US covert operations in Africa

Posted: July 21, 2014 in General
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Communists have in the recent years made substantial progress in expanding their presence in Africa, and this situation is providing them with new opportunities. Western influence in Africa however important has been declining. African relations with the US,UK and France remains ambivalent and difficult.Both the UK and France are gradually sheding presently expensive commitments. There is a good chance that a few African states will collaborate closely with either Moscow or Beijin, and become, at least temporarily, highly unfriendly to the West… However, even the militant radicals prize their freedom of movement, and we consider it unlikely that any African country will become a full-fledged Communist state, or will reject all ties with the West.

The US military has its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes, and bear no military markings or government insignia. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favoured by African bush pilots, extending their flight range by thousands of kilometres. In reality, however, they carry sophisticated electronic equipment designed to collect signals intelligence, while some are used to transport US Special Forces troops during capture or kill missions.

The U.S. military has largely kept extent of the missions a secret and they have not been previously reported but are partially documented in public US defence department contracts. We have been able to pieced together descriptions of the surveillance network by examining references to it in unclassified military reports, U.S. government contracting documents and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group and below is our detailed report of their covert and overt operations in Africa to distabilise governments.
Barack Obama binoculars
Be advised this list may be incomplete due to the clandestine nature of the activities described.

The Destabilization Efforts
It’s not known who in the Reagan White House actually came up with the term “low intensity warfare” to describe the operation whereby proxy rebel armies would be used to destabilize unco-operative Third World countries. However, a main player in this policy initiative was an overt institution called, The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which the White House created in 1983. The charter of the NED was to “strengthen democratic institutions throughout the world through private, non-governmental efforts.” Congress agreed to fund NED only after CIA Director William Casey assured it that the CIA would not utilize NED for covert activities. Casey lied. The following is but a partial list of some of the causes supported by NED, with Israel’s help:

On November 29th, 1981,The Sunday Tribune of Durban, South Africa, reported that the CIA was behind a failed mercenary invasion of the island nation. An armed battle at the Seychelles National Airport was about as far as the rebellion got.

In a report in 1987 in the Washington Post, Bob Woodward revealed that Robert Gates, while deputy director of the CIA, had presented a plan to the White House that would “re-draw the map of North Africa.” It was accepted by the White House, but later rejected by the State Department. Part of that scenario included capturing half of Libya’s territories. (In These Times, February 15th, 1989) With the aim of overthrowing Libyan strong man Muammar Khadafy, Israel and the U.S. trained anti-Libyan rebels in a number of West and Central African countries. The Paris-based African Confidential newsletter reported on January 5th, 1989, that the U.S. and Israel had set up a series of bases in Chad and other neighboring countries to train 2000 Libyan rebels captured by the Chad army. The group, called The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, was based in Chad. Israel trained at least 30 Libyan pilots at Ndele in the northern part of the Central African Republic, a service which probably had something to do with that country’s recognition of Israel in February 1989. Israel also provided training facilities for the Libyan rebels in Cameroon at Kaele and Djoum, with the CIA providing the weapons. A recruiting office was opened in Zaire’s capital of Kinshasa and 50 anti-Khadafy Libyans were being trained by Gabonese head of state Omar Bongo’s presidential-guard in Wonga Wonga as well as at Ndele, an Israeli base in the Central African Republic.

The CIA provided arms and money to Hissene Habrew in his attempt to overthrow the government of Goukouni Oueddei. The operation was coordinated with Egypt, and according to Jay Peterzell in his book, Reagan’s Secret Wars (National Security Studies 1984), Sudan provided both a base for operations and a supply line. In June 1982 Habrew took control of the capital of Chad and established a provisional government.

According to a series of press reports, the most detailed one appearing in the London-based Independent newspaper of November 30th, 1986, Israel helped anti-government rebels in Mozambique overthrow the government. Israeli military advisers were also believed to be operating in Malawi, which was used as a base by the National Resistance Movement guerrillas in the Tete province of Mozambique near the Malawi border. A report in African Analysis claimed this guerrilla movement received extensive Israeli military instruction. Paulo Oliveria, a Lisbon-based spokesperson, told journalists in Maputo in 1988 that National Resistance Members received training from Israeli military. The March 24th, 1988 Guardian newspaper in London quoted Oliviera as saying that “hundreds of these rebels were sent to Israel for extensive training.” A former South African Military intelligence official, Roland Hunter, told the publication South Scan in April 1991 that during the early 1980s Israel was the channel for Eastern European weapons supplied by South Africa to anti-Mozambique rebels. These included AK-47 rifles and RPGs made in Romania, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia.

