Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Curious Times of Ronald Stark Part VI


Welcome to the sixth installment in my examination of the infamous LSD baron Ronald Hadley Stark. With the first part of this series I briefly gave a rundown of Stark's pre-1969 endeavors before he emerged as a major player in the international LSD market after making contact with the legendary "hippie mafia" known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. With the second and third installments I broke down Stark's ties to the Brotherhood and their downfall as well as his links to the British LSD syndicate generally known as the "Microdot Gang." There were also a few odds and ends concerning Stark's obsession with Robert A Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and his failed attempt to recruit famed psychiatrist R.D. Laing into his operation.


With the fourth installment I chronicled the downfall of the Microdot Gang, Stark's arrest in Italy in 1975 and the ties he forged with the leadership of the notorious Marxist terror outfit the known as the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse, BR) while serving time in an Italian prison. With the fifth and most recent installment I considered the likelihood that the Red Brigades had been completely taken over by Western intelligence services shortly after Stark befriended Renato Curcio and the rest of the Brigade's original leadership as well as the group's involvement in the kidnapping and murder of former Italian prime minister and Christian Democrat Party leader Aldo Moro. This incident, shrouded in controversy, is essentially Italy's very own Kennedy assassination. As has been noted throughout this series, this researcher is greatly indebted to the groundbreaking article of Ronald Stark published on the blog Brainsturbator/Skilluminati several years ago and the reader is advised to check it out.

