I was privileged to have the great Christopher Knowles of the Secret Sun back on The Farm this week. This also happened to be the second installment in my ongoing examination of secret societies that I'm calling the Anti-Mystery Babylon. The first installment was launched last week with Jasun Horsely of Auticulture. But whereas the discussion with Jasun was a more general one on secret societies, Knowles and I had a very specific target in mind with this podcast: the infamous Order of the Solar Temple (OTS). The OTS was one of the big four of millennium cults from the 1990s, along with Heaven's Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, and the Branch Davidians.
We used the OTS as a launching point for an epic discussion concerning the history of chivalric orders and legions upon legions of secret societies. This chat is highly recommended:
Here, I would like to provide some supplementals and documentation to our discussion. In order to fully grok what was going on with the Order of the Solar Temple, we need first consider the curious background of one of its leading figures, the Belgian Luc Jouret. I've already dealt a bit with Jouret and the OTS before here, but a few crucial points bear repeating:
First and foremost, Jouret is not what he seems. He is typically depicted as having a longstanding interest in Communism. Reportedly, he had had dealings with something called the "Walloon Communist Youth" during his late teens and early 20s in Belgian. Later, during his time in the Belgian Army, he declared that he would help "communism to clean out the army."
However, Jouret was not a rank and file military man, but a paratrooper who participated in the 1978 Battle of Kolwezi. Paratroopers are typically elite forces in general, at it would seem that Belgian paratroopers active at Kolwezi were a part of what then known as Para-Commando Brigade, which dealt in special operations. Jouret was thus most likely a special operator. Would Belgian authorities have allowed a man with known Communist sympathies since being a teenager into such an elite unit, one involved in a host of classified operations, during the height of the Cold War?
Throughout the Cold War, Belgium featured an especially strong Communist party. During the 1960s, there was a real fear that the Communist Party of Belgium (PCB) may prevail at the elections. Thus, the arrival of the PCE was quite fortuitous, and there was been much speculation that it was used to split the Communist vote and preserve the status quo.
The man behind the PCE was quite a character, to put it mildly. Jean-Franois Thiriart was a left-leaning fascist activist who worked with the collaborationist Amis du Grand Reich Allemand (AGRA: Friends of the Great German Empire) during the war. He was briefly imprisoned after the war, and this likely curtailed his political activities for years. Thiriart did not become active again until the early 1960s, in the midst of the death throes of European colonialism. It began with the Congo Crisis. Many Belgians, faced with the loss of their most prized colony, rallied to a hastily conceived organization known as Committee for Action and Defense of Belgians in Africa (CADBA).
Thiriart and several of his supporters found CADBA to be too tame and tentative for their liking, and set out to stealthy take it over. After the coup was completed, CADBA transformed into the far more radical Mouvement d'Action Civique (MAC: Civic Action Movement). It established its own youth wing, MAC-Jeunes (MAC Youth), complete with its own uniforms and armbands; and paramilitary wing, which recruited heavily from military veterans. Paratroopers were especially popular, naturally, and the MAC recruited heavily from the Amicale des Parachutistes (Paratrooper Association) and the Club National de Parachutisme (National Parachutist Club). With such recruits, it wasn't long before the MAC established paramilitary training camps and weapons caches. They also staged vigorous political demonstrations, one against JFK in Vienna.
The MAC became the OAS's principal agent in Belgium and a key cog in their support network. Jeffrey Bale reports that it was during this time that Thiriart also established ties with infamous Nazi commando Otto Skorzeny, a crucial figure in the postwar Nazi underground (noted before here and here). However, Kevin Coogan notes in Dreamer of the Day that Thiriart boasted of helping Skorzeny "track down British and Jewish terrorists" in occupied France during an interview Coogan conducted with him in 1986. In The Skorzeny Papers, Ralph Ganis also alleges that Thiriart trained with Skorzeny's elite SS forces during the war. Ganis also claims that Thiriart would later work with Skorzeny's postwar mercenaries and was the principal point of contact between the SS commando and interests representing the breakaway Katanga state, a crucial player in the Congo crisis.
Regardless, Thiriart was well connected among far right paramilitary forces by the early 1960s, if not much sooner. During this time Thiriart also forged ties with fellow Belgian Pierre Joly, who had previously been involved with the pan-European, anti-communist Paix et la Liberte network. As was noted before here, there is much evidence Paix was linked to the CIA as well.
|a Paix et al Liberte poster|
This pursuits let to a break with many of the more traditional elements in the MAC, who began to abandon it for more moderate pro-colonial regroups. This led Thiriart to re brand the outfit yet again, this time as Juene Europe (JE: Young Europe), in 1962. Soon, JE had branches all across Europe and beyond. Naturally, there was a South African branch, but more intriguing are the ones in Latin America. In the first book of The Darkest Sides of Politics series, Jeffrey Bale noted that these Latin American chapters were called Joven America, and featured chapters in Argentina, Columbia, Uruguay, and Ecuador. There was also one in Brazil, but it does not appear to have been affiliated with the Joven America chapters.
