Book claims CIA framed Bulgaria over assassination attempt on Pope

John Paul II

John Paul II

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new book claims that the United States Central Intelligence Agency concocted a link between the Bulgarian intelligence services and the 1981 failed assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. Entitled Kill the Pope: The Truth About the Assassination Attempt on Pope John Paul II, the book is authored by Italian investigative journalist Marco Insaldo and Turkish researcher Yasemin Taksin. Both say that Kill the Pope is the result of a twenty-year study into the incident. Pope John Paul II was shot four times by a 9mm handgun fired by Turkish citizen Mehmet Ali Ağca, while riding in the back of an open-roof car at the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square. Although Ağca’s motives are shrouded in mystery, many intelligence historians believe that he was operating as an agent for the Bulgarian secret services. It has been speculated that the Soviet KGB instructed Bulgarian intelligence to use Ağca and another Turk, Oral Çelik, to kill the Polish-born Pope, because he had strong ties with Poland’s dissident Solidarność (Solidarity) movement. But Insaldo and Taksin insist that there is no evidence to connect the Bulgarian government to the assassination operation, and that Ağca operated under the command of Turkey’s Grey Wolves, a nationalist, anti-Western paramilitary group, which consists of both secular and Islamist factions. Accordingly, Ağca’s Bulgarian connections were not with the government, but with Bulgaria’s criminal underworld, which had links with the Grey Wolves through Bulgaria’s sizeable ethnic-Turkish community. Insaldo and Taksin argue that Ağca’s alleged Bulgarian intelligence connection was concocted by the CIA following the Turk’s arrest. The authors state that the initial idea for the story was devised by the then US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, and his security advisor Michael Ledeen, in an effort to discredit the Soviets. Ağca was eventually forced to admit the Bulgarian government connection charges, during a series of interrogations conducted by American and Italian intelligence agents, claims the book. Ağca later retracted his initial testimony. He was released from prison in 2000, after serving 19 years of his original life sentence.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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