Stefano Delle Chiaie's first known visit to Latin America was to Chile with Prince Valerio Borghese late in 1973 after the CIA-backed coup which ousted and killed President Salvador Allende. The build-up to the Chilean coup bore numerous similarities to the events which unsettled Italy from early 1969 onwards. The two fascists' trip to Chile was ostensibly on behalf of a Madrid agency, Enesia, to establish friendly relations and encourage trade with the new regime, but in fact to discuss the setting up of an international hit squad to kill the enemies of the Junta and to neutralise all overseas opposition.
This proposal for a transnational terror network later to become known as "Operation Condor" was discussed and agreed with the Chilean Head of Station of the American CIA, Raymond Warren, responsible for running psychological warfare and paramilitary operations networks for eliminating anti-Junta dissidents in other Latin American countries and in Europe.
The first contract fulfilled was the murder in September 1974 of General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires. The murder was carried out by the neo-fascist terrorist group Patria y Libertad, a network of right-wing criminals trained in Bolivia and at a school of the United States International Police Academy.
In September 1975 Delle Chiaie travelled to Rome on a false passport where he met Michael Townley, a US-born agent of the Chilean secret service, the DINA, Townley's wife, Mariana Ines Callejas, also a DINA agent, and Virgilio Paz, an anti-Castro Cuban terrorist leader. According to a statement made by Townley to the FBI, following his successful extradition to the United States from Chile on charges of having murdered exiled Chilean leader Orlando Letelier, all three met with Delle Chiaie and his associates to discuss the proposed assassination of Bernardo Leighton.
Within a matter of days the assassination plan was finalised. Virgilio Paz and Delle Chiaie between them prepared a scenario intended to confuse the subsequent police investigation and lead it away from both DINA and the Italians.
The attempt on Bernardo Leighton's life took place in Rome on 6 October 1975, but it was unsuccessful and the would-be assassins succeeded only in wounding their target. The attempt was later described to Aldo Tisei by the would-be assassin himself, Pierluigi Concutelli: "Pierluigi described the operation to me down to the finest detail. He fired at Leighton's head, heard the wife scream, whirled around and wounded her in the throat. He was on the point of giving both the coup de grace but relented, convinced their deaths were imminent." Concutelli described it as "the only cock-up in my life."
A few days later, on 13 October, the false trail was laid when the Miami-based Cuban exile paper Diario de las Americas published a communique from an organisation calling itself Cero which claimed responsibility for the shooting. In November a further communique from Cero was received by the Miami office of the AP agency providing details of the shooting. The communique claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Cuban exile leader Rolando Masferrer on 31 October for being "a divisive influence on the Cuban exile movement"; it added: "Mr. Bernardo Leighton was shot through the back of the head in Rome. A 9mm Beretta pistol was used. We are informing you of this to contradict reports in the media and to identify them fully."
Townley later stated to the FBI that the information used in the Cero communique had been channelled by Delle Chiaie to DINA in Chile and from there to Virgilio Paz in Miami. Although annoyed at the failure of the assassination attempt, DINA paid out l00 million lire to Delle Chiaie which, according to pentito Aldo Tisei, he pocketed himself.
Another diplomatic murder linked with the Delle Chiaie organisation, under contract from Paladin, by now based in Zurich following exposure of its activities by the Parisian daily Liberation, was the murder of General Joaquin Zenteno Anaya. Anaya was the American-trained Ranger Commander responsible for the capture of Che Guevara in Bolivia in October 1967, and in May 1976 was the Bolivian ambassador in Paris. Although the assassination was claimed by the hitherto unknown "Che Guevara Brigade," it has been suggested (Nouvel Observateur, Paris, June 1976) that it was planned by a Bolivian intelligence officer known as Saavedra with Delle Chiaie in the Hotel Consulado in Madrid. (Anaya's politics were opposed to the then president, General Banzer. He was a supporter of ex-president Torres who was murdered shortly afterwards in Argentina.)
It would appear, then, that when Delle Chiaie and Guérin-Serac made their escape from Madrid in 1977 they found refuge and a new base for their activities in South America where they already had many friends and protectors.
The original network of pro-Nazi circles in Latin America maintained by Skorzeny, Luftwaffe hero Hans Ulrich Rudel, ex-Goebbels man Johannes von Leers and Klaus Barbie had been built on in the late sixties by the fresh blood of Aginter Press organiser Yves Guerin-Serac and his network of OAS exiles.
