The responses in the immediate aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing were predictable: the idea that this may have been a false flag event and the dismissal of such a notion with the derogatory expression “conspiracy theory”. Certainly, there are many who instantly jump to the conclusion that “the government did it” when tragic events such as this occur before waiting for all the evidence to emerge – in the current political climate of seemingly never-ending lies and deception, this knee-jerk reaction is perhaps understandable. Equally, those who dismiss these allegations are right to let the dust settle – new evidence emerges and narratives spin from the wheels of government and media, frequently changing and often contradicting one another.
It came as no surprise to anyone that firebrand radio host Alex Jones was the first to call “false flag”. But perhaps less expected was the manner in which the term itself became something of a meme – Google trends showed a major spike in searches and it even made the mainstream media (although expecting Yahoo News to deal with the subject with even a modicum of accuracy would be optimistic, to say the least). As far-fetched as the idea that the government would attack and kill civilians in order to blame it on their perceived “enemies” (or use it as an excuse to carry out a practice run for martial law) may sound to some, the use of false flag terror attacks by Western intelligence agencies has historical form. One notable example was known as the Strategy of Tension.
The Strategy of Tension was a tactic employed by the US and NATO in the post-World War 2 period when Winston Churchill and his allies established stay-behind groups in western Europe. Originally intended to act as sleeper cells to counter a Soviet invasion, these were subverted into active disruptors of the democratic process of supposedly sovereign nations, engaging in political subversion, smear campaigns and black propaganda, assassinations, kidnappings and the massacres of innocent people which were then blamed on the Communists. These groups, funded and controlled by the CIA, MI6 and top level elements of NATO, frequently used neofascist right-wing groups, sometimes with associations to the Nazis, organized crime syndicates and quasi-Masonic secret societies such as the Italian P2 Lodge, to carry out some of the worst terrorist atrocities Europe experienced in the post-war era. Operation Gladio, set up as part of the so-called “secret anti-Communist NATO protocols” represents perhaps the most well-known aspect of this clandestine network of secret services and terrorists, after its exposure to the public in 1990 and revelations of a campaign of US-backed terror and subversion spanning decades.
Some of the terrorist acts which Operation Gladio produced include the Piazza Fontana bombing in Italy, 1969, which left 17 dead and 88 wounded; the 1972 Peteano massacre, initially blamed on the Red Brigade but later discovered to be the work of the Gladio network after Magistrate Felice Casson discovered that “the explosives used in the attack came from one of 139 secret weapons depots of a secret army organized under the code name Operation Gladio”; the 1980 Bologna massacre which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 – attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization, Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, but widely believed to have been the work of the Gladio network, and the Brabant massacres in Belgium, where over a period of several years a number of mass shootings took place in supermarkets and restaurants – investigations suggested the culprits were linked to the Belgian Gladio stay-behind army, the right wing group WNP, and the Pentagon secret service DIA. These are just a few examples of many where either direct or circumstantial evidence of NATO/CIA/MI6 involvement in terror atrocities in Europe in the post-war period is noted.
In other countries where no such perceived Communist threat existed, the legacy of the stay-behind operations is considerably worse. The Franco dictatorship in Spain, despite its obvious brutality and anti-democractic leanings, was considered the most favourable option by NATO planners after the Second World War in a clear example of how anti-Communist sentiments superceded pro-democratic feelings. In Greece, the CIA and the NATO stay-behind forces guaranteed against the possible election of the communist National Liberation Front by actively supporting the LOK (Lochoi Oreinōn Katadromōn, i.e. “Mountain Raiding Companies”) who led the military coup d’État on April 21, 1967. Years of repression, torture and assassinations followed. When Phillips Talbot, the US ambassador in Athens, took exception to the coup, stating that it represented a “rape of democracy”, Jack Maury, the CIA chief of station in Athens, answered: “How can you rape a whore?”. Turkey, too, suffered the same fate, in which military coup followed by military dictatorship plunged the country into an era of brutality.
Naturally, there has been plenty of bluff, denials and pleas of ignorance from officials in Washington, London and from the halls of NATO regarding the validity of the claims being made about the stay-behind networks, Operation Gladio and the overall employment of a “strategy of tension” including terror and subversion. Beyond the denials and appeals to “confidentiality” and the issue “being classified, as a matter state security”, confirmation has come not only from high ranking politicians involved in investigations, but also from the very extremist groups who were involved in a number of the massacres, several of whom have explicitly stated how they received their orders from organisations such as the CIA and MI6.
Certainly, for those with a basic understanding of how the CIA has operated on other fronts where concern has arose over the influence of Communism (or simply nationalism motivated by a desire to share a nation’s wealth amongst the population) for instance throughout Latin America from the 1950s onwards, these tactics will hardly come as a surprise. A number of the Gladio operatives involved in European terrorism are known to have worked in America’s “backyard” for people like Manuel Noriega and the Nicaraguan Contras, passing on their knowledge of murder, terror and subversion to these brutal killers.
US Army Field Manual 30-31B serves as perhaps the most damning piece of evidence confirming the nature of the stay-behind armies and the strategies they employed, outlining a strategy of tension involving violent attacks which are then blamed on radical left-wing groups in order to convince allied governments of the need for counter-action. While official sources in the US government have predictably labeled this document a forgery (Claude Cockburn’s line, “Never believe anything until it has been officially denied” springs to mind), others disagree, including former deputy director of the CIA, Ray S. Cline, who has stated it to be genuine, and Licio Gelli, the leader of the P2 freemason lodge implicated in Gladio terror attacks throughout Italy who bluntly told the BBC’s Allan Francovich, “The CIA gave it to me”.
The Gladio revelations coupled with the CIA’s track record for subversion of democracy and support for terrorist groups and right-wing dictators elsewhere around the globe would certainly suggest that there is some truth to the notion that such a field manual does exist. The real question, given the culture of fear currently promulgated by Western governments, is to what extent is the “strategy of tension” still being employed in the present day?