By Trowbridge H. Ford
When big strategic conspiracies are programmed, like triggering showdowns with the Soviets by assassinating President Kennedy or Sweden’s statsminister Olof Palme, so much has to be connected for them to work as planned that they almost invariably go wrong – what makes critics of conspiracy theories deny that they ever existed. The killing can go wrong, accidents can happen, agents in the know can decide to become turncoats, intended scapegoats can somehow turn sour, and the intended targets can manage to figure out through its own intelligence services what is afoot, and take appropriate countermeasures. As a result, when the conspirators are left with a cock-up, as was the case in both the murders in 1963 in Dallas, and the Stockholm one in 1986, they have to resort to all kinds of countermeaures of their own to keep the whole fiasco from being discovered. The most easy measure to mount in such circumstances is more murders. Those which come most readily to mind in the JFK killing is the murder of DPD iffucer J. D. Tippitt who discovered some of the President’s notorious killers, Richard Cain and Chuckie Nicoletti, while they were making their getaway – resulting in Tippitt’s murder too – and even their own before the whole, ugly business was finished. Admiral Carl-Fredrik Algernon, Palme’s official in charge of all arms exports from Sweden “…fell or was pushed in front of a subway train in Stockholm’s Central Station on Jan. 15 – six days before he was to testify before a special prosecutor investigating the illegal arms shipments.” (1)
Unfortuntely, for the plotters, the killing of Algernon – and he was killed as there were two witnesses who saw him pushed off the platform in front of the oncoming train (2) – did not stop the rot about illegal arms shipments to Iran since a plane carrying them over Nicaragua had been shot down on October 6, 1986, and had been disclosed in the press in November, setting off a political firestorm in Washington which could not be stopped by any assassination. While investigating committees by both Houses of Congress had attempted to head it off by offering the important witnesses immunity from prosecution for their testimony, and haphazard questioning which failed to pin almost anything about the illegal transfers down, still Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed the Independent Counsel to investigate the scandal, and he was not prepared to engage in any easy, convenient cover-up, though both committees, especially their leaders, tried. (3) Former Texas Senator John Tower, chairman of the presidential commission into the affair, even wanted the Independent Counsel reduced to its fact-finding agent – what would result in prosecuting those suspected of crimes – but Walsh would not hear of it.
By early March 1987, Walsh’s appointment had been announced despite claims of its unconstitutionality by chief conspirator Oliver North, and the Tower Commission had reported that a runaway, though limited conspiracy had occurred. To keep it so, Britain’s Thatcher government moved to limit any possible blowback since North had so insisted to his boss, National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane, that he enlist the UK in his Enterprise project to supply the Contras with British Blowpipe missiles – what was unsuccessful (4), but could lead to its being seen as supplying other assistance, allegedly the very assassin of the Swedish statsminister, Captain Simon Hayward, the Ops Officer of the 14 Intelligence Company’s South Detachment in Northern Ireland who did so, it seems, while reassessing Palme’s bodyguards while working for former SAS Major David Walker’s KMS security firm. After Operation Pegasus, the assassination plan that Frank Camper had developed to train Contras to kill Sandinistas, and destroy their facilities in Nicaragua with foreign mercanaries, had been closed down because of leaks to the Memphis Commercial Appeal (5), North “…proposed to McFarlane that the British mercenary David Walker establish ‘an arrangement with the FDN (Frente Democratico Nicaraguense) for certain special operations expertise aimed particularly at destroying HIND helicopters.” (6)
To entrap Hayward, his brother Christopher, an agent apparently working for MI6, arranged for him to meet him at Gilbraltar for a covert mission against some Libyan target, apparently to spot Adam Hopkins’ trawler Eksund, loaded with 150 tons of heavy weapons for the Provisional IRA, as it made its way to some landing site in the Irish Republic.(7) The only trouble with the mission was the another part of the British government – the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) – had infiltrated the shipment by getting a member of the Provos’ Army Council, code name ‘Steak knife’, to become a tout, and he would not be part of any operation that Simon Hayward was involved in because of his role in the Palme assassination, resulting in a plan to set him up as a drug-runner in Sweden. To get Simon to go along with the plan, Christopher had to agree to it, and help entrap his brother in a quite serious crime, one comparable to a murder. The meeting where it was accomplished is well described in Simon’s biography, Under Fire: My Own Story, starting on page 58. It basically concerned getting him to go to Sweden under the impression that he was helping sell Christopher’s Jaguar – what required it being taken away from Simon for a few days while it had 50.5 kilos of cannabis hidden in its chasis.
