Friday, August 18, 2006

Gladio & terrorism

Bet you didn't know about this.

Cambridge Clarion: Observer, 7 June 1992,:
"GLADIO Europe's best kept secret

They were the agents who were to 'stay behind' if the Red Army overran Western Europe. But the network that was set up with the best intentions degenerated in some countries into a front for terrorism and far-right political agitation.Hugh O'Shaughnessy reports.
Hugh O'Shaughnessy, Observer, 7 June 1992, pages 53-54

The codename was Gladio and it was the most ambitious and secret operation in Western Europe since the Second World War. But now, with the Cold War over, it is ending on notes of pure farce."

[. . .]

One day in 1984 a party of US Marines set out from an airport north of London. Highly trained men, each fluent in one Eastern European language, they parachuted to their secret rendezvous and were met by an agent, a local bank manager, who offered them guidance. They lived off the land for a fortnight, hiding from the local civilian population as they stalked towards their prey. Steathily they approached their objective and opened fire, killing a warrant officer. One of the Marines lost an eye in the operation.

[ . . . ]

The object of the exercise had been twofold: to jolt the local Belgian police into a higher state of alert and, no less important, to give the impression to the population at large that the comfortable and well-fed Kingdom of Belgium was on the brink of red revolution. Guns used in the operation were later planted by a shadowy Belgian intelligence outfit in the Brussels squat used by a Communist splinter group.

In Belgium, for instance, all evidence points to the fact that a US-born Gladio agent, Wood Gardiner, infiltrated the Belgian pacifist movement and persuaded some of its members in 1984 to steal shells from the missile base at Florenne. When the theft was discovered it did the pacifist cause no good at all.

More important were the apparently random shootings in Belgian supermarkets which ended with a particularly nasty incident in 1983 in the town of Aalst, a few miles from Brussels, which became known as the Brabant-Walloon massacres. Senator Lallemand has linked the killings to 'the work of foreign governments or of intelligence services working for foreigners, a terrorism aimed a destabilising democratic society'.

[ . . . ]

Meanwhile, at least one British family still mourns a victim of the darkest chapter of Gladio, a series of bombings a decade ago which were at first attributed to the Red Brigades.

The largest, at Bologna railway station on 2 August 1980, claimed 86 lives. Harry Mitchell, a civil servant, and his wife Shirley, of Bloomfield Road, Bath, lost their daughter Catherine, who was 21. She died in the blast with her 22-year-old fiance John Kolpinski, from Bristol. Her body was so disfigured that it was identified only by the Miss Selfridge label on her blouse.

The explosion was part of a series of atrocities which left at least 300 dead as bombs went off in the Piazza Fontana in Milan, on trains at Brescia and on the Naples-Milan express in a tunnel south of Bologna. The Mitchells are outraged that Britain is refusing to extradite back to Italy one of those sought for questioning about the crime, Roberto Fiore.

Fiore, now 33, has lived freely here in Pimlico since 1980, running a prosperous accommodation agency and mixing in extreme right, anti-semitic circles. There is strong suspicion that MI6 is grateful for information Fiore was able to give them about Lebanon, where he learnt some of his terrorist techniques, and is blocking efforts to question him.

The Mitchells got no satisfaction when they wrote about the Fiore affair to Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street in June 1985. But the other day they were been brought up to date on British government thnking. On 29 March, Sir Patrick Mayhew, then Attorney-General, explained in a letter to the Mitchells' MP, Chris Patten, how British justice could do nothing about sending Fiore back.

The Italian railway bombings were blamed on the extreme Left as part of a strategy to convince voters that the country was in a state of tension and that they had no alternative to voting the safe Christian Democrat ticket. All clues point to the fact that they were masterminded from within Gladio.

[ . . . ]

Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a convinced Fascist who was a member of the extremist Ordine Nuovo organisation and had close links with Gladio, has testified to us of his personal involvement in such schemes. Now serving a long sentence in Parma prison for his part in the killing of three carabinieri in the village of Peteano, he talked despite the Italian authorities' efforts to prevent access to him.

'You had to attack civilians, the people, women children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game,' he said. 'The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the State to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the State cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.'

Vinciguerra recounted how the authorities covered the traces after the killing of the three carabinieri. 'A whole mechanism came into action - that is, the carabinieri, the Minister of the Interior, the customs services and the military and civilian intelligence services accepted the ideological reasoning behind the attack.'

The commanders of the carabinieri foiled a thorough investigation of the Peteano affair for years, he claims. 'It was more convenient to cover it up than to turn on those who killed their comrades. All the members of the Red Brigades were known by the police, the carabinieri and the intelligence bureaux and on one made nay attempt to stop them. So you see, "revolutionary warfare" should not be seen as being directed against Western democracy but rather as the means of defence adopted by Western democracies and implemented cynically and indiscriminately.'

[ . . . ]

The gravest charge against the Gladio project is that it co-operated in - or at least did nothing to prevent - the kidnapping and killing of Aldo Moro, a former Prime Minister of Italy. Moro, a Catholic and Christian Democrat, was known for his view that the Italian Communist Party should be brought closer to government.

It is well known that Moro died in March 1978 at the hand of the Red Brigades. What is less understood, but borne out by a number of well-informed witnesses, is that the Red Brigades were deeply infiltrated by Western intelligence. At the time of Moro's killing the principal leaders of the Brigades were in prison. Colonel Oswald Le Winter of the CIA, who served as a US liaison officer with Gladio, goes as far as to say that the planning staff of the Brigades was made up of intelligence agents. From his prison cell, Vinciguerra agrees.

How was it that Colonel Guglielmi, a senior figure in Italian intelligence, was on hand in the Via Fani in Rome when Moro was kidnapped and his body-guards murdered? Why did Guglielmi say he was there by accident on the way to lunch with a friend when the kidnapping happened at nine o'clock in the morning? Why was it that the bullets which killed the bodyguards were of a type only used by the Italian special services?

As Gladio winds down and governments on the continent declare they have shut down their parts of the operation, the silence in Whitehall and the almost total lack of curiosity among MPs about an affair in which Britain was so centrally involved are remarkable. Perhaps John Major's new commitment to more openness in government will eventually produce some answers to the many Gladio riddles.


3 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

Nice recent posts

Friday, August 18, 2006 at 3:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger steve said...

thanks. I don't know where you find the time to write all your posts. It takes me forever just to cut and paste...!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:49:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Meatball One said...

My rule of thumb...never more than 15 minutes per day writing and posting at SMC - including gratuitous pornification.

Of course it helps that I for professional reasons have to plough through tonnes of journals and newspapers each day. That alone represents 3 hours in itself but doesn't count towards rolling meatballs at SMC. Call it convenient accounting.

Monday, August 21, 2006 at 8:37:00 AM PDT  

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