The Danish stay-behind army was code-named Absalon, after a Danish archbishop, and led by E.J. Harder. It was hidden in the military secret service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE). In 1978, William Colby, former director of the CIA, released his memoirs in which he described the setting-up of stay-behind armies in Scandinavia:
“The situation in each Scandinavian country was different. Norway and Denmark were NATO allies, Sweden held to the neutrality that had taken her through two world wars, and Finland were required to defer in its foreign policy to the Soviet power directly on its borders. Thus, in one set of these countries the governments themselves would build their own stay-behind nets, counting on activating them from exile to carry on the struggle. These nets had to be co-ordinated with NATO’s plans, their radios had to be hooked to a future exile location, and the specialised equipment had to be secured from CIA and secretly cached in snowy hideouts for later use. In other set of countries, CIA would have to do the job alone or with, at best, “unofficial” local help, since the politics of those governments barred them from collaborating with NATO, and any exposure would arouse immediate protest from the local Communist press, Soviet diplomats and loyal Scandinavians who hoped that neutrality or nonalignment would allow them to slip through a World War III unharmed.”
On November 25, 1990, Danish daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende, quoted by Daniele Ganser (2005), confirmed William Colby’s revelations, by a source named “Q”:
“Colby’s story is absolutely correct. Absalon was created in the early 1950s. Colby was a member of the world spanning laymen Catholic organisation Opus Dei, which, using a modern term, could be called right-wing. Opus Dei played a central role in the setting up of Gladio in the whole of Europe and also in Denmark… The leader of Gladio was Harder who was probably not a Catholic. But there are not many Catholics in Denmark and the basic elements making up the Danish Gladio were former [WW II] resistance people – former prisoners of Vestre Fængsel, Frøslevlejren, Neuengamme and also of the Danish Brigade.”
Reinhard Gehlen, Nazi intelligence agent on the East front during the war, turned towards the US after the war, and set up the “Gehlen Organisation,” which used many former Nazi party members for intelligence purposes during the Cold War. But alongside the Gehlen organisation, which became the nucleus of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND, Federal Intelligence Service), West Germany‘s intelligence agency created in 1956, US intelligence also set up a German stay-behind network parallel (and juxtaposed) to the Gehlen Org (which also had a role in the organisation of the ODESSA network, used to exfiltrate Nazi war criminals). CIA documents released in June 2006 under the 1998 Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, more than fifteen years after Prime minister Giulio Andreotti’s revelations concerning Gladio, show that the CIA organized “stay-behind” networks of German agents between 1949 and 1955.
One of these networks supported by the CIA was the Technische Dienst (TD, Technical Service) section within the Bund Deutscher Jugend (BDJ, Union of German Youth). The anti-communist BDJ was founded in 1950 by ex-Nazis Erhard Peters and Paul Lüth. The existence of TD came to light, after a speech in the Hesse Landtag by PM Georg August Zinn. During the investigations into BDJ, which started in September 1952, a couple of arms caches were found, including one in the Odenwald region, Hesse. The claim by August Zinn that the BDJ supposedly was in the possession of a list of Social Democracts and Communists to be liquidated in case of a Soviet invasion, including leading figures of the opposition Social Democratic Party) was denied by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. The BDJ was outlawed in January 1953.
Documents shown to the Italian parliamentary terrorism committee revealed that in the 1970s British and French officials involved in the network visited a training base in Germany built with US money.
The 1980 Oktoberfest bomb blast
Revelations of a witness in the investigation of the Oktoberfest bomb blast of 1980 in Munich lead to the conclusion that the explosives might have come from the German Neo-Nazi Heinz Lembke. In 1981, German police by chance found an arms cache in the Lüneburg Heath, which led to the arrest of Lembke and the discovery of other arms caches in Lower Saxony. A few days later Lembke hanged himself in his prison cell. Lembke had been questioned in Oktoberfest investigation, but the public prosecutors found no evidence that he supplied the explosives for the bombing.
Lembke’s arms caches were supposed to be connected to Gladio by a number of researchers and journalists.
