Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Chapter 21
The investigation could identify the people involved in Gladio back to 1972. Some of them had died, but some were alive. I discovered everyone who was responsible for the Peteano massacre in 1972: three terrorists, a gendarmerie general, a colonel, a marshal, intelligence and police chiefs and members of the judiciary. All of them were found guilty and punished; however, the court did not put the organization itself on trial, although it agreed that Gladio had been involved. In the end, only those who were involved in the acts were punished, but not the organization. Moreover, we could identify only 622 “gladiators.” But the real number is much higher. The rest went into hiding. 
Judge Felice Casson, member of 
the Gladio Commission, Today's Zaman, 2008 

As long as the U.S. public remains ignorant of this dark chapter in US foreign relations, the agencies responsible for it will face little pressure to correct their ways. The end of the Cold War brought wholesale changes in other nations, but it changed little in Washington. In an ironic twist, confessed CIA mole Aldrich Ames has raised the basic question of whether the U.S. needs “tens of thousands of agents working around the world primarily in and against friendly countries.” “The U.S.,” he adds, “still awaits a real national debate on the means and ends—and costs—of our national security policies.” 
Arthur Rowse, “Gladio: The Secret U.S. War 
to Subvert Italian Democracy,” The Architecture
 of Modern Political Power, 1996 

At the time of Sindona's strange death, the CIA's main concern was no longer left-wing political activity in Italy and Western Europe but rather the situation in Afghanistan. The great jihad grew in scope and strength, threatening to sap the USSR of its strength and resolve. The inhabitants of the five republics of the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), who shared a common Turkish heritage and remained devoutly Islamic, were supportive of the mujahideen in their struggle against their Communist overlords. This support, combined with the massive amount of Muslim recruits to the great jihad from the Arab world, served to create a creeping sense of futility among the Soviet troops. To drive the “evil empire” to the point of total collapse, the CIA continued to infuse the holy war with munitions and money, until the war in Afghanistan became the Agency's most expensive covert undertaking.1 

By 1985, the Afghan rebels were receiving $250 million a year in dirty money from the CIA to battle the 115,000 Soviet troops occupying the country. This figure was double the number of Soviet troops who had been deployed to Afghanistan in 1984. The annual payments to the Muslim guerrillas reached nearly $1 billion by 1988. By this time, the CIA was also shipping highly sophisticated weaponry, including Stinger missiles, to the jihadists, whom they mistakenly viewed as “freedom fighters.”2 

In an effort to supply recruits to the jihad, the CIA once again focused its attention on America's black community. This development was understandable. The Agency realized that millions of African Americans, who felt disenfranchised by the system, had converted to Islam, which they saw as “the black man's religion.” This movement, prompted by such black leaders as Timothy Drew (“Noble Drew Ali”), Elijah Poole (“Elijah Muhammad”), and Malcolm Little (“Malcolm X”), had given rise to hundreds of mosques within America's inner cities. 3 By 1980, CIA began to send hundreds of militant Muslim missionaries, all members of the radical Tablighi Jamaat, into American mosques to call on young black men to take up arms in the holy war to liberate their Muslim brothers. 

Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, one of the first of these missionaries to arrive, convinced scores of members of the Yasin Mosque in Brooklyn to head off to guerrilla training camps in Pakistan with an offer of thousands in cash and the promise of seventy houris in seventh heaven, if they were killed in action. The cash came from the CIA's coffers.4 

Realizing it would be financially advantageous to train the new recruits on American soil, Sheikh Gilani, with the help of the CIA, set up paramilitary training camps in rural areas throughout the country, including Hancock, New York; Red House, Virginia; Commerce, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Macon, Georgia; Squaw Valley, California; Marion, Alabama; and Talihina, Oklahoma.5 

By 1985, the international press began to report that an unspecified number of African American Muslims—all related to the camps set up by Gilani—had joined the ranks of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and that several had been killed in action. When questioned, several of the jihadis imported from America would testify that they were agents of the CIA.6 

To provide more support for the mujahideen, the CIA used Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's mentor, to set up a cell of al-Qaeda within Masjid al-Farooq on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The cell, known as the al-Kifah Refugee Center, acted as a front for the transference of funds, weapons, and recruits to Afghanistan. Throughout the 1980s, this militant organization received over $2 million a year and Masjid al-Farooq became a very wealthy institution.7 During this time, Azzam spent a great deal of time in Brooklyn. In a 1988 videotape, he can be seen and heard telling a large crowd of African Americans that “blood and martyrdom are the only way to create a Muslim society.”8 

By 1992, al-Farooq mosque had become a haven for Arabian veterans from the great jihad in Afghanistan, who were granted special passports to enter the United States by the CIA. A feud erupted between the older African American members of the mosque and the Arab newcomers, which resulted in the murder of Mustafa Shalabi, the fiery imam of the mosque, on March 1, 1991. The crime has never been solved.9 

The soaring expenses for the covert war in Afghanistan, coupled with the ongoing need of support for the guerrilla units in Latin America and the secret armies in Western Europe caused the CIA to forge new alliances. In 1980, the Agency deployed Dewey Clarridge, its top agent in Latin America, to establish ties with Honduran drug lord Juan Matta Ballesteros, who operated the airline SETCO. SETCO agreed to transport narcotics to gangs north of the border and arms to a warehouse in Honduras that was operated by CIA operatives Oliver North and Richard Secord.10 The weapons were purchased by the Agency's cut of the deal, which in one transaction amounted to $14 million.11 The CIA also made business arrangements with other drug lords, including Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the “godfather of the Mexican drug business,” whose ranch became a training ground for right-wing guerrilla armies,12 and Miguel Nazar Haro, the leader of the Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico's most powerful narcotics network.13 

By 1990, more than 75 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States came through Mexico. Mexico also became a leading source of heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. The business was generating $50 billion a year; the CIA had found a source of funding to augment its ongoing heroin trade with the Turkish babas and the Sicilian Mafia. The new alliance meant that the Agency could launch operations even more ambitious than Gladio.14 

In 1988, as the first half of the Soviet contingent began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Operation Gladio came to an end in Western Europe. The official figures of the undertaking in Italy from the Gladio Commission showed that 14,591 acts of violence with “political motivation” had occurred between January 1, 1969, and December 31, 1987. Through Gladio, 491 people had been killed and 1,181 injured or maimed. The figures were without parallel in Italian history.15 

In 1988 the Italian Senate established the “Parliamentary Commission of the Italian Senate for the Investigation of Terrorism in Italy” under Senator Libero Gualtieri. The investigation proved to be a daunting task: Witnesses withheld testimony, documents were destroyed, and the commissioners were divided on how much to disclose to the public. The commission itself was made up of members from the competing political parties in Italy. With some from the Italian left and others from the Italian right, they were split on what exactly the historical truth in Italy was, and they disagreed on how many of their sensitive findings should be presented to the public.16 

But Judge Felice Casson, a member of the commission, finally uncovered documents that revealed that a secret military strategy had been at work during the years of lead. This strategy, involving an underground army, had been drafted by government sources and implemented by a foreign agency with an abundance of money. In July 1990, Casson obtained the permission from Prime Minister Andreotti to access the archives of the headquarters of SISMI within Palazzo Braschi in Rome.17 

Within the archives, the judge found top-secret documents that spoke of a covert operation named Gladio that had been created by US intelligence to engage in unorthodox warfare throughout Italy. Casson realized at once that by unearthing this information he had placed himself in grave danger, since every investigator who had stumbled upon Gladio had come to a violent end. “From July until October 1990,” Casson later recalled, “I was the only one who knew something [about Operation Gladio], this could have been unfortunate for me.”18 

