Welcome to the seventh installment of my examination of the notorious Propaganda Due (commonly referred to as P2) Masonic lodge. For those of you just joining me, here is brief rundown of what has already been addressed: In the first installment I gave a broad outline of the lodge as well an account of the background of P2's Venerable Grand Master, former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. With part two I addressed the lodge's alleged links to a series of terror bombings that rocked Italy during 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 began to breakdown P2's involvement 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 chief players, Bishop Paul Marcinkus and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi. With part four I moved along to the likely use of clandestine funds to sponsor various death squads in Central America during the Iran-Contra affair that Calvi engaged in on behalf of P2 and its contacts within the Vatican. With part five I considered the involvement of the notorious Rothschild banking dynasty in the scandal as well as a series of armed robberies typically involving Brinks related the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano as well as Calvi's ritualistic death.
"Pope John Paul II was shot at close range on 13th May 1981. His limousine was circling St. Peter's Square, just before the popular Wednesday general audience. A vast throng of 20,000 excited pilgrims clamoured around the papal conclave. Then, amid the jostling and cheering, and according to the reports of some witnesses – partially, at least, confirmed by one television recording – two sharp cracks rang out. These were attributed to a 9-mm Browning semi-automatic revolver fired at close quarters by a 23-year-old Turk, Mehmet Ali Agca, member of the (literally) howling Gray Wolves Turkish terror organization. He was charged with attempted murder.
"But the mystery of exactly how many shots and more precisely who fired them, with what type of weapon, and from what angle, now began to colour the many differing versions of events that day. There seems to be a striking overlap with the confusion at Dallas almost thirty years earlier. There was confusion over the number of shots, whether fired by a single gunman or task force. The chief suspicion fell on Agca, a brainwashed patsy in the mold of Lee Harvey Oswald. And not least a mysterious grainy image, captured by bystander, showing an unidentified figure hurrying from the piazza moments after the gunshots. According to his trial testimony, Agca insists that he fired 'two or three shots in rapid succession.' Three shots struck John Paul. One slapped into lower intestine, the others struck his left hand, passing through his abdomen, and his right arm. Two people in the dense crowd were, injured either collaterally by the same bullets, or by others aimed from a different direction.
"Thousands packed into the crowded space burst into tears, or screamed and fell to their knees in disbelief. Agca was grabbed and wrestled to the ground by onlookers, including a nun and Camillo Cibin, veteran chief of Vatican security renowned for his lightning karate chop. A small diversionary explosion was set off in a corner of the square. Significantly this crucial item was never properly addressed in the trial. Photographs depict Agca holding a pistol with both hands, scarcely a meter or so from the Pope, who is standing and waiting. He seemed to be aiming carefully, allowing for the crush around him, holding the pistol on the eye-line profile. Witnesses described the Turk as seemingly drugged and oddly unanimated. None apparently saw him whip out the concealed weapon and take aim, which is strange considering the closely packed crowd. Literally bleeding to death, John Paul was rushed to the Vatican hospital complex. In a gloomy prognosis his doctors quickly established he had lost almost two-thirds of his blood. The Pope's life flickered in the balance...
"The arrest warrant, signed by Rome's prosecutor general, Achille Gallucci, stated that Agca attacked the Pope 'in collaboration with other persons whose identity remains unknown.' Luciano Inffelisi, a renowned independent-minded crusading magistrate assigned to investigate the attack concluded the following after his initial sifting of the evidence: 'There are documental proofs that Mehmet Ali Agca didn't act alone.' This was a reference to the variety of casings found in the vicinity, subsequently suppressed in the following court proceedings. Infelisi was implying a conspiracy. For such imprudence he was promptly shifted to other duties. The two most important officials immediately summoned to the case dismissed the lone gunman theory out of hand. Why, then, did the wind suddenly shift in a different direction?"