The plan worked like a charm, the essential questions when Simon was finally tried in July 1987 being: did he know about the drugs, was a plan agreed to by his brother and ‘Steak knife’ aka Duke and Dook at the famous meeting at Santa Eulalia on Ibiza, was Heather Weissand – a woman that Simon mistook for Duke’s wife – the FRU handler of ‘Steak knife’ Sergeant Margaret Walshaw, what were the roles of intermediaries Scotsman Forbes Mitchell and his German wife ‘Prita’ in the set-up, and conviction of Simon, and were British authorities deliberately allowing hearsay evidence by National Drug Intelligence Unit agents David Morgan and Brian Moore about his being involved with British drug traffickers being introduced if and when there was any trial. It was delayed for an inordinate length of time because London believed that Hopkins would be allowed to go ahead with the Eksund shipment after Hayward’s indictment, but ‘Steak knife’ would not permit it until he was convicted – what occurred in August, and the guilty verdict was appealed by Hayward, delaying the shipment even more.
At the same time, Daniel Morgan and Chantal Hayward were murdered – the first, a private eye, who was apparently putting together an exposé for “Captain Bob” Maxwell’s Daily Mirror on March 10, 1987 while Simon was on his way to Sweden, and the latter, his sister-in-law, who was attempting to get the Met involved in uncovering why he had been set-up in Stockholm. Morgan was brutally murdered in Sydenham with an axe in his head when he went to meet an apparent source who could give him more information about the whole Iran-Contra conspiracy, and Chantal was drugged to death after she threatened to expose the culprits of Simon’s entrapment even to MP John Gorst who was deeply involved in trying to effect it.(8) She was found dead on July 7th, the victim of a massive drug overdose, a lethal cocktail, which caused her to be asphyxiated by her own vomit, though she never used hard drugs. The undertaker also pointed out to Simon’s mother that Chantal had been injected with something in her left forearm, though she was left-handed.(9)
In the meantime, Schleswig-Holstein’s most successful FRG politician, Christian Democratic Union leader Uwe Barschel, had gotten wind of Iran-Contra’s shipments of arms to Iran at Palme expense, and started making noises about exposing it, particularly after Algernon’s surprising murder in January. Barschel grew up in Börnsen, near Hamburg, and was made the Land’s Finance Minister and Minister of Interior by Prime Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg in 1979 after a most active political career as a youth. When Stoltenberg became the FRG’s Finance Minister, Barschel replaced him as PM, and gained an absolute majority in its 1983 election. He had helped represent the Land in the Bundesrat since 1971.(10) It was best connected to Scandinavia by its ports, especially Sweden, with its ones at Travemunde to Malmö, Trelleborg, and Helsingborg, and Kiel to Göteborg.
Unfortunately for Barschel, the BfV, the FRG’s security service, got wind of what he was planning, and did him in. In May, Barschel was nearly killed in a suspicious plane crash at Lubeck, the home of Social Demoractic Party leader Willy Brandt who suffered a similar fate at its hands back in 1974, only this time the party roles were reversed.Then the BfV allowed Brandt’s Chancelllor’s office to be infiltrated by East German spy, Gunter Guillaume, and Brandt’s remaining in office in 1972 by its bribing a CDU deputy, Juliius Steiner, in the Bundestag to vote against the CDU’s vote of no confidence – what became known as “Bonn’s Watergate”.(11) Barschel’s “Waterkamt-Gate” seems to have been the result of the securocrats recruiting a similar officer in the Land government, Reiner Pfeiffer, to claim that Barschel had hired him to entrap the SDP candidate Björn Engholm in the September 13, 1987 election in a tax fraud case, and allegedly bugging the PM’s own phone – claims he told Der Spiegal right after the election which forced Barschel’s resignation, and his vow to clear his name.