On August 2, 1990, Prime Minister Andreotti was ordered to provide the parliamentary commission with information regarding the “parallel and occult structure” within SISMI that functioned “to condition the political life of the country.” The next day, the seventy-one-year-old prime minister appeared before the commission and assured the senators that he would provide a written report on the secret structure within sixty days. “I will present to the Commission a very precise report which I have asked the Defense Department to prepare,” Andreotti said. “It is about the activities based on NATO planning that have been started for the eventuality of an attack and occupation of Italy or parts of Italy.” He added, “I will provide the Commission with all the necessary documentation, be it on the problem in general, [or] be it on the specific findings made by Judge Casson.”19 

On October 8, 1990, Andreotti presented a secret service report titled “The So-Called Parallel SID—Operation Gladio” to the commission. After examining it, chairman Gualtieri sent the report back to the prime minister, saying that the revelation of its contents would violate “a breach of NATO security.” A censored report was delivered several days later and made public.20 

The censored report said that a secret army known as Gladio had been set up on Italian soil by the CIA at the start of the Cold War. The army was well armed with “portable arms, ammunition, explosives, hand grenades, knives and daggers, 60 mm mortars, several 57 mm recoilless rifles, sniper rifles, radio transmitters, binoculars and various tools.” Its arsenals were concealed in 139 hiding places throughout the country, including forests, meadows, cemeteries, and churches. Several cases of weapons, the report noted, had gone missing.21 

The news of the covert operation captured headlines for weeks throughout Italy and Western Europe, as magistrates, parliamentarians, academics, and journalists began to uncover more and more information about stay-behind forces that had been funded by the CIA to thwart the spread of Communism. In different countries, investigators discovered, the armies were known by different code names, including “Absalon” in Denmark, “Aginter Press” in Portugal, “SDRA” in Belgium, “ROC” in Norway, and “I&O” in the Netherlands. In each country, investigators learned, leading government officials—prime ministers, presidents, defense ministers, and interior ministers—worked in close corroboration with the CIA to address every incursion of Communism within their borders.22 

But the most alarming finding for those who dug into the Gladio story was that the secret armies had been used to mount terror attacks that could be blamed on the Communists in order to discredit left-wing political parties at the voting polls. These attacks, the researchers learned, were intended to create maximum fear. They ranged from bomb massacres in trains and marketplaces to violent coups that toppled governments.23 

As more and more revelations came to light, US and British officials refused to confirm or deny what the press alleged to be “the best kept and most damaging political-military secret since World War II.”24 In Great Britain, spokespersons at the Defense Department told the inquisitive British press, “I'm afraid we can't discuss security matters.” Finally, British defense secretary Tom King tried to pass off the matter of the secret arms—that had created widespread death and destruction throughout Europe—with a joke. “I am not sure what particular hot potato you're chasing after. It sounds wonderfully exciting, but I'm afraid I'm quite ignorant about it. I'm better informed about the Gulf.”25 

Admiral Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA from 1977 to 1981, adamantly refused to answer questions about Gladio during a television news interview in Italy in December 1990. When the news anchor insisted that Turner should respond as a gesture of respect for the victims of the numerous massacres in Italy, the former CIA director angrily shouted, “I said, no questions about Gladio!” He ripped off his microphone and left the set. The interview was over.26 

On November 22, the European Parliament, the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union, passed the following resolution condemning Gladio, demanding a full investigation of its undertakings, and calling for its paramilitary units to be dismantled: 

Joint resolution replacing B3-2021, 2058, 2068, 2078 and 2087/90 

A. having regard to the revelation by several European governments of the existence for 40 years of a clandestine parallel intelligence and armed operations organization in several Member States of the Community, 

B. whereas for over 40 years this organization has escaped all democratic controls and has been run by the secret services of the states concerned in collaboration with NATO, 

C. fearing the danger that such clandestine network may have interfered illegally in the internal political affairs of Member States or may still do so, 

D. whereas in certain Member States military secret services (or uncontrolled branches thereof) were involved in serious cases of terrorism and crime as evidenced by, various judicial inquiries, 

E. whereas these organizations operated and continue to operate completely outside the law since they are not subject to any parliamentary control and frequently those holding the highest government and constitutional posts are kept in the dark as to these matters, 

F. whereas the various “Gladio” organizations have at their disposal independent arsenals and military resources which give them an unknown strike potential, thereby jeopardizing the democratic structures of the countries in which they are operating or have been operating, 

G. greatly concerned at the existence of decision-making and operational bodies which are not subject to any form of democratic control and are of a completely clandestine nature at a time when greater Community cooperation in the field of security is a constant subject of discussion, 

1. Condemns the clandestine creation of manipulative and operational networks and Calls for a full investigation into the nature, structure, aims and all other aspects of these clandestine organizations or any splinter groups, their use for illegal interference in the internal political affairs of the countries concerned, the problem of terrorism in Europe and the possible collusion of the secret services of Member States or third countries; 

2. Protests vigorously at the assumption by certain US military personnel at SHAPE and in NATO of the right to encourage the establishment in Europe of a clandestine intelligence and operation network; 

3. Calls on the governments of the Member States to dismantle all clandestine military and paramilitary networks; 

4. Calls on the judiciaries of the countries in which the presence of such military organizations has been ascertained to elucidate fully their composition and modus operandi and to clarify any action they may have taken to destabilize the democratic structure of the Member States; 

5. Requests all the Member States to take the necessary measures, if necessary by establishing parliamentary committees of inquiry, to draw up a complete list of organizations active in this field, and at the same time to monitor their links with the respective state intelligence services and their links, if any, with terrorist action groups and/or other illegal practices; 

6. Calls on the Council of Ministers to provide full information on the activities of these secret intelligence and operational services; 

7. Calls on its competent committee to consider holding a hearing in order to clarify the role and impact of the “Gladio” organization and any similar bodies; 

8. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Secretary-General of NATO, the governments of the Member States and the United States Government.”27 

The resolution was forwarded to NATO secretary-general Manfred Wörner and US president George H. W. Bush. Neither supported the document nor offered an explanation of Gladio's necessity.28 

On April 15, 1991, Malcolm Byrne, deputy director of the National Security Archive Institute at George Washington University in Washington, filed a Freedom of Information request (F.O.I.A) with the CIA concerning Gladio. Specifically, he asked for “all agency records related to the United States Government's original decision(s), probably taken during the 1951–55 period, to sponsor, support, or collaborate with any covert armies, networks, or other units, established to resist a possible invasion of Western Europe by communist-dominated countries, or to conduct guerrilla activities in Western European countries should they become dominated by communist, leftist, or Soviet-sponsored parties or regimes.” He added, “With reference to the above, please include in your search any records relating to the activities known as ‘Operation Gladio,’ particularly in France, Germany, or Italy.”29 

Byrne noted in his request that a release of the records “will contribute significantly to public understanding of the United States foreign policy in the post-World War II era, as well as the role of intelligence information, analyses, and operations in United States policy-making at the time.” On June 18, 1991, the Agency provided its standard response in a letter that said, “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request.”30 When Byrne appealed this decision, the CIA claimed that information regarding Gladio remained protected “in the interest of national defense” and, therefore, was exempted from the disclosures mandated by the F.O.I.A.31 

Attempts by European officials to obtain information were equally futile. In March 1995, the Italian Senate commission under Giovanni Pellegrino asked the CIA for all records regarding the Red Brigades and the Aldo Moro kidnapping. They, too, received the rote reply: “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence of documentation regarding your inquiry.”32 

At this writing, the Gladio files remain classified as confidential and unavailable for inspection. The refusal to disclose any information about the undertaking is in keeping with Operation Mockingbird. Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post and a Mockingbird operative, said, “There are some things the general public does not need to know, and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”33 