The 1976 Clark Amendment prohibited U.S. assistance to the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the South African-based army fighting the Marxist Angolan government since the country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Sam Bamieh, a U.S. businessman of Arab decent, told Congressional investigating committees that he was asked by the Saudi government in 1983 to help channel more than $50 million to UNITA as part of the AWACS deal. He claimed William Casey personally solicited the aid. In May 1986, African Report noted that since 1982 the U.S. government had supplied UNITA with weapons through intermediaries in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Zaire. (In These Times, Oct 28th, 1987) After the Clark Amendment ban was lifted in 1985, more than $13 million were given to Joans Savimbi’s UNITA forces. By 1988 the CIA was spending more than $45 million annually to back Savimbi. In 1990, the Angolan government accused the U.S., Israel and Zaire of planning to topple its regime. The idea for this mission, code-named COMA, is attributed to retired Israeli colonel Meir Meytuas, who at the time was employed by the Republic of Cameroon as a security adviser to President Paul Biya. Documents released to the publication Southscan in June, 1990 by Andre Panzo, Angola’s charge d’affaires in Zimbabwe, showed Meytuas to be a close friend of Zaire’s President Mobutu.

No better example of a joint Israel-America covert operation to bring down a foreign government can be
found than the Norbistor Affair. Unfortunately for the White House, it didn’t go quite as planned.

Sometime in late 1984 the two governments planned a coup to overthrow Jerry Rawlings, President of the West African republic of Ghana. Why would the U.S. want to overthrow Ghana?
Relations between the Reagan administration and the left-leaning government of Jerry Rawlings were never very friendly, particularly since Rawlings had good relations with Libya’s Muammar Khadafy.

In July 1985 a relative of Rawlings became romantically involved with Sharon Scrannage, a young woman who worked for the CIA. She allegedly turned over the names and information about CIA agents who had penetrated the Ghanaian government. After the mercenaries were captured and awaiting trial in Brazil, one of them wrote from his prison cell: “Jerry Rawlings has pissed off not only the Company (the CIA) but its cousin (the Mossad) in the Middle East.” By involving itself in this covert operation Israel was hoping to spring one of its agents, held by Ghana after he was exposed as a CIA employee.

The coup was a joint venture of Solomon Schwartz, a low-level intelligence operative of both the CIA and Mossad, as the key contact between Argentina, the Israelis, the South Africans, and the State Department’s Office of West African Affairs. Schwartz had good contacts in Argentina. Through Kevin Kattke, a rogue agent who worked for Oliver North in the Caribbean, he was introduced to Godfrey Osei. Osei told one of the mercenaries involved in the plot: “I came to Washington with no experience and I went to the front door of the CIA. They put me on hold for a couple of years. Then, things started happening.” The CIA put people in contact with him and in early 1986 everything started to come together. No one quite knew who Osei was. He had been imprisoned on fraud charges in Ghana, and presented himself to the mercenaries as a former Defence Minister in Rawlings’ government. He told the Argentine authorities he was an envoy of the Ghanian Defence Ministry and was authorized to purchase $200,000 worth of weapons, munitions and explosives from the Argentine army production conglomerate, Fabricaciones Militares.

