Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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

Welcome to the seventh and final installment in my examination of semi-legendary LSD baron Ronald Hadley Stark. Over the course of this long, strange trip I've briefly considered Stark's pre-1969 activities (part one); his ties to the infamous "hippie mafia" known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love as well as the lesser known but no less successful British LSD syndicate generally referred to as the "Microdot Gang" (parts two, three and four); and most recently Stark's involvement with Italy's "communist" terror network known as the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse, BR) as well as his possible role in the kidnapping and murder of Christian Democrat Party leader Aldo Moro (parts five and six). As has been noted throughout this series, this researcher is greatly indebted to the groundbreaking article on Stark published on Skilluminati/Brainsturbator and it is highly recommended the curious reader check out that piece as well. But moving along.

Moro during his kidnapping
With this installment I would now like to consider some of the other acquaintances Stark made in Italy beginning around the late 1960s. Of these strange associations the great Philip Willan notes:
"Stark's activities offer other surprises. As well as cultivating imprisoned left-wing terrorists, he appears to have been in contact with leading exponents of the right. Documents confiscated at the time of his arrest show that he had been in touch with Salvo Lima, Andreotti's political ally allegedly linked to the Mafia, and with Prince Gianfranco Alliata di Montereale, linked to freemasonry and the Mafia and implicated in the Borghese coup attempt. There was also evidence of contact with Graziano Verzotto, an associate of Sindona's and president of the Sicilian state mining corporation, Ente Minerario Siciliano, who fled Lebanon in 1975 after being caught up in a financial scandal. He was equally at home with the rightists as he was when masquerading as a left-wing sympathizer. A confiscated letter to Wendy Hansen, American vice-consul in Florence expressed the view that circumstances were not yet ripe for military coup in Italy. Most interesting of all, though, was evidence that he had been in touch with Vito Miceli, former director of Italian military intelligence. A complex and never fully resolved tale involving Miceli leads back, by roundabout route, to the Moro affair."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 311-312)
Giulio Andreotti
We shall get to that tale in just a moment but presently some background needs to be given on several of these individuals. The above-mentioned "Andreotti" is Giulio Andreotti, a former prime minister and member of Moro's Christian Democrat Party. Andreotti is widely considered to have been the most powerful political figure in Italy during the second half of the twentieth century and to have had extensive dealings with the American secret services. He is also the man who first acknowledged the existence of what is generally referred to as "Operation Gladio," of which more will be said in a moment.

The above-mentioned "Sindona" is Michele Sindona, the notorious financier who played a key role in the Vatican banking scandal. And like another apparent right-wing Stark associate, Vito Miceli, Sindona was a member of the mysterious Masonic lodge known as Propaganda Due, but more commonly referred to simply as P2. I'm sure many of my readers are familiar with this Masonic lodge but I feel the need to digress a bit here and give a brief account of the organization as so much of what has been written about it is highly dubious, especially among conspiracy theorists.

The presence of P2 at the heart of many scandals that rocked Italy during the so-called "Years of Lead" has generally inspired one of two approaches. Mainstream journalist and historians have generally chosen to either downplay its significance or focus exclusively on the lodge's intrigues involving the Italian political system. Conversely, conspiracy theorists have chalked it up as one of the most blatant manifestations of the long speculated upon Masonic conspiracy.

As with many things, the truth concerning P2 is far more complex than either of these positions. So to start with, let us consider the background of the lodge:
"The origins of Propaganda Due (P2) are to be found in the Grand Orient of Italy, which chartered the lodge in 1877. It is important to realize that Freemasonry had a high-profile pedigree in Italy. The great statesman Giuseppe Garibaldi had served as Grand Master in Italy. This inspired many powerful and rich Italians – and those who merely aspired to that status – to become Freemasons. In that atmosphere, P2 was merely one among many lodges of important and influential men. Originally called Propaganda Massonica, its name was changed to Propaganda Due (or Propaganda 2) when the Grand Orient began numbering its lodges after World War II. Headquartered in the famously esoteric city of Turin in the Piedmont of northern Italy – Nostradamus is said to have lived there briefly, as well as Frederick Wilhelm Nietzsche and host of occultists and magicians over the years who gravitated around the area close to a Turin landmark church – Propaganda Massonica was a favorite of the politicians, wealthy, and the nobility. By the time Licio Gelli became involved in Freemasonry in the 1960s, the lodges virtually moribund. Yet, when the Vatican banking scandal hit the newspapers in 1981, the P2 membership list included forty-three members of the Italian Parliament, three cabinet ministers, the head of every branch of the military, the intelligence chiefs, the top bankers and financiers in the country, and the most influential media tycoons. It was like even more ambitious version of the American Skull and Bones society.
"The membership list totaled more than one thousand in Italy alone; that does not count the number of members in other countries where P2 continues to exist. Those countries include many Latin American countries, France, and Portugal. There are even members in the United States.
"Licio Gelli had served in Spain, fighting for Francisco Franco with support from Benito Mussolini. During World War II, Gelli was a Nazi and became an SS Oberleutnant in Italy. At the same time, he was also known to have cultivated friends on the Left. No one really knew what Gelli's sympathies really were, indeed, if he had any at all. After the war, he seems to have been involved with the 'rat lines,' underground routes through which Nazi war criminals could escape to North America, South America, and other places."
(The Secret Temple, Peter Levenda, pgs. 169-170)
a seal of P2
During the course of his work for these "rat lines" Gelli would assist one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals to make use of their services.
"Additional wealth came from Gelli's involvement in operating the Vatican 'ratlines' with Father Krujoslav Dragonovic.Gelli's fee was 40% of the total cash on hand from each fleeing 'rat.' This demand coupled with the Vatican's take of 40% to 50%, left the Nazis penniless when they arrived in Argentina and other neutral countries. One of the most notable rats helped by Gelli was Klaus Barbie, the 'Butcher of Lyons.' The Vatican sheltered the Gestapo Chief for several months before placing him under the care of Gelli. Barbie was not obliged to pay the Vatican or Gelli. The cost was born by the United States Counterintelligence Corps that kept Barbie in its employ until 1951."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 112)
During Barbie's time working for the Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) he was recruited to work upon a certain operation Gelli and P2 would later become involved with for the US secret services.
"Barbie was saved not because the United States secret service officers were impressed with his moral record, but because he was most useful in the setting up of the German stay-behind network. 'Among those who were recruited and did some recruiting for the scheme in the first years,' the British press reported during the Gladio revelations, 'were an ex-SS Obersturmfuhrer, Hans Otto, and other smaller fish. But the prize catch was Klaus Barbie, who functioned as a recruiter for ex-Nazis and members of the fascist Bund Deutscher Jugend (BDJ).' Barbie, during the war known as the 'Butcher of Lyon', had during his stay in the French town from 1943 to 1944 been responsible for the murder of at least 4,000 resistance workers and Jews, as well as the deportation of another 15,000 to concentration death camps. Barbie was condemned to death in absentee by a French court soon after the war for crimes against humanity as witnesses described him as a sadistic torturer, the terrified men, women and children with his whip and Alsatian dog."
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 190)
Klaus Barbie
The above-mentioned "stay-behind armies" that Barbie played a part of establishing in Germany during the aftermath of WWII were a part of what is generally referred to as "Operation Gladio." In point of fact, Gladio was merely the name of the Italian component of a network that spanned not only Europe (as has been grudgingly acknowledged in recent years) but across the entire globe. In theory these Gladio "stay-behind armies" were to only be used in the event of a Soviet invasion of a US vassal state. In such an event they would wage a guerrilla war against the occupying forces using arms caches strategically hidden across the country.