After Andreotti broke his silence regarding Gladio, he was dragged in front of two Italian courts for cooperating with Toto Riina and the Sicilian Mafia in criminal activities and for issuing the orders for the assassination of journalist Mino Pecorelli.34 In the midst of these trials, Pope John Paul II took time in the Vatican to clasp Andreotti's hands and to offer the beleaguered prime minister what appeared to be an “embrace.” Following this incident, the Holy Father was challenged as he spoke from the pulpit of St. Peter's Cathedral by an irate student who was offended by the “endorsement.” It was the first time a Vicar of Christ had been challenged within the confines of his own church in seven hundred years.35 

Eventually, Andreotti was exonerated on both charges. But in 2002 an appeals court in Perugia ruled that the former prime minister was guilty of complicity in the murder and sentenced him to twenty-four years in prison. Hearing the verdict, Silvio Berlusconi, the present prime minister, called it an example of “justice gone mad.”36 Berlusconi's outcry was, for many, only to be expected. Like Andreotti, he had been an active member of P2 during the years of lead.37 

The Vatican, too, expressed its contempt of the court's decision. Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, upon learning the news, compared Andreotti to Jesus Christ, another victim of an unjust verdict, and hoped for his “resurrection” from the Supreme Court. L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, expressed its “full solidarity” with Andreotti, saying that the verdict “can only be rejected by good sense.” Cardinal Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian Bishops Conference and a key advisor to the pope, took the occasion of his yearly address to the bishops to express his “intact personal esteem” for the disgraced political figure.38 

Despite the statements of alarm over the fate of “the divine Julius” (the epithet for Julius Caesar, which the Italian media applied to Andreotti) the murder verdict was overturned by Italy's Supreme Court in October 2003. Andreotti, who rubbed shoulders with Licio Gelli, Michele Sindona, Roberto Calvi, and John Paul II, died on May 6, 2013, at the age of 94.39 

Andreotti may have passed on to meet his Maker, but Gladio, despite all reports to the contrary, was not dead. It had simply transmogrified.

Chapter 22
Gladio Triumphant
Without the Cold War excuse, our foreign policymakers had a real hard time justifying our joint operations and terrorism schemes in the resource rich ex-Soviet states with these same groups, so they made sure they kept their policies unwritten and unspoken, and considering their grip on the mainstream media, largely unreported. Now what would your response be if I were to say on the record, and, if required, under oath: “Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed, and helped execute every major terrorist incident by Chechen rebels (and the Mujahideen) against Russia. Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed, and helped execute every single uprising and terror related scheme in Xinjiang (aka East Turkistan and Uyhurstan). Between 1996 and 2001, we, the United States, planned and carried out at least two assassination schemes against pro Russian officials in Azerbaijan.” 
Sibel Edmonds, FBI Whistleblower, 
“Friends–Enemies–Both?” Boiling Frogs Post, 2010 
Image result for images of Abdullah Çatlı
On November 3, 1996, Gladio's survival of the Cold War became evident in Susurluk, a small town in northwestern Turkey, where Abdullah Çatlı, the Gladio contract killer involved with the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II, was killed in a car crash. Two other bodies were discovered among the wreckage: Çatlı's girlfriend, a model known as Gonga Us, and Hüseyin Kocadağ, the deputy chief of the Istanbul police force. Sedat Bucak, a member of parliament for the province of Urfa, survived the accident with a broken leg and a fractured skull.1 

Investigators at the scene discovered that Çatlı possessed eight national identity cards, each with a different alias. One card, bearing an official stamp over Çatlı's photo, identified him as Mehmet Ozkay, the same alias Mehmet Ali Ağca had used in his travels. They also found that Çatlı held two diplomatic passports and a gun permit that had been approved by Mehmet Ağar, Turkey's interior minister. Weapons were also found in the car, including a couple of pistols, several machine guns, and a set of silencers. Adding to the mystery, the police uncovered evidence that someone had tampered with the brakes of Çatlı's black Mercedes 600.2 

The “Susurluk incident” struck Turkey with the same force as the Watergate scandal in Nixon's America. Çatlı's identity cards and passports offered proof that he was connected to the highest offices in the country. And the dead body of Kocadağ, one of Turkey's top law enforcement officials, gave credence to the suspicion that Çatlı had remained protected by the law, even when he was committing acts of unbridled terrorism, including the Bahçelievler Massacre, on Turkish soil.3 

In the months that followed the crash in Susurluk, documents were leaked, commissions were set up, and witnesses were located. Marc Grossman, the US Ambassador to Turkey, who allegedly was assisting Çatlı and the activities of the derin devlet (“the deep state”) within Turkey, was mysteriously removed from the post as ambassador despite the fact that he had almost two years left to serve in his position. Grossman had been the handler for the Grey Wolves, the Gladio unit in which Çatlı had been a member. He also met regularly with leading Turkish babas and Turkish intelligence officials.4 Shortly before his departure from the ambassadorial post, Grossman had been served a secret warrant from the Susurluk Commission, which sought his testimony concerning the CIA's involvement with illegal Turkish paramilitary operations in Central Asia and the Caucasus.5 Other leading US dignitaries vanished from their posts in Ankara, including Major Douglas Dickerson, who procured weapons from the United States for various Central Asian and Middle Eastern governments.6 

The Susurluk Commission, set up by Turkey's Parliament in January 1997, discovered that the knot tying together the Turkish government and organized crime had been tightened by the Turkish National Security Council's decision to marshal all of the country's resources to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that sought to create an independent Marxist-Leninist state known as Kurdistan from a vast tract of land encompassing eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and northeastern Syria. Turkey's deputy prime minister Tansu Çiller had directed the national police force, under Mehmet Ağar, to launch a series of attacks against the PKK and to assassinate its leaders. To assist in the assassinations, Çiller and other government officials had secured the services of Abdullah Çatlı, who was, at the time, safe and secure in Chicago and in the employ of the CIA.7 

But the Commission was only able to scratch the surface of the secret government operating in Turkey. On December 7, 1997, Mesut Yılmaz, the newly elected prime minister, said, “We can't do better than to obtain twenty to twenty-five percent of the truth. Civil servants failed to provide us with evidence, or the documents are forged.”8 

After fleeing from St. Peter's Square, Çatlı had been arrested for drug smuggling in Switzerland and, in 1987, placed in a maximum security prison. He didn't remain long in the lockup. One night, he managed to escape when the doors to his cell and his cellblock suddenly opened and a NATO helicopter mysteriously appeared to whisk him away. In 1989, he appeared in England, where— although one of the world's most wanted fugitives—he was granted a British passport.9 

Çatlı's strange story became stranger. In 1991, he arrived in Chicago, married an American while assuming his Ozkay identity, and was granted a green card. The US immigration officials seemed to be blissfully unaware that he was a prison escapee, a convicted murderer, a known terrorist implicated in the attempted murder of the pope, and a notorious baba who ran the world's largest drugs-for-arms racket.10 

From Chicago, Çatlı was sent on US intelligence missions by the CIA to the newly created republics in Central Asia that had been part of the Soviet Union. Within these countries, he initiated acts of terrorism, including an armed insurrection to topple the government of Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan.11 Çatlı also made trips to the Chinese province of Xinjiang where he helped the Uyghurs (the Turkish-speaking Muslims living in northwestern China) mount insurrectionary attacks that killed 162 people.12 For his travels, Çatlı was issued a US passport under the name of Michael Nicholsan.13 

At Çatlı's funeral, an event that attracted over five thousand Grey Wolves, Meral Aydoğan Çatlı, the wife of the deceased thug, said, “My husband worked for the state. Twenty-two days after the coup on September 12, 1980, the military leaders sent him abroad for training. Then the state helped him escape from the Swiss prison.”14 Çatlı's coffin, draped in a Turkish flag, was lowered into the ground to the chanting of cries: “Allah is great.”15 