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 265-266)
|Pope John Paul II moments before the assassination attempt; Agca is circled in red|
And yes, this is reason to believe that Agca would have been more qualified for such a deed than the average layman. He was raised in a desperately poor central Antolian province where he became involved with criminal gangs at a very young age. By his student years he had become attached to the Grey Wolves and their notorious head, Abdullah Catli. Before going any further, some of Catli's connections should be noted:
"... Graduating from street gang violence Catli became a brutal enforcer for the Grey Wolves as a member of the Counter-Guerrilla operating under the direction of the Special Warfare Department. After the military coup in 1971 Catli rose quickly within their ranks, emerging second in command in 1978. It was in that year that he had to go underground because the police had linked him to the murder of seven left-wing activist. Supported by other right-wing terrorists Catli linked up with notorious Italian right-wing terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie and together they traveled to Latin America and the United States. Closely linked to terror operations in Turkey and abroad Catli cultivated excellent contacts with the Turkish elite. He died near Susurluk on November 3, 1996 in a car crash together with high officials of the Turkish state."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pgs. 237-238)
"Next to Catli the most famous Grey Wolf and Counter-Guerrilla member was his friend Ali Agca, who became world-famous when on May 13, 1981 he shot John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in Rome. The Pope was gravely wounded, but survived. During his student years in the 1970s Agca had been a well-known fascist militant, who allegedly in one of his less-violent operations had shot two students in their legs during an attack on a leftist hostile. His notoriety in terrorist circles was such that leftist tried to kill him on a number of occasions. Together with Catli, Agca participated in the killing of Turkey's most prominent newspaper editor, Abdi Ipekci on February 1, 1979. Ipekci had been deeply concerned about the domestic terror of the Turkish right and the support it enjoyed from the CIA and allegedly had urged CIA chief of station Paul Henze to stop the violence...
"After the assassination of editor Ipecki, Agca was arrested and he quickly confessed to the crime. Yet when he threatened in court to name 'the truly responsible parties' the signal was clear enough and the next day a group of Grey Wolves smuggled Agca through eight checkpoints out of a high security prison. After his attack on the Pope he was once again arrested. Testifying in Rome in September 1985 Catli disclosed that he had supplied Agca with fake IDs and had given him the pistol that wounded the pontiff. Had the Grey Wolves been seriously investigated in the wake of their assassination attempt on the Pope, the Turkish state-behind Counter-Guerrilla most certainly would have been exposed. Yet this did not happen as the CIA in order to divert attention blamed the KGB to have recruited the Grey Wolves for the operation."
(NATO'S Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pgs. 238-239)
And what about the Grey Wolves, a mysterious Turkish nationalist group that has been linked to acts of terrorism both within that nation and abroad for decades now? There origins date back to the mid-1960s when the Pan-Turkish nationalist Colonel Alparslan Turkes established them as the youth wing of the extreme right Millietci Hareket Partisi (MHP, National Action Party). Their notoriety was quickly established. Consider:
"... Based explicitly on the Pan-Turkish movement, the Grey Wolves derive their name and flag – the head of a Grey Wolf – from the legend that the grey wolfs led the Turk peoples out of Asia to their homeland in Anatolia. As 80 per cent of the population in Turkey belong to the ethnic group of the Turks, Colonel Turks with his nationalist and right-wing ideology was able to capture the hearts and minds of millions. Those who did not admire the Grey Wolves feared them...
"It was this national fascist movement which the CIA exploited and supported while running it secret army in Turkey. After the discovery of NATO secret stay-behind armies across Western Europe in 1990 it was revealed in Turkey that CIA liaison officer Turks had recruited heavily among the Grey Wolves to staff the secret stay-behind army which in Turkey operated under the name Counter-Guerrilla. Yet due to the broad public support which the Grey Wolves enjoyed, and due to their known brutality even in the 1990s few in Turkey and beyond had the courage to address the issue in frank terms..."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pgs. 228-229)
|the logo of the Grey Wolves|
"In any event, Agca himself said nothing about any Bulgarian connection until five or six days after the shooting. By this time he was receiving a steady procession of important visitors to his prison cell at faraway Ascoli Piceno. Instead of more convenient confinement in Rome, Agca finds himself in the distant province of Marche, close to Italy's Adriatic coast. Nor, significantly, has he mentioned up to that point that he had accomplices. At his trial he insisted that he acted alone. The presiding judge, Severino Santiapichi, was not convinced. He acknowledged there were 'grave questions referring to the possibility [that]... a high-level conspiracy [had] arisen.' Agca had demonstrated a grasp of 'intricate phenomena, of intimate mechanisms, which he wouldn't be able to know without being involved in some manner in a criminal enterprise...'
"For all the official denials that Agca was expertly coached to denounce his six alleged Bulgarian accomplices, the compelling evidence to that effect is overwhelming. Agca received so many important visitors they were bound to excite attention in the confined quarter of a prison..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 269-270)
The important visitors that Agca received in his cell shall be addressed in the next installment. For now, it is important to stress that Agca's alleged Bulgarian associates have all been cleared of any involvement in the attempted assassination of John Paul II despite continued attempts by the American media to link the intelligence services of Eastern Europe to the plot. While they likely played a role, they in no way directed it, as we shall see. But for now, a bit more about the accused Bulgarians:
"... Five Bulgarians and one Turk were immediately singled out. Egged on by the disinformation machine, the media instantly convicted the accused before the court of public opinion. American newspapers especially made play with an especially tragic figure snared in the trap. He was Sergei Ivanov Antonov, manager of the Balkan Airlines office in Rome, who attracted much attention in the media because of his sinister Russian-sounding name. All the Bulgarians except Antonov, plus the lone Turk, Bekir Celenk, quietly slipped away once the prosecutor general, Antonio Marini, announced in the early spring of 1988 there was no evidence to support the charges. Mehmet Ali Agca was again the lone marksman...