That was the theory anyway. In recent years, however, increasing amounts of evidence has emerged that these Gladio networks were also used to commit acts of terrorism in nations (such as Italy) that they US feared of falling into the Soviet sphere of influence. These stay-behind armies were littered with "former" Nazis, fascists, religious fanatics, and other right-wing extremists from across Europe and the rest of the world and at times such individuals were openly used for terrorism. Frequently, however, left and communist groups were infiltrated and used to commit these acts of terror so as to discredit political parties that favored a softer line against the Soviet Union. Such a topic is far beyond the scope of this present series but the reader is strongly advised to pick up a copy of Daniele Ganser's NATO's Secret Armies or even Richard Cottrell's Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe for more details on this network.

a patch supposedly used by Italy's Gladio network
There is now little doubt that Gelli and P2 were a key part of Gladio's Italian network.
"The US-funded anti-Communist parallel government P2 and the US-funded anti-Communist parallel army Gladio cooperated closely during Italy's First Republic. Licio Gelli, who after the discovery of the P2 had escaped arrest and fled to South America, after the end of the Cold War was happy to confirm that the secret army was made up of staunch anti-Communists. 'Many came from the ranks of mercenaries who had fought in the Spanish Civil War and came from the fascist Republic of Salo. They chose individuals who were proven anti-Communists. I know it was a well-constructed organization. Had Communist strength grown in Italy, America would have assisted us, we would have unleashed another war and we would have been generously supplied with arms from the air.' Gladiators were paid well, Gelli elaborated, for the US spent a lot of money on the network: 'The Americans paid large sums of money, the equivalent of an excellent salary. And they guaranteed the financial support of the families in case the Gladiator was killed.'
"'The aim of Gladio and other similar organizations which existed in all countries of Western Europe was to counter the invasion of the Red Army or the coming to power by coup d'etat of the Communist parties,' Gelli stressed the twofold function of the secret network. 'That PCI, during all those years, has never come to power, although they have tried to do so repeatedly, is the merit of the Gladio organization.' Gladio researcher Francovich, with an implicit reference to the numerous massacres Italy had suffered from, asked Gelli: 'How far would you have gone in you campaign against Communism?' to which Gelli vaguely replied: 'Ah, number one enemy was Communism [silence] – We were an association of believers – We did not admit nonbelievers – We wanted to stop Communism in its track, eliminate Communism, fight Communism.'"
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 75)
By the 1970s Gelli and his P2 associates had formed a very lucrative partnership with Gelli's former Gladio compatriot Klaus Barbie as part of the group's Latin American activities. This was hardly the only unsavory company the lodge was keeping by this time.
"Within ten years of its creation, P-2 established branches in Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia, France, Portugal, Nicaragua, West Germany, and England. In the United States, its members came from the Gambino and Luchesse Crime Families. Looking into the relationship between the Mafia and the garbage industry, investigative reporters discovered in 1996 that several owners of leading landfills and waste hauling businesses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey had ties not only to the New York Crime Families but also to P-2.
"Gelli was responsible for Juan Peron's return to power, the reign of General Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, and the Triple-A death squads in Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil.
"In South America, Gelli maintained close relations with Klaus Barbie and worked with the ex Gestapo Chief to establish the 'Fiances of Death' in Bolivia – a group responsible for the assassination of Socialist leader Marcelo Quiroga and the rise to power of General Garcia Meza. With the blessings of the Bolivian junta, Gelli and Barbie set about to regulate the cocaine industry, destroying the small dealers so that the big drug traffickers – those who cooperated with the Sicilian Mafia – would be transformed into mighty crime lords with private armies."
(The Vatican Exposed, Paul L. Williams, pg. 114)
Barbie after he was extradited back to France
As incredible as this may seem to some readers, I've already written at length of the extensive fascist involvement in the international cocaine market before in my examination of the World Anti-Communist League (which for many years was a kind of clearing house for numerous groups linked to Operation Gladio the world over), which can be found here. But moving along.

Generally speaking, many conspiracy researchers have proclaimed P2 as both definitive proof of the centuries-spanning Masonic conspiracy as well as Freemasonry's final triumph over the Vatican due to the role the lodge played in the Vatican banking scandal (which is vastly beyond the scope of this article to address). However, there is evidence than even more secretive societies lay behind P2 and its fellow lodges.
"During the last years of Franco, with government in the hands of Opus Dei technocrats, Madrid became an important hub for European investment and political interest in Latin America. This development was encouraged by the Vatican, and supported by right-wing Christian Democrats in Italy and Spain.
"The Occident's regard towards Latin America, and particularly Argentina, reflected the interests of the anti-Communist lobby, whether led by the Church or purely secular, to stop the spread of Marxist subversion. To strengthen these forces, partly due to a strategy directed from Rome but also because of the affinity of a common cause, the Masonic movement in Europe became seeded with Conservative Catholics. The principal strategists behind this evolution were Italy's Giulio Andreotti and Spain's foreign minister Sregorio Lopez Bravo. They were supported by the great Vatican door-opener, Umberto Ortolani, his general dogsbody, Licio Gelli, and a Masonic notable, Pio Cabanillas, who was one of the founders of Spain's Alianza Popular.
"Of the five, Andreotti took presidents in matters of policy, being nears to the power structures of the church and the free world political systems. Andreotti was the closest Lehman to Paul VI and he had his admirers in every capital of the Western alliance. In your consuls, he befriended Lopez Bavaro, with whom he shared – so he said – the same religious values. Andreotti had been on an Opus Dei retreat at the castle of Urio on Lake Como, in northern Italy, and was received at the Villa Tevere by Escriva de Balaguer.
"Umberto Ortolani, a Roman lawyer, was a secret chamberlain of the Papal Household and a member of the inner council of the Knights of Malta. He was the senior member of the group, and, according to some sources, the illegitimate son of Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro. Andreotti and Gelli where the same age, being born in 1919. Lopez Bavaro was there junior by six years."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchinson, pgs. 207-208)
the seal of Opus Dei
According to Paul L. Williams in The Vatican Exposed, Licio Gelli was also initiated into the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM, more commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta) at some point. Thus, two of the top figures in P2, Gelli and Ortolani, were SMOM while numerous members and affiliates of the notorious Catholic organization known as Opus Dei were also involved with the lodge and its affiliates the world over. That these two organizations --the SMOM and Opus Dei --were controlling P2 would be consist with allegations concerning the sway both organizations had/have over Operation Gladio on the whole.
"The Knights of Malta are understandably a rather misty concept. They inspire comparisons with Dan Brown's mystical fantasies of Vatican conspiracies bordering on black magic. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (an abbreviated title from a previously far grander and longer one) is an extremely ancient Catholic lay order of chivalry, dating from the First Crusade (1096-99). The Order's former territories (Rhodes and Malta) have long since melted away. To compensate, there is a world-wide network of medical missions operating in 120 countries. According to Wikipedia, the Knights are supported by some 12,000 active members to oversee and support 20,000 medical personnel. So much for the worthy field of good endeavors. However, the charitable functions are far overshadowed by the Order's status as a recognized sovereign state, complete with an observer seat at the UN, and the full kitbag of diplomatic privileges. These include the precious facility of couriers passing borders without hindrance, which any espionage organization is bound to prize. But surely, even a subliminal state with exactly three registered citizens needs some kind of government? The Sovereign Order has one, the inner council of the Knights, which in turn responses to the absolute authority of the Vatican.
"The American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has argued that behind the cover of charitable functions, the Knights are waging a cultural war on behalf of Christianity. He claims their fertile recruiting grounds include the highest levels of the American state and related friendly powers, the secret services and the Pentagon. Speaking in Washington DC at Georgetown University's Foreign Policy School in January 2011, he said: 'They do see what they're doing.... it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.' Of course Hersh got the full Dan Brown treatment from the eye-rolling US media. But Hersh's central theme is obviously correct. The Vatican, aided by the sovereign Maltese Knights and the secretive internal cults like Opus Dei, is an essential component of the totemic pathology that we recognize as the war on terror."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 267-268)
the banner of the SMOM
While Cottrell is not always the most reliable source, Opus Dei was also mentioned in brief as playing a key role in Operation Gladio in Daniele Ganser's NATO's Secret Armies while both Opus Dei and the SMOM figure extensively in this researcher's work on this vast international right wing network of which P2 was apparently only a small part.