Çatlı's acts of political agitation among the Uyghurs were designed to further the CIA's goal of transforming the Chinese province into a new Islamic republic, which the Agency had named East Turkistan. Since Xinjiang remained the primary source of oil and natural gas for much of mainland China, the creation of East Turkistan would serve to deprive the country of its vital natural resources, making China considerably less of an economic and political threat to the United States and the Western world. The Tarim Basin in the southern half of Xinjiang contained as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia.16 

The new country was officially formed in Washington, DC, on September 14, 2004. Amidst the waving of American and Uyghur flags, Anwar Yusuf Turani, the prime minister, spoke of the new country's need of economic assistance and international recognition. Following the speech, Turani returned to his home—not in Xinjiang but in Fairfax, Virginia.17 

The US military-industrial complex's struggle for world control now centered on this region of China and the “stan” countries throughout Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.18 In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski expressed the vital importance of the United States gaining control of these countries, writing: 

The world's energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the US Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.19 

The inhabitants of these republics, including the mythical East Turkistan, spoke the Turkish language, upheld the Turkish culture, and shared the Turkish version of Islam. It didn't take an Einstein to realize that the vast area that stretched from the Anatolian plains to the Great Wall of China could only be united by the Pan-Turkish movement. Such a movement could not emanate from NATO headquarters, let alone Langley, Virginia. The republics continued to share a strong anti-Western animus, along with a deep suspicion of the United States that had been fostered by decades of Soviet control. For the United States, control of that region's vast resources could only be obtained by employing Turkey as a proxy. Sibel Edmonds, the FBI's former Turkish translator and a renowned whistleblower explains: 

You've got to look at the big picture. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the super powers began to fight over control of Central Asia, particularly the oil and gas wealth, as well as the strategic value of the region. Given the history, and the distrust of the West, the US realized that it couldn't get direct control, and therefore would need to use a proxy to gain control quickly and effectively. Turkey was the perfect proxy; a NATO ally and a puppet regime… This started more than a decade-long illegal, covert operation in Central Asia by a small group in the US intent on furthering the oil industry and the Military Industrial Complex, using Turkish operatives, Saudi partners and Pakistani allies, furthering this objective in the name of Islam. This is why I have been saying repeatedly that these illegal covert operations by the Turks and certain US persons dates back to 1996, and involves terrorist activities, narcotics, weapons smuggling and money laundering, converging around the same operations and involving the same actors. And I want to emphasize that this is “illegal” because most, if not all, of the funding for these operations is not congressionally approved funding, but it comes from illegal activities.20 

During the Cold War, a Pan-Turkish movement was unleashed by Col. Alparslan Türkeş, the Gladio commander in Turkey, who upheld a belief in Turkish racial superiority. He envisioned the restoration of the Ottoman Empire from the collapse of the Soviet Union, which kept the Turkish peoples of Central Asia in political and economic bondage. The Grey Wolves, the “youth military unit” formed by Türkeş, were named after the legendary wolves that led the scattered Turkish tribes out of Asia to their homeland in Anatolia. This task did not seem daunting. Thanks to Gladio, the CIA had controlled Turkish affairs for decades. Çatlı, as a disciple of Türkeş, was an extremely useful agent provocateur —an operative capable by expanding both the drug trade and the strategy of tension within Xinjiang and Central Asia. 

Throughout the 1990s, hundreds of Uyghurs were transported to Afghanistan by the CIA for training in guerrilla warfare by the mujahideen. When they returned to Xinjiang, they formed the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and came under Çatlı's expert direction.21 Graham Fuller, CIA superspy, offered this explanation for radicalizing the Chinese Muslims: 

The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them [Muslims] against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.22 

This policy of destabilization was devised by Bernard Lewis, an Oxford University specialist on Islamic studies, who called for the creation of an “Arc of Crisis” around the southern borders of the Soviet Union by empowering Muslim radicals to rebel against their Communist overlords.23 

The car crash at Susurluk was a setback to the plans to mount a strategy of tension that would fuel the Pan-Turkish movement. The killing of the Kurds, who had their own plans for Central Asia, was a key factor in accomplishing this objective. The Kurds were a major stumbling block to the unification of Central Asia. They were not Turks but Iranians (Persians). They had a different culture from Turks, spoke a different language (Kurdish), and practiced a different form of Sunni Islam. This latter fact was reflected in the Turkish saying, “Compared to the unbeliever, the Kurd is a Muslim.”24 The Kurds were oil-rich and their leaders were Marxists. And they were violent. Clashes between the PKK and the Turkish government had resulted in the deaths of thirty-seven thousand people.25 The problem with these different and difficult people had to be settled before the strategy of tension could be fully implemented in the new republics. In the weeks before Çatlı's death, ninety-one leading Kurdish businessmen were murdered, including Ömer Lütfü Topal, the “king of the gambling joints.” Topal was killed on July 28, 1996. Çatlı's fingerprints were found on the Kalashnikov rifle that was discovered at the crime scene.26 

Planning the attacks against the Kurds had brought together Çatlı, Turkey's leading fugitive, and Hüseyin Kocadağ, Turkey's leading police official, in a remote area of the Anatolian plains. Çatlı's death was unfortunate, mainly because of the adverse publicity it created for the MIT, Turkey's National Intelligence Organization, which remained bound to the CIA.27 Marc Grossman, the leading US official in Turkey, had served as a nexus that united Turkey's criminal and law enforcement elements. But Çatlı's replacement was already in the wings in the form of a Muslim preacher named Fethullah Gülen. 

Image result for IMAGES OF Fethullah Gülen
Fethullah Gülen, who presently governs one of the world's “most powerful and best-connected” Muslim networks,28 has been said to be the “strongest and most effective Islamic fundamentalist in Turkey”—an individual who “camouflages his methods with a democratic and moderate image.”29 His movement, which seeks to create a New Islamic World Order, has amassed approximately ten million supporters—many of whom contribute between 5 percent and 20 percent of their income to his movement—and his tentacles stretch from Central Asia to the United States.30 With an estimated $50 billion in assets,31 the reclusive Islamist reportedly controls over one thousand schools in 130 countries, along with political action groups, newspapers (including Zaman, Turkey's leading daily), television and radio stations, universities, a massive conglomerate called Kaynak Holding, and even a centralized bank.32 

Gülen was a student and follower of Sheikh Sa'id-i Kurdi (1878–1960), also known as Sa'id-i Nursi, the founder of the Islamist Nur (light) movement. After Turkey's war of independence, Kurdi demanded, in an address to the new parliament, that the new republic be based on Islamic principles.33 Gülen advanced these principles in his sermons and teachings. In 1979, he issued this exhortation: “Muslims should become bombs and explode, tear to pieces the heads of the infidels, even if it's America opposing them.”34 During the 1980s, Gülen worked with the Grey Wolves and the CIA in covert operations against the PKK and other Communist groups. His primary contact with the Agency was Morton Abramowitz, who later became the US ambassador to Turkey.35 

By 1990, Gülen had emerged as a key CIA asset and began to establish over 350 mosques and madrassahs throughout Turkey and Central Asia, paid for with black funds from the drug trade. His financial resources and political influence continued to increase, until Gülen had become one of the most powerful figures in Turkey: an imam with millions of followers and seemingly limitless financial resources.36 Few figures on the world's stage assumed a more important role in the unfolding saga that became known as Gladio II. 

