Welcome to the fifth installment in my examination of the notorious Propaganda Due Masonic lodge. Over the years the Italian secret society, often referred to as P2 for short, has been linked to a host of outrages, including terrorism, drug trafficking and political assassinations. With the first installment of this series I considered the background of the lodge's Venerable Grand Master, former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. In part two I considered P2's links to series of terror bombings that rocked Italy in a period known as the "Years of Lead" as well as the lodge's links to the Lisbon-based terror network known as Aginter Press.
With the third installment I moved along to P2's role in what is commonly referred to as "the Great Vatican Banking Scandal" or the "Banco Ambrosiano affair" by considering the backgrounds of three of the key players in the scandal, Bishop Paul Marcinkus, and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi. Two of these men, Sindona and Calvi, were definite members of P2 (Marcinkus was also suspected of membership) while Sindona also had known links to the Mafia. There's also compelling evidence that Calvi and possibly even Marcinkus had such ties.
With the fourth and most recent installment I noted the role that Sindona and especially Calvi's financial empires played in financing various right wing dictatorships in Latin America as well as the Polish Solidarity movement. It is highly likely that these activities were conducted with the knowing approval of both the Vatican and the US intelligence community. The Iran-Contra affair played into these intrigues, as noted in that installment.
When last I left off I raised the possibility that the Zurich branch of the Rothschild Bank had been used as a source of funding by Calvi for these endeavors. Whether this was done with the approval of the notorious Rothschild banking dynasty or represented some kind of savage burn on the part of Calvi and company has long vexed researchers. Lucien Gregoire, in his excellent Murder in the Vatican, took a skeptical line:
"In another transaction, Ambrosiano transferred funds from and... account which bought shares in a Rothschild bank. Calvi manipulated the value of the shares which resulted in a $142 million swell in Ambrosiano and an offsetting deflation in Rothschild.
"Courts determined Calvi... siphoned off the Ambosiano 'swell' to the dictator Somoza in Nicaragua and ruling regimes in El Salvador/Guatemala to suppress the revolution of the poor. It was this deal that caused some to believe Rothschild directors had been involved in the Roberto Calvi murder – never proved in the courts."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pg. 351)
|Rothschild coat of arms|
"Other blasphemies requiring attention included those made by Swiss banker Jurg Heer. He had been credit manager of Rothschild Bank in Zürich, responsible for managing the Bellatrix account until fired by his superiors. Put out by his rough handling, Heer lifted the lid on Pandora's box. He claimed that in 1982 he had received a phone call from Licio Gelli requesting him to fill a suitcase with $5 million in bank notes and handed over to two men who arrived at the bank in an armor-plated Mercedes. Heer said he later asked for an explanation. 'The money was for the killers of Calvi,' he was told.
"Rothschild Bank, it should be remembered, was where $150 million transferred from Banco Ambrosiano's offshore network to Bellatrix, a member of the United Trading family, became side-tracked. Less than 20 per cent of that money was recovered by the Ambrosiano liquidators. Heer's revelation raised an interesting question: were Calvi's killers paid with monies belonging to United Trading?
"Heer was questioned by an examining magistrate in Zürich and then disappeared. He was last seen in Madrid around Christmas 1992. He purchased an air ticket for Thailand, where charges against his credit card ended a few months later. Heer's disclosure raised considerable interest among investigators working on the Calvi case. They would like to interview the banker. But there is real concern that he may no longer be alive."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Htchison, pgs. 350-351)
United Trading was one of Banco Ambrosiano's offshore shells. As noted above, it is much more likely that this money was funneled to Somoza than used in part to pay off the killers of Calvi. Still, some researchers have insisted that the $142 million was being held in the Rothschild Bank in Zurich and that there was a struggle between Calvi and Gelli for control of it.
I shall get to this possibility in a moment, but first I series of bizarre robberies that unfolded beginning in the mid-1980s and linked to Calvi must be addressed. These happenings may have in part led to the death of a former member of the Rothschild family.