CIA’s documents released in June 2006
One network included Staff Sergent Heinrich Hoffman and Lieutenant Colonel Hans Rues, and another one, codenamed Kibitz-15, was run by Lieutenant Colonel Walter Kopp, a former Wehrmacht officer, described by his own North American handlers as an “unreconstructed Nazi.” In an April 1953 CIA memo released in June 2006, the CIA headquarters wrote: “The present furore in Western Germany over the resurgence of the Nazi or neo-Nazi groups is a fair example — in miniature — of what we would be faced with.” Therefore some of these networks were dismantled. These documents stated that the ex-Nazis were a complete failure in intelligence terms. According to Timothy Naftali, a US historian from the University of Virginia who reviewed the CIA documents then released, “The files show time and again that these people were more trouble than they were worth. The unreconstructed Nazis were always out for themselves, and they were using the West’s lack of information about the Soviet Union to exploit it.” The US NARA Archives themselves stated in a 2002 communique, concerning Reinhard Gehlen’s recruiting of former Nazis, that “Besides the troubling moral issues involved, these recruitments opened the West German government, and by extension the United States, to penetration by the Soviet intelligence services.”
Hans Globke, who had worked for Adolf Eichmann in the Jewish Affairs department and helped draft the 1935 Nuremberg laws, became Chancellor Konrad Adenauer‘s national security advisor in the 1960s, and “was the main liaison with the CIA and NATO” according to The Guardian. A March 1958 memo from the German BND agency to the CIA wrote that Adolf Eichmann is “reported to have lived in Argentina under the alias CLEMENS since 1952.” However, the CIA did not pass the information on to the Israeli MOSSAD, as it feared revelations concerning its use of former Nazis for intelligence purposes — Eichmann, who was in charge of the Jewish Affairs department, was abducted by the MOSSAD two years later. Among these information that might have been revealed by Eichmann were the ones concerning Hans Globke, CIA’s liaison in West Germany. At the request of Bonn, the CIA persuaded Life magazine to delete any reference to Globke from Eichmann’s memoirs, which it had bought from his family.
Norbert Juretzko’s 2004 revelations
In 2004 the German spymaster Norbert Juretzko published a book about his work at the BND. He went into details about recruiting partisans for the German stay-behind network. He was sacked from BND following a secret trial against him, because the BND could not find out the real name of his Russian source “Rübezahl” whom he had recruited. A man with the name he put on file was arrested by the KGB following treason in the BND, but was obviously innocent, his name having been chosen at random from the public phone book by Juretzko.
According to Juretzko, the BND built up its branch of Gladio, but discovered after the fall of the German Democratic Republic that it was 100% known to the Stasi early on. When the network was dismantled, further odd details emerged. One fellow “spymaster” had kept the radio equipment in his cellar at home with his wife doing the engineering test call every 4 months, on the grounds that the equipment was too “valuable” to remain in civilian hands. Juretzko found out because this spymaster had dismantled his section of the network so quickly, there had been no time for measures such as recovering all caches of supplies. Civilians recruited as stay-behind partisans were equipped with a clandestine shortwave radio with a fixed frequency. It had a keyboard with digital encryption, making use of traditional Morse code obsolete. They had a cache of further equipment for signalling helicopters or submarines to drop special agents who were to stay in the partisan’s homes while mounting sabotage operations against the communists.
The aim of British Prime minister Winston Churchill was to prevent the communist-led EAM resistance movement from taking power after the end of World War II. After the suppression of a pro-EAM uprising in April 1944 among the Greek forces in Egypt, a new and firmly reliable unit was formed, the Third Greek Mountain Brigade, which excluded “almost all men with views ranging from moderately conservative to left wing.” After liberation in October 1944, EAM controlled most of the country. When it organized a demonstration in Athens on December 3, 1944 , members of rightist and pro-royalist paramilitary organizations, covered by “British troops and police with machine guns… posited on the rooftops”, suddenly shot on the crowd, killing 25 protesters (including a six-year-old boy) and wounding 148. This marked the outbreak of the Dekemvriana, which would lead to the Greek Civil War.