Anywho, let us continue with the Moro assassination. There has long been speculation that Stark played some type of role in this affair. The most overt indications of his involvement derive from the so-called "Lake Duchessa letter," a communication that was initially credited to the Red Brigades and announced Moro's murder. After Moro's kidnapping the Red Brigades had released six communication to authorities up to this point concerning the incident. This particular communication, however, was shortly revealed to be a fake and that Moro was in fact still alive at the time of its release. Both the origins and intent of this document have long baffled researchers. It is now, however, widely believed that the document was the work of a professional forger known as Toni Chichiarelli. Here's a bit about the incident in question:
"Numerous witnesses have linked the enterprising forger with a particularly important and obscure episode in the Moro kidnap. On 18 April 1978, the same day the fortuitous' discovery of the Red Brigades' Via Gradoli base, what appeared to be a seventh communique since the seizure of Aldo Moro was delivered to the authorities in Rome. It informed them of the 'execution... by "suicide"' of the Christian Democrat president and told them that they would find his body in Lake Duchessa in the mountainous Abruzzi region of central Italy. The document revealed a macabre sense of humor, declaring that this would be the first of a long series of 'suicides', which would 'no longer be the prerogative of the Baader-Meinhof Group'. From the outset it gave rise to skepticism. Some police officers were convinced from the start that it was not a genuine Red Brigades message, but scientific examination seemed to show that it had been written on the same typewriter as the previous communiques. A letter from the head of the scientific department of the Rome police, dated 18 April 1978, states that the lettering of the communique was 'exactly analogous to that found in the previous Red Brigades communiques.' It says the handwritten title, 'BRIGATE ROSSE', was different from that in previous communiques but suggests that this may have been because it was done in a hurry. In actual fact, the lettering is not exactly the same as in other BR communiques: the length of tail in the letter 'f', for example, is not the same, a difference immediately visible to the naked eye. Magistrates investigating the case have since come to believe that the police deliberately accredited a document which they knew to be false.
 "Despite the fact that the lake was covered in a thick layer of ice surrounded by undisturbed snow, a massive search was launched, with fire brigade frogmen being lowered into the freezing water through holes in the ice. Not surprisingly, nothing was found. A couple of days later the Red Brigades delivered their 'genuine' communique no. 7, denouncing the previous document as a fraud and a provocation. According to the new message, the fake was 'a lugubrious manoeuvre by the specialists in psychological warfare' and had been drawn up by 'Andreotti and his accomplices'. Given the impact on public opinion of the announcement of Moro's murder and of the mountain search, it is somewhat surprising that the Red Brigades only got round to denouncing the false communique after devoting the first eighty-six lines of their new missive to other matters.
 "It is vital to understand who was responsible for the false communique as in effect it constituted a trial run, testing public reaction to the news of Moro's death..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 253-254)
an image from the fruitless Lake Duchessa search
This false communique likely had a more pressing objective than testing the public response to news of Moro's death, however.
"At the peak of the Moro crisis, Chichiarelli personally circulated the famous forged 'seventh directive' of the Brigate Rosse, purportedly ordering the leadership to liquidate Moro. This was an essential element of the plan to affix the responsibility for the kidnapping and murder on the Brigate. 'Toni' knew perfectly well that Moro's kidnappers were the Banda, assisted with back-up from the Calabrian criminal clan known as 'Ndranagheta. In this controlled environment where the real and unreal bumped shoulders, there now appeared a Carabinieri secret service agent called Antonio Labruna. He devoted his professional life to disinfecting the Carabinieri SID special investigations unit to frustrate neofascist infiltrators. He suddenly received a strange tip-off from a Vatican informant at the height of the crisis Moro was being held at number 96, Via Gradoli, an apartment block in a well-to-do central district of the capital. It transpired that this building with its 26 apartments was owned by the state secret services. In the circumstances an especially interesting tenant was none other than Mario Moretti, reigning commandant of the Brigate Rosse, the man who was ultimately convicted for the killing of Moro. Co-incidence leans rather heavily. It is clearly of more than passing interest that the leader of Italy's notorious political bandits rented his flat in a block used by the secret services, at the peak of a state emergency attributed to Moretti himself. Moreover, there are strong claims that Moro actually was held in this same block at one point during captivity. The evidence accumulates that Moretti (the so-called second stage commander following the elimination of the original leadership) was 'steering' the Brigate into performing deeds favourable to the political machinations of the state..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger in the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 74-75)
Toni Chichiarelli
Indeed, as the whole apartment search incident is even more incredible than Cottrell is letting on. Here are some more details:
"Public prosecutor and Andreotti co-defendant, Claudio Vitalone, had suggested forging Red Brigades communiques so as to remove their guarantee of authenticity. But this particular expertly forged message diverted a large part of the security forces from the search for Moro and had the effect of 'testing' how the country would react to his death. Because the Brigades' members holding Moro recognized the hand of the State in the forgery, they became convinced that Moro's colleagues had decided to 'sacrifice' him rather than accede to their demands. But the reason for the forged message may have had a much more sinister motive. Earlier that same day, Moro's interrogator in the 'people's prison', Mario Moretti, escaped arrest yet again when a neighbor below the flat he was living on the Via Gradoli reported a leak of water from upstairs. The fire brigade arrived to find the bath running in what was evidently a terrorist hideout. Also found in the flat were the Alitalia uniforms worn by the gunmen on the Via Fani. Soon there was a huge police presence on the street, which alerted Moretti when he returned to the area, so he was able to escape.
 "The problem for the police was that they had been ordered to search the building some days earlier from a tip-off, but did not search that particular flat because no one answered the door! --even though the tip-off, from an unknown source, had precisely identified the building on the street. Another neighbor of the safe-house reported hearing Morse code transmissions coming from the flat...
 "It may be that the Lake Duchessa communique was not only a successful attempt to draw media attention away from Rome but also a warning to those running and protecting the kidnap hideout on the Via Camillo Montalcini that their 'luck' was running out."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 181-182)
So, to recap: Mario Moretti (who, as noted in the fifth installment, was widely believed to be an intelligence asset of someone) just happened to be living in an upscale apartment (despite being a Marxist revolutionary) in a building owned by the Italian secret services as the Moro kidnapping was unfolding. An anonymous tip had specifically identified this building as housing a terror safe house, When authorities went out there to investigate it, it was not searched... because no one answered the door (while the entire nation was in a state of emergency no less and tens of thousands of police were being used on a massive search).

Mario Moretti
Then, when they're called back a few days later due to a water leak, they find the airline uniforms warn by the kidnappers. But just as this discovery is made, the "Lake Duchessa letter" appears, and sends the bulk of Italian authorities on a wild goose chase involving a frozen lake in an isolated central region of Italy. So yes, this is quite a striking chain of "coincidences", but moving along.