"There are important clues to be found in the chain of high-end bank robberies that began in London on 25th November 1983. Each one could be related in some manner to Calvi. The robbery of the Brinks Mat high-security warehouse at London's Heathrow Airport stunned the UK by its sheer audacity. In all, diamonds and precious metals worth £26 million were seized. Evidence presented in court insisted the thieves were shocked by three tonnes of gold (with strange elasticity, ten tonnes according to other accounts) which they found awaiting them. This is unlikely. What is quite certain is that a fencing operation on that scale would amount to a considerable challenge; but for the Italian Mafia, and particularly the master smuggler and fencer 'Toni' Chichiarelli, a fairly straightforward prospect. Kenneth Noye, a legendary South London criminal with affiliations to the US and Italian Mafioso, was sent down to serve fourteen years for handling the looted gold. He was released after serving only eight years (although later re-imprison for murder). The Brinks Mat investigation was confounded from the start by an internal civil war and rampant corruption raging within Scotland Yard. A significant number of well-placed officers had fallen under the sway of criminal gangs, to such an extent that inquiries like Brinks Mat were mostly conducted away from the Yard's premises. In one bizarre episode, Noye stabbed to death an undercover officer he found lurking in his back garden, yet he escapes scot-free on grounds of self-defense. The rather lame excuse was offered that most of the stolen bullion was buried somewhere, or melted down to make jewelry. Yet the political undertones connecting the London raid, and two more that followed, indicated a chain that led directly to Rome. Documents relating to Calvi, Banco Ambrosiao and the Institute of Religious Works were discovered missing when the investigators moved in.
"Four months later the Brinks Securmark safe deposit centre in Rome was hit (on 24th March 1984) by the gang led by Chichiarelli, posing as members of the Red Brigades. Brinks is an international company of long-standing, specialising in the transit of high-value cargoes and sensitive documents. Its general practice is to organize franchise partnerships in the countries where it operates. One of the founders of Securmark, precursor of the Brinks operation in Rome, was Mark Antinuci, a US citizen and partner of Michele Sindona in the Daily American, a chain of US-based local newspapers. A business partner of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, a Yugoslav called Stefano Falez, was on the board of Brinks in the mid-seventies. Another figure connected with Brinks Securmark was Luigi Mennini, one time executive director of the Vatican's private bank. Mennini was a member of P2. He was regarded as Calvi's general bag carrier within the IOR..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 228-229)
But back to the matter at hand. Continuing with Cottrell:
"The firm's legendary watertight secrecy in shifting high value cargoes and sensitive documents exercised a natural appeal to Sindona. His private investment bank was among Brinks Securmark's first clients. So were the IOR and Banco Ambrosiano, forming with Sindona's private operations the troika of bank subsequently exposed as rotten to the core. Three days after the raid, Sindona – by now repatriated from the US – was sentenced to 25 years in an Italian jail for a string of bank frauds. So, was this the Mob's typical crossword puzzle signpost clue that by hook or by crook, they intended to recover everything that Michele Sindona, Roberto Calvi, and Paul Marcinkus had stolen from them? I suspect the answer is yes, with qualifications. The real aim of the raid led by such a prominent neofascist, and Gladio affiliate to boot, was to recover a host of compromising documents relating to Calvi, his activities within the Vatican and the death of the journalist Mino Pecorelli. Equally, the 15 to 20 billion lire difference that Chichiarelli claimed to have pocketed was the reward money for pulling off the successful raid.