When Greece joined NATO in 1952, the country’s special forces, the LOK (Lochoi Oreinōn Katadromōn, i.e. “Mountain Raiding Companies“) were integrated into the European stay-behind network. The CIA and LOK reconfirmed on March 25, 1955 their mutual co-operation in a secret document signed by US General Trascott for the CIA, and Konstantinos Dovas, chief of staff of the Greek military. In addition to preparing for a Soviet invasion, the CIA instructed LOK to prevent a leftist coup. Former CIA agent Philip Agee, who was sharply criticized in the US for having revealed sensitive information, insisted that “paramilitary groups, directed by CIA officers, operated in the sixties throughout Europe [and he stressed that] perhaps no activity of the CIA could be as clearly linked to the possibility of internal subversion.”
The LOK was involved in the Greek military coup d’État on April 21, 1967,[not in citation given] which took place one month before the scheduled national elections for which opinion polls predicted an overwhelming victory of the centrist Center Union of George and Andreas Papandreou. Under the command of paratrooper Lieutenant Colonel Costas Aslanides, the LOK took control of the Greek Defence Ministry while Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos gained control over communication centers, the parliament, the royal palace, and according to detailed lists, arrested over 10,000 people. Phillips Talbot, the US ambassador in Athens, disapproved of the military coup which established the “Regime of the Colonels” (1967–1974), complaining that it represented “a rape of democracy” – to which Jack Maury, the CIA chief of station in Athens, answered: “How can you rape a whore?”.[not in citation given]
Arrested and then exiled in Canada and Sweden, Andreas Papandreou later returned to Greece, where he won the 1981 election for Prime minister, forming the first socialist government of Greece’s post-war history. According to his own testimony, he discovered the existence of the secret NATO army, then codenamed “Red Sheepskin”, as acting prime minister in 1984 and had given orders to dissolve it.
Following Giulio Andreotti’s revelations in 1990, the Greek defence minister confirmed that a branch of the network, known as Operation Sheepskin, operated in his country until 1988. The socialist opposition called for a parliamentary investigation into the secret army and its alleged link to terrorism and the 1967 coup d’état. Public order minister Yannis Vassiliadis declared that there was no need to investigate such “fantasies” as “Sheepskin was one of 50 NATO plans which foresaw that when a country was occupied by an enemy there should be an organised resistance. It foresaw arms caches and officers who would form the nucleus of a guerilla war. In other words, it was a nationally justifiable act.”
In December 2005, journalist Kleanthis Grivas published an article in To Proto Thema, a Greek Sunday newspaper, in which he accused “Sheepskin” for the assassination of CIA station chief Richard Welch in Athens in 1975, as well as the assassination of British military attaché Stephen Saunders in 2000. This was denied by the US State Department, who responded that “the Greek terrorist organization ‘17 November‘ was responsible for both assassinations”, and that Grivas’s central piece of evidence had been the Westmoreland Field Manual which the State department, as well as an independent Congressional inquiry have alleged to be a Soviet forgery. The document in question, however, makes no specific mention of Greece, November 17, nor Welch. The State Department also highlighted the fact that, in the case of Richard Welch, “Grivas bizarrely accuses the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of one of its own senior officials” while “Sheepskin” couldn’t have assassinate Stephen Saunders for the simple reason, according to the US government, that “the Greek government stated it dismantled the “stay behind” network in 1988.”
The 1960 constitution only had provision for a very small professional army of a few hundred men from both Cypriot communities. Following the 1963-64 clashes that led to the collapse of the power sharing between greek and turkish cypriots, the National Guard was created as a conscription greek cypriot army. The officers for the National Guard where almost exclusively Greek nationals, officers of the greek army. LOK units were created in Cyprus modelled on the Greek LOK units, though Cyprus never joined NATO and was at the time a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Reporter Makarios Drousiotis has written about Greek officer Dimitris Papapostolou, commander of LOK in Cyprus at the time, conspiring with ex-interior minister Polykarpos Yorkatzis to kill elected president Makarios by attacking his helicopter, and after the failure of that attempt, being involved in the assassination of Yorkatzis. The 15 July 1974 coup d’etat against Makarios was executed by National Guard units, with the attack on the presidential palace perpetrated by 32 Moira Katadromon LOK unit with the help of a tanks reconnaisance unit.
