 24 year sentence due to an Italian legal
clause about the offences having been committed a long enough time ago.
Though a great many other bombings and suchlike have been connected by researchers to the Gladio project, the one that is perhaps most telling of all was at Bologna train station in August 1980. A bomb made of military grade explosive was left in a bin in one of the waiting rooms at the station. It killed 85 people and wounded hundreds, wrecking the station in the process.
The makings of the bomb came from an arsenal used by Gladio, the Italian wing of NATO's communist-resistance network, according to a parliamentary commission on terrorism. - Guardian
In the aftermath of the bombing, both left- and right-wing
terrorist groups claimed responsibility. A series of trials ensued, each
overturning or changing the convictions from the former. Eventually, the Court of
Cassation sentenced Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambo, the leaders of
the NAR, a right-wing group, to life imprisonment for carrying out the bombing.
Also convicted for diverting the investigation/perversion of justice were
General Pietro Musumeci, second in command in Italian military intelligence and
a member of Propaganda Due, the P2 lodge Pecorelli also belonged to, and Licio Gelli, grand
master of that lodge, along with two other SISMI agents who were also members of
Gelli is a fascinating man. A former Blackshirt under Mussolini, he had fought in the Spanish Civil War supporting Franco. He was involved in Project Paperclip, spiriting the Nazi scientific and intelligence apparatus out of the country at the end of WW2. In the early years of the cold war he was a double agent working for the KGB and CIA. He became an elite financier, and was the architect of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and in the 1960s joined and eventually became leader of P2, a neo-fascist masonic order deeply involved in Italian corruption including Gladio. Gelli describes his amusing prison break in an interview here.
According to Pecorelli, the lodge was funded by the CIA. It had existed for over a century but was only really made public in May 1981 when a raid on Gelli's house yielded a membership list. In the wake of the discovery the Italian Prime Minister and his cabinet resigned and a police chief shot himself. The list contains many significant names, including Roberto Calvi - 'God's Banker', Silvio Berlusconi - media mogul and multiple term Italian PM, the Prince of Naples, Vito Miceli, former head of Army Intelligence, the owner and the director of Corriere della Sera - a popular newspaper, Giuseppe Belmonte - SISMI agent and NAR member and of course Licio Gelli and Mino Pecorelli. There are numerous others connected with government, the military or intelligence services, the judiciary, the media. The full list is here.
Also found in Gelli's house was US Army Field Manual 30-31B, an appendix to manual 30-31 titled 'Stability Operations, Intelligence - Special Fields'. It is a 'smoking gun' in Ganser's academic work on the Gladio operation, having first emerged in Turkey in the 1970s. Turkey had its own secret army, so the document may well have been given to them as part of their training. The section that particularly concerns Ganser reads:
There may be times when HC governments show passivity or indecision in the face of Communist or Communist-inspired subversion, and react with inadequate vigor to intelligence estimates transmitted by U.S. agencies. Such situations are particularly likely to arise when the insurgency seeks to achieve tactical advantage by temporarily refraining from violence, thus lulling HC authorities into a state of false security. In such cases, U.S. Army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince the HC governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger and of the necessity of counteraction.
To this end, U.S. Army intelligence should seek to penetrate the insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of forming special action groups among the more radical elements of the insurgency. When the kind of situation envisaged above arises, these groups, acting under U.S. Army intelligence control, should be used to launch violent or nonviolent actions according to the nature of the case. - FM30-31B
One thing that is important to remember is that these are directions for 'stabilisation operations', making this another example of the tactic of instigating conflict in order to maintain or enhance a position of control. Also, the document notes how the necessity for provoking violence is 'particularly likely to arise' when the left ceases using violence and embraces the electoral process, which echoes Pecorelli's allegations regarding the logic of Yalta and the assassination of Aldo Moro. However, the US maintains that the document is a forgery, stating on America.gov ('telling America's story'):
The U.S. Army did have a Field Manual (FM) 30-31 in the 1970s, and a Supplement A to it existed, but not a Supplement B. The purported Supplement B was a forgery apparently concocted by the Soviet disinformation service. - America.gov
The article goes on to cite the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing in February 1980:
In February 1976, a photocopy of the bogus FM 30-31B was left on the bulletin board of the Embassy of the Philippines in Bangkok, Thailand with a cover note from an anonymous concerned citizen. This is a typical Soviet bloc practice. - America.gov
worth pointing out here that this is also typical practice for journalists, officials and other whistleblowers. However, this is the same website that said of John Perkins revelatory first hand account:
This appears to be a total fabrication. - America.gov
More importantly, Ganser does offer a rebuttal to the notion that the document is a Soviet forgery, in his excellent book NATO's Secret Armies:
Yet as secrets can never be kept forever the Turkish newspaper Baris in 1973 in the midst of a whole range of mysterious acts of violence and brutality which shocked the Turkish society announced the publication of the FM 30-31. Thereafter the Baris journalist who had come into the possession of the secret manual disappeared and was never heard of again. Despite the apparent danger Talat Turhan two years later published a Turkish translation of the top-secret FM 30-31, whereupon publications of the US terror manual appeared also in Spain and Italy. After the discovery of the secret NATO armies across Europe researchers started to investigate the direct link between FM 30-31 and the stay behind armies.