So, what does Ronald Stark have to do with all of this? Well, it just so happens one of the revolutionaries he recruited as an informant while in Italy's prison system would take claim for the "Lake Duchessa letter" during the official investigation of the Moro kidnapping and murder:
"... 'Repentant' terrorist Patrizio Peci told the Moro Commission that a member of a minor left-wing group, Azione Rivoluzionaria (Revolutionary Action), had admitted responsibility for the communique while they were sharing a prison cell. The man involved was Enrico Paghera, and he in return confirmed Peci's account to the Moro Commission, explaining that the communique was a stratagem to relieve police pressure on Rome so that members of his group could leave the city. Much later, however, Paghera admitted in an interview with Panorama magazine (26 June 1988) that he had lied about this at the request of an unnamed carabiniere captain, who had approached him while he was in prison. Paghera added that the same officer had tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade his group to claim responsibility for the murder of Mino Pecorelli. He also claimed that he had become an informant of the Interior Ministry through the good offices of an American citizen whom he met in prison. The American was Ronald Stark..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 254)
Ronald Stark
Stark's recruitment of Paghera was addressed in part four as well. At any rate, by taking credit for the "Lake Duchessa letter", Paghera deflected blame from Toni Chichiarelli, a man with ties to organized crime, the neofascist underground and the Italian secret services. The fact that he was asked to take credit on behalf of his group for the murder of mud-racking journalist Mino Pecorelli is also interesting. Its possible one of Pecorelli's exposes in the aftermath of Moro's death may have alluded to another role Stark played in the kidnapping.
"... Stark's possible role in providing Curcio and other Red Brigade prisoners with a code system for secure communications. Stark appears to have had sufficient knowledge of cryptographic techniques to send messages to his Palestinian contacts, and he could no doubt have convinced his revolutionary fellow prisoners in Don Bosco jail of the effectiveness and security of his code system.
 "According to a claim at the time by the journalist, Mino Pecorelli, of Osservatore Politico, the Moro Crisis Committee was able to decipher Moretti's encrypted Morse signals during the operation. This must raise the question of whether or not Stark provided the means to discover the Moro kidnap hideout. Pecorelli was certainly well informed. Having resigned from the P-2 Lodge in 1977, he had, during the Moro kidnap the following year, met and interviewed several leading P-2 members including P-2 Grandmaster Licio Gelli and ex-secret service chiefs Generals Miceli and Maletti.
 "Senator Vittorio Cervone, a close friend of Moro, may have had Stark in mind when he was bold enough to suggest the Commission should investigate the Moro murder to assess 'whether it is true that the Red Brigades, when they wanted to use a secret code, adopted an old military cipher that could be known only to members of the secret service'.
 "He wanted to know if members of the secret services had learnt the location of the Red Brigades safe-house on the Via Camillo Montalcini where Moro was being held, but he decided to protect the kidnappers rather than free him"
 (Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 179-180)
Carmine "Mino" Pecorelli
The Moro Crisis Committee was mentioned in part five as well where it was noted that besides being staked with P2 members (who despised Moro) it also featured a representative from the US: Steve Pieczenik. Given that Pieczenik's then-boss, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had threatened Moro in 1974 after he raised the possibility of compromise with the Italian Communist Party (which happened to be what Moro was on the way to the Italian parliament to instigate when he was abducted), it seems rather unlikely Peczenik was especially concerned with Moro's survival either (to put it mildly).

