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Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtainby Albert Lulushi
Synopses & Reviews
In 1949, a newly minted branch of the CIA (the precursor of todays National Clandestine Service), flush with money and burning with determination to roll back the Iron Curtain, embarked on the first paramilitary operation in the history of the agency. They hatched an elaborate plan, coordinated with the British Secret Intelligence Service, to foment popular rebellion and detach Albania, the weakest of the Soviet satellites in Europe, from Moscows orbit. The operation resulted in dismal failure and was shut down by 1954.
In Operation Valuable Fiend, Albert Lulushi gives the first full accounting of this CIA action, based on hundreds of declassified documents, memoirs, and recollections of key participants, including Albanian exiles recruited for missions and their Communist opponents. Up till now, the story of the operation has been obfuscated and even distorted. Some blamed the Soviet mole Kim Philby for sabotaging it; the communists credited the prowess of their secret police; and CIA memoirs were heavily sanitized. Lulushi documents a range of factors that led to the failure, from inexperienced CIA case officers outsmarted in spy-vs-spy games by their ruthless Stalinist opponents; to rivalries between branches of the CIA and between the agency and friendly intelligence services; and conflicts among anti-Communist factions that included Albanias colorful exiled leader, King Zog.
The book also shows how this operation served as the proving ground for techniques used in later CIA Cold War paramilitary actions—involving some of the same agency operatives—including the coup détats in Iran and Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
"In 1948, when Stalin expelled Yugoslavia from the Comintern after quarreling with its dictator, Marshall Tito, it left tiny, impoverished Albania isolated from other Soviet satellite states. Destabilizing its government, led by the brutal Enver Hoxha, seemed the perfect initial project for the young CIA, also formed in 1948. The result was lost in the fog of history, but businessman and Albanian immigrant Lulushi has plumbed newly accessible archives to vividly recapture the first of a long string of CIA debacles. Recruiting volunteers from refugee camps and providing two weeks guerilla training, agents parachuted small groups of fighters into Albania in November 1950. Those not captured immediately roamed the countryside under constant pursuit. After reorganizing and improving their plans, the CIA continued their attempts, which only produced more horrific losses as infiltrators were pursued, captured, and occasionally turned against their handlers. Admitting failure, the CIA shut down the operation in 1954. Historians have blamed Soviet mole Kim Philby, who worked in British intelligence and knew of the operation, but Lulushi disagrees. His lively, detailed account of Hoxha's viciously efficient intelligence service, the exiles' terrible security, and CIA naÃ¯vetÃ© make a convincing case. Maps, photos, and illus. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Albert Lulushi was born in Albania and experienced firsthand the oppression of Europes harshest Stalinist regime before fleeing to the West in 1990. He moved to the United States in 1991 and built a successful career as an information technology entrepreneur working with US government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He has assisted US government officials at the highest levels in establishing and conducting relations between the United States, Albania, and Kosovo since the fall of Communism.
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History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory