A Note on Sources
This four-part article is based largely on two sources, a documentary film by Allan Francovich that was broadcast by BBC2 in 1992, and a book written by Daniele Ganser, a young Swiss doctoral candidate, and published on both sides of the Atlantic in 2005.
Allan Francovich’s documentary, “Gladio,” which convincingly tells the story of Europe’s secret armies and their domestic terrorist activities, is not only long (2:25 hours) and detailed but substantiated by interviews with many primary sources. It is not an easy documentary to refute.
Would this fact be relevant to Francovich’s grotesquely atypical death at the age of 56? According to Wikispooks.com, “Allan Francovich’s death occurred while going through US customs at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas on April 17, 1997. It was ruled as occurring due to “natural causes” (i.e. heart attack) though its remarkable timing raises the clear possibility that it was not so simple. U.S. Senate testimony in 1975 contains reference to a heart attack gun used by the CIA to induce a heart attack. Francovich was planning four documentaries, including one on the assassination of Olof Palme.” This is an obituary written by his collaborator and friend, Tam Dalyell, and published in The Independent on April 27, 1997.
Swiss researcher, Daniele Ganser was the first academic to document Europe’s secret “stay-behind” armies set up by Churchill’s MI6 British intelligence service from 1940 onward. The American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), became a partner in the project in 1944 and NATO subsumed the whole program soon after its formation in 1949. Today Ganser is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland.
Here’s the Evidence
Milan, 1969, the bloody Piazza Fontana bomb massacre, leaving 16 dead and 80 injured, is blamed on Italy’s left-wing Red Brigades terrorist group. Thirty years later, during a trial of right-wing extremists in Italy, General Giandelio Maletti, previous head of Italian counter-intelligence, reveals that the Piazza Fontana action was executed by the Italian “stay-behind” army and right-wing terrorists under orders from the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in order to discredit Italian Communists, who were gaining ground legitimately by democratic means. (Information from The Gladio Timeline, A Chronology of NATO’s Private Army, 2008.)
What Is a “Stay-Behind” Army?
The stay-behind armies were inspired by World War II resistance fighters, beginning with the French Resistance. It was Winston Churchill who founded the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1940. This was a top-secret initiative to create guerilla armies in all European countries that would “stay-behind” in their respective countries to form well-trained and supplied cores of resisters in cases of German takeovers. Preparations in each country consisted of hidden arms and ammunition caches, recruitment, training and financing for resistance fighters, advanced communications systems and trans-European logistical support.
This SOE project was the prototype of all the future stay-behind operations in Europe, which eventually included 15 Allied and four neutral countries. All of these units were maintained under joint British SOE and American OSS/CIA guidance. In the beginning the former provided mainly expertise and training and the latter financial and logistic support. As time went on the CIA played an increasingly broader role.
If Communism Didn’t Exist the Americans Would Have Had to Invent It
In 1947, coinciding with the Truman presidency and the creation of the National Security Council (NSC), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its misleadingly-named covert-action branch, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), the American role in the stay-behind operations began to take shape. The OPC, under Frank Wisner, set up and reinforced stay-behind armies throughout Western Europe. After the allies won the war the stay-behind strategy was then recycled to anticipate not potential Nazi but possible Soviet occupations, despite the fact that the Soviet Union had been a loyal ally during the war and had endured the brunt of the overwhelming German aggressions sustaining more than 20 million (some say as many as 27 million) military and civilian victims. Harry Truman is famously quoted as saying, “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible…”
Where did this belligerent American anti-communism originate, what fed it, and how did it become the perpetual motion machine that has driven US domestic and foreign affairs ever since? If Communism didn’t exist the Americans would have had to invent it, in order to give an ideological footing to their never-ending worldwide geo-political ambitions, and to a large extent they did.
Roosevelt and Stalin Might Have Made a Better Match
This, in spite of the fact that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a viable—even cordial—relationship with Josef Stalin during their two wartime meetings—at the Tehran Conference, a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943 in the Soviet Union’s embassy in Tehran, Iran after the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran, and the Yalta Conference, (February 4–11, 1945), which met at Yalta in Crimea to plan the final defeat of the Nazis and the postwar disposition of Europe. Roosevelt considered Stalin a statesman he could work with. Winston Churchill, also present—if somewhat sidelined by the bonhomie between Roosevelt and Stalin—at both meetings, was of the opposite opinion and actually suggested to the Allies at the end of the war that they turn their guns on the Soviet Union and eliminate the “Communist threat” once and for all. One suspects that, if Roosevelt had lived longer (he died in 1945 at the age of 63), the recent history of world might have been substantially different.
The United States and Britain had considered Russia an enemy since the First World War, a quarter of a century earlier. In the summer of 1918 the United States, under President Woodrow Wilson, sent three battalions of infantry and three companies of engineers to Archangel, on the White Sea in the Russian Arctic, ostensibly “to protect supplies and to support British and Imperial troops already on the scene,” but actually to harass Russian troops in the north. A small American force was also sent to Vladivostok, on Russia’s northern Pacific coast where, under command of the Canadian General Elmsley, along with Japanese, British, and Canadian troops, they formed part of the Vladivostok phase of the Russian Interventions of 1918-1920. (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Vol. II, p. 287 ff.)