So, effectively P2 was quite an irregular Masonic lodge seemingly controlled by very conservative Catholic organizations, but its use by these groups has ensured that the overwhelming amount of alternative takes on P2 have fallen into the time honored Masonic conspiracy theories (of which the Nazi regime itself got a lot of mileage out of).

the dress of P2 members was quite irregular as were their references to one another as "Black Friars" within their meetings
And then there is the strong possibility that P2 and other neo-fascist groups connected to it were using the Red Brigades to mount a wave of "Marxist" terror on Italy in a bid to discredit the PCI and the left-wing of the Christian Democrat Party (personified by Aldo Moro). With all of this in mind, let us return to that story mentioned at the onset of the article that Ronald Stark told to one of his co-defendants in the crimes that led to his initial arrest and adventures in Italy's prison system:
"One of Stark's co-defendants at the drug trial was an architect from Rome, Count Roberto Fiorenzi, known to his friends as Bubi. Fiorenzi had come under suspicion of involvement in the Italicus train bombing after was discovered that he was staying at the Hotel Locarno in Rome at the same time as other suspects in the bombing were meeting there. According to another of the drug defendants, a car thief named Franco Buda, Stark had told him that Fiorenzi had given shelter in his house in Siracusa, Sicily, to at least one of the men involved in the 1973 Fiumicino airport massacre at the request of a senior officer in the Italian armed forces. From Buda's account the examining magistrate in Rome deduced that the officer in question could have been Miceli, but the matter was never fully clarified. On 17 December 1973, seven Arab gunmen attacked a Pan American Boeing 707 at Rome airport. They threw incendiary bombs into the aircraft, causing the death of thirty-two people, before five of them escaped to Kuwait aboard a hijacked Lufthansa jet. According to Lotta Continua (24 October 1978), the other two were allowed to escape to Rome, where they were taken into the protective custody of the Italian secret services, before being smuggled out of the country. These two could well have been concealed in Fiorenzi's Sicilian house, as Buda had claimed. La Repubblica (13 June 1976) also voice the suspicion that the airport attack could have been planned 'with the agreement of important sectors of SID'. The paper cited the account of an eyewitness who claimed to have seen the seven gunmen being escorted through the airport security checks by policemen three hours before the attack. The suggestion was that right-wing police and secret service agents assisted the hijackers as part of their contribution to the strategy of tension...
"Just over a month before the Fiumicino attack, the Italian government had made one of its most generous gestures in its continuing attempt to shield the country from Middle Eastern terrorism. Five Arab terrorists had been arrested a couple of months earlier as they prepared to shoot down an El Al airliner with a ground-to-air missile from the balcony of a house in Ostia, a coastal town directly under the flight path of planes landing and taking off at Fiumicino. Rome judges granted them provisional liberty and on 11 November they were flown to freedom on board an Italian military aircraft. Twelve days later, the plane that had carried the terrorist to freedom blew up in the sky near Venice. The crash is widely regarded as having been the result of sabotage carried out by the Israeli secret service as a reprisal for Italy's weak-kneed approach to Palestinian terrorism.
"Curiously enough, Moro referred to both these incidents in a letter from captivity to Flaminio Piccoli in which he argued the case for a flexible attitude towards negotiations with the BR. Moro would certainly have known of the secret service involvement in both episodes, and it is not inconceivable that he may again have been trying to send some kind of message to his friends in the outside world. He began by saying that negotiations were a regular occurrence. 'And you who knew everything will certainly be informed about it... you can call [Erminio] Pennacchini who knows all about it (in more detail than I do) and is a sensitive and reliable person. Then there's Miceli and if he's in Italy (and from all points of view, it would be good to have him come), Colonel [Stefano] Giovannoni, whom Cossiga admires. So, not just once but several times, detained and convicted Palestinians were freed by various mechanisms, in order to avoid serious reprisals.'
"It is ironic that Moro's mention of these incidents should introduce us to the world of Miceli, Fiorenzi and Stark, and this could well have been his intention. It is strange that the letter misspells Giovannone's name as the secret service officer had at one time been Moro's personal bodyguard for many years. He represented the Italian secret service in Beirut, and his name immediately conjures associations with Lebanese terrorism and with corruption scandals linked to Italian oil purchases, precisely the associations made by Sereno Freato when he linked the Pecorelli murder to that of Moro. But, most significantly of all, as Judge Mastelloni's investigation has shown, Giovannone's name takes us to the heart of the secret agreement between the CIA and the PLO and the concomitant arms supplies from the PLO to the Red Brigades. It is possible that Moro, who had long experience as Foreign Minister and a close personal relationship with Giovannone, may have been hinting in his letter at this murky international background to his kidnapping. Mino Pecorelli suggested as much in an article dated 17 October 1978. 'Just as the Corriere proclaims the baselessness of the hypothesis of an international plot, in Lisbon Craxi maintains the exact opposite, leaving aside the fact that it is no accident that Moro himself in his letter called to his aid Colonel Giovannone, on station at Beirut. The OP article was titled 'The Red Thread' and was devoted mainly to emphasizing the Eastern Bloc connections of the Red Brigades, but Pecorelli may have had Giovannone's CIA contacts more in mind when he referred to Moro's appeal for the SISMI officer's assistance and linked this to speculation about an international plot behind the kidnapping.
"It is not in the least unlikely that Ronald Stark, with his contacts in Lebanon and with the Red Brigades, straddled the same arms route that Giovannone had so skillfully mediated and protected..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 312-314) 
the aftermath of the Fiumicino airport massacre
There's a lot to take in here. The man widely believed to have enlisted Stark's associate in aiding Palestinian terrorists is P2 member Vito Miceli, who may also have had ties to Stark. As was noted in part five of this series, its entirely possible that Stark himself was the man responsible for establishing the ties between the Red Brigades and the PLO as a relationship did not seem to exist between these two outfits prior to Stark befriending the BR's original leadership in prison. As was also noted there, Stark had forged ties with the PLO since at least the early 1970s --the same PLO right wing elements of the Italian secret services seemed inclined to allow carry out occasional terror acts within their country.

Stark may well have played a key role in aligning the BR to the PLO as well as allowing the group to establish a presence in Italy. This relationship seems to have assisted in the ratcheting up of the violence committed by the BR after their original leadership was imprisoned and suspect elements took over (as noted in part six). If Stark played a role in these activities, it would be about par the course --shortly after his relationship with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love began the previously pacifistic organization forged ties with the militant Weather Underground, bringing in an element of the "armed struggle". Stark would also introduce members of the Microdot Gang to proponents of the armed struggle in the UK such as the IRA and the Angry Brigade. This of course unfolded all the while he as establishing himself as a major international drug trafficker (a project numerous members of P2 were also engaged in during this same time frame).

While the effect these associations had on those groups was marginal (as either group were really just a bunch of idealistic hippies at their core), the Red Brigades were permanently discredited due to the increasingly militant tactics and associations the group took on after its original leadership made friends with Stark.