Throughout the 1990s, the CIA sought to soften Gülen's image. The Muslim preacher was presented not as a militant Islamist but as a humanitarian devoted to the Muslim ideal of Hizmet—altruistic service for the common good. This image was furthered by a plethora of articles and books— allegedly penned by Gülen—from a self-publishing company. Photo ops were arranged so the imam could appear in public with other religious dignitaries, including Greek Orthodox patriarch Bartholomeos and Israeli Sephardic head rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron. He was also granted a private audience with Pope John Paul II, who was blithely unaware of Gülen's tirades against the Holy See. In one of Gülen's sermons, the impassioned pasha had cried: “Till this day, Catholic missionaries and the Vatican have been behind all atrocities. The Vatican is the hole of the snake, the hole of the viper.”37 

In 1998, Gülen fled to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania in order to avoid prosecution on charges that he was attempting to undermine Turkey's secular government. He was described in the indictment as the “strongest and most effective Islamic fundamentalist in Turkey,” a person who “camouflages his methods with a democratic and moderate image”38 The Turkish court document further said that Gülen had established a network of schools as a front for a sinister plan. “Mr. Gülen was planning to use the young people whom he brainwashed at his own schools to set up his Islamic state,” the indictment maintained.39 

One year later, Gülen was implicated by Uzbekistan authorities in the attempted assassination of Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan and the head of the Uzbek Communist Party. The same authorities uncovered Gülen's CIA connections. The seventy teachers he had sent to his schools in Uzbekistan held US diplomatic status and red and green diplomatic passports and traveled under the aegis of a mysterious organization called “US Friendship Bridge.”40 All of Gülen's madrassahs in Uzbekistan were closed and eight journalists, who had graduated from his schools, were found guilty of engaging in seditious activities.41 

After his arrival in Pennsylvania, FBI and Homeland Security officials made numerous attempts to deport Gülen. But in 2008 a federal court ruled that Gülen was a person of “extraordinary ability in the field of education” who merited permanent residency status in the United States.42 This ruling struck many as odd, since Gülen lacked a high-school education, spoke little or no English, and had never penned an article or book on the subject of education. Odder still was the appearance of prominent US officials in court, offering testimony on Gülen's behalf. The dignitaries included former CIA officials Graham Fuller and George Fidas, along with former US ambassadors to Turkey Morton Abramowitz and Marc Grossman.43 

At his mountain fortress in Saylorsburg, Gülen remains guarded by a small army of followers, who follow their hocaefendi's (respected teacher's) orders and refrain from marrying until age fifty, per his instructions. The guards wear suits and ties rather than the traditional Turkish Islamic attire of cloaks and turbans. Yet, when they are married, their spouses are obliged to dress in the Islamic manner, as dictated by Gülen himself.44 

The Pocono property contains a massive chalet, surrounded by a recreational center, dormitories, a helicopter pad, and a firing range. Sentries are stationed at a small hut at the main entranceway identifying the property as the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center. Within this sentry post are plasma television screens, projecting high-resolution images from the security cameras throughout the twenty-eight-acre compound. Gülen purportedly lives on the third floor of the chalet but never appears in public, not even when the national news shows up at his door.45 

Local residents have complained of the sounds of gunfire coming from the Gülen property— including fully automatic weapons—and speak of a low-flying helicopter that circles the area in search of intruders.46 The FBI has been called to the scene, but no action has been taken to curtail what neighbors allege to be “paramilitary activity.”47 The compound reportedly remains under CIA protection. 

In his public statements, Gülen continues to espouse a liberal version of Sunni/Hanafi Islam, and the notion of Hizmet. He has condemned terrorism and called for interfaith dialogue. Prominent US officials have lavished praise on the Turkish pasha, claiming that he is a leading voice of moderation in the Islamic world. On September 25, 2008, former president Bill Clinton greeted an audience of Gülen's disciples at the third-annual Friendship Dinner of the Turkish Cultural Center (one of Gülen's non-profit organizations) by saying, “You're contributing to the promotion of the ideals of tolerance and interfaith dialogue inspired by Fethullah Gülen and his transnational social movement.”48 

In private, Gülen has said that “in order to reach the ideal Muslim society every method and path is acceptable, [including] lying to people.”49 In a sermon aired on Turkish television, he announced to his legion of followers his plan to create a New Islamic World Order: 

You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers…until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria…like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it…. You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey…. Until that time, any step taken would be too early— like breaking an egg without waiting the full forty days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all—in confidence…trusting your loyalty and secrecy. I know that when you leave here—[just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.50 

He continued: 

When everything was closed and all doors were locked, our houses of isik [light] assumed a mission greater than that of older times. In the past, some of the duties of these houses were carried out by madrassahs [Islamic schools], some by schools, some by tekkes [Islamist lodges]…. These isik homes had to be the schools, had to be madrasahs, [had to be] tekkes all at the same time. The permission did not come from the state, or the state's laws, or the people who govern us. The permission was given by God…who wanted His name learned and talked about, studied, and discussed in those houses, as it used to be in the mosques.51 

In another sermon, Gülen proclaimed: 

Now it is a painful spring that we live in. A nation is being born again. A nation of millions [is] being born—one that will live for long centuries, God willing…. It is being born with its own culture, its own civilization. If giving birth to one person is so painful, the birth of millions cannot be pain-free. Naturally we will suffer pain. It won't be easy for a nation that has accepted atheism, has accepted materialism, a nation accustomed to running away from itself, to come back riding on its horse. It will not be easy, but it is worth all our suffering and the sacrifices.52 

And in yet another sermon, he told his followers: 

The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don't lay the web to eat or consume them but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life.53 

Assessing such statements, Ariel Cohen, a Middle East analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said, “It's not just a religious movement; it's the Fethullah Gülen movement. They call themselves that. So it is, you can say, a cult. It is a highly personalized movement.” Cohen, who spent years tracking the Gülen movement, added, “This is clearly the world according to the Koran, the world according to Islam, the world according to Fethullah Gülen. But what he's talking about is not the caliphate, is not the sharia state he calls it the New World Islamic Order.”54 

Upon his arrival in Pennsylvania, Gülen, with the aid of CIA advisors, helped to create the Justice and Democratic Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP), which now controls the Turkish government.55 Abdullah Gül, Turkey's first Islamist president, was a Gülen disciple, along with former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Yusuf Ziya Özcan, the head of Turkey's Council of Higher Education.56 Conflict between Prime Minister Erdoğan and Gülen arose over Erdogan's use of the Marmara Flotilla to break-up the Gaza blockade in defiance of Gülen's wishes. The situation between the two men worsened when Erdoğan became Turkey's new president. In 2014, Erdoğan issued a request for Gülen's extradition from the United States on the grounds that the controversial preacher was using his influence to undermine Turkey's police and state bureaucracy along with the judiciary. 

Under Gülen's influence, Turkey has transformed from a secular state into a nation with eighty-five thousand active mosques—one for every 350 citizens, the highest number per capita in the world— ninety thousand imams—more imams than teachers and physicians—and thousands of state-run Islamic schools. 57 In recent years, Turkey has also witnessed a reign of terror, with the random arrests of AKP opponents , including a dozen middle-aged liberal women who worked for the Society for Contemporary Life, an organization that provided educational services and scholarships to poor teenage girls. Hundreds of others were taken into custody during midnight raids, including army officers, renowned journalists, and artists. According to Newsweek, the arrests illustrate the power of Gülen's tarikat (Islamic order) which now controls the government.58 

According to Bayram Balci, one of Gülen's leading proponents and a spokesman for the movement, the Gülen schools have been established throughout the world to expand “the Islamization of Turkish nationality and the Turkification of Islam” in order to bring about a universal caliphate ruled by Islamic law.59 Such a caliphate, Balci maintains, cannot be created without the cultivation of an educated elite who will advance Turkish and Islamic interests in their native countries. This task, he adds, may be accomplished only by the adoption of stealthy techniques since the open promotion of religion is prohibited in the public schools of many countries, including the United States. Such techniques, Balci contends, mandates that the teachers and administrators of the Gülen schools indoctrinate students in the tenets of militant Islam by temsel (becoming role models) rather than teblig (open proselytism).60 