Many of the methods and techniques which are now the hallmark of Latin American death squads originated in the theory and practices in Algeria of the French "5th Bureau of the General Staff" (psychological operations) under Colonel Lacheroy and were honed to cruel perfection by the OAS under the direction of Colonel Jean Gardes: beheading, degenitalising and other forms of mutilation of suspects and the dynamiting of their corpses and leaving the remains in some public place. Guérin-Serac’s mentors in Lisbon and Madrid, Susini and Lagaillarde, were both proteges of the infamous 5th Bureau set up in 1957 during the Algerian War. In the late sixties, when Aginter Press spread its attention from Africa to Latin America, it is estimated that about 60 per cent of Aginter personnel were recruited from the ranks of the OAS, while the remainder were recruited from neo-Nazi organisations in Western Europe such as the Frankfurt based Kampfbund Deutscher Soldateni1 run by another ex- Goebbels man and partner of "von Schubert" in Paladin, Dr. Eberhardt Taubert, otherwise known as "the man in the white Porsche."2
A 1968 prospectus sent by Guerin-Serac to the head of Guatemala's secret police tendering for a "security contract" makes chilling reading in the light of subsequent events. It proposed: "a programme of action against Castroite subversion in Latin America" and the "placement in Guatemala of a team of specialists in subversive and revolutionary struggle, or perfectly trained politicomilitary cadres to serve as technical advisers in the elaboration of political and military action schemes to be pursued in the struggle... This action by specialists would be placed under the ultimate authority of local political leaders and perfectly coordinated with them.
Apart from setting up a headquarters study office charged with making a special study of subversion and familiarising officers with new combat methods of guerrilla warfare, infiltration, psychological warfare and the setting up of a 'special missions' centre... indeed it would be a good idea as well to extend the anti-guerrilla action to adjacent nations, Nicaragua and El Salvador, for the antiguerrilla struggle."
In June 1971, the New York Times reported that at least 2,000 people had been murdered in Guatemala between May 1968 and November 1970. An Amnesty International report estimated that upwards of 30,000 people were murdered in the decade beginning 1966, the vast majority of them between 1968 and 1971 following the assassination of US ambassador Gordon Mein. The terror campaign, modelled on the South Vietnamese "Phoenix" programme, in which an estimated 40,000 Viet Cong suspects were murdered, was masterminded and overseen by Mein's successor, Nathaniel West, a senior staff member of the US National Security Council (West was afterwards appointed US ambassador to Chile in November 1971, shortly after President Allende nationalised the copper mines) and was carried out by agencies such as the "plausibly deniable" Aginter Press. According to Patrice Chairoff, missions carried out by Aginter Press and similar front agencies in Latin America enabled, by 1977, around 560 European neo-fascists to receive in-depth training and experience in psychological warfare and terrorism.
Shortly before exiled Argentinian dictator Juan Peron's plane touched down at Ezeiza airport on his return from exile to power on 20 June 1973, death squads of the "Triple A" (Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance) organised by Peronist Interior Minister Juan Lopez Rega (later identified as a member of Lodge P2) opened fire with machineguns and threw hand grenades into the waiting crowds, massacring 300 bystanders because they were Peronist leftwingers.
According to an investigation carried out by the newspaper of the leftist Montoneros, El Descamisado, those responsible for the massacre included members of several international neo-fascist groups, including Francoise Chiappe, formerly of the Milice, the wartime Vichy-French anti-Resistance Squads, a veteran of the OAS Delta Commandos, and heavily implicated in the international drug trade.
When in May 1974 investigators from the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement raided the Lisbon HQ of Aginter Press and its political wing, "Order and Tradition," they discovered Yves Guerin-Serac's last-known forwarding address: Apartado 1682, E1 Salvador.
Stefano Delle Chiaie's main base in Latin America appears to have been Buenos Aires, but he is known to have travelled extensively throughout Latin America in the company of one or two trusted companions. According to DINA sources quoted by American authors John Dinges and Saul Landau in their book Death on Embassy Row, Stefano Delle Chiaie, using the nom-de-guerre Alfredo di Stefano (a.k.a. "Topogigio"), together with two Italian companions "Luigi" (or "Gigi") and "Maurizio" (possibly Maurizio Giorgi, a go-between for Delle Chiaie and Italian secret service officer Antonio La Bruna), were provided with an office by DINA from which they operated a front news agency in Santiago which specialised in channelling pro-government articles to the Western media. The office consisted of a large apartment equipped as an office with a telex machine for their dispatches. As with Aginter Press, the news agency also appears to have provided cover for covert activities.
