Maltese far-right party had links to CIA, British documents suggest

Josie MuscatA Maltese ultra-nationalist group believed to be behind a string of bombings in the 1980s was believed by British intelligence to have links to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to recently declassified documents. The Front Freedom Fighters (FFF) was a staunchly anticommunist group whose members violently objected to what they saw as Malta’s overly close contacts with the Communist Bloc. During the 16-year rule of the Maltese Labour Party, which began in 1971, the Mediterranean island maintained close relations with countries during such as Libya and North Korea. The Maltese Nationalist Party, which formed the main opposition to Labour, was highly critical of these contacts, but failed to win three consecutive electoral contests and was thus unable to influence the country’s foreign policy in any significant way.

The FFF emerged in the early 1980s from within the ranks of the Nationalist Party. It consisted of younger activists who favored a violent response to the rule of the Labour Party. The group was led by Josie Muscat, a dynamic anticommunist campaigner and longtime Nationalist Party Member of Parliament, who gathered around him some of the more extreme rightwing elements in the Nationalist Party. A string of bombings and threats directed at Labour Party facilities on the island was attributed to the FFF by the popular press, though Muscat himself consistently denied such accusations. Many believed that the FFF was actively preparing to launch an armed coup d’etat.

Eventually, the leadership of the Nationalist Party, which saw itself as falling within the mainstream of the European conservative tradition, began distancing itself from the FFF’s rhetoric and actions. In July of 1983, the party expelled FFF leaders from its ranks and forbade its members from associating with FFF-linked groups. Few Nationalist Party members followed Muscat, and his movement eventually suffered what some observers described “a natural death”.

However, new documents released this month by the National Archives in Britain show that the British Foreign Office believed that the FFF was being funded by the CIA. A Foreign Office Report from the early 1980s states that the group was probably behind several bomb explosions targeting Labour Party activists, as well as moderate Nationalist Party members. The report describes the FFF as “neo-Fascist in character” that prioritized crude violence as its main tactic. It goes on to say that the group consisted of about 500 determined members, but that its violent core was much smaller. The Foreign Office report also suggests that Muscat may have traveled abroad to meet CIA officers, as well as to network with other anticommunist organizations throughout Europe.

Asked to give his reaction to the British government documents, Muscat told The Times of Malta that he “hadn’t had such a good laugh in years”. The now retired politician denied having any links to the CIA and said that the FFF’s activities had been “mostly limited to political debating and had never even come close to any form of violence”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 25 August 2015 | Permalink

MI6 archives reveal plans for WWII and Cold War black operations

Sir Stewart MenziesBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Recently declassified British archives reveal a host of audacious plans for covert operations aimed at Nazi-occupied Europe during wartime and, after 1948, inside the Soviet Union. The plans, proposed by British intelligence officials, ranged from relatively innocuous psychological operations to assassinations of key political figures. The wartime plans were proposed in 1944 by Charles Peake, a British intelligence officer detailed to the headquarters of General Dwight Eisenhower. The iconic American military commander was in charge of plans for Operation OVERLORD, the allied troop landings on the beaches of Normandy in northern France. According to documents released last week by the United Kingdom National Archives, Peake’s proposal was entitled “Assassination Priorities for OVERLORD”. It contained an extensive list of senior German and French Axis officials that should be targeted for assassination in preparation for the D-Day landings. The hit list included “certain Germans in key positions in France”, notably Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Erwin Rommel. It also incorporated several senior members of France’s Nazi-controlled Vichy administration under Marshal Philippe Pétain. The proposal, however, was quickly shot down by no other than General Stewart Menzies, Director of the Secret Intelligence Service (known as MI6), who feared that intrusive covert actions by allied operatives would cause brutal reprisals against allied prisoners of war. Ironically, Menzies, known in government simply as “C”, drafted an ever more ambitious plan for black operations after the end of World War II, this time targeted at the Soviet Union. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #709