Stefan Possony tells an interesting story about whom established the Joven America branches. During the early 1970s, he was tasked by the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) to investigate a mysterious secret society that had taken over the Latin American branch of that organization. As regular readers of this blog are well aware, WACL was for much of the Cold War the visible face of the Fascist International; knee deep in arms and drug trafficking and terrorism the world over; and awash with secret societies and cults (all of which was noted in this classic series).
As such, its a bit surprising (and dubious) that WACL would be so concerned over Mexico's Los Tecos secret society. Like much of the rest of the League, it was deeply committed to drug trafficking and anti-Communist terrorism (noted before here). Perhaps its fanatical anti-Semitism made some of the League's Israeli backers a trifle nervous? Regardless, the famed technocrat who is often described as the "visionary" behind the Strategic Defense Initiative was dispatched by WACL to investigate. I'm in possession of a copy of that report taken from the Hoover Institute that is available upon request. In this report, Possony describes Los Tecos as being the sponsors behind the Jovan America branches of Jeune Europe.
|"Tecos" means "owls"|
Regardless, Thiriart at least appeared to make a formal break with such groups when he shuttered Jeune Europe in 1965 and replaced it with the Parti Communautaire Européen (PCE) during that same year. And that brings me to one of the major problems with Jouret's association with Thiriart and the PCE: Most accounts claim he became involved during the 1970s, but Thiriart had already shuttered the PCE in 1968. Further muddying the waters is the Parti Communautaire National-Européen, a successor group established in the 1980s with Thiriart's blessing. Its founder and longtime head is named Luc Michel.
Thus, the possibility that some researchers confused Jouret with Michel cannot be discounted. On the other hand, there is a bizarre connection to all of this: synarchy. This doctrine, firmly rooted in the occult, was popularized by Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre during the late nineteenth century and later incorporated into Martinism by Papus. Synarchy is, in essence, an anti-Democratic doctrine that calls for society to be governed and managed by a kind of technocratic elite.
For years, there have been allegations that synarchy was behind France's defeat by the Nazis and that it was the driving ideology of the secret society often referred to as La Cagoule (officially the Comité secret d'action révolutionnaire). In many ways, the Cagoule were a kind of prototype for the later close collaboration between secret societies and stay-behind armies that appeared throughout the Cold War. The extensive role the Cagoule played in stay-behind efforts during the interwar period was addressed at length before here.
After being broken up and imprisoned by French authorities in 1937, many of the Cagoulards were released during the time of the Nazi invasion. In the aftermath, many stayed on in France as collaborators while some went to work with the Allies. Some of the most militant Cagoulards would be used to establish stay-behinds for the Nazis as it became evident that they would be driven from France.
"During the war, Skorzeny, who was always astute to the political use of special forces, organized a group called 'Organisation Technique' or (OT), to carry out 'a number of independent operations aimed at provoking right-wing resistance in France.' The OT had the mission of creating 'an alliance of anti-Communist.' This effort was to exploit the close bonds of brotherhood that existed between former members of the Cagoule, regardless of who they sided with. In essence, the former Cagoule serving with Skorzeny's command were attempting to establish a dialogue with the former Cagoule serving in the French Resistance and French Army. These men were looking into the future of France and wanted to prevent a communist takeover of the country after the war. They also believed it might provide a 'conduit to the Americans,' thus weakening the Allied partnership the Soviet Russia. Ultimately, this covert effort at the end of the war to rally former Cagoule into a common anti-communists group lies at the heart of the French intelligence contact with Skorzeny.
"After the successful Allied invasion of France in June 1944 and subsequent liberation of Paris in August, thousands of the chief French forces bolted for Germany, where an émigré government set up in southwestern Germany with the exile capital established at Sigmaringen. In October, the OT was created by Joseph Darnand, the former head of the Vichy Milice (French fascist paramilitary), consisting of 150-200 volunteers to be trained as agents and sent back in France to fight the allied forces.
"Command of the OT was given to Jean Degans, a former member of the Cagoule and former director of the Vichy police. OT liaisons with the Germans came from Skorzeny's Jagdverband, and Jean Filliol, a former Cagoule who exercised day-to-day control of the group. Several OT sabotage and secret service camps were established in Germany with training and operational planning coming directly from Skorzeny's special forces."
(The Skorzeny Papers, Ralph P. Ganis, pgs. 59-60)As was noted above, Thiriart alleged to have worked with Skorzeny during the war in what Kevin Coogan described as occupied France. Presumably, this is the Nazi occupation Coogan was referring too. The OT obviously didn't emerge until after the Nazis withdrew, but Skorzeny's ties to the old Cagoule network likely didn't begin until after the Germans were forced to withdraw. As such, the possibility that Thiriart came into contact the Cagoule during the war cannot be discounted.