If Stark was in fact some type of infiltration agent whose objective was to radicalize organizations and movements that could pose a potential threat to the ruling elites and commit them to acts of terror, this would be consistent with the modus operandi of Operation Gladio employed in Europe. While there's nothing to directly link Stark to Operation Gladio, at least one Italian judge believed that he had official ties to the US intelligence community.
"... he never stood trial in these charges. True to form, Stark drop out of sight shortly after he was released from prison in April 1979 on orders from Judge Giorgio Floridia in Bologna. The judge's decision was extraordinary: he released Stark because of 'an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs' that Stark was actually a CIA agent. 'Many circumstances suggest that from 1960 onward Stark belonged to the American secret services,' Floridia stated."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 281)
one of Stark's many forged passports
While the CIA has widely been cited as the agency that Stark was employed by Floridia simply linked him to a branch of the American "secret services." Things may not be this cut and dry, however:
"... It is noticeable that although Stark told Judge Floridia he was a US intelligence asset, he did not break the cardinal 'loyalty' rule of the CIA in identifying that particular agency – or any other.
"As to which agency Stark was answerable to from the beginning, the Drug Enforcement Agency can be ruled out. Its somewhat corrupt history has made it more vulnerable to leaks concerning its misdeeds than any other US police department, and it was not beefed up to a serious operational level on an international scale until the Nixon era at the end of the 60s.
"Though the CIA might seem the most likely agency to employed Stark, US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is another possible candidate. DIA tends to regard the CIA as a civilian body answerable to politicians' changing whims while it upholds the national interest and resists any interference... The DIA also had a deeper involvement than any other US agency with various factions in the Lebanon, where Stark was a business representative of the drug baron, Iman Moussa Sadr."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 192-193)

The DIA did not actually exist in 1960, but was established shortly thereafter. It is however possible Stark was recruited by another branch of military intelligence and passed onto the DIA --he did, after all, claim to have worked for the Department of Defense in the early 1960s (as noted in part one). What's more, one of the alleged "Brown documents" (addressed in part six) that mentioned Stark claimed that Stark had played a key role in the Moro assassination, along with an Italian-American military man referred to as "David". And indeed, there is compelling evidence that Stark played some type of role in the assassination, if only on a operational level, as was outlined throughout parts five and six.

Its also interesting to note that in 1981, as P2 Venerable Master Licio Gelli was becoming bogged down in scandal that would eventually bring down the lodge, he sent his daughter into Italy with two curious documents in her possession that were uncovered during a search at the Rome airport. They were entitled "Memorandum on the Political Situation in Italy" and "Plan for Democratic Revival", and were both Army Field Manuals. While they have never been definitively linked to the Pentagon, many researchers believe that this was a ploy to implicate the Pentagon and specifically the DIA in the various intrigues that had rocked Italy over the past decade.

Was Stark then possibly one such DIA asset working in this capacity, or was he really a CIA man (along with Gelli) all along working to implicate the Pentagon? Or a combination of both? Certainly Stark has all the makings of a classic infiltrator and his continued appearance throughout leftist and counterculture organizations spanning the globe, and their increased militancy after making contact with Stark, are strong indications of this. And certainly this is in keeping with the along alleged aims of Operation Gladio, notably the so-called "Strategy of Tension." With his contacts among P2 and the Mafia, Stark would have been right at home amongst the individuals Gladio recruited.

And what of his allegations that his father had worked with the Nazis and that his wealth derived from patents from research he performed in this capacity (noted in part one)? Had Stark's ties with Europe's fascist underground begun much, much sooner than the late 1960s? Was he an extremely deep cover agent who's persona had been carefully constructed over a number of years? And if so, for whom?

Unfortunately, I can not answer these question now nor completely resolve Stark's story --especially its curious ties to Charles Manson, The Order, the Vatican banking scandal and a series of bizarre Brinks armed car robberies that occurred internationally in 1984. Many of the players in these events have highly complex stories in their own right that must also be told to put things into context and such tasks would represent to far of a transgression at this point.

But to close things out, I will engage in a little speculation concerning Stark's time in Italy in the late 1960s:

As was noted in part one, it was believed that Stark had acquired the initial batch of LSD that he used to gain access to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Rome during 1969. In addition to P2, there were other neo-fascist organizations with occultic overtones operating in Italy during this time. Two of the most notorious were Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale. These groups and many other lesser outfits were deeply influenced by the ideology of the occultist and philosopher Baron Julius Evola. Evola himself had served in the SS during the final years of the war where he had been involved in some very mysterious doings (noted before in brief here) and afterwards would become deeply involved in the post-war Fascist International.

the banners of Ordine Nuovo (top) and Avanguardia Nazionale (bottom)
During his youth in the 1920s Evola had experimented with drugs including opium, hashish and mescaline. Evola would go on to distance himself from these youthful excesses and harshly criticize drug use amongst the profane masses. But in some of his later writings such as Eros and the Mysteries of Love and Ride the Tiger Evola would indicate that the use of psychedelics showed potential when combined with rigorous ritualistic preparations. In the latter work he stated:
"At this point, it will be helpful to add some details. In general, drugs can be divided into four categories: stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and narcotics. The first two categories do not concern us; for example, the use of tobacco and alcohol is irrelevant unless it becomes a vice, that is, if it leads to addiction.
"The third category includes drugs that bring on states in which one experiences various visions, and seemingly other worlds of the senses and spirit. On account of these effects, they have also been called 'psychedelics,' under the assumption that the visions project and reveal the hidden contents of the depth's of one's own psyche, but are not recognized as such. As a result, physicians have even tried use drugs like mescaline for a psychic exploration analogous to psychoanalysis. However, when all is reduced to the projection of a psychic substratum, not even experiences of this content interest the differentiated man. Leaving aside the perilous contents of the sensation and their artificial paradise, these illusionary phantasmagoria do not take one beyond, even if one cannot exclude the possibility that what is acting may not be merely the contents of one's own subconscious, but dark influences that, finding the door open, manifest themselves in these visions. We might even say that those influences, and not the simple substratum repressed by the individual psyche, are responsible for certain impulses that can burst out in the states, even driving some compulsively to commit criminal acts. 
"An effective use of these drugs would presuppose a preliminary 'catharsis,' that is, the proper neutralization of the individual unconscious substratum that is activated; then the images and senses could refer to a spiritual reality of a higher order, rather than being reduced to a subjective, visionary orgy. One should emphasize that the instances of this higher use of drugs were preceded not only by periods of preparation and purification of the subject, but also that the process was properly guided through the contemplation of certain symbols. Sometimes 'consecrations' were also prescribed for protective purposes. There are accounts of certain indigenous communities in Central and South America, whose members, only while under the influence of peyote, hear the sculpted figures on ancient temple ruins 'speak,' revealing their meaning in terms of spiritual enlightenment. The importance of the individual's attitude clearly appears from the completely different effects of mescaline on to contemporary writers who have experimented with drugs, Aldous Huxley and R. H. Zaehner. And it is a fact that in the case of hallucinogens like opium and, in part, hashish, this active assumption of the experience that is essential from our point of view is generally excluded."
(Ride the Tiger, Julius Evola, pgs. 169-170)
the Baron
Evola also indicates that narcotics, when used with consciousness maintained "with the pure I at the center", could potentially open up a "higher reality" as well. Nor was Evola the only philosopher popular amongst the neo-fascist who saw the potential in drug use. Ernst Junger also experimented with LSD with the assistance of Albert Hofmann himself, for instance.

So, here we have Ronald Stark, soon to be international LSD baron, getting his start in Italy. Within a matter of years he would be the key figure in the international LSD market all the while striking up relations with members of P2 and their ilk. But if these relations began even sooner, is it possible his right leaning friends in Italy had a desire to enter the LSD market?

Certainly the money such an endeavor could provide would have been more than motive enough and, as noted above, P2 has been implicated in drug trafficking elsewhere. But was there another motive? Is it possible that certain factions within this crowd had an interest in the counterculture that sprang up around LSD? Was this part of the reason why the Microdot gang continued to operate virtually unfettered for almost half a decade after Stark failed to ensnare them in the "armed struggle"?