A large arms cache was discovered in 1983 near the village Velp. In 1990 the government by means of then-prime-minister Ruud Lubbers was forced to confirm that the arms were related to planning for unorthodox warfare. He insisted that the Dutch organisation was, contrary to the operations in other European countries, totally independent from NATO command, and during wartime occupation would be commanded by the Dutch government in exile. The operating bureaus of the organisation would also move to safety in England or the USA at the first sign of trouble.
In his television show of 22 April 2007 Dutch crime journalist Peter R. De Vries revealed that weapons had been illegally supplied to Gladio well after the network was supposed to have been disbanded.
A Dutch investigative television program revealed on September 9, 2007, that an arms cache that belonged to Gladio was ransacked in the 1980s. The cache was located in a forest near Scheveningen. Some of stolen weapons later turned up, including hand grenades and machine guns, when police officials arrested criminals Sam Klepper and John Mieremet in 1991. The Dutch military intelligence agency, MIVD, feared at that time that the disclosure of the Gladio history of these weapons was politically explosive.
In 1957, the director of the secret service NIS, Vilhelm Evang, protested strongly against the pro-active intelligence activities at AFNORTH, as described by the chairman of CPC: “[NIS] was extremely worried about activities carried out by officers at Kolsås. This concerned SB, Psywar and Counter Intelligence.” These activities supposedly included the blacklisting of Norwegians. SHAPE denied these allegations. Eventually, the matter was resolved in 1958, after Norway was assured about how stay-behind networks were to be operated.[page needed]
In 1978, the police discovered an arms cache and radio equipment at a mountain cabin and arrested Hans Otto Meyer, a businessman accused of being involved in selling illegal alcohol. Meyer claimed that the weapons were supplied by Norwegian intelligence. Rolf Hansen, defense minister at that time, stated the network was not in any way answerable to NATO and had no CIA connection.
Further information: Aginter Press
In 1966, the CIA set up Aginter Press which, under the direction of Captain Yves Guérin-Sérac (who had taken part in the founding of the OAS), ran a secret stay-behind army and trained its members in covert action techniques amounting to terrorism, including bombings, silent assassinations, subversion techniques, clandestine communication and infiltration and colonial warfare. Aginter Press was suspected of having assassinated General Humberto Delgado (1906–1965), founder of the Portuguese National Liberation Front against Salazar‘s dictatorship (prominent historians and several sources also claim Delgado’s assassination was performed by PIDE operational Rosa Casaco), as well as anti-colonialist leader Amilcar Cabral (1924–1973), founder of the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) and Eduardo Mondlane leader of the liberation movement FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), in 1969 (prominent historians and several sources also claim Cabral’s assassination was performed by indivuduals within Cabral’s guerrilla movemment, the PAIGC, and Mondlane’s death was work of his enemies inside FRELIMO – according to these versions, both assassinations were the result of struggles for power within the independentist movements).
Main article: Counter-Guerrilla
As one of the nations that prompted the Truman Doctrine, Turkey is one of the first countries to participate in Operation Gladio and, some say, the only country where it has not been purged. According to Italian magistrate Felice Casson, the Turkish stay-behind forces are two-pronged: the military “Counter-Guerrilla”, and the civilian “Ergenekon”. An offshoot of the latter organization is currently the subject of a major investigation. Casson says Turkey is home to the most powerful branch of Operation Gladio.
During the ongoing trials since summer of 2008 it has been revealed that the group named Ergenekon is actually consisted of Armed Forces officers and various civilians working to influence the governments of Turkey, either by subversion or direct coup d’etat.