"... Robert-Henri Leroy, who had an extraordinarily lengthy career as both a right-wing political activist and a specialist in intelligence and covert operations. He had formerly been a member of Charles Maurras's Action Francaise (French Action), the prewar Cagoule terrorist underground, the Carlist Requete militia forces during the Spanish Civil War, Vichy intelligence, the Waffen-SS's 'Charlemagne' division (with the rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer), and Otto Skorzeny's commando force, for which he served as an instructor. After the war he spent seven years in prison for collaborating with the enemy, then following his release he allegedly went to work for both NATO intelligence and the BND in the period between 1958 and 1968..."
(The Darkest Sides of Politics, I, Jeffrey Bale, pgs. 141-142)Thus, Leroy also has the Skorzeny connection. This researcher has been unable to determine whether Leroy supported the OAS during their heyday (which would hardly be surprising), but he would certainly be collaborating with veterans of that network by the late 1960s. In 1968, he signed on with the brutal far right outfit known as Aginter Press, which had been founded by the most die-hard OAS veterans. This self-described press agency, which received ample backing from fascist Portugal during its peak years, was a vast, international terror network linked to atrocities on at least three continents. It was one of the most militant fascist organizations during the Cold War and played a crucial role in developing the so-called "strategy of tension," a guiding ideology behind neo-fascists the world over during that era. Much more can be found concerning Aginter here. Naturally, Aginter also maintained close ties with Skorzeny and his network.
By the late 1960s, both Thiriart and Aginter had set their eye upon the Chinese communists. The former allegedly wanted to form an alliance with them while the later sought to penetrate their intelligence operations. Apparently, this was something Thiriart and Aginter deemed that they could collaborate on.
"Thiriart maintained his Maoist ties through his murky dealings with a far -right 'press service'/private intelligence agency, the Portugal-based Aginter Press. Aginter worked with an overtly pro-Chinese political group in Switzerland called the Pati Cmmuniste Suisse/Marxist-Leniniste (PCS/ML). An Aginter operative name Robert Leroy, with support from the Communist Chinese embassy in Berne, arranged for the PCS/ ML to hire Aginter operatives as 'correspondents' for the group's newspaper, L'Etincelle, which was used to gain access to radical groups in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique. The head of the PCS/ML was himself the most likely member of the far right. Thiriart played a liaison role for Aginter, the PCS/ML, and the Chinese embassy."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 544-545)As such, this certainly raises the question of how serious Thiriart's break with the OAS truly was, as he was clearly collaborating with veterans by the end of the decade again. What's more, his point of contact was a former Cagoulard, Leroy, who had previously worked with Skorzeny during the war. This is also around the time Jouret could have been potentially collaborating with Thiriart in the PCE.
But wait, there's one final synarchist connection to Thiriart besides the old Cagoule network. This one comes in the form of his Latin America partners in Jeune Europe, Los Tecos. The Tecos potentially had ties to a Mexican synarchist movement dubbed the National Synarchist Union. Like the Tecos, it was a far right Catholic movement that grew out of the Cristero War. These potential connections are very controversial, but not without merit. More information on this topic can be found here.
|the banner of the National Synarchist Union|
"... The OTS itself, 'the true secret Templar organization,' which was headed by a Synarchie du Temple (Synarchy of the Temple), composed of influential leaders of the OTS whose identity was secret from outsiders and low level members. Under the Synarchy, a Conseil de l'Ordre (Council of the Order) organized members and to various 'lodges,' and within each lodge the members were in turn divided into a hierarchy of three initiatory levels..."
The Darkest Sides of Politics, II, Jeffrey Bale, pg. 130)In other words, the inner circle of the OTS described itself as synarchist. Obviously, this could simply be in reference to the most basic definition of synarchy, namely an undemocratic rule by the elite. But given all the former Cagoulists that Thiriart crossed paths with, I suspect the use of synarchy here has a deeper meaning. Certainly, it seems to appear over and over again among Thiriart's associates, which Jouret was reportedly one of.
Of course, many conspiracy theories concerning synarchy depict it as co-opting both the right and the left for its own purposes. Certainly, this appears to be true of the Cagoule in postwar France. In The Sion Revelation, Picknett and Prince make much of socialist Francois Mitterrand's ties to the Cagoule. As I noted before here, the Cagoule appear to have played a crucial role in establishing Le Cercle, the far right's answer to Bilderberg. It probably goes without saying, but Le Cercle wielded tremendous power in the French state for years as well.
Organizations come and again, but the same networks continue, often only dissolving when old age finally catches up with the members. And even then, as the OTS indicates, a way is found at times to preserve their legacy. Nearly 60 years after the Cagoule were surprised, the OTS launched its rampage of suicides and murders. Here we have another bizarre secret society involved in stay-behind efforts and flying the synarchist flag. Surely all of this stretches coincidence dear readers.