While this may seem far fetched, certainly some of the major ideologues embraced by the post-war fascist underground clearly seem to have had an interest in the psychedelic experience. And their followers just so happened to be rubbing shoulders with a man that controlled much of the world's LSD market for the 1970s.

And on that note I shall bring this series to an end. Until next time dear reader.

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."
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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

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

Welcome to the fifth installment in my examination of the life and times of infamous LSD baron Ronald Hadley Stark. With part one of this series I briefly addressed Stark's pre-1969 days as well as his introduction to the legendary "hippie mafia" known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. With the second and third installment I moved on to the Brotherhood's rise and down fall as well as Stark's connections to the "Microdot Gang" (a British LSD smuggling network the succeeded the Brotherhood as the world's lead supplier in the mid-1970s) along with a few odds and ends about Stark's Robert A Heinlein fetish and his failed recruitment of legendary psychiatrist R.D. Laing.

the wanted poster for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (top) and headlines concerning the incarceration of Richard Kemp and Christine Bott (bottom), two key figures in the so-called "Microdot Gang"
With the fourth and most recent installment I noted the Microdot Gang's downfall and Stark's ties to extremist groups involved in the "armed struggle" such as the Angry Brigade, the IRA and the PLO. I left off with the contacts Stark established with Italy's notorious Red Brigades after he was suddenly arrested in 1975 and conveniently placed in the same prison where much of the terror organization's original leadership was being held. As has been noted through out this series, I am greatly indebted to the research presented by the blog Brainsturbator/Skillumati in the groundbreaking article published there on Stark.

With the introductions out of the way, let us consider the Red Brigades in greater depth as they are a crucial, if little explored, aspect of Stark's "career." The origins of the Red Brigades, known as Brigate Rosse (BR) in Italian, are widely attributed to Renato Curcio and a group of followers (largely comprised of students and workers) that began to surround him in the late 1960s. Initially the Red Brigades were one of numerous militant leftist groups that sprung up throughout Italy and much of the Western world following the student protests of the late 1960s but that would soon change.
"The Red Brigades became the most successful and notorious of these groups, and Renato Curcio dominated its early history. Curcio had a Catholic education, and he continued to practice his faith up to within two years of being converted to revolutionary terrorism. Born in 1941, Curcio arrived at the university of Trento in 1964 and began to study sociology. As late as 1965 he was still reading Jacques Maritain, but by the following year the Christian activist in him had vanished and a new kind of Marxist revolutionary was struggling to be born as he immersed himself in the works of Marx, Lenin and Mao. Curcio became a leader among student activists in Trento, helping to edit, along with Mauro Rostagno, the Proposta di foglio di lavoro, which called for a new university radicalism against capitalism. They wanted to create an universita negativa (negative university) offering controcorsi (countercourses) that would negate the evil capitalist hegemony. According to Curcio, it was time to start preparing for the revolution, to set on a journey that would resemble the long march of Mao. Curcio also collaborated on a self-styled Marxist-Leninist monthly publication, Lavoro politico, which was edited by Walter Peruzzi. Lavoro politico enjoyed prestige as the theoretical journal par excellence of the radical student movement. Its writers called for a revolutionary class war in Italy along lines prescribed by Marx, Lenin, and Mao. They held the Red Guard of China in particularly high esteem. In this mental environment Curcio formed his own uncompromising revolutionary ideals.
"He left the university in 1969 and moved with his wife, Margherita Cagol, to Milan. There they played leading roles in organizing the Collettivo Politico Metropolitano (Metropolitan Political Collective), which was founded on 8 September of that year. In Curcio's mind a direct connection existed between the student demonstrations of 1968 and the hot autumn of the factory workers in 1969. He set himself to organize these disturbances toward revolutionary ends, and that was the purpose of the collective, in which both student and worker groups participated. Curcio and Cagol brought to the collective their varied experiences in the radical student movement while such organizations as the Gruppo di Studio Sit-Siemens, CUB Pirelli, and Gruppo di Studio IBM functioned as direct channels to the industrial work place. Thus, the collective, whose heritage would include the Red Brigades, took life a coupling between the foremost revolutionary elements in Italy: the student protest movement and worker radicalism in factories."
(The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy, Richard Drake, pgs. 8-9)
The Collective's heritage would also include another organization that potentially brought a third player into the mix besides the students and workers.
"... the Hyperion language school in Paris, suspected of being a co-ordinating centre for terrorism in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Investigators were continuing, the report said. They were never completed, as an article giving details of the inquiry appeared on the front page of the Corriere della Sera newspaper the following month (24 April 1979), prompting the French authorities to withdraw their co-operation. The French showed their pique by destroying all the telephone intercepts carried out till then and informing their Italian colleagues that there was nothing suspicious about the language school so far as they were concerned. The 'indiscretion' of an officer in the domestic secret service, SISDE, had effectively torpedoed the investigation, drawing a protective veil around the Hyperion.
"The school was founded in 1976 by Corrado Simioni, Vanni Mulinaris and Duccio Berio, three of the fathers of left-wing terrorism in Italy. They had been together in the Collettivo Politico Metropolitano (Metropolitan Political Collective) in Milan, a forerunner of the Red Brigades organization. When Renato Curcio left the CPM to set up the Red Brigades, Simioni, Mulinaris and Berio founded their own terrorist organization, the Superclan. The name, given them by the Red Brigades, was an abbreviation of Superclandestini (Superclandestine) and referred to their obsession with secrecy. They believed that the masses were not yet ready for revolution but that, to prepare for the day, they should infiltrate their members into all organizations of the extreme left. According to one former Superclan member, the organization was known to affiliates as 'the Company' or as 'the Red Aunts' and the 'Superclan' tag was seen as a calumny invented by the Red Brigades. He related that a leading Superclan member had expressed the view that 'the BR were a military organization without a leadership and that the Company was capable of providing the BR with leadership and for that purpose had already infiltrated some of its men into the Red Brigades organization'. During its short history as an activist terror outfit, the Superclan concentrated most of its energies on fund-raising armed robbers. 
"Simioni's concern with money and the large quantities he seemed to have at his disposal aroused the suspicion of several of his comrades. Red Brigades founder Alberto Franceschini took a personal dislike to him. 'Elegant and smartly dressed, he was always driving around in Maseratis, arguing that a guerrilla, to conceal himself and spread confusion, should behave like a perfect bourgeois,' Franceschini wrote in his autobiography. After seeing the movie Queimada, the Red Brigades dubbed Simioni 'l'ingles'. 'In the film Marlon Brando plays "l'ingles", the liberal intellectual who first organizes the revolt and then its bloody suppression.' Franceschini distrusted the Superclan so much that he insisted that its members be kept on the fringes of the Red Brigades when some of them asked to be admitted to the organization. After his arrest, the first message he had smuggled out of prison to the BR leaders who were still at large concerned the Superclan and warned them 'to be extremely wary of any comrades coming from Corrado [Simioni's] group'.
"Simioni's chequered career amply justifies the suspicion. He was born near Venice in 1934 and began his political career in the Socialist Party, where he was known for his anti-communism. He was expelled from the party for unspecified 'immoral conduct', after which he became involved in cultural activities on behalf of the United States Information Service (USIS). He also spent a couple of years in Munich, where he claimed to be studying theology, but other accounts have him working for the CIA-financed Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts to Eastern Europe from that city. His name appears on a list of CIA agents operating in Italy that came into possession of the left-wing newspaper Lotta Continua in the late 1960s. Whatever he was doing, his experience abroad had turned him into a radical left-winger. Renato Curcio was given a strong personal reason for distrusting Simioni when the Superclan leader tried to persuade Mara Cagol, Curcio's wife, to participate in an expedition to blow up the US consulate in Athens without informing her husband. Cagol told Curcio about the approach and he talked her out of going. Another Italian girl and a Greek Cypriot were sent in her place and the two were killed when their bomb exploded prematurely on 2 September 1970..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 188-190)
Mara Cagol, wife of Curcio
Simioni was not the only figure linked to the Hyperion language with alleged ties to intelligence either.
"Some of the directors of the Hyperion School had been members of the long-disbanded Metropolitan Political Collective of Milan in the late sixties... Former members of the collective included Mario Moretti and Giovanni Senzani, both of whom went on to become founder members of the Red Brigades. At the time of the Moro kidnap in 1978, these two were still at liberty and still in contact with the Hyperion School. Senzani, however, was himself served up by the security forces as a pentiti after his arrest in 1982. But, according to deputy chief of the Genoa police, Arrigo Molinari, Senzani was 'definitely in contact' with representatives of SISMI military intelligence long before his arrest and was being protected by them."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 171) 
Giovanni Senzani
There has also long been speculation that the above-mentioned Mario Moretti, who effectively was running the BR by that point, was also an intelligence asset. But more on that later.