in recent years Pieczenik has become a semi-regular guest of Alex Jones where he purports to make startling deep state revelations such as the Sandy Hook shooting being staged...
Is it possible then that Mario Moretti, who controlled the Red Brigades at the time of the Moro kidnapping and personally directed the operation, was using a cryptographic system provided by Stark? Both individuals seemingly dropped at least one hint that they were aware of one another:
"Among the many aliases used by Stark was the name Maurizio Borghetti. This sounds almost like a jocular reference to Mario Moretti, who himself used the alias Mario Borghi and sometimes the name Maurizio. Given Stark's access to inside information about the Red Brigades, his choice could well be more than mere coincidence..."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 315)
Indeed. And that brings us to one of the most striking allegations made against Stark among many, namely that he was in close personal contact with the man who actually directed the Moro kidnapping and murder.
"... A police report dated 16 May 1979 explains: the previous day, copies of a typewritten document were found in two telephone booths in Florence following anonymous phone calls to the local newspaper and to the ANSA news agency. The opening...:
 "'Please forgive my Italian, furthermore, I don't know how to type. Don't ask me either why a stranger should write such things only now; whether they are true or false. It's up to you to judge. This is not a confession but simply a true account of the facts. The man who really organized the Via Fani massacre and the kidnap of Aldo Moro is an Italian-American and a close friend of Ronald Stark (whom the police have been protecting so much). His name is David, born 18.3.1954 in San Diego, California, blue eyes, 1.77 metres tall, chestnut hair, average build, he sometimes wears a moustache, former marine in Vietnam with the rank of captain, then entered the Green Beret special forces. Most recently he was a military counsellor with Central Intelligence Defense in West Germany. David is the only one of the top directors who personally organized the Via Fani massacre and the kidnap of Aldo Moro together with other companions who are already known to the police. David, however, did not participate in the elimination of Aldo Moro. Most recently he has been living in Rome, but he generally lives in Rome, but he generally lives in Milan (he frequents the USIS library in Via Bigli I/A).'"
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 308-309)
the aftermath of Moro's abduction at Via Fani, which Stark's friend "David" allegedly directed
The man widely believed to be responsible for this bizarre message is the equally bizarre and enigmatic figure of Scotsman Martin Woodrow Brown. Here's a bit about Mr. Brown:
"... Brown, he was a former British Army cryptographer who had moved to America after World War Two and worked there as a civil engineer. His interest in political assassinations dates from the time he found himself in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot. In a letter passed by the media to the Rome Finance police, Brown wrote that he had studied the printed text of a paperback novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, by Jimmy Breslin. He had then related it to other information in his possession and 'found a list of anarchist assassinations, partially concealed, by resorting to a system suggested to me in Manhattan in 1956-1958, at the time of the book's publication. Others [unspecified] provided the ideas... adding the list of the assassinations'.
 "Through the use of 'encoded anagrams', Brown believed he had discovered in the next of the novel 40 names of persons he believed were assassination targets. These included Jacques Chaine of Credit Lyonnaise, who had been shot to death by a 'lone-nut' anarchist in 1976; Aldo Moro (also dead by this time); and, bizarrely, a number of racing drivers. Willan thought that the list of racing drivers might have been a coded hit list for bankers and politicians and that the mention of the Chaine murder in Paris was a possible pointer towards the Hyperion Language School. Strangely, Martin Brown, even though he had the appearance of a tramp, and wrote letters which were garbled, confused and riddled with contradictory assertions, seems to have had no trouble persuading senior officials to listen to him.'
 (Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 175-176)