The schools throughout Central Asia contain CIA operatives who function under the guise of “American teachers, teaching English.” Since English is a mandatory subject, these madrassahs provide the Agency with an even better cover than Fr. Morlion's Pro Deo. Several countries, including Russia and Uzbekistan, have outlawed the Gülen schools and cemaats (communities) within their borders, realizing that they serve to advance the CIA master plan. Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has opted to cut funding to the Gülen schools because of their threat to the social order.61 

Over 140 “Gülen-inspired” schools have been established throughout the United States. They are staffed with Turkish administrators and Turkish educators, who come to the United States with “H- 1B” visas—visas reserved for highly skilled foreign workers who fill a need in the US workforce. 62 In the schools, students are immersed in Turkish culture, customs, religion, history, and language. They are taught that the Ottoman Empire represented the golden age of global civilization and that the Armenian Holocaust never occurred. The crème de la crème of the students are sent to Turkey each year to compete for prizes in the Turkish Olympiad by singing Turkish songs and reciting Turkish poetry. The event, which is sponsored by the Gülen Movement, has been established to promote Turkish as a new international language.63 By the time of their high school graduation, the students of these charter schools, which are fully funded by US taxpayers, will be groomed to play a part in the advancement of the master plan called Gladio II. 

The funding for the Gülen movement and Gladio II continued to flow from the heroin trade. After the upheavals within the Sicilian Mafia, the CIA and the babas established sophisticated laboratories in Turkey and various republics within Central Asia for the refinement of morphine paste into heroin. The narcotics continued to flow along the Balkan route to Sicily for shipment to America. Other routes were established, including a main line that ran from Bulgaria to Brussels, the location of NATO's headquarters.64 

With the drug trade booming, new means were adopted for smuggling the dope into the United States. This development was evidenced by the case of Yaşar Öz, who worked for Abdullah Çatlı. During his many trips between Turkey and the United States, Öz and a score of additional Turkish mules smuggled hundreds of kilos of heroin past the security guards at the New York airports. In 1997, he was arrested in New Jersey during a drug bust. Öz managed to escape from the custody of FBI agents and made his way to the JFK airport for a first-class flight to Turkey. Asked why Öz hadn't been arrested before boarding the plane, US State Department officials said that the drug smuggler possessed diplomatic immunity, along with special NATO clearance.65 

To make the smuggling even easier, NATO cargo planes transported heroin from Turkey to Brussels, where it was loaded on US military planes and flown to the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.66 From Andrews, the drugs were delivered to distribution outlets in Chicago and Paterson, New Jersey.67 

Heroin by the turn of the twenty-first century had become one of the world's most valuable resources —a resource that could generate over $100,000 billion a year in revenue. Without the white powder, there would be no black ops—no means of obtaining control of Eurasia—no way of molding the global economy and political relations. 

On January 27, 2000, a catastrophe occurred for covert activity when Mullah Omar and the other leaders of the Taliban announced their plans to ban poppy production within the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.68 This decision sent shock waves through the US intelligence community. From 1976 to 2000, the Afghan opium poppy harvest had grown nearly tenfold, climbing from 250 to 2,000 tons during the covert war of the 1980s, and then from 2,000 to 4,600 tons during the civil war of the 1990s. The country's economy had transformed from a diverse agricultural system based on herding, orchards, and sixty-two varieties of field crops into the world's first opium monocrop.69 

Thanks to the Taliban prohibition, the opium poppy harvest fell from 4,600 tons in 1999 to 81 tons in 2001. The situation had to be addressed by the military-industrial complex in a forceful way. With the outbreak of the “war on terror” and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the ban came to an immediate end. Within a year, the UN reported that the poppy crop had rebounded to 3,400 tons.70 By October 2013, thanks to the US occupation, the opium harvest had climbed to an all-time high of 5,500 tons.71 

The days when heroin money could be laundered through a small circle of banks, including the I.O.R, were long past. By 2014, $500 billion to $1 trillion in proceeds from criminal activity and black ops were laundered through the world's leading banks—half of which were located in the United States. Narcodollars became the lifeblood of the nation's economy.72 

The US banks developed an incredibly complex system for transferring illicit funds into the country for investments in real estate, corporations, industries, and government bonds. The financial institutions that participated in this process, according to Canadian commentator Asad Ismi, included the Bank of Boston, Republic National Bank of New York, Landmark First National Bank, the Great American Bank, People's Liberty Bank and Trust Company of Kentucky, Riggs National Bank of Washington, Citibank, and American Express International of Beverly Hills.73 Manufacturers Bank, Chase Manhattan, Chemical Bank, and Irving Trust have admitted not reporting transfers of substantial amounts of money to the US government as required by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, and the Bank of America has been fined $4.75 million for refusing to provide documentation for transfers of more than $12 billion.74 

In an attempt to address this problem, the US Congress has passed several laws, including the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, which call for stiffer enforcement by public regulators. All of this legislation was to no avail. The banks continued their laundering and the sum of dirty money circulated throughout the country grew exponentially. No decisive action by government officials was ever adopted, since the high profits of the drug trade served as one of the main components of the US economy. Indeed, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Organized Crime, has argued that the United States was saved from total economic collapse in 2008 by the billions which flowed through American banks from the drug trade. These funds, Costa argues, represented the “only liquid investment capital” available to financial institutions.75 And so it came to pass that the land of the free and the home of the brave, thanks to Operation Gladio, became a narcocapitalistic country.

Chapter 23
What does it mean for a Catholic to be a professional journalist? A journalist must have the courage to search for and tell the truth, even when the truth is uncomfortable or not considered politically correct. 
Pope John Paul II, speaking to a gathering of 
Catholic journalists, December 2002 

Pope John Paul II never censured, let alone excommunicated, any ecclesiastical official who belonged to P2, despite the canon law mandating immediate excommunication of anyone who joins a Masonic lodge. Cardinal Agostino Casaroli remained the Vatican secretary of state until his death in 1989, Cardinal Ugo Poletti held his position as president of the Preservation of the Faith and of the Liturgical Academy, and Cardinal Leo Suenens stayed on as protector of the Church of St. Peter in Chains (outside Rome). Other clerics who were members of Gelli's lodge were elevated in rank and dignity: 

Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio rose from his position as President of the Vatican City State to become Camerlengo (treasurer) of the Holy See. 

Bishop Fiorenzo Angelini left the diocese of Messene in Greece to become a member of the College of Cardinals and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Workers. 

Bishop Cleto Bellucci climbed in rank from Coadjutor Bishop of Ferme to Archbishop of Ferme. 

Bishop Gaetano Bonicelli relinquished his position as the presiding cleric of Albano to become Archbishop of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino. 

Archbishop Giuseppe Ferraioli, who was a member of the Second Congregation of Public Affairs, became a leading official of the Vatican Secretariat of State. 

Fr. Pio Laghi, the papal nuncio to Argentina, received his red hat to become a Cardinal and the head of the Congregation for Catholic Education. 

Fr. Giovanni Lajolo, a member of the Council of Public Affairs of the Church, became a Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. 

Fr. Virgilio Levi was promoted from assistant director of the official Vatican newspaper to executive director of Vatican radio. 

Fr. Pasquale Macchi, the private secretary to Paul VI, rose in rank to become the Archbishop to the Roman Catholic Territorial Prelature of Loreto. 

Fr. Francesco Marchisano ascended from his post as Prelate of Honor of the Pope to become a Cardinal and President of the Permanent Commission for the Care of the Historic and Artistic Monuments of the Holy See. 

