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.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent work expanding & explicating some murky but extremely fertile source material. Much appreciated.