Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain

Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain

Albert Lulushi

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 162872322X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In 1949, a newly minted branch of the CIA (the precursor of today’s National Clandestine Service), flush with money and burning with determination to roll back the Iron Curtain, embarked on the first paramilitary operation in the history of the agency. They hatched an elaborate plan, coordinated with the British Secret Intelligence Service, to foment popular rebellion and detach Albania, the weakest of the Soviet satellites in Europe, from Moscow’s orbit. The operation resulted in dismal failure and was shut down by 1954.

In Operation Valuable Fiend, Albert Lulushi gives the first full accounting of this CIA action, based on hundreds of declassified documents, memoirs, and recollections of key participants, including Albanian exiles recruited for missions and their Communist opponents. Up till now, the story of the operation has been obfuscated and even distorted. Some blamed the Soviet mole Kim Philby for sabotaging it; the communists credited the prowess of their secret police; and CIA memoirs were heavily sanitized. Lulushi documents a range of factors that led to the failure, from inexperienced CIA case officers outsmarted in spy-vs-spy games by their ruthless Stalinist opponents; to rivalries between branches of the CIA and between the agency and friendly intelligence services; and conflicts among anti-Communist factions that included Albania’s colorful exiled leader, King Zog.

The book also shows how this operation served as the proving ground for techniques used in later CIA Cold War paramilitary actions—involving some of the same agency operatives—including the coup d’états in Iran and Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

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“Operation Valuable,” BGFIEND documents, n.d. 5 “Greek Knowledge of Albanian Operation,” BGFIEND documents, August 6, 1949. 6 “Transmittal of BGFiend Documents,” BGFIEND documents, April 12, 1950. 7 Bethell, Betrayed, 67–68. 8 Robert Lacey, Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008), 169. 9 Bethell, Betrayed, 61. 10 “Operation Valuable,” BGFIEND documents, n.d. 11 “Transmittal of BGFiend Documents,” April 12, 1950. 12 “Operation Valuable,” n.d.

Consultants Meeting,” BGFIEND documents, July 9, 1952. 13 Ibid. 14 “Apple Security 19 March 1954.” 15 “Apple Security Feb 10 1954,” BGFIEND documents, n.d. 16 “CE Review of Apple Trial,” BGFIEND documents, May 18, 1954. 17 “Soviet Military Mission to Albania,” CREST database, July 16, 1953. 18 Ferdinand Dervishi, “Radioloja,” enver-hoxha.net, n.d.; and Mark Dodani, interview by Fatos Veliu, “Në verën e ‘52-it . . . ,” BalkanWeb, August 16, 2012. 19 Ibid. 20 Dervishi, Radioloja n.d.; Mark

in regard to Albania and reaching an early agreement on overall policy and program. Provisions should be made for close cooperation with respect to subsequent action.”25 Members of the military establishment briefed on Project Fiend also encouraged cooperation with the British out of concern that the British might leverage the current situation in Albania in order to aggrandize British influence in the Balkans, Italy, and Eastern Mediterranean to the detriment of US interests and the general

would also establish relations with any resistance groups they would be able to reach. Zog said he would willingly place his men at the agency’s disposal. He would select officers from his retinue in Egypt who would need to move clandestinely to Greece through another European country in order to maintain the secrecy of the operation. Colonel Hysen Selmani, his aide-de-camp, would assist the Americans in screening a list of Zog supporters among refugees in the Lavrion camp in Greece and

The information Yatsevitch referenced in his analysis came from intelligence reports being received from the Apple team, which, unbeknownst to Yatsevitch, were fed to them by the Sigurimi in their efforts to entice the CIA to send additional agents and resources to Albania. * * * The mood in Washington in the first half of 1953 called for more action rather than caution. The new Eisenhower administration, inaugurated at the beginning of the year, wanted to differentiate itself from the Truman

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