At this juncture it is interesting to note that this concept of the Hyperion language school controlling the BR behind the scenes is consistent with the structure of the Red Brigades Stark presented to Italian authorities while serving as an informant in prison:
"The American provided a somewhat anomalous account of the structure of the Red Brigades organization during a meeting with officials from the Interior Ministry's anti-terrorism unit in July 1977. Their report says Stark described the terrorist organization as being divided into three levels. The lower level was that of the factories, the second was the 'operational group', with more than 300 members, and the most secret level was that of the 'Military and Industrial Information Centre', whose members operated mainly in Rome and about whom 'everything is known'. The officers drew a small sketch to illustrate Stark's description. When I showed it to BR founder Alberto Franceschini in 1988 he said he knew nothing of such a structure. One can only assume that by 1977 the Red Brigades were no longer divided into columns (by city) and fronts (by activity), under the control of the Strategic Directorate, but that the organization had a secret structure, unknown even to one of its founder members. Alternatively, if Stark was neither lying nor mistaken, he may have wanted to convey some kind of message to his interlocutors by challenging official accounts of the Red Brigades organization. His challenge went further, claiming that Curcio was not the real head of the organization but made to appear so in order to mislead the police. His account is somehow reminiscent of magistrate Guido Calogero's conclusions, which questions whether the known Red Brigades members were the ones that really counted and highlighted the manipulative role of the Hyperion language school in Paris. The suggestion that Stark was about to make revelations along these lines would certainly have given a jolt to the custodians of these secrets."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 311)
Indeed, but to what purpose? Perhaps a glimpse of it can be discerned in the arms the Hyperion language school allegedly procured for the Red Brigades.
"The role of the Hyperion language school, with an office on the prestigious Quai de la Tournelle close to Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris, tallies with Prosecutor Pietro Calogero's description of a terrorist command structure, dictating the course of political violence in Italy. According to several 'repentant' terrorists, the school handled international relations and weapons procurement for the Red Brigades after the arrest of their original leadership. 'The fact is that the Hyperion was created to provide protection to various fugitives and that function enabled its directors to establish contact with many terrorist organizations,' Red Brigades member Michele Galati told magistrates after his arrest. Galati said the school was in contact with the IRA, ETA and the PLO and was able to purchase arms for the Red Brigades from minority factions within the Palestine Liberation Organization..."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 190)
an emblem of the PLO
"Coincidentally", at least two of these terror organizations the Hyperion school forged ties with --the IRA and the PLO --were also organizations that Stark had had dealings with since at least the early 1970s. Curcio and much of the rest of BR's original leadership were imprisoned by 1975 while the Hyperion school was not officially founded until 1976. Thus, it could not have theoretically been supplying arms to the BR until then. But shortly after Stark was arrested in 1975 and put in the same prison as much of the BR leadership was being held he made a modest proposal to them.
"While awaiting trial in Don Bosco Prison in Pisa, Stark worked as an assistant to the prison barber and put his multi-lingual talents to good use by translating legal documents for prisoners. His allegiances, however, had once again apparently swung from one extreme to the other. Stark was now holding court with inmates who were members of the Red Brigades and other left-wing groups. He showed a very thorough knowledge of Middle East politics and let it be known that he was connected with armed Palestinian factions in the Lebanon --particularly the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) --and it may be that he even passed himself off as primarily a Palestinian in the 'national identity' sense."
 (Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 164)
the logo of the PFLP
The PFLP is one of several groups, the largest being Fatah, that comprise the PLO. Apparently during this time Stark also claimed to Renato Curcio that he had assisted two Palestinian terrorist in escaping Italy during the early 1970s. We shall come back to this claim in the next installment. But as to Stark's above noted purpose in explaining to authorities the new structure of the Red Brigades, perhaps it was his way of letting certain VIPs know that the BR had been brought into the fold of radical leftist groups he had infiltrated and put into contact with one another over the years? (This would also be in line with the revolutionary aspirations Stark derived from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, as noted in part two of this series.)

Nor was the BR the only group Stark targeted during his time in Italy's prison system. He would also try to establish ties between  other radical leftist groups and the PLO during this time. One such group was the Armed Revolutionary Action (ARA).
"... Enrique Paghera, who was an ARA member. Paghera... had been arrested in possession of a hand-drawn map of a Lebanon PLO camp and a coded letter of introduction to the leader of the camp saying in Arabic, 'I would like to see the father of Layla', the name of Ron Stark's daughter. Both of these documents... came from Stark during his previous imprisonment. Paghera was also in possession of instructions on how to make contact in Rome with a Libyan intelligence agent who would be able to help him get to Lebanon. In fact Paghera did succeed in contacting the presumed Libyan at a college in Rome.
"The Moro Commission later found it 'incomprehensible' that the SISMI (military secret service) failed to carry out its request to follow up the numerous leads on the alleged Libyan agent and identify him. The Commission suspected that Stark and SISMI were working together to establish 'false trails' of Libyan involvement in Italian terrorism.
"At the time, Stark, facing new charges of membership of an armed band, said that he had simply let Paghera know of a refuge, in case he needed one. However, the Moro Commission noted, 
"'... it may be presumed that he wanted to create a direct link, not existing at that time, between Italian terrorism and Palestinian guerrillas, following a request which he himself said he had received from Curcio and Bertolazzi [Red Brigades leaders], with whom he had collaborated in prison on brigatisti documents and even on a cryptographic system of communication.'"
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 183)
The allegations that Stark instructed Curcio and other Brigadists in a cryptographic system will be highly relevant in the next installment, so do keep it in mind dear reader. But moving along.