The three Italians are known to have established contacts in Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as in their base country, Argentina. In Buenos Aires they are known to have been in contact with DINA agent Michael Townley's Milicia group, closely allied to Lopez Rega's “Triple A,” which specialised in reprinting Nazi tracts in Spanish and promoting anti-semitic literature as well as providing auxiliaries for the security services of Latin American dictatorships). It was the Milicia which assisted Townley in assassinating Chilean exiles such as General Carlos Prats.
Although Delle Chiaie's exact activities and movements from 1977 until 1980 are a matter for conjecture (he seems to be able to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants), what is certain is that this period saw a cementing of the relationship between the neo-fascists and organised crime, the Mafia. In Italy, 1976 had witnessed an increase in the number of criminal kidnappings and there was growing evidence that the neo-fascists, particularly those linked with the Delle Chiaie network such as Pierluigi Concutelli, were deeply involved with the activities of the so-called "Kidnap Anonymous" organisation. It was also known that for some considerable time the Mafia organisations which ran the narcotics trade in the "heroin triangle" (Ostia-Acilia-Casal Palocca) had been using the neo-fascists as heavies to distribute drugs and to intimidate addicts and "neutralise" investigators.
It is not known whether Delle Chiaie attended the 12th Congress of the South Korean-based World Anti-Communist League3 hosted by President Stroessner in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 1979. But the 400 delegates from 80 countries certainly included Delle Chiaie's close comrade from Spain, Elio Massagrande. The main subject for discussion on the agenda was how to galvanise support for right-wing regimes in the vanguard of the struggle against communism.
Another more important meeting in which Delle Chiaie certainly was involved was the secret conference of Latin American security and intelligence services held in Bogota, Colombia, in November 1979. It was at this conference that Argentinian General Roberto Eduardo Viola, later to become President of Argentina, laid the foundations for the Argentinian sponsored coup which blocked the accession of the newly elected President of Bolivia, Dr. Siles Zuazo, in July 1980 (Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network—Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda, South End Press, Boston, 1982).
If Delle Chiaie's precise movements are unknown to us, his activities are far from being obscure. He was travelling backwards and forwards between Argentina and Bolivia for some years and was directly involved in the destabilisation campaign preceding the bloody coup which overthrew Bolivia's democratically elected President Dr. Siles Zuazo on 17 July 1980.
One of the Delle Chiaie organisers in Latin America, West German Joachim Fiebelkorn (born 1947), a Paladin and Kampfbund Deutscher Soldaten veteran, as well as a Frankfurt pimp, who had worked with Delle Chiaie in Bolivia, stated later to the West German police that Delle Chiaie was the number one international middleman between the Sicilian Mafia and the Latin American cocaine producers. Based in a police barracks next to the West German Embassy in the capital, La Paz, the Delle Chiaie men, Los Novios de la Muerte — "The Fiancés of Death" — as they called themselves, were contracted as security guards and enforcers for the multinational drug empire of Roberto Suarez, described as the "King of Coca," overseeing the production, transportation, distribution and marketing of cocaine.
It was Roberto Suarez who put up the money and placed his neo-fascist paramilitary organisation at the disposal of General Luis Garcia Meza in his preparations for the 1980 coup which installed both Meza and his Interior Minister, the notorious Colonel Luis Arce Gomez. Arce Gomez, a close relation of Roberto Suarez, and known as "the Idi Amin of the Andes," was described by the US ambassador to Bolivia and by the US Drug Enforcement Agency as "one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the country" — after Suarez, of course. Another US Drug Enforcement Agency official claimed that "for the first time ever the drugs mafia has evidently bought itself a government." (Bolivia: Cocaine: the military connection, Latin America Regional Reports Andean Group, 29 August 1980, quoted in Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network. )
The amount of money involved in this lucrative trade can be gauged by Arce Gomez's own estimate in a statement to Latin America Weekly Report (13 February 1981): "Coca can produce for us 1,200 million dollars." But this was a vast understatement. The astronomical profits being made can be better judged by the fact that Roberto Suarez, in an attempt to obtain the release of his son, held in the United States on serious drug charges, offered to pay off Bolivia's entire foreign debts of $3,800m. (The son has since been released on bail and is now back in Bolivia. )
Concerning the 1980 coup in Bolivia, Venezuelan journalist Ted Cordova Laire wrote in El Nacional: ". . . all sectors agree unanimously that Argentinian, Italian, German and South American elements all participated in the coup effected by Garcia Meza and Colonel Arce Gomez. Many of the junta's prisoners were interrogated by Argentinians." The same writer also affirmed that the destabilisation campaign was begun during the regime of Argentina's Jorge Videla, another Lodge P2 Mason, and that General Galtieri himself went to La Paz to prepare the campaign and sent at least seventy Argentinian police and security specialists who operated under cover of the newly established OPSIC — the Oficina de Operaciones Psicologicas (Office of Psychological Operations) — chillingly reminiscent of the French 5th Bureau which spawned the likes of Jean-Jacques Susini, Pierre Lagaillarde and Guerin-Serac: Writer Ed Berman puts the figure at 200 military and intelligence personnel. Los Angeles Times journalist Ray Bonner quoted one US military adviser in Bolivia: "The Argentinian military did everything but tell General Garcia Meza the day to pull it off… ." (Los Angeles Times, 31 August 1981, quoted in Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network).
