15 August 2023

Julian Borger in the Guardian, ““Norman Darbyshire co-wrote the plan for the coup and took the leading role in directing the operation that overthrew Mosadegh and reinstalled the shah. This was his show,” said Taghi Amirani, the director of Coup 53, a documentary about the plot. “When the CIA was ready to abandon the coup after its initial failure on the 15th of August, Darbyshire on his own initiative called out the rent-a-mob and turned the tide in Britain’s favour [. . . ] After Mosadegh became prime minister in 1951, nationalising the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and expelling British diplomats the following year, the British government decided he had to be got rid of. Darbyshire and an aide were tasked with putting together a plan to depose the prime minister [. . .]”. click here.

20 November 2022

John Mcevoy in declassified.org, “. . . Throughout the 1960s, this support (of the Foreign Office’s Information Research Unit) involved helping the US-backed South Vietnamese regime to set up its own propaganda unit, and whitewashing Washington’s image over civilian bloodshed . . . Britain’s initial propaganda objectives would be to “hit the peasant on the rice field”, to “help build loyalty among government officials by giving them good exposure”, and “to insure the population is informed of what is happening in Hanoi”, the capital of North Vietnam.” click here.

13 September 2022

Jason Burke in the Guardian, “[. . .] Based mainly in Guinea from July 1969, the 28-year-old activist [Stokely Carmichael] had became a vocal advocate of socialist, pan-Africanist ideologies, which worried British officials. The documents show the IRD created a fake west African organisation called The Black Power – Africa’s Heritage Group, which produced a pamphlet calling Carmichael an “unbidden prophet from America” who had no place on the continent.” click here.

4 September 2022

Mark Townsend reports in the Guardian, “[. . . ] Sources have told Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer representing [Shamima] Begum’s family, that there is significant concern within its ranks [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] that a people smuggler working for Canadian intelligence helped Begum and two friends from Bethnal Green, east London, to join Islamic State in Syria.” click here.

30 August 2022

Ahisha Ghafoor & Paul Mitchell of the BBC News Arabic & BBC News Persian service, writing in bbc.co.uk, note, “. . . In 1965, the most politically, socially and educationally progressive of the ruling sheikhs in the Trucial States, Saqr bin Sultan al-Qassemi of Sharjah, fell foul of the British. His offence was to have cosied up to Egypt’s President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the mainstay of the Arab nationalist movement. Sheikh Saqr was removed in a British-sponsored coup d’etat and replaced by his cousin.” click here.

15 August 2022

Aamna Mohdin in the Guardian, “[. . .] Young [Commissioner of Police] quickly began to uncover instances of human rights abuses, which involved colonial officers either carrying out the alleged violence or trying to cover it up. Young presented these cases to the ministry of legal affairs in Kenya and the attorney general, but the investigations were ultimately blocked.” click here

6 August 2022

James Oliver and Nicholas Gilby in the Guardian “Declassified files reveal four “black” operations against Odinga. In September 1965, the Daily Telegraph ran a story headlined “‘Revolution’ document in Kenya”. It reported on a pamphlet issued by the “People’s Front of East Africa” attacking Kenyatta’s government as “reactionary, fascist and dishonest”. But it praised Odinga as “a great revolutionary leader” who would be brought to power by a “newly formed People’s Revolutionary Kenya Socialist party”. In fact, it was a sophisticated propaganda operation that increased suspicions that Kenya’s vice-president was in league with communist China. The IRD sent 80 copies of its pamphlet to “leading personalities and the press”, [. . . ] click here

20 June 2022

Peter Spiegel notes in a review in the Financial Times of Nellie Lahoud’s The Bin Laden Papers: How the Abbottabad Raid Revealed the Truth about al-Qaeda, its Leader and his Family that bin Laden was angry on discovering that some of his family members, including a son, had been held captive in Iran since the start of 2002. However US intelligence officers – even after the capture of documents from Laden’s Abbottabad hide out, “. . . were still telling Congress that al-Qaeda had a “marriage of convenience” with Tehran — either a complete misreading of the intelligence, Lahoud suggests, or a malicious lie.” Financial Times, 17 June 2022.

16 May 2022

Jason Blake in the Guardian, writing on Rory Cormac’s book How to Stage a Coup: And Ten Other Lessons from the World of Secret Statecraft: “. . .The IRD [the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department] also forged literature purporting to come from the Muslim Brotherhood, a mass Islamist organisation that had a significant following across the Middle East. One pamphlet accused Moscow of encouraging the 1967 war, criticised the quality of Soviet military equipment, and called the Soviets “filthy-tongued atheists” who saw the Egyptians as little more than “peasants who lived all their lives nursing reactionary Islamic superstitions”. The IRD also created an entirely fictive radical Islamist organisation called the League of Believers, which attacked the Russians as non-believers and blamed Arab defeats on a lack of religious faith, a standard trope among religious conservatives at the time [ . . . ] The IRD’s leaflets echoed other claims made by radical Islamists, arguing that military misdeeds should not be blamed on “the atheists or the imperialists or the Zionist Jews” but on “Egyptians who are supposed to be believers”. [. . .] Attempts to isolate African nationalists sometimes involved incitement of racial tension. In early 1963, the IRD forged a statement from the World Federation of Democratic Youth, a Soviet front organisation, which denounced Africans as uncivilised, “primitive” and morally weak. The forgery received press coverage across the continent, with many newspapers reacting intemperately. click here

25 January 2022

Paul Lashmar, Nicholas Gilby and James Oliver in the Guardian, ” Documents newly released in the National Archives show how propaganda specialists from the Foreign Office sent hundreds of inflammatory pamphlets to leading anti-communists in Indonesia, inciting them to kill the foreign minister Dr Subandrio and claiming that ethnic Chinese Indonesians deserved the violence meted out to them. click here

17 October 2021

Paul Lashmar, Nicholas Gilby and James Oliver in The Guardian, “A propaganda campaign orchestrated by Britain played a crucial part in one of the most brutal massacres of the postwar 20th century, shocking new evidence reveals. British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s to urge prominent Indonesians to “cut out” the “communist cancer” . . . In 1965 specialist propagandists from the Foreign Office’s information research department (IRD) were sent to Singapore to produce black propaganda to undermine Sukarno’s regime.” click here.

20 April 2020

From the Government of Rwanda website, “. . . The final report of the Muse Investigation was submitted to the Government of Rwanda on 19 April 2021. . . . ‘Our Report concludes that the Genocide was foreseeable. From its knowledge of massacres of civilians conducted by the government and its allies, to the daily dehumanization of the Tutsi, to the cables and other data arriving from Rwanda, the French government could see that a genocide was coming. The French government was neither blind nor unconscious about the foreseeable genocide . . . The role of the French government must be examined in the context of both the events they enabled and the generations irreparably harmed. It can be disquieting and uncomfortable to confront what actually happened to the Tutsi, but it must be done. However awkward and unsettling it may be to consider, France’s role can only be examined and determined with a full awareness of what did occur. ” click here.

18 December 2020

Dominic Casciani, BBC News” . . . It was the second time in two days that MI6 procedures had been called into question, after the release of a critical report on Tuesday by the investigatory powers commissioner, who monitors the spy agency’s use of covert powers. That report said MI6 last year failed to make clear to the foreign secretary that a “high-risk agent” operating overseas had probably engaged in “serious criminality” until the watchdog pointed it out. The spy agency had been seeking to authorise the agent’s activities under section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act, nicknamed the “licence to kill”, but had not made explicit that red lines prohibiting criminal behaviour had been breached.” click here.

Torture condoned?

27 October 2020

Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian, ” The security services are accused by [Rangzieb] Ahmed of suggesting to Pakistan’s ISI agency that they arrest him in 2006, and of submitting questions, which were put to him under torture, during which three of his fingernails were ripped out..” click here.

Iran, the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh

17 August 2020

Julian Borger in The Guardian, “In 1951 the UK’s deputy prime minister, Anthony Eden, without consulting his senior officials, dispatched an academic and wartime spy, Robert Zaehner, to try to oust Mossadegh by bribing members of the Majlis and other prominent Iranians. “Vast sums of money were being spent,” Darbyshire said. “He used to carry biscuit tins with damn great notes. I think he spent well over a million and a half pounds.”Zaehner’s attempt failed and he left the country, leaving Darbyshire to plot a more violent alternative, which he insisted ended up costing his government less. “The coup cost £700,000. I know because I spent it,” he claimed.” click here

2 August 2020

Vanessa Thorpe in The Guardian, “The hidden role of a British secret service officer who led the coup that permanently altered the Middle East is to be revealed for the first time since an Observer news story was suppressed in 1985 . . . Perhaps the most shocking evidence in Coup 53 concerns British guilt in the kidnapping and eventual “accidental” killing of the Iranian police chief Mahmoud Afshartous. This incident deliberately provoked the unrest that led to the arrest and imprisonment of Mossadegh in August. ” click here.

Italian Connections: What happened to Camillo Olivetti?

22 October 2019

Sharon Weinberger in Nature: At the heart of Secrest’s book lie two questions: how did the Italian typewriter company Olivetti produce the world’s first PC in the 1960s — long before its competitors — only to have its work fall into obscurity? And could Adriano Olivetti’s death be linked to the company’s disappearance from computer history? Secrest weaves a startling narrative around these events, involving a US intelligence agency and an information-technology multinational. click here.

Italian Connections: P2 and Roberto Calvi

 27 June 2003

The investigative journalist Jim Lobe has uncovered the muddy footprints of Michael Ledeen, resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), international affairs analyst for Karl Rove, Bush’s closest advisor, and a veteran ‘neo-con’. Lobe discloses that in the late 1970s Ledeen consulted for Italian military intelligence – he was a visiting professor of history at the University of Rome between 1975-1977 and also reported for the magazine ‘The New Republic’. Lobe notes: “Ledeen’s right-wing Italian connections – including alleged ties to the P-2 Masonic Lodge that rocked Italy in the early 1980s – have long been a source of speculation and intrigue”.

P-2 – or Propaganda 2 – was a shadowy anti-communist association masterminded by Licio Gelli, who it is claimed joined the CIA after World War II on the recommendation of the Italian secret service. P-2 has been linked with the bizarre fate of Italian banker Roberto Calvi, whose body was found in London in June 1982, tangling off some scaffolding erected around Blackfriars Bridge. Calvi, recruited to P-2, may have been involved in the transfer of funds from his bank, Banco Ambrosiano, to Gelli and P2, bankrupting it in the process.

Noam Chomsky has stated that the US National Security Council supported P-2 to undermine the possibility of a left-leaning government winning elections in Italy. The kidnapping and murder of Italian PM Aldo Moro in 1978 was widely believed at the time to be the work of the ‘Red brigades’. Evidence has now been uncovered to suggest that Moro’s murder had little to do with left-wing ‘revolutionary’ groups, but was orchestrated by P-2. Other alleged CIA backed political atrocities include the bombing of Bologna railway station in August 1980, resulting in 85 deaths – also attributed to ‘left-wing terrorists’ at the time.

Public concern with the power of P-2 led to a police raid on Gelli’s villa in 1981, uncovering a list of members that included prominent media personalities such as the future premier Silvio Berlusconi.

In 1990, Berlusconi was found guilty of perjury for denying his membership. Leeden is a keen enthusiast of Berlesconi and his ‘clear eyed’ government.