While its highly debatable whether there was any contact between the Italian paramilitary left and Libyan or Palestinian terrorists prior to Stark befriending the Red Brigades' original leadership in prison, the BR officially developed a working relationship with the PLO by 1976 thanks to their contacts with the Hyperion language school.
"The Red Brigades leader who was responsible for weapons procurement, and made regular trips to Paris for that purpose, was Mario Moretti. Before joining the Red Brigades, Moretti had been a member of Superclan. He rose to prominence after the arrest in 1974 of the founding fathers of the Red Brigades and it was he alone who handled the Paris connection. For a while he was even suspected of being a secret service agent by his fellow BR members because of the almost miraculous way in which he avoided arrest when all around him were being caught by the police. His early contact with Superclan, his connection with the Hyperion and his refusal to clear up the mysteries surrounding the Moro kidnap, which he personally directed, give further cause for doubt about his revolutionary purity."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 190-191)
Indeed, even more evidence of Moretti's ties to one Western intelligence service or another has emerged in recent years.
"By the time of Moro's liquidation, the leadership of the Red Brigades (the so-called 'stage one' commanders) realised during long hours of reflection in confinement that their ranks were thoroughly riddled with traitors to the cause. The comrades poured venom on the alleged killer of Moro, Mario Moretti, as a stooge and agent of Italian intelligence. Senator Sergio Flamigni, who wrote a dozen works about Moro over the course of a decade, concurred in his book published in 2004, La sfinge delle Brigate Rosse: delitti, segreti e bugie del capo terrorista Mario Moretti (The Sphinx of the Red Brigades: Crimes, Secrets and Lies of Terrorist Chief Mario Moretti). Moretti received six life sentences for the murder, but served only 15 years before he was paroled..."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pg. 78)
Moretti today
The arrests of the original Red Brigades leadership and the rise of Moretti as the group's leader were the result of a highly controversial intelligence operation mounted by Italy's secret services.
"The watershed between the relatively mild and relatively idealistic Red Brigades of the early years and the blind terror of the later years came in 1974 with the arrest of Renato Curcio and Alberto Franceschini, two of the movement's founding fathers. Their removal from the scene gave the ambitious Mario Moretti control over the organization and paved the way for his policy of constant military escalation, culminating in the Moro kidnap. The arrests were the fruit of a successful infiltration of the organization by the carabinieri. It is worth bearing in mind the observation of author Gianfranco Sanguinetti that nothing is easier for the secret services than to infiltrate a terrorist group and supplant the original leadership 'either through certain timely arrests or through the killing of the original leaders, which generally occurs in a shoot-out with the police, prepared for the operation by their infiltrators.
 "The successor to Marco Pisetta, the first known infiltrator of the Red Brigades, was an ex-Franciscan friar named Silvano Girotto. Girotto had acquired the nickname 'Brother Machine-gun' for his exploits as a left-wing guerrilla in South America. It is fairly clear that from the very start his revolutionary persona was a fraud, created for him by a secret service, probably the CIA. On his return to Italy he set about gaining admission to the Red Brigades. He was assisted in this aim by a profile of him as a left-wing revolutionary published in Candido (14 May 1974), a right-wing magazine linked to the Italian secret service. It appeared during the Sossi kidnap under the title: 'This is the man who could save Sossi.' After a couple of exploratory meetings with Red Brigade leaders, Girotto was admitted to the organization, which decided to make him responsible for terrorist training. Both meetings had been watched and photographed by plainclothes carabinieri and after a third, on 8 September, Curcio and Franceschini were arrested at Pinerolo near Turin. Their capture changed the Red Brigades profoundly; from then on the tactics of the organization were increasingly violent and its principal enemy was no longer the Christian Democrat Party and the right, but the revisionist traitors of the PCI and the policy of historic compromise...
"There were a number of anomalies about the Pinerolo incident. Most glaring was the question why Curcio and Franceschini were arrested at all, thus blowing Girotto's cover. Had the ex-friar been allowed to continue his infiltration, the entire organization could very probably have been rounded up. When questioned about this by the Moro commission, General Dalla Chiesa, who commanded the operation, offered the lame explanation that he was obligated by law to arrest suspected criminals as soon as they were identified. Dalla Chiesa was not a man noted for his attention to legal niceties and it is hard to believe that he really gave higher priority to such scruples than the defeat of the Red Brigades."
(Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 205-206) 
informant Silvano "Brother Machine-gun" Girotto
Prior to the arrests of Curcio and the rest of the original leadership the Red Brigade had not been an especially violent organization. The only murders it had been linked to were the killings of two members of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) party during a break-in to the group's offices in Pradua. The BR had not intentionally set out to kill anyone, however, but merely to obtain documents. It was only when they unknowingly stumbled upon the two MSI members, who then put up a fight, that the killings occurred.

the banner of the MSI, of which more will be said in the next installment
The group's first deliberately planned murder did not occur until June 8, 1976, when the BR assassinated Public Prosecutor Francesco Coco. This of course occurred well after the BR's original leadership had been captured or killed (as in the case of Curcio's wife). As noted in part four, plans for the Coco assassination had been passed on to Italian authorities by Ronald Stark after he had befriended Curcio and other BR members in prison. The authorities did nothing with this tip.

From here on the BR's activities would become both increasingly violent and senseless, which thoroughly discredited them (and much of the left) in the eyes of the Italian public. And this transformation occurred after the BR was effectively taken over by a man long suspected of intelligence ties and while the original BR membership was shooting the breeze with Stark in prison.

Its interesting to note at this point that while Curcio and the rest of the original leadership were still at large and in command certain elements of Italian society had carried out a bombing and attempted to blame it on the Red Brigades.
"In a forest near the Italian village Peteano a car bomb exploded on May 31, 1972. The bomb gravely wounded one and killed three members of the Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police force. The Carabinieri had been lured to the spot by an anonymous phone call. Inspecting the abandoned Fiat 500, one of the Carabinieri had opened the hood of the car that triggered the bomb. An anonymous call to the police two days later implicated the Red Brigades, a Communist terrorist group attempting to change the balance of power in Italy at the time through hostage-taking and cold-blooded assassinations of exponents of the state. The police immediately cracked down on the Italian left and rounded up some 200 Communists. For more than a decade the Italian population believed that the Red Brigades had committed the Pateano terrorist attack.
 "Then, in 1984, young Italian Judge Felice Casson reopened the long dormant case having discovered with surprise an entire series of blunders and fabrications surrounding the Peteano atrocity. Judge Casson found that there had been no police investigation on the scene. He also discovered that the report which at the time claimed that the explosive used in Peteano had been one traditionally used by the Red Brigades was a forgery. Marco Morin, an expert for explosives of the Italian police, had deliberately provided fake expertise. He was a member of the Italian right-wing organization 'Ordine Nuovo' and within the Cold War context contributed his part to what he thought was a legitimate way of combating the influence of the Italian Communists. Judge Casson was able to prove that the explosive used in Peteano contrary to Morin's expertise was C4, the most powerful explosive available at the time, used also by NATO..."
(NATO's Secret Army, Daniele Ganser, pg. 3)
Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a member of the neo-fascist Ordine Nuovo, who was ultimately convicted of planting the car bomb in Peteano 
But more on those neo-fascist organizations and their ties to NATO in the next installment. For now, let us consider what is easily the Red Brigades most well known act of terrorism: the kidnapping and subsequent murder of former prime minster and Christian Democrat Party leader Aldo Moro. This incident, long shrouded in controversy, is essentially Italy's very own Kennedy assassination. First a bit about the actual kidnapping:
"Moro was kidnapped on the morning of 16 March 1978, as he drove to Parliament for the opening of a confidence debate on a newly former government for national unity, which would enjoy the support of the PCI for the first time since 1947. Moro's car was approaching a crossroads, where Via Mario Fani meets Via Stresa, in the residential suburb where he lived, when a Fiat 128 with diplomatic number plates reversed around the corner into its path. The sudden manoeuvre forced the driver to brake abruptly and the escort car, following close behind, rammed into the back of them. The two men from the white car and a further four who had been waiting in the street, wearing the uniforms of Alitalia airline pilots, opened fire on Moro's bodyguards, killing all five of them. Only one guard succeeded in returning fire, loosing two shots. Three of the bodyguards were not killed outright but were finished off at close range.
 "Of the ninety-one shots fired by the terrorists, the majority were fired by just two people, one of them responsible for forty-nine and the other for twenty-two shots. One of the witnesses to the scene described the principal gunman as calm and determined, showing 'complete mastery of his weapon', a sub-machine gun. A ballistics report on the attack described it as a textbook operation, perfectly planned 'both to leave Moro unharmed and to prevent the accidental wounding of accomplices'. It also noted that the professional skill of the principal gunman did not correspond to that of any known Red Brigades member...
"On 9 May, after fifty-five days in captivity, Moro's bullet-riddled body was found in the boot of a red Renault 4 car abandoned in Via Caetani, a central Rome street half-way between the headquarters of the Christian Democrat and Communist Parties. He had been shot eleven times, ten times with a Browning 7.65 mm 'Skorpion' submachine-gun and once with a 9 mm pistol. Ballistics experts found that two of Moro's entry wounds were not aligned with the bullet holes in his clothes, while the other nine were. This led them to deduce that the first two shots were fired while Moro was alive and able to move and the others on a separate occasion, after he was unconscious or dead. Surprisingly, although the evidence pointed to Moro having been shot while he lay in the back of the car, there were hardly any traces of blood, leading to the assumption that he may have initially been laid on a plastic covering, which was subsequently removed. His wounds had been staunched with paper handkerchiefs to prevent the outflow of blood or body fluids. No Red Brigades member with direct knowledge of the circumstances of his death has contributed any information about it to authorities..."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pgs. 214-216)

