CIA operative who defected to Cuba resurfaces in British film

Frank TerpilBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
An operative of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, who defected to Cuba in 1981 to avoid charges of criminal conspiracy, has reemerged in a British documentary film about the late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. Frank Terpil, 74, resigned from the CIA in 1970, allegedly after he was caught running a pyramid scheme in India, where he had been posted by the CIA. Soon after his forced resignation from the Agency, US federal prosecutors leveled criminal charges on Terpil and his business partner. The former CIA operative was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, after it was found that he had helped facilitate the illegal transfer of over 20 tons of plastic explosives to the government of Libya. Terpil managed to leave the US and reappeared in Lebanon in 1980, shortly before a court in New York sentenced him in absentia to five decades in prison for conspiring to smuggle 10,000 submachine guns to African warlords, including Uganda’s dictator Idi Amin. As agents of various countries started to zero in on Terpil’s Lebanon hideout, he disappeared again and resurfaced in 1981 in Havana, Cuba. Shortly afterwards, Cuba’s General Intelligence Directorate hired him as an operative under the operational alias CURIEL. Since that time, Terpil has been repeatedly mentioned as having played a part in Cuban intelligence operations around the world, but has rarely given interviews. He resurfaced again this month, however, in a documentary entitled “Mad Dog: Inside the Secret World of Muammar Gaddafi”. The film was made by British company Fresh One Productions on behalf of Showtime, an American premium cable and satellite television network. The film’s co-producer, Michael Chrisman, told news agencies that Terpil was interviewed “at his home” in Cuban capital Havana, where he apparently still lives, along with his “much younger” Cuban girlfriend. Chrisman added that Terpil, who is originally from Brooklyn, New York, gave the impression that he led “a somewhat bored life” centered on alcohol consumption. In the documentary, Terpil admitted that he helped the Libyan dictator “eliminate” his opponents —most of them Libyan exiles living abroad. Terpil said in the documentary that, in one case, Colonel Gaddafi ordered that the head of one of his foes be delivered to him “in a cooler”. The preview trailer of “Mad Dog” can be seen here.

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2 Responses to CIA operative who defected to Cuba resurfaces in British film

  1. legion says:

    Hmmmm… sounds like another reason to normalize relations with Cuba – extradition!

  2. jimhougan says:

    The interview with Terpil in Havana was conducted by Jim Hougan, working for WGBH-TV’s “Frontline” program – which gave permission to Showtime to use a small part of it that was relevant to Qadaffi. (Hougan is the author of “Spooks” and “Secret Agenda.”)

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