Meanwhile, Special Counsel Walsh was starting to reveal only part of the whole Iran-Contra scandal, opting for sure convictions of principal conspirators rather than try to expose the borad general plot. The basic problem had been getting reliable evidence about what really happened rather than just competing claims by the participants. The most reliable evidence was bank records, especially ones in Switzerland, and the Swiss would only release them “…to law-enforcement officials, only for use in criminal investigations, and only after a number of procedural reviews…” (12) Walsh was most desirous of getting the records of Geneva’s Compagnie de Services Fiduciaires regarding the transactions of North, Richard Secord and Albert Hakim whose manager William I. Zucker promised to supply if he were granted immunity, and if the Swiss courts allowed the transfers. (13) “We had retained Swiss lawyers in Bern and Geneva,” (14) Walsh added. Zucker revealed that there were accounts by which the leading conspirators were able to enrich themselves personally by the transactions with Iran. Walsh’s team finally settled on waiting for the release of the Swiss records by its courts in September “…as proof of the disposition of the U. S. arms proceeds and of the $200,000 gratuity from Hakim to North.” (15)
The crucial importance of these Swiss documents – what its highest court had ordered released on August 19, 1987 – became crystal clear when the Isrealis involved were not required to release their records of the scandal. They would show if Barschel had been implicated in any of the Enterprise’s transactions, something that Palme had not been able to establish becuase of “…Sweden’s official and unofficial, well-meaning and profit-seeking, meddling in the Persian Gulf War.”(16) When Walsh’s people subpoenaed David Kimche, former Mossad director, to testify about his role in it, he was infuriated, claiming that he had diplomatic immunity – what the State Department agreed to for fear that former American diplomats could be similarly treated by foreign countries when engaged in similar criminal activites. Walsh still hoped that Israeli officials would allow important documents to be inspected, and its suspected Iran-Contra conspirators to be interviewed by his people, but Tel Aviv would not allow anything, “…even individuals who were willing to be questioned.” (17)
There was then a race against time if Barschel would get the full story, and get it out before he was killed by his opponents in Germany, especially the CIA’s specialist in covert murders, Ted “Blond Ghost” Shackley, who was then operating out of Hamburg in Schleswig-Holstein.(18) Shackley is best known for successfully reviving the plot to kill Beatle John Lennon – what was intended to make sure Ronald Reagan won the 1980 presidential election, and what was still done to make sure that assassin Mark David Chapman did leak any secrets about his being made a Manchurian Candidate in the plot.(19) To prevent the Zucker financial records from being disclosed prematurely, Hakim and Ghorbanifar filed separate appeals with the cantonal courts – an unlikely successful procedure since the federal courts were usuallly favored in such controversies – and decisions were expected the day after Barschel lost the elections in Schleswig-Holstein. “On September 21,” Walsh recounted, “the cantonal appeals weere decided in our favor,” (20) but on the 29th, the Geneva magistrate, a friend of Hakim’s lawyer, still refused to hand over the records. The magistrate continued his refusal to hand them over during the whole month of October, and then he only agreed to do so after Hakim and his lawyer had reviewed them.
This delay gave Shackley and his team just the time they needed to get rid of Barschel. While he was licking his wounds from the electoral defeat while in Gran Canary, he was informed by someone, calling himself Robert Oleff – apparently Hakim’s lawyer – of what the records represented, and he persuaded Barschel to come to Geneva to apparently review them. Barschel, of course, jumped at the chance, and checked into room 317 of Geneva’s Beau-Rivage Hotel on October 10th, expecting Oleff to drop in. Instead he was met by an assassination team, led by Shackley, who stuffed him with a cocktail of drugs, especially Lorazepam, some through his anus, and starting with the injection of the sedative Voludar – what has recently been confirmed by toxicologist Dr. Hans Brandenberger.(21) Barschel was then left in its tub, fully clothed, to be found by two Stern reporters, investigating his disappearance.