images of the car from which Moro was abducted from
Thus, on the day Moro was literally heading to the Italian parliament with the objective of forming a new government that included the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI, the Italian Communist Party), he was alleged abducted by the communist terror group the Red Brigades. While the PCI hardly enjoyed robust support amongst the radical Italian Left the decision of the BR to kidnap Moro at this juncture baffled and even infuriated such quarters, who hotly denounced their actions. After all, what could really be gained by the Left by preventing the first communist party from being brought into a Western European government at this time? And one that was democratically elected no less. That alone would have been a huge propaganda coup for Communism.

Factions of the Italian right and within the US hotly contested Moro's plan, however. He had been contemplating such actions since the mid-1970s and had been sternly warned by the US during this in turn even though he personally saw the inclusion of the communists in Italy's government as inevitable after their massive gains at the polls in recent years.
"As the Italian Communists and Socialists remained very strong at the polls and controlled large segments of the Italian parliament, it was obvious that they should have been included in the government. Yet it was equally clear that US President Nixon categorically opposed such an opening towards the left for the feared exposure of NATO secrets. Following the Watergate scandal, covert action enthusiast Nixon was forced to resign on August 8, 1974 and Vice President Gerald Ford entered the White House the next day to declare 'Our long national nightmare is over.' The word was also heard in Italy where many hoped for a new start and therefore acting Italian Foreign Minister Aldo Moro of the DCI together with Italian President Giovanni Leone in September 1974 flew to Washington to discuss the inclusion of the Italian left in the government. Their hopes were shattered. Ford pardoned Nixon for all crimes he had committed during his time in the White House and kept key players of the Nixon administration in office. In a heavy confrontation with Henry Kissinger who under Nixon served as the President's National Security Advisor and now under Ford held the powerful position of Foreign Minister, the Italian representatives were told that under no circumstances must the Italian left be included in the Italian government. Italy had to remain firmly and strongly within NATO...
"Upon his return to Italy, Moro was sick for days and contemplated his complete withdraw from politics. 'It's one of the few occasions when my husband told me exactly what had been said to him, without telling me the name of the person concerned,' Moro's wife Eleonora later testified. 'I will try and repeat it now: "You must abandon your policy of bringing all the political forces in your country into direct collaboration. Either you give this up or you will pay dearly for it..."'"
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pg. 79)
And pay he did. It probably goes without saying, but the assistance the United States offered Italy during the Moro kidnapping has raised more than a few questions over the years.
"... Moro had barely been seized when President Jimmy Carter despatched the US government's chief expert on conflict resolution, the Cuban-born, Harvard and French-educated PhD Steve Pieczenik, hot foot to Rome. He was no conventional Ivory Towers publicity-shunning boffin. Pieczenik was close enough to the inner secrets of successive US governments to earn the political equivalent of Grammy awards for his psychological insights delivered to four secretaries of state --Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance, George Shultz and James Baker. According to his personal website, it appears scarcely any conflict failed to invite his attention. And that was just his day job. He doubled all of this with writing racy psycho-political bodice rippers for the thriller factory run by Tom Clancy. For good measure, he had a sideline advising the arch-neocon Council for Foreign Relations. In Rome, the famous psycho-warrior joined a crisis committee composed of Christian Democrat luminaries. Ostensibly, Pieczenik was despatched by Carter as a supporting negotiator charged with extracting the former premier alive. Whether this was ever really the intention is open to serious debate.
"The crisis cabinet was chaired by the ever-mercurial Cossiga --a brawler rather than quiet and patient deliberator --whose tendency to shoot from the hip could nonetheless prove useful in generating distractions. Cossiga, as chief lieutenant of Andreotti, had no intention of securing the release of Moro. The 'shrewd political project worked out by Moro' was intended to perish with its author. The catalyst in despatching Pieczenik was Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's Polish-born National Security Advisor. Coming as he did from a country which had suffered the brunt of Soviet aggression, Brzezinski viewed the Moro project of soft accommodation with the communists with great disdain. Pieczenik has offered conflicting accounts of his own role. He knew from long experience that if the intention really was to secure Moro's freedom, the political price would be relatively modest. Publicly, this was supposed to be the release of an incarcerated minor female brigadier, Paola Bescuschio, confined in jail since 1975. Quite why the Brigate Rosse should be tempted by such a trifling morsel, supposedly having such an important bargaining chip in their possession, is inexplicable. Pieczenik insisted that he gave up on the case because the emergency committee was 'riddled with informers,' and by the end amounted to just Cossiga and himself staring at each other. So he raised his hands with exasperation, boarded a plane and went home. But in 2006, he gave an interview to French TV in a different light. Subsequently expanded in a book called We Killed Aldo Moro (2008), Pieczenik said that ultimately Moro was abandoned to his fate because he was giving his captors vital secrets of the state, in particular the hints of a 'NATO guerrilla army.' Of course the implications is that Moro believed himself to be a captive of a force other than the Red Brigades."
(Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, Richard Cottrell, pgs. 69-70)
Steve Pieczenik, who in recent years has become a frequent guest of Alex Jones...
More will be said about this force other than the Red Brigades holding Moro and the hints of a "NATO guerrilla army" in the next installment. For now it should also be noted that the assistance Moro had awaiting him in the Italian secret services during this incident was even less favorably disposed to the Christian Democrat head than US policy makers. Many of these individuals also happened to be on the same crisis committee the above-mentioned Steve Pieczenik was involved with.
"In practice, the search for Moro's prison was co-ordinated by the Interior Ministry and a special crisis committee, many of whose members belonged to or later joined P2, the right-wing masonic lodge which opposed Moro's policy toward the PCI. Among the eight P2 members appointed to the committee were the heads of the domestic and military intelligence services, the head of the finance police and the regional commander of the carabinieri. Given their political orientation it would not be entirely surprising if they did less than their utmost to secure Moro's release. The minutes of the committee's meeting on 17 March give an idea of the quality of their contribution to the task at hand. SISMI Director Giuseppe Santovito informed the group that he believed two Japanese and a West German had participated in the Via Fani attack. He also drew the committee's attention to the imminent arrival of a ship from Cyprus at the port of Marina di Grosseto. There is no evidence whatever that his contribution had any grounding in fact. Santovito continued to provide the committee with misleading information, reporting the next day on the need for increased patrols on the Yugoslav border.
 "On 24 October 1977, Parliament had passed a bill reforming the secret services, replacing the Defensive Information Service (SID) with the Military Security Information Service (SISMI) and the domestic Democratic Security Information Service (SISDE). This reorganization would be used as an excuse to argue that the security services were 'without eyes and without ears' at the time of the Moro kidnap. The reform effectively led to the demolition of the most reliable anti-terrorism organization and to the appointment of P2 members at the top of the new agencies..."
 (Puppetmasters, Philip Willan, pg. 225)
And it is here that I shall wrap up for now. In the next installment I shall consider Ronald Stark's possible involvement in the Moro incident as well as these bizarre neo-fascist orders that were highly active in Italy during this time. Stay tuned.