NATO, CIA and Operation Gladio: 70 Years of Terrorism

Army colonel Herbert Alboth, former head of the Swiss secret services, was found dead at his residence in April 1990, his abdomen stabbed with his own bayonet, in an alleged imitation of suicide, according to the rite of the Japanese harakiri.

In a letter sent to the Swiss General Staff a few days earlier, he pledged to reveal the whole truth about the activities of extreme right-wing secret groups used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NATO in Europe. The police ruled the case homicide, but never arrested those responsible and since then it is the most enigmatic unresolved justice case in the country.

According to investigations, there was a Gladio faction in Switzerland named P-26, and it served as coordinator for activities, at least in northern Europe. With Alboth’s death, the secrets of a region considered the most politically stable in the world were secure.

Herbert Alboth was only one of the hundreds of people involved throughout Western Europe in the Gladio networks, named after the swords used by gladiators, organized during more than 40 years of Cold War by the CIA and NATO secret services.

The scandal culminated in October 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with statements by the then Italian President, Francesco Consiga, and Giulio Andreotti, President of the Council of Ministers, to a commission investigating the origin of terrorist acts in Italy.

Both confirmed and justified the existence of these secret armies, under the supposed threat of occupation of the region by the Red Army in the event of a Third World War, but affirmed that the structures were obsolete in the wake of the disappearance of the Socialist camp and the final crisis of the USSR.

These unexpected statements led to investigations being opened in some European parliaments, although the issue was never resolved and no one responsible was brought to justice.

Among Gladio’s best-known actions are the murder of five trade union lawyers in Spain in 1977, which threatened the transition to democracy in that country after the death of General Francisco Franco; a bomb explosion in Munich, Germany, with 13 fatalities, while in Belgium groups of men with automatic weapons machine-gunned business districts, causing 28 deaths over two years of such action, among other events.


It soon became clear that the real objective of the Gladio networks was to maintain a state of tension in the Old Continent, directed against left-wing movements and provide justifications for the establishment of pro-U.S. right-wing governments.

Still an unexplained mystery in every aspect, was the kidnapping, after eliminating all his guards, and subsequent assassination of Aldo Moro, president of the Italian Senate, on March 16, 1978, by the Red Brigade, penetrated by the Italian secret services and the CIA, when he was on his way to a session of Congress, in which he was going to defend the inclusion of communists in the government.

Nine years later, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palmer, leader of the Social Democratic Party, was also assassinated in the middle of the street in front of his son, daughter-in-law and his wounded wife. He was a friend of Cuba, in solidarity with the Third World, opposed to the Vietnam War and the aggressive US policy. The murderers were never arrested, despite more than 20 years of investigations.

The Gladio network also crossed the Atlantic. Luis Posada Carrriles, CIA agent, coordinated actions in Chile at the beginning of 1976 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, with the Italian neofascist Stefano Delle Chiaie, head of the Italian branch of that organization, and joined forces for the coordination of terrorist attacks against Chilean left-wing targets and Cuban and revolutionary representatives of South America to launch Operation Condor. A few months later, Posada Carriles ordered the sabotage in mid-flight of Cubana de Aviación on October 6, 1976.

Years have passed since these events and the history of Gladio and the penetration of the CIA in European affairs became a legend of the Cold War, presented by the major media and western governments as patriotic and even necessary evil, because the secret armies were supposedly prepared to engage in the Cold War against a possible Soviet occupation similar to resistance against the Nazis, despite the fact that the members of those armies professed extremist ideologies and admired their fascist ancestors.

In the early 1990s, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama coined a phrase that was more academic marketing than science, the so-called “end of history”. His ideas summarized that, once European communism was defeated, capitalism would be established as the final destiny of history, with no opponents on the scene.


However, a coherent interpretation of these ideas would conceive of how unnecessary NATO and its bases were in Europe, where they were not justified if the Kremlin was governed by leaders who wished to build capitalism and McDonald’s were inaugurated a few metres from Red Square as symbols of a new era and the former president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, agreed to make a commercial praising the quality of a brand of American pizzas.

In accordance with this logic, Europe, along with a unified Germany, would accelerate its steps towards integration into the European Community as an economic and political counterweight to the United States, free from the need for its military tutelage in the face of Russian danger. This illusion that may have been harboured by some European politicians was short-lived.

Soon another adversary appeared: Saddan Hussein, who could not have been more opportune for the needs of a new “target” for the United States.

By invading Kuwait in 1990, Hussein gave Washington the pretext to use its force and lead a UN coalition. Then followed the saga of wars after September 11, 2001 in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq.


At the time, Anders Behring Breivik, Oslo’s future serial killer, would complete his training. He was educated in a family of high-class professionals. His father, an ex-diplomat, regretted his son’s actions, and perhaps the first teenage readings of neo-Nazi ideas were inspired by that recent past of Gladio’s exploits and the new wars waged by the United States.

Although it is not to be excluded that sects and individuals may actually act on their own, outside of all supervision, the organizations and secret services that inspire them, directly or indirectly, and that fail to control these individuals or terrorist groups, cannot be exempted from responsibility.

Anders Behring Breivik, then 32, began his “big” coup with the bombing of the offices of Norway’s Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg on July 22, 2011, in which eight civilians were killed. Immediately afterwards Western media and countries, in particular the US, blamed alleged Islamist cells for the attack.

Two days later, Behring arrived on Utoya, a retreat island of the Labour Party Youth, full of young holidaymakers 20 minutes from Oslo. He chose a suitable shooting position over the spa, prepared his German-made AG3 7.62-calibre automatic rifle and, for 90 minutes, deliberately fired more than 100 shots at a rapid pace on the terrified bathers who were live targets, and killed some of them who begged for mercy.

He murdered about 70 people, most of them teenagers, before turning himself in to the ineffective police who appeared at the conclusion of the massacre. In his first statements after being arrested, which were widely disseminated by the media, he said: “Let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist friends, against all anti-Zionists, against cultural Marxists and multiculturalists”. He added that there were two other cells in his organization.

The government announced that it would abandon the coalition that attacked Libya, established oil industry agreements with Venezuela and Bolivia, and also recognized Palestinian independence, among other progressive positions in the international sphere.

Thousands of visitors filled the site of Norway’s most terrible massacre with flowers and candles every day, while on August 24, 2012, the Oslo murderer  was sentenced to 21 years in prison, extendable if the authorities find that, after that period, he is still a danger to society.