"Antonov was muddled with Antony Ivanov Antonov, a near namesake who lived in Turkey for years, a cog in the Sicilian dope smuggling ring. Who denounced him, while subordinates in Rome then mangled the names? The wrong Antonov was also named as an East German double agent. Markus Wolf, head of the GDR General Intelligence Administration (Hauptverwaltung Aufklarung), took the unusual and possibly unprecedented step of speaking directly with Italian state intelligence SISDE. His message was simple: There is no agent by that name on my payroll. Please improve your homework."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Hear of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 275)
|Sergei Ivanov Antonov, one of Agca's alleged Bulgarian accomplices who was later acquitted|
"In 2002, a red-herring parliamentary commission hand-picked by the stupendous opportunist Silvio Berlusconi purported to investigate the extent of KGB influence over prominent figures in Italy. No credible evidence on any count was ever adduced to the committee, which otherwise relied on innuendo, the standard instrument in black propaganda dating back to the Holy Inquisition. Its principal task was to slander the dreary dead-pan opposition leader Romano Prodi (an ex-Christian Democrat, former Goldman Sachs consultant and EU Commission chief) as Moscow's stooge in Rome, in advance of upcoming elections. Aside from the usual rumpus in the Italian kitchen, international headlines were seized when the commission's chairman, the shameless, mercurial opportunist Paolo Guzzanti (left, right or centre, on any given day) claimed to have 'proven' the KGB's hand in the shooting of the Pope. Guzzanti is a prominent editorial ornament in the former premier Berlusconi's media empire..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 293-294)
|Silvio Berlusconi, yet another P2 luminary who continues to wield considerable power in modern day Italy|
"About a month before the Pope was shot, Count de Marenches passed a warning to the Vatican's security services to anticipate an attack by an unspecified 'foreign power.' M. le Comte was clearly working from a short list of one. He was also building a case. This scarcely-disguised inference that the Soviets planned to kill the Pope formed the supporting platform for all the later claims to that effect. If the warning was passed to the Pope, as it probably was, then His Holiness almost certainly dismissed it with a scornful wave of the hand. He knew from his experience in his homeland that he had nothing to fear from the Soviets. Marenches could not have known of the Pope's secret financial dealings with the Kremlin. Few did, except for the innermost members of his court. But Marenches did reflect the growing alarm among the Western allies at the Vatican's dangerous foreign policies, especially the increasingly warm relations with Moscow. Alexandre de Marenches was a perfect trinity contained in a single being: he was a member of the ruling inner circle of the ultra Right-minded Maltese Knights; a top-drawer intelligence chief; and the joint proprietor of a private enterprise spook outfit accustomed to taking on dirty work for the CIA. Who better to sow a rich layer of confusion around the crime of the century?"
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 269)
|Count Alexandre de Marenches|
An in depth consideration of the Safari Club is well beyond the scope of this series, but in brief: The Safari Club has been described as an alliance of intelligence services geared towards fighting the Cold War in Africa. In addition to de Marenches and the French, the Safari Club also had extensive ties to Saudi Arabia and the Shah of Iran. George H.W. Bush also reportedly played a key role in establishing the organization in the mid-1970s, around the time he was head of the CIA. Many "former" CIA assets also became involved with the Club over the years, most notably old Rome hand Theodore "the Splendid Blond Beast" Shackley.
|the notorious "Splendid Blond Beast" Ted Shackley|
P2 maintained close ties with SMOM. Licio Gelli himself was a member of the Maltese Knights as was Umberto Ortolani. Ortolani was a powerful figure in P2 and also within the SMOM. As such, de Marenches and Ortolani were surely aware of one another. The ties between P2 and the SMOM will be explored at greater length in a future installment, but suffice to say they were extensive. Given that both organizations played a key role in establishing the false Bulgarian connection (as well as the real one, as we shall see), it seems highly probable that both groups were working toward a shared agenda.