Fr. Dino Monduzzi, the regent of the Pontifical House, emerged from the scandal to join the College of Cardinals as Prefect of the Papal Household. 

Fr. Virgilio Noè, the Undersecretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, was also elevated to the Cardinalate as President of the Fabric of St. Peter. 

Fr. Pio Vito Pinto, an attaché to the Vatican Secretary of State, became a Monsignor and Dean of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota (the highest appellate court of the Church). 

Msgr. Mario Rizzi, prelate bishop of the Honor of the Holy Father, ascended in dignity to serve as Archbishop of Bagnoregio and apostolic nuncio to Bulgaria. 

Fr. Pietro Rossano, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, became consecrated as the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome/ 

Fr. Roberto Tucci, director-general of Vatican radio, climbed the ecclesiastical ladder to emerge as Cardinal-Priest of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio. 

Fr. Pietro Vergari, protocol officer of the Vatican Office Segnatura, became rector of the St. Apollinaire Palace, the institution from which Emanuela Orlandi had been kidnapped. 

Throughout his long pontificate, John Paul II allowed the relationship between the Sicilian Mafia and the Holy See to remain intact. His reign resulted neither in the progressive reforms of John XXIII and Paul VI nor a return to traditional Catholic worship and teachings. It rather resulted in the stabilization of Vatican, Inc., as a financial and political institution. The primary goal of this institution was not the quest and dissemination of spiritual truths in an age of uncertainty, but the perpetuation of its own corporate interests through intrigue, mendacity, theft, and, when the situation demanded, bloodshed. 

During his visit to Sicily on November 6, 1994, John Paul II blessed the memory of Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi, an ardent opponent of the Mafia, who was gunned down and killed in front of his parish in Palermo. The pope also condemned the organized crime families by saying, “Those who are responsible for violence and arrogance stained by human blood will have to answer before the justice of God. Today, there is a strong yearning in Sicily to be redeemed and liberated, especially from the power of the Mafia.”

But the pope's words rang hollow in the midst of persistent illicit financial transactions between the Sicilian crime families and the Vatican. On October 3, 1999, three years after John Paul II pressed for the beatification of Father Puglisi, twenty-one members of the Sicilian Mafia were arrested in Palermo for conducting an elaborate online banking scam with the cooperation of the IOR. Antonio Orlando, the capo who masterminded the operation, succeeded in siphoning off 264 billion lire (about $115 million) from banks throughout Europe. The money was sent to the Emilia-Romagna section of Italy in the northern region of Italy. From this province, it was channeled into numbered accounts at the Vatican Bank.2 

Just before the arrests, Orlando and his crew had set in motion a plan to net two trillion lire (around $1 billion) from the Bank of Sicily. Giuseppe Lumia, head of Italy's anti-Mafia commission, said that the scheme showed how dangerous the mob had become through using the Internet for illicit purposes.3 Despite the arrests and subsequent convictions, Italian investigators were prevented from probing into the I.O.R's part in the criminal operation because of the sovereign status of Vatican City. 

As further proof that business had returned as usual at the Vatican in the wake of the Ambrosiano scandal, London's Daily Telegraph ran an article on November 19, 2001, that identified the IOR— along with banks in countries such as Mauritius, Macao, Nauru, and Luxembourg—as being one of the leading places in the world for laundering underworld cash.4 

During the final years of John Paul II's reign, other scandals erupted—one involving Martin Frankel and an attempt to bilk more than $1 billion in secured assets from insurance companies throughout the United States. After the Frankel affair came to light, the insurance commissioners of Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas filed a federal lawsuit against the Vatican in accordance with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, claiming that the Holy See was involved in a criminal conspiracy to steal the frozen assets of nine insurance companies. The lawsuit claimed damages in excess of $600 million. Receiving word of the criminal charges, Pope John Paul II reassured the members of the Roman Curia that the Vatican as a sovereign state was immune from such litigation. “Ignore them,” he said. “It will pass.” Then the Holy Father added, “We haven't lost any money, have we?”5 And so it came to pass twenty years after the Ambrosiano affair that the Roman Catholic Church was presented in US court as a criminal organization the RICO Act—the same Act that had been drafted to dismantle the Italian Mafia in America. The alliance between organized crime, the CIA, and the Vatican had set a course the Church could not alter. It was a course that led from the Nazi ratlines and the formation of P2 to the heroin addictions, counterfeit securities, the strategy of tension, the false flag attacks that killed thousands, strings of gangland slayings, and the financial destitution of thousands of families. And it was a course that also led to moral and spiritual bankruptcy. 

By the time of John Paul II's death on April 2, 2005, Roman Church membership in the United States was falling at the astonishing rate of four hundred thousand a year, despite the influx of Catholics from Mexico and Latin America. Thousands of once thriving and vibrant parishes had closed, while thousands more lacked a resident priest. Four American-born Catholics were leaving the Church for every new convert.6 In Spain, 81 percent of the people identified themselves as Catholics, but twothirds never went to Mass. Despite the rulings of the Vatican, 40 percent of Spaniards believed that abortion was a fundamental right; 24 percent maintained that the practice should be tolerated; and 50 percent of pregnancies occurring in girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen were terminated.7 

By 1996, the moral decline in Italy, where Catholics number 95 percent of the populace, became so dire that John Paul II called on volunteers to go from door to door in an effort to persuade people to “return to Church.” The effort was a complete failure.8 By 2000, less than 25 percent of Italian Catholics were making an appearance at Sunday Mass. 

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the magnificent churches and cathedrals in France, many dating back to the eleventh century, were visited almost solely by tourists, since fewer than 8 percent of the country's Catholics opted to sit through the liturgy even once a month.9 Of the few French people who showed up for Mass, 28 percent were at least seventy-five years old, and the overwhelming majority consisted of poorly educated, rural women.10 

“Britain,” according to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, “has become a pagan country.”11 Vandalism, theft, drug dealing, arson, pagan rites, and “inappropriate behavior on the high altar” had become so commonplace throughout the United Kingdom that churches were kept locked outside of the hours for worship and were guarded by closed-circuit TV cameras. The number of Catholics showing up to fulfill their Sunday obligation declined from 2.63 million in 1963, when the Vatican Council was in full session, to less than 1 million in 2000.12 Three years later, the disparity between nominal and practicing Catholics stood at 83.4 to 18.9 percent.13 At the same time, only 12 percent of the Catholics in Scotland attended Mass with any regularity. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the country's head prelate, said, “There is a danger of Scotland declining into a bacchanalian state where everyone is just concerned with their own pleasures or to sleep with whomever they want.”14 

Throughout Europe, the Church had lost more than 1.5 million members since the close of Vatican II. And every year the situation continued to worsen. When the crowds lined up for the traditional Novendiales to view John Paul II's remains, the outlook for the future of Catholics was not even sunny in Mexico, where the number of worshipers in recent years fell from 96 percent to 82 percent.15 

By the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century, US bishops had received complaints that approximately six thousand priests—5.6 percent of the country's Catholic clerics—had sexually abused children. Over three thousand civil and criminal lawsuits were pending, and 525 priests were behind bars.16 The cost of this scandal exceeded $3 billion, forcing eight dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection.17 Ten percent of the Roman Catholic priests in America had been accused of pedophilia— a number so alarming that legal activists have called upon federal and state attorneys to prosecute such clerics under the guidelines of RICO, thereby, once again, treating the Roman Catholic Church as a criminal and corrupt organization.18 

This problem of pedophilia, of course, was not confined to America. It extended to Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Latin America, Belgium, France, Germany, and Australia, increasing the cost to $10 billion and creating financial havoc in dioceses and parishes throughout the world. And this mounting problem had been addressed by continually rotating problematic and perverse priests between dioceses and by a conspiracy of silence among the Curia. Not only had John Paul II condoned this practice but he also went on to insist that the abusers were in fact the victims. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, John Paul II's spokesman, said, “It has to do with the reflection of our highly sexualized society. Priests are also affected by the general situation. They may be especially vulnerable, or susceptible, although the percentage of abuse cases is no higher than in other occupations.”19 