"On 12th July 1987 the Knightsbridge safe deposit vaults in London were robbed by an Italian neofascist, Valerio Viccei. He was a colleague in Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari with Roberto Fiore, who was busily assembling a business fortune in the UK at that time. Italian neofascist breaking into supposedly closely-guarded high security premises in the UK are a decidedly rare species, particularly when they are connected to figures such as Sergio Vaccari Agelli. He was an Italian art dealer based in London who enjoy business and political contacts with Chichiarelli, Licio Gelli – and Roberto Calvi. Ageli was the last person to see Calvi alive, at the Chelsea Cloisters suites, where the disgraced banker was roosting. Agelli was also connected to the disappearance and murder of Jeanette May Bishop, the divorced socialite wife of Baron Evelyn Rothschild , a member of the iconic Jewish banking and investment clan. She and her local guide disappeared late on 29th November 1980, during a house-hunting expedition near Macerata, an ancient city on central Italy's Adriatic coast. Their well-hidden bodies were discovered by boar hunters two years later, entirely devoured by wild animals down to the bones. After the usual leisurely trawl of the evidence, the Italian authorities concluded the pair were murdered, by whom remains unsolved. A link was traced between Bishop and a robbery at Christie's auction rooms in Rome in 1980. It was organized jointly by that well-known pair of connoisseurs and are traffickers, Sergio Agelli and Chichiarelli. The story ran that some of the valuables found their way to Bishop, whether purloined or as a present from Agelli, with whom she evidently had become intimate in London. A middle-aged divorcee, she was often in desperate need of money. But there is an alternative explanation.
"The Zürich branch of the Rothschilds became hopelessly entangled in a typically convoluted web of financial transactions devised by Calvi, on behalf of P2. The intention was to acquire the Rizzoli newspaper group. The bonus would be the control of Italy's most prestigious newspaper, the Milan-printed Corriere Della Sera. This was Calvi's last big throw of the dice, and undoubtedly formed a significant marker on the trail that led to Blackfriars Bridge. He created a magic carousel through which Ambrosiano lent $142 million to a Panamanian shell company called Bellatrix SA, which then deposited the funds at Rothschilds in Zürich to pay for the shares. That was the straightforward part. Bellatrix was then to pay an inflated price for the Rizzoli shares – ten times market value – in order to generate a cash windfall for the real bidders, who were P2 represented by Gelli and Calvi. The dynamite element came from the claims circulating in Rome and Milan that the $142 million was in part the proceeds of the Christie's robbery, and thus mob property. The pack of cards came tumbling down when Italian regulators torpedoed the deal on a technicality. The bid was to be made through Ambrosiano's Luxembourg office, and that made it a foreign acquisition. The fatal torpedo was actually fired by the sitting premier, Arnaldo Forlani, a weak puppet standing in for the Divine Julius Andreotti.
"Il Divo had decided that Licio Gelli had grown too big for his boots and it was time to cut him down to size. The Rizzoli deal would have given Gelli and P2 commanding influence in the event that il piano di rinascita democratica had succeeded. There was now a two-horse race between Gelli and Calvi to get at the hoard stashed in Zürich. With the whole scheme dropped on the floor, Calvi decided that the $142 million sitting in Zürich was his own private 'reserve fund.' His final destination was supposed to be Zürich, not London. Sergio Agelli knew every nut and bolt of this project. If he had divulged the details to Jeanette May Bishop, she might have been tempted to blackmail her former husband's family firm, given her appetite for money. This would be quite sufficient to earn the attention of Gladio subcontractors organized by Italian secret services."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 229-231)
There's a lot to comment on in the above paragraphs. For starters, this researcher believes that it is unlikely that Calvi and Gelli were attempting to rip off Mafia funds, especially as compelling evidence points to these funds ending up in Latin America, as noted in part four.
Calvi's predecessor, Michele Sindona, almost surely laundered drug money for the Mafia (Sindona's extensive ties to organized crime were addressed in part three) using the Vatican bank and it is likely that this practice continued under Calvi. It is also highly probable a certain portion of this money was skimmed off so that it could be used to fund Gelli's operations in Latin America. The Mafia was almost surely aware of this and more than happy to oblige. After all, drug money couldn't get much cleaner than being filtered through the Vatican banking network and if they had to pay a kind of "sin tax" for this service it is likely they would have done so with little arm twisting.