Famagusta portBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►North Korea defector sentenced for assassination plot. The man, only identified by the Seoul Central District Court by his surname, Ahn, was sentenced on Thursday after being found guilty of plotting to kill Park Sang-hak, a leading anti-North Korea activist, last September. When apprehended, Ahn —a former member of the North’s special forces— was carrying a black torch that was actually a gun capable of firing a projectile around 30 feet and a bullet coated with a poisonous chemical. Another weapon that he was carrying was disguised as a fountain pen that could fire a bladed projectile, while a second ballpoint pen concealed a poison-tipped needle.
►►Russian arrested in Cyprus for alleged espionage. Media in the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus are reporting an alleged “espionage incident” at the port of Famagusta. The incident concerns a crewmember of the Russian cargo ship Natali 1, which is docked there. Police authorities say they arrested the Russian national, identified as Nanec Hikov, after he was caught taking photos of Turkish warships. Photographing or filming in the port area is strictly forbidden by Turkish occupation authorities. The Russian Embassy has been informed and the sailor remains in custody.
►►Mystery deepens over death of UK intel expert in China. Last week, the British Foreign Office confirmed that it had asked China to open a fresh ivestigation into the November 14 death of British businessman and intelligence specialist Neil Heywood . The Foreign Office said other businessmen in Beijing had suggested there may have been foul play. Diplomatic sources suggested that the Foreign Office had acted on information given by Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, where Heywood died, to the United States consulate in Chengdu, in February.

News you may have missed #629

William Hague

William Hague

►►CIA urged to be more open about climate change. America’s intelligence establishment has come out with a bold new suggestion: maybe it’s time the CIA stopped treating climate change as a secret. A new report from the Defense Science Board –a US government agency– urges the CIA to step outside its traditional culture of secrecy and begin sharing the intelligence it has been gathering on climate change.
►►Three Czechs to be tried for spying in Zambia. The fate of three Czech nationals, who are awaiting trial in Zambia on suspicion of spying, remains highly uncertain. The three face 25 years in prison for having taken photographs of an old plane displayed outside a military base in Lusaka. The Czech Foreign Ministry has tried in vain to intervene on their behalf and is now sending a special envoy to the country to present the case in person.
►►First-ever speech on MI6 by a UK Foreign Secretary. In the first speech given by a British Foreign Secretary on the activities of MI6, William Hague (pictured) called today for a line to be drawn under the controversy over the involvement of its agents in the abuse of terror suspects, and argued that the spy agency thwarts terrorists and foreign agents hundreds of times a year.

Embassy cables show US spied on UK Foreign Office

Ivan Lewis

Ivan Lewis

The latest release of US embassy cables from whistleblower website WikiLeaks shows that the US Department of State ordered its diplomats to actively report on the personal lives of British Foreign Office officials. On several instances, American diplomats in London appear to have reported on the personal life of Ivan Lewis, a Labour Party politician who served as Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs during the closing days of Gordon Brown’s government. It seems that the reports on Lewis were compiled at the request of the State Department in Washington, which issued calls for specific background information on Lewis’ personal life. In response to the request, a memorandum was sent from the US embassy in London on August 12, 2009, suggesting that Lewis was “possibly prone to depression” and that he was described by one of his colleagues as “a bully”. The cable also indicated that Lewis had apologized “in 2007 to a female in his office who accused him of sexual harassment”, and suggested that the incident had been purposely leaked to the British media by Downing Street a few months later, after Lewis publicly joined the internal Labour Party revolt against Brown. Read more of this post

CIA ‘used fake British passports’ in kidnap operation

UK passport

British passport

British authorities are looking into allegations that a team of CIA agents made use of forged British passports during an abduction operation in 2003. The allegations surfaced last week in Spain, where a team of prosecutors is currently investigating the activities of 13 CIA agents (11 men and two women) who appear to have used the Spanish tourist resort of Majorca as a base for conducting various operations around Europe. Following the example of Italy, which last year convicted several CIA operatives for illegally abducting a Muslim cleric in Milan, Spanish authorities are now considering issuing arrest warrants for the 13 CIA agents. They are all believed to have been involved in the abduction and rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri. El-Masri was abducted in Skopje, Macedonia, in 2003, and later transferred on a secret CIA flight to a Syrian prison, where he says he was brutally tortured. He was later released without explanation, once US authorities realized they had the wrong man. Read more of this post

UK barring replacement of London’s Mossad resident

Mossad seal

Mossad seal

The British government is officially preventing the replacement of Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s London representative, after it expelled his predecessor six weeks ago. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced the expulsion in March, in response to the use of at least 12 forged British passports by a Mossad hit squad, whose members traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last January, to assassinate Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. According to Israeli media, the British Foreignand Commonwealth Office has requested written assurances from Israel that it will refrain from using British travel documents in future intelligence operations. But the Israeli government is so far refusing to comply with Britain’s request, claiming that doing so would amount to “an admission of culpability” in the assassination of al-Mabhouh. Read more of this post


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