Friday, December 17, 2010

The Attack on John Paul II: Three Possibilities

There are at least three theories of who hired Agca. At times, the C.I.A. suggested the Russians had hired to Bulgarians to control Agca. Russia’s motive would have been to end John Paul II’s involvement in Polish and east European affairs. Prior to his pontificate, the Vatican showed little interest in its branches in Poland and eastern Europe.

At one point Agca gave hundreds of pages of testimony to flesh out this view. He fingered a Bulgarian agent named Sergei Antonov, who was arrested and held for three years before being cleared. Agca had been able to describe the interior of the man’s Rome apartment and accurately described in detail the structure and operations of the Bulgarian intelligence agency. However, Agca said nothing about the Bulgarians and Soviets until after he had been in solitary confinement and was visited by Italian intelligence people.

For a time, the Bulgarian Connection theory got a lot of play in the US press. The Americans backed off this theory when Yuri Andropov moved up from head of the KGB to head lead the Soviet Union in 1982, and soon the American press was making fun of the theory that the Soviets were behind the assassination. Senator Alfonse D”Amato went to Rome to pressure American officials there to cooperate with the Italian investigation. He was neither welcomed nor given cooperation. In fact he had been asked not to come. Much later, C.I.A.officials told Congress that they knew all along this was not true because they had spies within Bulgaria’s secret service.

At later point, Agca said that Propaganda Due ( P-2 ) member Francesco Pazienza offered him freedom in return for implicating the Bulgarians and Soviets. He said P-2 offered him a prison break. Agca told the court that Propaganda Due had kidnapped the daughter of a Vatican employee in order to have someone to bargain in exchange for him. Pazienza, who had been a high official of SISMI , Italian military organization, said this idea came from Terry Ledeen, a right wing Reagan Administration official . Ledeen denied the charge.

There is clear evidence that Ledeen had ties to both Propaganda Due and the C.I.A., but the exact nature of those links are unclear. Ledeen and Pazienza began working together in 1979 when Ledeen wrote for The New Republic. Together they were responsible for keeping “Billygate ” alive. Billy Carter admitted to accepting a loan from Libya. They got details on his visit there and later floated a story that Carter also got money from Yasser Arafat. SISMI paid Ledeen $120,000 for his work. Ledeen is considered an expert in Italian affairs and has many contacts there. One of his friends in the Italian cabinet was mysterious connected to the forged documents allegedly from the Nigerian embassy that Dick Cheney used to claim that Iraq was searching for nuclear material.

Cheney and the C.I.A. tapped Propaganda Due again in the February 17, 2003 kidnapping of Egyptian citizen Nasr Osama Mustafa Hassan in Milan. This extraordinary rendition led to the indictment of 26 American C.I.A. agents. Some of the C.I.A. agents flown in for the abduction foolishly used their own credit cares, which made it easy for the Italian police to track their activities. P-2 people within Italian police agencies helped the C.I.A. carry out the abduction and they later spied on the Italian prosecutors who handled the case.

The Israeli Mossad told the pope, through Archbishop Luigi Poggi of the Holy Alliance or intelligence service, that the Iranians were behind the assassination attempt and that Agca had been trained in Iran. Agca emphasized the part of his training that was received in Syria. One trainer was a rogue C.I.A. agent, Frank Terpil, who could have been brought in to make the C.I.A. appear involved. They claim that Agca confirmed this theory when John Paul came to his prison to offer forgiveness. After the meeting the pope ordered Poggi to end the investigation of the shooting. All records were sealed and taken to the archives. Shortly before his death, John Paul II said that he did not believe in the so-called “Bulgarian Connection.” tre

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