And what of the Vatican? Would high ranking officials collaborate with men such as Sindona and Calvi well after their criminal ties had begun to be exposed out of sheer greed? The Vatican has been accumulating wealth of centuries and has put those funds to good use. There are likely any number of lucrative activities for the Curia bureaucracy to make a generous retirement fund out that aren't as taboo as laundering drug money (consider, for instance, this recent instance of embezzlement).
It is therefore, in this researcher's opinion, unlikely that the Vatican and its hierarchy would have exposed themselves to such a racket unless they were raising funds for something that could have been even more damaging to the Church... something like procuring arms for various Latin America dictators so that they could commit acts resembling genocide, for instance. Drug money would be idea for such a scenario.
And as for the Rothschilds, scions of the Anglo-American establishment that they are, it is likely that they were aware that the funds taken from their Zurich branch was ear marked for arms and were okay with this. If Jeanette May Bishop, the ex-wife of Baron Evelyn Rothschild, was aware of such intrigues, then she certainly would have had compelling blackmail material to use against the iconic banking dynasty. This seems like a more compelling reason for her death than knowledge of the Zurich branch assisting Gelli and Calvi in ripping off the Mob. It would also make for a far more compelling reason for the Rothschild family to want Bishop and Calvi dead.
"The action began when Matthews and eight other men pledge their sacred honor and declared war against the Zionist Occupied Government in a makeshift ceremony at Matthew's Metaline Falls homestead. The first nervous stickup occurred on October 28, 1983, at an adult bookstore in Spokane, Washington, with a total take of $300. Two months later a shifting cast of characters robbed $25,000 from a Seattle bank and $3,600 from a Spokane bank. In between they took $8000 from a Shoney's restaurant courier and started counterfeiting $50 bills. In March 1984 they hit their first armored car and came away with $43,000. A month later they targeted the same Seattle car, this time clearing $230,000 in cash. On April 29, a synagogue in Boise was bombed.
"On June 1 they murdered one of their own. Two gang members took Walter West out in the woods, hit him on the head with a hammer, shot him, and buried him. They were afraid he would talk. His body was never recovered.
"On June 17 Matthews and three others gunned down a Denver Jewish radio talkshow host, Alan Berg, who was known for his on-air quarrels with anti-Semites. The murder was the basis for Eric Bogosian's play Talk Radio. Just one month later, on July 9, 1984, they staged the most successful heist, $3.6 million from a Brinks truck on the highway outside Ukiah, California."
(Blood and Politics, Leonard Zeskind, pg. 98)
|the aftermath of the Brinks robbery|
|Robert Jay Matthews|
Aryan Nations in turn had a host of curious connections, but for our purposes here one stands out: links to a certain international organization that was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair. At the time this organization was being fronted by General John Singlaub, an OSS veteran and long time fixture in the US intelligence community.
"The Canadian branch of WACL, the Canadian Freedom Foundation, headed by John Gamble, works closely with the U.S. Counsel for World Freedom (USCWF) and Singlaub. Together USCWF and the Canadian Freedom Foundation formed the North American regional unit of WACL (NARWACL). Gamble and Singlaub alternate as chair of NARWACL. Gamble was implicated in the Iran-Contra funding network when a firm for which he served as treasurer and director, Vertex Investments, was discovered to have invested in the arms sales to Iran through two of his partners. The Canadian Freedom Foundation (CFF) and Vertex both operate out of Gamble's law office.
"At least two CFF leaders are active anti-Semites: Pat Walsh is the Canadian correspondent for the quasi-Nazi Liberty Lobby newspaper the Spotlight and Paul Fromm helped found the neo-Nazi Western Guard.