The similarity of the murders of Barschel and Chantal Hayward is striking, and the reason is fairly obvious – the contentious meeting that the Haywards had with Dook and four other secret operators back in Ibiza in early March 1987, what was intended to keep its operations going, especially the drug-running ones, despite the difficulties that Simon’s presence created. In describing the meeeting, he made special mention of an unnamed and undescribed American who was arranging the whole showdown. The Haywards had agreed to give him a ride back to San Juan before it started (22), and he lingered in saying his goodbyes to the others, particularly Dook to make sure, it seems, that they understood that the capture of the Eksund was still the first priority.Then when Chris and Simon were engaged in sorting out the confusion and difficulties, the unnamed American got into the back seat (23), stopping any further discussion of the dispute.(24)
The unnamed American appears to have been a member of the famous “Secret Team” that Colonel Fletcher Prouty had been discussing since the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco, and Daniel Sheehan had revived interest in the previous December with an affidavit about its current operations.”The hit squad’s commander is General John Singlaub, later founder of the ultra-right wing World Anti-Communist League. North and Secord both served un Singlaub.”(25) Its high point was when it used an opium drug lord, Van Pao, in Laos to take over the trade in which his rivals were “mysteriously assassinated”. After it had done its damndest to get rid of Castro’s Club, and the communists in Southeat Asia, its operatives, now including Shackley’s chief lieutenant Thomas Clines, “began a highly secret non-CIA authorised program setting up their own private anticommunist assassination and unconventional warfare program.” (26) The ones I am discussing seem ideally suited to its modus operandi.
This makes Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky’s claim in The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad’s Secret Agenda that it assassinated Barschel seem to be just more convenient deception.(27) The Mossad is especially happy to take credit for assassinations it did not commit – as it just makes for a more deadly reputation which reduces the need of doing so – what Ostrovsky’s erroneous allegation helps. At the same time, it was doing a favor for The Secret Team which could help obtain the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard who was caught in its cross-hairs during the showdown with Moscow after the Palme assassination. It just hasn’t worked because the operation was so risky – requiring everyone, especially Walsh, to engage in cover ups – that no such unfortuantes, particularly Rick Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Mark Chapman – will ever be released from prison.
At the same time as the Barschel assassination, The Secret Team arranged with key British operatives, especially the FRU’s Sergeant Walshaw, to redirect what Simon Hayward wanted, and fellow operatives in Northern Ireland – working with the help of John McMichael of the Ulster Defence Association Army Council – were engaged in to kill Dook aka ‘Steak knife’ at taxidriver Francisco Notarantonio’s expense. Simon was hoping that ‘Steak knife’s assassination would show that he was a most dangerous Provo terrorist, engaged in a plot with the drug-smuggling gang to falsely entrap him in Sweden. ‘Steak knife’s murder would show it was he who was involved with Forbes Mitchell and his wife ‘Prita’, and all kind of notorious people in most illegal operations, not Hayward. He was sure that it could result in his conviction being overturned on appeal, but Notarantonio’s murder ruined it all, only resulting after Hayward’s conviction was upheld in McMichael’s own murder in December because the UDA Army Council suspected he had been turned by the Provos to protect ‘Steak knife’. Heather Weissand apparently aka Walshaw had persuaded the appeals court that there had been no plot to entrap Simon.(28)
1. Richard Reeves, “The Palme Obsession,” The New York Times Magazine, March 1, 1987, p. 2.
2. Ibid., pp. 56 and 82.
3. Lawrence E. Walsh, Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up, p. 48ff.
4. Ibid., p. 103.
5. Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, pp. 128-9.
6. Ibid., note #19, p. 235.
7. For more, see Tony Geraghty, The Irish War, pp. 181-4.
8. For more, see this link: http://codshit.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html
9. Hayward – op. cit., p. 186.
10. For more about Barschel, see his wikipedia biography.
11. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, pp.443-4.
12. Walsh – op. cit., p. 50.
13. Ibid., p. 56.
14. Ibid., p. 58.
15. Ibid., p. 128.
16. Reeves – op. cit.. p. 56.
17. Walsh – op. cit., p. 65.
18. Ibid., p. 36.
19. For more, see this link: http://codshit.blogspot.com/2004/02/why-john-hinckley-jr-almost.html
20. Walsh – op. cit., p. 147.
22 Hayward – op. cit., p. 60.
24. For more, see this link: http://cryptome.sabotage.org/fru-hayward.htm
25. Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, “The Secret Team” in The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, p. 312.
26. Quoted from Sheehan’s Affidavit, ibid.
27. For more, see Christopher Bollyn’s link: http://www.erichufschmid.net/TFC/Bollyn_Moellemann-murder.htm
28. Hayward – op. cit., p. 355.
Trowbridge H Ford is a former US Army Counter Intelligence Corps agent. Now a retired college politics lecturer living outside Stockholm. A brief biographical account of Ford’s CIC service in Paris During the Korean War in posted here. He can be contacted at email@example.com