John Paul II's refusal to demand the dismissal of priests from holy office who had been found guilty of child molestation has been likened to the silence of Pope Pius XII during the Nazi Holocaust.20 One of the pope's greatest shames was giving sanctuary to Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a horrendous enabler of child abuse who resigned in disgrace from the archdiocese of Boston in 2002. Another unforgiveable act was the pope's stubborn and self-righteous defense of Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who serially abused adolescent seminarians, some as young as twelve, and several of his own illegitimate children.21 

Largely because of the pedophilia scandal, by 2005 the Holy See had begun to display deficits in excess of $12 million. However, the Roman Curia remained blithely unconcerned about these mounting shortfalls. They knew that the real worldly riches of the Church remained safe and secure within the Apostolic Palace, which houses the Vatican Bank. Dioceses may be sued and fall into bankruptcy. Parochial schools, universities, and hospitals may be strapped with multi million dollar settlements. But the accounts within the I.O.R remain out of the reach of altar boys who were sexually molested by their parish priests. As a sovereign state, the Holy See cannot be subjected to any ruling by any foreign court. It remains an institution with over $50 billion in securities, gold reserves that exceed those of some industrialized nations, real estate holdings that equal the total area of many countries, and opulent palaces containing the world's greatest art treasures.22 Such wealth will remain and grow even though the contributions of the Catholic faithful have been cut back to a trickle. 

The true miracle of John Paul II is that he remained remarkably immune from criticism and condemnation. As scandal gave way to scandal, the world's leading investigative reporters and news commentators refused to take the pope to task, not even to question his judgment in allowing money changers to remain in the holy temple. Nowhere was the lack of critical analysis more apparent than in the biography of the Polish pope by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi. The very title of the work (His Holiness) betrayed the obsequiousness of the authors before their lofty subject. Throughout the lengthy text, Bernstein and Politi never made reference to Sindona, Calvi, or Gelli; they never pressed for information about the Ambrosiano affair or the Sicilian connection, never made mention of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus and the Vatican Bank, and never approached the subject of Gladio and the funneling of black funds to Solidarity. 

The hyperbole regarding John Paul II rose to near hysteria after his death. “A colossus,” some newspapers reported. “The greatest Pole,” others said. One Italian newspaper depicted the pope as a solitary Atlas holding the world on his shoulders. During the Novendiales, massive crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square to demand, Santo Subito! (“Sainthood now!”)23 Before the end of January 2006, the Vatican had received over two million letters testifying to the virtuous life of the Polish pope.24 

Since the Vatican Bank remained a magnet for notoriety, Cardinal Ratzinger, who ascended to the papal throne as Benedict XVI, pledged to initiate a new era of compliance with international financial regulations and complete transparency of all transactions. The first step toward this “reform” took place on May 24, 2012, with the dismissal of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi as the bank's president. Tedeschi had become the target of a criminal investigation by Italian officials for his alleged role in laundering millions of euros from an unknown source to JPMorgan Chase in Frankfort and Banca del Fucino in Italy.25 But the real cause of the firing, according to informed sources, was neither Tedeschi's ties to organized crime nor his involvement in bank fraud but rather his release of papal documents—all highly damaging to Ratzinger—to the Italian press.26 

The firing did not go as planned. Following his dismissal, Tedeschi informed Italian investigators that he had compiled an exhaustive dossier of compromising information about the Vatican that had never seen the light of day because he feared for his life. The banker had given copies of the documents to his closest companions and told them, “If I am killed, the reason for my death is in here. I've seen things in the Vatican that would frighten anyone.”27 When the investigators seized the dossier, Pope Benedict demanded that the documents be returned to the Holy See. They complied, since all Italian judicial authorities are obliged to respect the sovereign status of the Vatican.28 

In another ill-advised attempt to suppress growing scandal, Pope Benedict agreed to submit the records of the bank's transactions to Moneyval, the Council of Europe's anti-money-laundering agency. The records, as expected, were doctored and incomplete. Moneyval announced in July 2012 that the bank had failed the transparency test in eight of sixteen key categories.29 

Full disclosure would have raised embarrassing questions. Why had the Church obtained controlling interest in companies that sharply conflicted with its dogma, including Raffaele del Monte Tabor in Milan, a biochemical center that specializes in stem cell research,30 and Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta, a munitions company that provided ongoing shipments of arms to Gaddafi in Libya?31 And these questions would lead to more questions. How had the Vatican Bank become the laundry for the Sicilian and Turkish Mafias and the international trade in illegal narcotics? Why is Enrico De Pedis, a prominent capo, buried in a cathedral with popes and cardinals? Why had the Vatican Bank sold counterfeit securities and established shell companies to bilk thousands of ill-informed investors? How had the bank profited from the Croatian death camps and the Nazi ratlines? Why did it engage in black operations with the CIA and subversive political activity on a global scale? At last, Pope Benedict became aware that it was best to allow matters to rest. He resigned from the holy office on February 28, 2013. 

By the time Jorge Mario Bergoglio transformed into Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, Islam had replaced Roman Catholicism as the world's leading religion and the spiritual devastation caused by John Paul II had spread to every corner of the globe, save for some regions of Africa. Throughout Europe and the United States, parishes were boarded up, seminaries were shut, convents were closed, and parochial schools were consolidated. In the United States, the percentage of Catholics who attended Mass on a regular basis fell from 47 percent in 1974 to 24 percent, while the number of “strong” Catholics declined from 46 percent to 27 percent.32 The plague of pedophilia persisted and the Vatican Bank remained one of the world's leading laundries for dirty money. 

It would have taken a spiritual Hercules to clean out the Augean stable of Vatican, Inc. But Francis, who exuded considerable charm, refused to shoulder a shovel. The cardinals and archbishops who sheltered the pedophile priests by moving them from diocese to diocese were neither defrocked nor condemned. The Vatican Bank was not closed but rather remained as a separate identity within the sovereign state. 

On April 7, 2014, Pope Francis announced his decision to keep the I.O.R open for business despite the eruption of new money-laundering scandals, involving Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a senior accountant at the I.O.R.33 At the close of 2013, Moneyval uncovered 105 transactions within the Vatican Bank that smacked of money laundering, a significant upturn in apparent criminal activity from 2012, when only a half dozen suspicious cases were found.34 

On April 28, Pope Francis presided over the canonization of John Paul II, thereby perpetuating the decades of hypocrisy that had made the Roman Catholic Church one of the world's most disgraced institutions. In his homily, Francis said, “John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries.”35 John Paul II had cleared his own way to the Community of Saints by streamlining the canonization process, reducing to five years the waiting period after a person's death before a pronouncement of sainthood can be made. The Polish pope also abolished the position of a promotor fidei—in popular language the “devil's advocate.” The purpose of the promotor was “to point out any flaws or weaknesses” in the evidence presented to establish a candidate's sainthood and “to raise all kinds of objections.”36 For this reason, no Vatican official was permitted to question John Paul II's accomplishments or to point out his failings. 

Dante's Commedia begins with these words, which Michele Sindona could recite from memory: Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, ché la diritta via era smarrita (“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost”).37 In the dark wood, where he found himself lost and confused, Dante became aware of the presence of three terrifying beasts that represented the forces of evil in the world. These forces became crystallized in the unholy trinity of Gladio—Church, State, and the Mafia—a union of power, ambition, and greed. Dante emerged from the dark wood to see the stars of paradise. 

Who knows if such stars continue to shine?

Footnotes here