Allan Francovich in his BBC documentary on Gladio presented a copy of FM 30-31B to senior US officials. Ray Cline, Deputy CIA Director for Intelligence in the 1960s, confirmed: 'This is an authentic document.' William Colby, CIA Director from 1973 to 1976 and closely involved with operation Gladio and the stay-behinds in numerous countries of Western Europe, in front of the camera, was reluctant to face this dark side of his country and claimed: 'I have never heard of it.' Also CIA propaganda expert Michael Ledeen shed away from the sensitive document and claimed it to be a Soviet forgery. While Licio Gelli, the Italian Freemason and leader of the anti-Communist P2 frankly told Francovich: 'The CIA gave it to me.' - Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies
Now, regardless of the origin of the document, if the CIA were giving it to their operatives and collaborators then in effect it becomes authentic, as its use is authentic. Then there's the fact that Ganser repeatedly asked NATO about Gladio, the Allied Clandestine Committee and the Clandestine Planning Committee only to have NATO deny the existence of those Committees. Unfortunately for NATO's PR, the Italian investigation had unearthed a 1959 SIFAR (Italian intelligence) document referencing Gladio, the ACC and the CPC. On top of that FM30-31B has the same tone and philosophy as the definitely authentic Northwoods documents, and more recently the reports on the creation of P2OG, the Proactive Preemptive Operations Group. As commented by Frank Morales:
According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization--the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)"--would actually carry out secret missions designed to provoke terrorist groups into committing violent acts. The P2OG, a 100-member, so-called "counter-terrorist" organization with a $100-million-a-year budget, would ostensibly target "terrorist leaders," but according to P2OG documents procured by Arkin, would in fact carry out missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among "terrorist groups"--which, according to the Defense Secretary's logic, would subsequently expose them to "counter-attack" by the good guys. In other words, the plan is to execute secret military operations (assassinations, sabotage, "deception") which would intentionally result in terrorist attacks on innocent people, including Americans--essentially, to "combat terrorism" by causing it.- Morales, globalresearch
reports of western covert actions in Iraq being to all intents and purposes
identical to terrorism, I'm left wondering whether the Gladio network was shut
down, or merely given a new name. Whether or not the operatives and their
handlers are the same people is, ultimately, irrelevant. The point is that this
strategy continues today, in the supposedly post-ideological world. Even with
the fall of the Soviet system, communism as a political philosophy is not dead.
If anything, dissident political philosophies have benefited from the end of the
cold war as they no longer need to feel the need to identify with or against the
communists. So, the strategy of inducing fear and seeking to control the
borders, the extremes of the conflict is still necessary for the powerful to
keep hold of their power.
We can see this in an embarrassing episode for US security officials from last summer. Since 9/11, they've stepped up the testing of airport security by, among other things, taking fake bombs onto planes. Despite the increase in security from the liquid bomb plot that turned out to not be, and the inspectors being given descriptions of the fake bomb smugglers, they still missed between 60% and 75% of the phony explosives. This can only mean one thing - that US airport security is so bad that if there were large numbers of terrorists out there trying to smuggle bombs on board, they almost definitely would have succeeded by now. The corollary of this is that there can't be a large number of terrorists out there trying to bomb planes.
You can watch Allan Francovich's three part BBC documentary on Gladio below, or download them here. Interviewees include Felice Casson, Roger Lallemand - the head of the Belgian inquiry into Gladio, Licio Gelli and Vincenzo Vinciguerra.
If you found this article informative and useful then you should check out the Investigating the Terror Operation Gladio e-book document collection.