The Hyperion language school was of course addressed in depth in the fifth installment of this series. The above-mentioned Willan is researcher Philip Willan, whose groundbreaking Puppetmasters has been quoted throughout this series and which David Black was surmising in the above quote. Black, who has easily written the most in depth account of Ronald Stark's life, found these allegations, allegedly made by Brown (its never been proven conclusively that Brown was who left the note implicating Stark) to be highly dubious at best. He stated:
"A man named in the alleged letter from Brown as 'David', a close associate of Stark, had, it claimed, recently been a military counsellor in West Germany with 'Central Intelligence Defense', a name which sounds like a jumbling up of two separate American agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. 'David' was described as a 'former marine in Vietnam with the rank of captain'. Willan misses the possibility that the name 'David' was chosen because the conspiracy-hungry journalists could be relied upon to make a connection with the mention of a David (also missing a surname) in a letter seized by Italian police following Stark's arrest in 1975 which discussed this person's connections in Amsterdam. Willan thinks David may have been David Linker, who like Simon Walton was British and worked as Stark's assistant. Neither Linker nor Walton were ever traced. In any case, Linker was English, not American...
 "In considering Brown's statements, there appears to be no actual proof that he held to any of the theories attributed to him. There were only unsigned statements and reports concerning his personal collection of press cuttings, which showed he was interested in conspiracies but which had been destroyed by British Embassy officials after his death. All of the accounts of what he supposedly believed were relayed by people who were hardly disinterested parties.
 "Among these were: two members of a far-right Masonic conspiracy (Ferracuti, who played a crucial role in the State's handling of the Moro affair, and Semarari); two professional Mafiosi (Cutolo and Casillo); and carabiniere General Ferrara --who claims, in any case, only to have acted as a go-between on Brown's behalf.
 "It seems then that Semarari, Ferracuti and Cutolo used the disturbed old man to cast doubt on the soundness of prosecutions in which they themselves were becoming entangled. The splashing of bizarre allegations about Stark in Brown's alleged letter, combined with his reported meanderings on military cryptography and the 'hidden' list of racing drivers in the novel, tended to discourage any rational probing into Stark's career or the issue of the codes used by the terrorists during the Moro kidnap."
 (Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 178-179)
researcher Philip Willan
Things are not quite this cut and dry, however. Willan provides some more compelling details about this "David":
"... Brown stated that David, who was born in 1954, was a captain in the Marines in Vietnam only a decade later. Either the date of birth was wrong or the Marine captain was someone else. What is true, though, is that Stark had a close friend called David. Witnesses have spoken of seeing Stark with an American named David in Lebanon. They described him as blond, aged twenty-three to twenty-four, and having a passport in the name of Emilio Messaggio. This could well be Brown's Italo-American, as it would not have been easy for David to assume the identity of an Italian unless he either had Italian blood or spoke the language perfectly. David also appears to have used the identity of David Mears, born in Bradford, UK, on 8 November 1952. An Englishman named John Mears, born 23 September 1949, was authorized to have access to Stark's security deposit box at the Union de Banques Suisses in Lugano in 1975. The man in question may also have used the name David Linker. Stark's Parisian lawyer, John Crawford, who was also on the board of directors of his Belgian drug laboratory, told the US Inland Revenue Service agents in 1972 that a number of things led him to become suspicious about the nature of the Le Clocheton Laboratory. One of them was the character of the laboratory director, David Linker, which seemed inappropriate for someone supposedly running a research laboratory. Crawford described Linker as being more a 'man of action' than a research scientist..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 314-315)

Thus, there are eye witness accounts of Stark with an American named David in his mid-20s during this period. Nor has it been definitely proven if this David Linker was actually British, or merely posing as a Brit (as the David mentioned in the alleged Brown letter was presumably posing as an Italian) when he worked in Stark's French laboratory. In point of fact, there is very little known about this figure. Stephen Abrams, the American founder of the British cannabis lobby group known as SOMA and who personally knew Stark in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was unconvinced by Black's dismissal of the David angle as well. In 1998 he had this to say about Linker:
"In Italy it is widely believed that Stark and his lieutenant David Linker organised the Moro kidnapping. This accusation has resurfaced in response to the abortive trial of Andreotti...
 "I can  add some information about the whereabouts of David Linker, who is currently the object of as supposed Interpol search. Two years ago Linker was living in Holland, where he retrained as a market gardner."
Abrams
So what are we to make of these allegations? While they seem improbable on the surface there was clearly something very suspect going on during Stark's time in Italy. But to grasp just how suspect we must consider some of the other company he kept in Italy during the 1970s besides leftist radicals. Stay tuned.


2 comments:

  1. Your blog has been my research guide for months. I just read Puppetmasters, am reading the Yankee Cowboy War, etc...

    Just want to say I picked up Daniele Ganser's and Richard Cottrell's book on Gladio and they were night and day. Ganser's is a more sober historical account and Cottrell's reads like hyperbolic tabloid conspiranoia. Guess which one is for sale on Alex Jones' site?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anon-

    Sorry for taking so long to respond.

    I completely agree about Cottrell's book. Some of his research is good but it needs to be heavily vetted. And that his book is promoted by AJ is hardly surprising as it contains several cringe worthy citations to Prison Planet.

    And of course the Ganser book remains at a high price, making it even more tempting for many individuals to simply pick up Cottrell's book when researching Gladio...

    -Recluse

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