The ostensible head of the new Bolivian regime, General Garcia Meza, charged his Interior Minister Arce Gomez with the job of setting up a personal bodyguard to protect him on his trips around the country. This force was recruited from the neo-fascists who had helped him to power. This parallel security force was trained and overseen by William Adgar Moffett III, a CIA paramilitary officer who had previously helped refine the methods used by Haitian dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier's dreaded murder organisation, the Ton Ton Macoutes. Within days of Arce Gomez's statement on taking office that "All those who violate the Law of National Security will have to walk around with their last will and testament under their arm," the death squads had begun their campaign of bloody repression. Student meetings were broken up and activists and academics were beaten up and murdered; the headquarters of the main Bolivian trade union, the Central Obrero Boliviano, were gutted and militants tortured and murdered. One of the worst incidents was the carnage which took place at Caracol, a small tin-mining community near Oruro where only a few survivors lived to tell of the atrocities committed by the "Fiancés of Death." ("El Novio de la Muerte — "Fiancé of Death" — is a marching song of the Spanish Foreign Legion.) To avoid attracting attention to themselves, the "Fiancés of Death" would drive into villages or working class areas in ambulances with red crosses marked prominently on the vehicles and carry off their victims, most of whom were never seen again. Other leading members of the "Fiancés of Death" were Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon," ex-Waffen SS officer Haus Stellfield who died shortly after the coup from injecting an overdose of cocaine, ex-Waffen SS Herbert Kopplin, Franz Josef Boefle, Hans Juergen, Kay Gwinner, Wolfgang Walterkirche, the Rhodesian Manfred Kuhlman, Heinz Lauer, Hans Landowski, Carsten Vollner, Joachim Fiebelkorn.
Apart from these mainly German and Austrian Nazis there were also at least two Frenchmen, Oliver Danet and Napoleon Leclerc, the OAS man exiled from Marseilles at the end of the "French Connection." Italian neo-fascist and P2 supergrass Elio Cioloni, involved later in the Bologna bombing investigations, described this motley collection in an interview published in the Italian weekly Panorama:
…Fiebelkorn [boss of the Bavarian operation] arrived in Santa Cruz and, little by little, built up this group of German mercenaries. First there was the middle-weight boxer "Icke" — alias Herbert Kapplin, 52 year old Berliner and veteran of the SS armoured division of General Steiner. He was a POW in Russia until 1952, expert at stripping every sort of weapon. The most likable character was Hans Juergen, formerly a railway electrician, an alcoholic who died of overdrinking. The most experienced driver was Manfred Kuhlmann, a little hothead forever in a fury with Kay Gwinner, a Chilean German in exile since Allende's day. There was also the Frenchman Jean Leclerc. His real name was Napoleon Leclerc. In Algeria, with the Legion, he had carried out a lot of torture: he always strutted about in military uniform with grenades dangling at his belt. He never paid his bills and saw communists everywhere. It Fiebelkorn's best friend was 65 year old Hans Stellfield, a Gestapo veteran who fled lo South America at the end of the war. A military instructor, potter, dealer in exotic animals and drugs, he was also a bodyguard and smuggled arms from the USA... Our nine-man group was in direct touch with the Nazi HQ in La Paz run by Klaus Barbie... From the second half of 1978 onwards we had but one aim . . . to get ourselves organised so as to display our power.
Following the success of the coup the US Drug Enforcement Agency estimated that the drug traffickers who had put up the 70 million dollars to put Garcia Meza into power increased the annual production at their refineries from 2,000 million dollars to over 7,000 million.
When the US authorities started to exert pressure on the Bolivian government to crack down on the production of cocaine, it simply provided Arce Gomez with an opportunity to corner the market for himself and Suarez. Having recruited the "Fiancés of Death" into the Bolivian National Drug Control Agency, Arce Gomez then provided them with a list of more than a hundred of the smaller independent drug producers to be dealt with. Leading units of the Bolivian army, the Nazis raided the "illegal" drug factories of the smaller producers, smashed up the equipment, impounded their stocks of cocaine and forced many of them to hand over their houses, luxury flats, aeroplanes, boats, and whatever money they had. Those who resisted were tortured and killed as examples to the others.