"The Western Guard is led by John Ross Tyler, who served fifty-one months in detention for pro-Nazi activities during World War II. Taylor also leads Canadian contingents to Aryan Nations meetings, including a commemoration of the deaths of members of the Order, a paramilitary offshoot of Aryan Nations that engaged in robberies and murder in its effort to overthrow the U.S. Government."
(Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, Russ Bellant, pg. 67)
The WACL was quite similar to P2, but operated on an ever broader scale. There were of course ties between P2 and WACL, as was noted before in part two of this series. And here we see links between the WACL and Aryan Nations, which was used as a recruiting grounds for The Order. And what of Thomas Posey, the Iran-Contra arms trafficker operating in circles linked to The Order during the mid-1980s?
And of course there is rather striking similarities between the activities of The Order during this time and those of their neo-fascist counterparts in Italy during this time frame. In both instances, a good portion of the money looted on either side of pond was earmarked for redistribution amongst far right groups to support the armed struggle.
This is all highly suggestive, but nothing concrete. But there are certainly shockingly few degrees of separation between the above-mentioned Europe bank robberies and Matthews' crime spree in '83-'84. And with that, let us move along.
Finally, we come to Calvi's bizarre death:
"Calvi's zigzag escape route took in a private jet from Milan to Venice, thence a fast dash to Trieste by car, a brief respite in an Austrian ski chalet before turning up in Heathrow on a false passport. In Trieste, he picked up a pair of minders with gold carat mob connections. One was the widely feared gang boss Giuseppe 'Pippi' Calo, known as the Mob's Cashier, a man with a dedicated efficiency in setting overdue accounts. The last hours of Calvi's life were spent in the Chelsea Cloisters, frantically working the telephone. The by-now ex-chairman of Banco Ambrosiano was clearly facing an imminent deadline. Sometime during the evening of the 17th June, he stepped out in his usual expensive top had and favorite hand-made loafers. He was next seen suspended from an orange rope strung from builders' scaffolding beneath Blackfriars Bridge. As even the uninitiated generally know, orange is the keynote colour the Masonic Craft. Calvi's body was loaded with ballast, about forty kilos of stones stuffed into his pockets and bizarrely, his trouser flies. His calves' leather wallet contained £10,000 in sterling, Swiss francs, and Italian lira notes. His expensive though unwaterproofed Swiss watch stopped at just before 2 a.m., the point at which it was dipped in the water by the rising river tide. After 2:30 am, the level of the water would not have been sufficiently high to reach Calvi 's wrist.
"That suicide would demand amazing agility for an overweight sixty-two-year-old man suffering from poor eyesight and pronounced vertigo. In a statement of doubtless unintended irony, Superintendent John White of the London river police declared: 'The long and the short of it is that we do not know how he came to be at the end of that rope.' The scene of the crime was drenched with mystical significance. The bridge lies in the area of London where the black-capped Dominican friars establish themselves in the mid-1300s. Black is the colour most often associated with fascism."
(Gladio: NATO'S Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 232-233)
Here's bit more on the symbolism of Calvi's murder:
"The site of Calvi's demise immediately arouses suspicion. Members of various Masonic lodges in Italy where black robes and address each other as friar. 'Black friars' – fratelli neri – is an Italian nickname for Freemasons. The fact that masonry in the form of bricks was found on the body was deemed significant, as well as the Masonic oath stipulating that traitor should be 'roped down' in the proximity of the rising tide."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 170)While P2 undoubtedly wore black robes and referred to themselves as "black friars" this researcher has been unable to confirm whether or not this was common to Italian Freemasonry on the whole. All references linking Italian Freemasonry to the black friars label this researcher has found involve Calvi's murder and may well have confused the nickname and practices of P2 with those of the broader movement. This researcher is unaware of any other Masonic lodges that sported the bizarre, KKK-like robes P2 donned in their meetings. He has found at least one other curious reference to such an outfit involving another bizarre organization, however. But more on that in a future installment.
