Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, one of the founders of the Italian Gladio, a code name denoting the clandestine NATO stay-behind operation in Italy after World War II, has said the Turkish Gladio was far away from the organization’s center in Europe.
Turkey was on the Gladio coordination committee, but it was not on the political committee, he said, adding that the Turkish organization had a more independent structure.
In an interview with Sabah daily reporter Nur Batur, Cossiga said that although similar organizations were set up in NATO countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Holland, Belgium and Greece and non-NATO countries such as Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, the Turkish Gladio was different.
Noting that Turkey did not allow NATO to interfere in its internal affairs, Cossiga pointed out some of the similarities between Gladio and Ergenekon, a clandestine organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government.
In light of Cossiga’s comments, it is clear that Italy experienced the same developments Turkey is going through during the ongoing investigation into Ergenekon.
The existence of a clandestine organization set up by NATO through the US and British secret services and special operations units during World War II to prevent an invasion of Italy by the Eastern Bloc and the assassination of political leaders to prevent communists from obtaining power bring to mind some of the similar claims that have been made about Ergenekon.
In both operations, retired generals, doctors and journalists were questioned, telephones were bugged and there were murder cases committed by unknown perpetrators.
The existence of the clandestine organization was accepted in Italy after arms and explosives caches buried underground were discovered.
Noting that secret organizations were formed in Europe after World War II, Cossiga said Winston Churchill ordered the finance minister to set up a secret organization that would not be like the usual intelligence service. The English Special Operation Executive (SOE) was ordered to infiltrate among Nazis, and a secret American organization called the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was set up to gather intelligence. Both had similar goals, and both were operating in Italy.
Noting that the stay-behind network was formed in Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Greece and Turkey, Cossiga said similar organizations were established in non-NATO countries such as Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. “But the strongest leg of the organization was in Germany. The clandestine organization in NATO countries and non-NATO countries were always in contact with each other. An organization similar to Gladio was established in Turkey, but it was different from the European-based structure. Turkey was on Gladio’s coordination committee but not on the political team, so it was a more independent structure. The Turkish Gladio was only going to engage if war broke out. But it was not on the committee that organized secret exercises. European countries were informed of each others’ operations, but Turkey was far from all this,” he stated. “For example, Turkey did not participate when the French and Italian Gladios conducted secret exercises.”
Asked who headed the Turkish Gladio, Cossiga said the stay-behind network did not have a central administration and, therefore, did not know anyone from the Turkish Gladio. “But I can assure you that Turkey always held a special place. Turkey never allowed NATO to interfere in its internal affairs,” he said.
Noting the organization in Italy was established in 1954, Cossiga said he was appointed as the deputy defense minister and also headed the fifth department, which was the special operations unit. “It was top secret. Military intelligence services relayed intelligence to special operations. But special operation did not reciprocate. It only provided the government with intelligence and not the military. Only the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs, the defense minister and the minister of domestic affairs knew about the organization. We hid the organization’s hierarchy chart in a safe. But as one of the founders, I knew everyone in the chart,” he said.
He said a separate budget had been created for special operations. Its funds were located in the intelligence service’s budget and transferred to the intelligence service by the Finance Ministry.
Aside from the Defense Ministry, no one knew that Gladio was funded by the Finance Ministry, he said, adding that money was allocated to special operations with the words “top secret” across it and only the defense minister knew which fund in the military intelligence budget was allocated for special operations.
By Sanjeev Bery and Manan Ahmed
Special to the Mercury News
Posted: 02/17/2009 08:00:00 PM PST
Depending on whether you like watching your news or reading it, there were two very different reports on Pakistan this Sunday.
On CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Pakistani President Asif Zardari proclaimed that his nation is in a fight for its survival, with the Taliban “trying to take over the state of Pakistan.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Zardari’s government reached a 10-day cease fire with a Taliban-affiliated militia in the northern Swat Valley. The militia agreed to stop fighting, and in return, the government agreed to implement Islamic Sharia law in the area.
How does one reconcile the two accounts?
First, let’s dispense with the hyperbole. Pakistan is not on the verge of being taken over by Taliban militias.
Pakistan’s 2008 elections demonstrate the bias of Pakistani voters for moderate leaders and mainstream Islam. Voters rejected fundamentalist Muslim parties and gave most of their votes to the moderates they knew best. In light of this, it is fairly clear that the idea of the Taliban somehow controlling Pakistan’s 172 million people is absurd.
Still, Taliban-affiliated militias have done a great deal of damage. In addition to terrorist attacks, one Taliban-allied militia took over Pakistan’s northern Swat region. Given that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation with a massive military, it begs the question: How can such a large country find itself unable or unwilling to control the actions of a small, extremist faction?
Many Pakistani civilians are perplexed by these realities. It seems evident that there is an underlying power struggle between Pakistan’s civilian leadership and some factions of its military and intelligence institutions. In talking tough, perhaps President Zardari is attempting to reassert his own perceived authority.