The United Kingdom
In Great Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill created the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1940 to assist resistance movements and carry out subversive operations in enemy-held territory across occupied Europe. Guardian reporter David Pallister wrote in December 1990 that a guerrilla network with arms caches had been put in place following the fall of France. It included Brigadier “Mad Mike” Calvert, and was drawn from a special-forces ski battalion of the Scots Guards which was originally intended to fight in Nazi-occupied Finland. Known as Auxiliary Units, they were headed by Major Colin Gubbins, an expert in guerrilla warfare who would later lead the SOE. The Auxiliary Units were attached to GHQ Home Forces, and concealed within the Home Guard. The units were created in preparation of a possible invasion of the British Isles by the Third Reich. These units were allegedly stood down only in 1944. Several of their members subsequently joined the Special Air Service and saw action in France in late 1944. The units’ existence did not generally become known by the public until the 1990s though a book on the subject was published in 1968. In fiction, Owen Sheers’ Resistance (2008), set in Wales, takes as one of its central characters a member of the Auxiliary Units called to resist a successful German invasion.
After the end of World War II, the stay-behind armies were created with the experience and involvement of former SOE officers. Following Giulio Andreotti’s October 1990 revelations, General Sir John Hackett (1910–1997), former commander-in-chief of the British Army on the Rhine, declared on November 16, 1990 that a contingency plan involving “stay behind and resistance in depth” was drawn up after the war. The same week, Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley (1924–2006), former commander-in-chief of NATO’s Forces in Northern Europe from 1979 to 1982, declared to The Guardian that a secret arms network was established in Britain after the war. General John Hackett had written in 1978 a novel, The Third World War: August 1985, which was a fictionalized scenario of a Soviet Army invasion of West Germany in 1985. The novel was followed in 1982 by The Third World War: The Untold Story, which elaborated on the original. Farrar-Hockley had aroused controversy in 1983 when he became involved in trying to organise a campaign for a new Home Guard against eventual Soviet invasion.
Gladio membership included mostly ex-servicemen but also followers of Oswald Mosley‘s pre-war fascist movement. Among the 200,000+ Polish ex-servicemen in the UK after the end of World War II, unable to return home for fear of communist repression, were conspiratorial groups maintaining combat readiness ready to fight for a free Poland should the Warsaw Pact attack western Europe. The ‘Pogon‘ organisation, linked to the Polish Government-in-Exile held regular paramilitary exercises until the 1970s; many of its members were associated with the Polish scouting movement in the UK which had a strong paramilitary flavour. Links with ‘Stay-behind’ networks are strongly suspected.
General Serravalle’s revelations
General Gerardo Serravalle, who commanded the Italian Gladio from 1971 to 1974, related that “in the 1970s the members of the CPC [Coordination and Planning Committee] were the officers responsible for the secret structures of Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Italy. These representatives of the secret structures met every year in one of the capitals… At the stay-behind meetings representatives of the CIA were always present. They had no voting rights and were from the CIA headquarters of the capital in which the meeting took place… members of the US Forces Europe Command were present, also without voting rights. “. Next to the CPC a second secret command post was created in 1957, the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC). According to the Belgian Parliamentary Committee on Gladio, the ACC was “responsible for coordinating the ‘Stay-behind’ networks in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States”. During peacetime, the activities of the ACC “included elaborating the directives for the network, developing its clandestine capability and organising bases in Britain and the United States. In wartime, it was to plan stay-behind operations in conjunction with SHAPE; organisers were to activate clandestine bases and organise operations from there”. General Serravale declared to the Commissione Stragi headed by senator Giovanni Pellegrino that the Italian Gladio members trained at a military base in Britain. Documents shown to the committee also revealed that British and French officials members of Gladio had visited in the 1970s a training base in Germany built with US money.
The Guardian’s November 1990 revelations concerning plans under Margaret Thatcher
The Guardian reported on November 5, 1990, that there had been a “secret attempt to revive elements of a parallel post-war plan relating to overseas operations” in the “early days of Mrs Thatcher‘s Conservative leadership”. According to the British newspaper, “a group of former intelligence officers, inspired by the wartime Special Operations Executive, attempted to set up a secret unit as a kind of armed MI6 cell. Those behind the scheme included Airey Neave, Mrs Thatcher’s close adviser who was killed in a terrorist attack in 1979, and George Kennedy Young, a former deputy chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.” The newspaper stated that Thatcher had been “initially enthusiastic but dropped the idea after the scandal surrounding the attack by the French secret service on the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand in 1985.” The Swiss branch, P-26, as well as Italian Gladio, had trained in the UK in the early 1970s.