|the so-called "black friars" of P2|
The Dominicans are an interesting order. Founded by a Spanish priest known as Dominic de Guzman (now Saint Dominic), the order played a crucial role in the Inquisition during the Middle Ages. Saint Dominic was allowed to found his order in no small part due to the veal he displayed in persecuting the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. It is likely that the Dominican Order also played a key role in the "interrogations" of the Knights Templars as well.
|Dominican founder Saint Dominic|
Before moving along, its also interesting to note the appearance of the numbers 17 and 23 in conjunction with Calvi's death: he died on June 17th and the trial for his murder was not begun until 2005, 23 years later. His death occurred just six days before June 23, Midsummer's Night Eve (Christianized as St. John's Eve), historically one of the chief feast dates in pagan and Christian Europe. The numbers 17 and 23 have much mystical significance and were linked together by the great Robert Anton Wilson in his "phenomenon of 17 and 23." Much more on 17 and 23 can be found here while this researcher has done a write up on Midsummer's Night Eve before here. But moving along.
As for Calvi's trial, it was a farce from the get go. A ruling two years prior, in 2003, set the stage for the trail to ultimately be aborted:
"... In 2003, prosecutors made sure of this with a preliminary conclusion that even if Cosa Nostra had sufficient motives to kill Calvi, they also acted to prevent his blackmailing 'politico-institutional figures.' This was an oblique pointer to high-ranking members of P2 in the Vatican Bank. Marcinkus had already taken precautionary vows of silence and self-imposed internal exile in the papal statelet. From this moment he was known as 'the Prisoner of the Vatican.' Gelli was placed under investigation but escaped formal indictment, though not before he made matters hot for the Papacy by suggesting looted funds control by Calvi had found their way to Polish Solidarity. This was an accusation with strong foundations... Five charges were laid against the grand cashier Calo and Flavio Carboni, the second of the mob's ushers who escorted Calvi up to London. Carboni typified the extent of the unexposed iceberg beneath the case. He had a conviction for fraud at Banco Ambrosiano. He could be traced to associates with known connections to SISMI (military intelligence) and the Roman Magliana criminal gang implicated in the murder of Aldo Moro. Carboni's connections extended to General Giuseppe Santovito, the boss of SISMI military intelligence and a P2 affiliate bound up in so many political and terrorist scandals of the period.
"After twenty months hearing reams of evidence, the presiding judge, Mario Lucio d'Andria, suddenly aborted the trial for lack of evidence. He also reversed the earlier London verdict of suicide to 'murder by persons unknown.' This patently confusing and contradictory ruling at least offered a crumb of comfort to Calvi's family. But it drew gasps of astonishment from the legal profession and the critical media. It can only be explained by interference at the highest levels to halt the case before more damaging exposures rocked the Italian establishment. Italians composed a short list of suspects containing exactly two names: the P2 junior novitiate and serving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the coiled asp, Il Divo Andreotti, senator for life since 1991."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 233-234)
|Silvio Berlusconi, three time Italian prime minister and former P2 initiate|
Before wrapping it, a word should be said on the fate of Calvi's former partner, Michele Sindona. He clearly did not fare much better than Calvi:
"Michele Sindona was not around hear the final verdict on his old friend and ally. The serpent had long since struck his flapping tongue. Submitting to unrelenting pressure from Italian authorities, the US finally surrendered Sindona to the Italian judicial system for the crime of commissioning the murder of Georgio Ambrosoli, the lawyer investigating his bank frauds. He received a life sentence, which he proceeded to serve in the prison at Voghera in Lombardy, a peaceful small city renowned for its restoring sub-Alpine airs and fine lace. On the morning of 22nd March 1986, Sindona, now 66, portly and balding, drank his last cup of coffee, laced with potassium cyanide..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 234)
And with that I shall wrap up for now. As I have moved on to the topic of political assassinations connected with P2, the next installment will continue in that vein. But the figures are even more compelling --popes and statesmen. Stay tuned dear reader.