|the coat of arms for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta|
"The world was now plunged into turmoil over the sudden projection of a KGB plot behind the events in St. Peter's Square. The first claims broke in West Germany eight days after the shooting, from a source with longstanding associations to the Gray Wolves, and moreover to the Turkish Gladio organisation code named Counter-Guerrilla. As the Pope's life wavered in the balance, a hitherto unknown Turk called Musa Serdar Celebi sprang to the headlines at a press conference in Hamburg. In the course of an excitable performance, Celebi poured high-octane fuel on KGB conspiracy theories. The cynics noted that he failed to produce a shred of supporting evidence. But those who delved into his murky past soon uncovered his reasons for trumpeting a Soviet plot, aside from revelling in five minutes of fame. For a start, Celebi knew Agca extremely well. He was also the head of the German Gastarbeiter ('guestworker') branch of the Gray Wolves' political wing, the National Action Party. The NAP enjoyed warm relations with West German intelligence, the BND. In 1982 Celebi was suddenly arrested and charged with physically aiding Agca with money and weapons to shoot the Pope. Unintended consequences followed when the police uncovered a web of connections leading to high officials of Germany's Christian Democratic party renowned for their extreme Right opinions. They in turn maintained close links to Turkey's far Right Extreme nationalists."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 271-272)
P2 and the Grey Wolves were linked together through the network on NATO "stay-behind" forces, which shall be addressed in a future installment. Its also possible that they had an even older link: the SS. As has been noted throughout this series, but especially in the first installment, P2 grand Master Licio Gelli had served in the SS during WWII. So did a Turk who potentially became involved in the St. Peter's Square affair by harping the KGB line:
"Another man of mystery now comes to the surface, a certain Ruzi ('Rusty') Nazar, an Uzbek who seems to have led many lives. He was in the Ukraine when WW2 broke out, and either hid from the Red Army, or more promptly, deserted when the Germans arrived on their way to Moscow. He is written into one of the forgotten chapters of WW2, the decision by thousands of Muslims drafted in the Red Army to switch sides and fight for Hitler. Nazar volunteered for an SS Turkic-speaking unit, where he was quickly spotted as highly promising material. After a spell of grooming in officer training, he graduated to the staff of the German High Command. If the war had gone a different way, he might have found himself raised to Obersturmbannfuhrer of the subject Turkic Union, which sparkled in Hitler's post-war visions. Instead, with the defeat of Germany, he was evacuated by the famous Nazi ratline run by General (and future West German intelligence chief) Reinhard Gehlen. The CIA were quick to spot his talents. Before long, he was an important figure in the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism --known for short as Amcomlib. On the surface it was a band of worthy patriot businessmen, writing checks to spread the gospel of democracy. Underneath, it was a CIA front to manage the propaganda-churning stations Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Liberty. From there he was drawn into the thick of CIA scheming and plotting in Turkey, which eventually dragged the country into the internal Turkish dirty war of the '60s and '70s. This is one of the darkest episodes of Turkish history. Thousand were killed, or thrown into jail and tortured horribly on the grounds they were Left-wing activists or sympathisers. The violence was the excuse for the CIA-backed coup d'etat by the hard-liner General Kenan Evren in September 1980. Earlier he commanded Counter-Guerrilla, Turkey's Gladio secret army. Counter-Guerrilla and the Howling Wolves paramilitaries were chiefly responsible for provoking the reign of terror that brought Evren to power.
"Under the new regime, 'Ruzi Bey' was a darling of the cocktail party circuit in Istanbul. Then came a transfer to Bonn, where he was instructed to nurse Right-wing elements among the masses of Turks living in Germany. The signs suggest that Nazar may have been a key mechanic of the Papal plot, with the task to stick the pin in the Bulgarians. He worked with the late Paul Henze, a serial confabulator of KGB conspiracies and former CIA station chief in Ankara. It was Nazar who introduced Celebi to his flickering appearance before the footlights of history in Munich in the days after the Pope was shot. On or about 12th March 1983, Ruzi Bey vanished from CIA records, his cover blown."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 275-276)
|Paul B Henze, the long time CIA station chief for Turkey (and later Ethiopia), who would go on to play a key role in the far right Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank; much more will be said concerning Mr. Henze in the next installment|
"Interestingly. the always reliable Ugur Mumcu tracked Nazar to the former US embassy in Bonn. Mumcu stated he was assigned to work with Grey Wolves units on behalf of the CIA, while retaining close links to the great Basbug Colonel Turkes. He was therefore in post in Bonn during the run up to the attempted assassination and is therefore the key to the German Connection through BND."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 276 n50)
More on this German Connection in the next installment. Ambassador Paul Henze and other CIA personnel in Turkey during this time will also factor in as well as the startling range of the "Bulgarian connection." Stay tuned.