To procure financing for the operation, Osei offered a seaside gambling concession to the Chinese Mafia in New York, who backed the coup with $500,000. He also promised one of the mercenaries, Ted Bishop, cocoa and coffee marketing rights in Ghana. It was Bishop who arranged the purchase of 6 tons of weapons for the job. According to mercenary Timothy Carmody, Bishop was the connection to Schwartz, who, he was told, was an agent for Israeli intelligence and worked out of the offices of Botswana International in New York. In November 1986 investigative journalist Jack Anderson contacted Solomon Schwartz at a company called B International in New York. Bishop told the mercenaries that the plot was sanctioned by the White House. He would often boast to them that he had “walk-in access to the highest office in the land- the National Security Council.” (San Francisco Chronicle, November 11th, 1986) and that he worked for a “lieutenant colonel” who worked for “an admiral” at the National Security Council (NSC). When they were eventually caught, one of the mercenaries repeated what Bishop had told him, “I worked for the National Security Council and I report to a Marine colonel in Room 357 of the White House Executive Office Building.” John Early of Albuquerque, was the military leader of the mercenaries. He was a contributing editor to Soldier of Fortune magazine, operated a parachute training school in Albuquerque, and spent nearly four years in the Rhodesian air force. Those who knew him said he was a “shadowy figure” involved in clandestine activities both in Laos in the 1960’s and later in El Salvador.

The mission task-force consisted of one Argentine and eight American Vietnam veterans. Their six week mission was to escort the six tons of weapons and rendezvous with a ship off the Ghana coast. The weapons were purchased from the Argentine army, which also transported and loaded them on the vessel. An attack on the city of Accra would follow. They would then train a force of 100 Ghanaian dissidents to overthrow Rawlings. The plan also included the freeing of CIA agents imprisoned by Rawlings and destroying a Libyan training center.

The plot was doomed from the start. The equipment and arms were less than adequate. The boat to transport them to Africa arrived two weeks late. Then, the Argentine captain wanted another $50,000 for the trip. Early began to get suspicious about Bishop when he failed to show up for the final certification of the cargo by port authorities. After he had a Tampa private detective check Osei out he discovered that Osei had no official ties whatsoever to the Ghana government. The mercenaries began to question their mission and the person in charge, Solomon Schwartz. Six hundred miles off the Brazilian coast they decided their mission was compromised and that they might get killed in Africa. When they turned back and ran ashore north of Rio De Janeiro the Brazilian police suspected they were going to sell the weapons they had on board to right-wing landowners in order to resist a proposed land reform. The police seized the boat and its cargo and put the men in jail.

Early and the Argentine captain were sentenced to five years in prison and the other seven Americans to four years. When Carmody told his wife he needed “iron enriched” tablets she knew exactly what he meant and sent him four hacksaw blades in a box of powdered milk. (The Atlanta Journal, December 27th, 1986) On December 15th, 1986, he and three others escaped by climbing down the prison walls with a ladder made out of knotted sheets. With the help of bush pilots who took them the distance in several short hops they made it through the jungle to La Paz, Bolivia. In late February 1987 the remaining mercenaries were extradited to Argentina, where they jumped bail and returned to the U.S. The CIA and Solomon Schwartz have denied any involvement in the operation.

The State Department said the men were operating as free agents, yet throughout the affair Schwartz’s telephone records showed that he was in continuous contact with the State Department’s West Africa desk. Two U.S. government officials claim that Godfrey Osei kept in close contact with the State Department’s Office of West African Affairs about his coup plans. Ed Perkins, then head of that office and later Ambassador to South Africa, acknowledged to Foster that he had met with Osei in late 1985 but insisted that the “routine meeting” was held at Osei’s request. He denied knowing Osei very well or supporting his plans. Another official from the NSC who moved over to the CIA in 1987, says that sometime in late 1985 Ambassador Perkis referred Ghanian rebels seeking U.S. help in a coup attempt to the NSC. The official claims that the meeting was held in an attempt to “discourage, rather than promote”, the effort to overthrow Rawlings. It is extremely difficult to believe that Solomon Schwartz would contract this job out to a group of private mercenaries if he wasn’t acting on behalf of the U.S. government. How many individuals acting on their own decide to stage a coup?

Is this stuff still going on? You bet. Look at Syria, Libya, Somalia, Ukraine and even Nigeria where it has been alleged that Boko Haram is a CIA covert operation.It has been alleged that its embassy’s subversive activities in Nigeria fits into the long term US government’s well camouflaged policy of containment against Nigeria the ultimate goal of which is to eliminate Nigeria as a potential strategic rival to the US in the African continent. South Sudan has also accused the western allies of supporting the uprising against Salva Kiir regime. It is believed that the United States has a key interest to control the oil and other national resources.


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