This is yet the latest chapter in a long struggle between civilian and military leaders that has undermined Pakistan as a nation. It is a struggle for which the United States must take some of the blame. While the United States may not be responsible for the rise of Pakistan’s past military dictators, it certainly prolonged their time in power. As a result, Pakistan’s civilian institutions have suffered.
During each of Pakistan’s major periods of military dictatorship, U.S. leaders lent support. In the 1960s, the United States backed Gen. Ayub Khan in our own Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union. When Gen. Zia-ul-Haq ran Pakistan in the 1980s, the United States used Pakistan to funnel military aid to the fundamentalist mujahedeen who were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. And finally, there was Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who received massive U.S. military aid in return for fighting the Taliban — an offshoot of the mujahedeen we once supported.
In all of this, Pakistani society has been the loser. Massive amounts of U.S. military aid have expanded the power of Pakistan’s military at the expense of civilian institutions. For example, the Pakistani economy is currently reeling under 12-hour power blackouts. President Zardari may suffer for this, but it was U.S.-backed dictator Musharraf who deserves the blame for not paying attention to Pakistan’s basic infrastructure needs.
From power blackouts to loss of control in the Swat Valley, average Pakistanis are paying a heavy price for decades of on-and-off U.S.-backed military dictatorship. And the U.S. policy of drone missile attacks will not provide answers. Instead, we should help Pakistanis strengthen their civilian institutions, address the humanitarian crisis in Swat and cease our military-first approach.
Sanjeev Bery, former head of San Jose”s office of the ACLU, recently spent six months in New Delhi, India. Manan Ahmed, Ph.D., is a historian of Pakistan based in Chicago who recently returned from Lahore, Pakistan, and is a member of Action for a Progressive Pakistan. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.
This report was filed by CBS News’ Peshawar-based reporter Sami Yousafzai and edited by Tucker Reals in London.
A former government minister from the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan says the United States can throw as many soldiers into the country as it wants, they will just meet the same fate as all previous “foreign invaders.”
A day after President Obama announced a massive increase in the U.S. troop presence — an additional 17,000 pairs of boots on the ground, coming soon — the former minister told CBS News he couldn’t understand, “why the U.S. relies on figures and the number of troops in a country such as Afghanistan, where the number of foreign invaders has never made any difference, and the winners have always been the freedom fighters.”
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported that America’s senior commander in Afghanistan plans to send the new troops straight to the heart of the battle, in the violent southern part of the country, and he plans to ask for even more forces to join the fight. Click here to read the story.
The former government official, who is now a Taliban commander and member of the movement’s Military Council, pointed to the drawn-out war Russian forces fought to win control of Afghanistan, only to be turned back by a relentless insurgency.
“The more troops that the U.S. and NATO send, the more they will get deeper stuck in Afghanistan,” said the former minister, who spoke to CBS on condition that he not be identified.
He still has ties to the militant group, which was toppled from power by the 2001 U.S. invasion, and he claims the number of armed of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan is set to grow by at least a third this year, to 10,000. He said last year they had 5,000 fighters and another 3,000 Kuwa Zarbati (reserves). The largest concentration of militants, he said, was in the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
He said the increase was not related to the influx of new U.S. troops, but had already been decided due to a change in tactic; moving the fight from the countryside to do battle in settled areas. “The numbers aren’t significant, what’s important is the new strategy and tactics,” he said.
The former government minister boasted of suicide bombers in waiting. “Bombers are our main assets, and still we have a number of suicide bombers.”
The compassion of Muslims worldwide toward the Taliban’s cause has increased significantly in the wake of “Israel’s Zionist attack in Gaza,” he said, claiming that donors from many nations have been sending cash to buy cars and explosives, which would be used in bombs aimed at the soon-to-arrive American forces.
America and NATO are “certainly losing their minds,” by increasing their troop presence, “while we almost blocked the supply routes coming via Pakistan, and have already sent about 1,000 Taliban to cut new supply routes from the north into Kabul, via central Asia and Russia,” he said.
The former minister said Western governments and media were constantly painting the militant movement in Afghanistan as a group of terrorists from other countries, but he argued it was almost entirely a homegrown insurgency.
“We don’t have more than three to four hundred volunteers, but all of them are under our command, not al Qaeda,” he said.
“The history of Afghanistan will never take a full U-turn, and we are not used to being defeated by foreigners. For a hundred years, Afghanistan has remained a graveyard for foreigners. There’s no way for it to suddenly become a land of victory for the U.S. It never can happen, and history won’t be changed in this century either.”
FATHER-IN-LAW OF RADICAL LEADER “RADIO MULLAH” TRIES TO REASON WITH KILLER LEADER
SWAT: The peace talks between Maulana Sufi Mohammad, Chief of the Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Maulana Fazlullah for the restoration of peace in Swat have begun at undisclosed location in Matta.
The first round of talks was held between delegation of TNSM and Maulana Fazlullah. Sufi Mohammad did not take part in the meeting. He would likely participate in the second round.
On Tuesday, Maulana Sufi Mohammad in his address said that the purpose of his Swat’s visit is to restore peace in the area. He said peace is necessary for the implementation of Sharia.