The story of Pierluigi Pagliai, a long-term confidant of Delle Chiaie, illustrates the activities of the neo-fascist network in Bolivia. Pagliai, born 1954, the son of a rich Milanese family and a stalwart of Italian neo-fascism in the early seventies, had gone on the run to Argentina six years previously when he had been named and, briefly, arrested in connection with the 1974 Brescia anti- fascist rally bombing mentioned earlier. In Argentina he had been recruited into that country's "special services," along with Delle Chiaie.
Known variously as "Carlos," Mario Bonomi and Bruno Costas, Pagliai was an accredited "co-ordinator" of the Bolivian National Drug Control Agency — a misnomer if there ever was one — under Colonel Renan Reque. Colonel Reque claims that Pagliai came to him with a Bolivian birth certificate and identity card in the company of an official of Department II of Bolivian Military Intelligence who "insisted" he should be accredited to the agency. According to the statement of supergrass Ciolini, who was also an agent of the Bolivian Interior Ministry, Pagliai had been described in CIA documents as a "young terrorist torture freak." The CIA blamed him directly for many of the violations of human rights perpetrated under the regime of General Meza. Pagliai's name has also been linked with a number of murders, including that of an expoliceman, Jose Abraham Batista, who was gunned down, for an unknown motive, in the Avenida Uruguay in the narco-fasicst capital of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, as well as the torture and murder on 17 July 1980 of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, the secretary-general of the Bolivian Socialist Party.
- 1. Kampfbund Deutscher Soldaten ("German Soldiers' Combat League"), Talstrasse 6, D-6 Frankfurt am Main. Founded by Karl Heinz Keuken,Wolfram Langer, Erwin Schonbrun and Dr. Eberhardt Taubert. The organisation which has a membership of around 1500 of whom two-thirds are under the age of thirty, publishes the monthly Unser Kampf ("Our Struggle") which is wholly controlled by Nazis. Many members of the Paladin Group were recruited from the ranks of the KDS, as were many of the mercenaries who fought in Rhodesia (39 in June, 21 in July and 34 in September 1976). The Rhodesian mercenaries were recruited and trained by Taubert's colleague Major Nicholas Lamprecht.
- 2. Dr. Eberhardt Taubert (died 4 November 1976) joined the Nazi party in 1931—two years before Hitler came to power. Promoted to Sturmfuhrer in legal department during Goebbels' gauleitership of Berlin, he later followed Goebbels to the Ministry of Propaganda where he was assigned the department handling "the struggle against alien ideologies, religious meddling and bolshevism at home and abroad." Dr. Taubert later took charge of "active anti- Jewish propaganda" and was subsequently assigned the "anti-Komintern" bureau which specialised in anticommunist and anti-Soviet propaganda. In 1938 Taubert was appointed Judge with the "Court of Peoples'Justice." He was later made ministerial adviser to Goebbels and headed a 450-strong team of Nazi propaganda specialists in the occupied territories. After the war Taubert went to South Africa and Iran before returning to Germany in 1950, when he was recruited into the special services section of the Gehlen organisation (BND). He was also appointed chairman of the CIA backed "National Association for Peace and Freedom". Under cover of the All-German Ministry, Taubert was an adviser to Franz Josef Strauss, Minister of Defence, and to NATO on "problems of psychological warfare." For over twenty years Taubert was the main source of finance to the neo-Nazi and extreme right groups in Europe, acting as a conduit for money from businesses and foundations such as the Staats und Wirtschaftspolitischen Gesellschaft e.v. in Cologne and Pelugan AG of Frankenthal (in 1977 this company was run by former consul Dr. Fritz Ries, one of the many straw men through whom funds are channelled to Franz Josef Strauss). According to journalist Patrice Chairoff, Taubert was also one of the "respected correspondents" of the Greek KYP through his "World Service" "press agency.' Until his death in 1976, Taubert was considered .
- 3. World Anti-Communist League (WACL). The most sinister of all the internationally active extreme right wing organisations and pressure groups. Although founded in Seoul, South Korea, in 1966, the initial foundations were laid in Mexico in 1958 during the "World Anti-Communist Congress for Freedom and Liberation." The WACL is based on Goebbels' "Anti-Komintern" and is the main conduit for funds for extreme right wing organisations throughout the world. One of the first operations financed by the WACL shortly after its founding in November 1966 was to finance the propaganda and intelligence gathering press agency "Aginter Press."