Aginter Press, also known under the name Central Order and Tradition (Portuguese: Ordem Central e Tradição), was a Western intelligence front operation disguised as a press agency set up in Lisbon, Portugal, in September 1966, at the time under Oliveira Salazar's dictatorship (Estado Novo). In reality, Aginter Press was an anti-communist mercenary organisation with subsidiaries in countries worldwide. According to the investigative journalist Patrice Chairoff, who had formerly worked for the Gaullist militia French Civic Action Service (SAC), its agents worked under the cover of reporters or photographers, which allowed them to travel freely.1
The agency was directed by the veteran army captain Yves Guérin-Sérac, who had taken part in the foundation of the dissident paramilitary Organisation armée secrète (OAS) in Madrid in 1961, a terrorist group which fought against Algerian independence towards the end of the Algerian War (1954–1962).
Aginter, supported by various Western secret services, trained its members in covert action techniques, including bombings, silent assassinations, subversion techniques, clandestine communication, infiltration and counter-insurgency, and was involved in the execution of several false-flag terror attacks in Italy.2 Aginter has also allegedly carried out operations against domestic opposition for various right-wing authoritarian governments, including Salazar's Portugal, Francoist Spain and the Greek Regime of the Colonels after the 1967 putsch.
Secret Service collaboration
The activities of Aginter Press may have never been uncovered, if the lid had remained closed on the Italian Gladio complex, a secret European anti-communist paramilitary structure supported by Western intelligence, whose existence then-president Giulio Andreotti was finally forced to reveal in October 1990. Although it was later proven that Andreotti's statements were only partially true, and omitted key players, they gave way to a Europe-wide inquiry about respective domestic operations in other countries, and even an European Parliament resolution on Gladio.3
Andreotti at the time declared that the Italian military services (predecessors of the SISMI) had joined in 1964 a secret NATO supervisory body called Allied Clandestine Committee, created in 1957 by the US, France, Belgium and Greece, which was in charge of directing Gladio's operations.4 But according to the posthumous revelations of Paolo Taviani, Italy's Minister of Defence from 1953 to 1958, it appears that it was earlier than 1964 that the latter "oversaw the creation of Italy's secret Nato stay-behind network, intended to mount resistance operations in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion, but also suspected of meddling in domestic politics in an anti-communist capacity."5
In the course of the entailing official parliamentary investigation by the Stragi Commission, it was revealed that proponents of the Gladio network had collaborated closely with Aginter Press (AP) agents in the organisation of several false-flag attacks, leading to the death of dozens of people, and leaving many more wounded; amongst them the Italian AP agent Stefano delle Chiaie, who had been working hand in hand with the neo-Fascist Italian secret agent Guido Giannettini.
According to the subsequently published report by the Italian Senate under the direction of senator Giovanni Pellegrino, the US Central Intelligence Agency had supported Aginter Press in Portugal:
"Aginter Press was in reality, according to the last obtained documents acquired by the criminal investigation, an information centre directly linked to the CIA and the Portuguese secret service [PIDE], that specialized in provocative operations."6
That the CIA had an infamous role in Italian anti-communist interventionism and the building up of the Gladio structures is by now well established. For example former CIA deputy chief of station in Rome, Felton Mark Wyatt, had expanded on the Gladio network in an interview by the journalists Fabrizio Calvi and Frédéric Laurent for their documentary "L'Orchestre Noir".
Financial support for Aginter seems to also have come from the highest echelon of Germany's centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU). Documents unearthed by the renowned German journalists Egmont Koch and Oliver Schröm during their investigation for a documentary on false-flag attacks in Italy for the public broadcaster ZDF show close contacts of Aginter Press agents to Marcel Hepp, back then right-hand man of chairman of the CSU, Franz-Josef Strauss. One Aginter agent was even in direct contact with Strauss. These documents contain a long list of cover names of ominous german sponsors under the headline “Industry”.7
According to Koch and Schröm, Strauss supported his political friends in Spain and Italy repeatedly with cash. His close employee, Dieter Huber, was serving as money courier, but sometimes Strauss handed over the money personally. For his payments up to 100.000 Deutsche Mark, the chairman of the CSU even obtained donation receipts.
According to a network map, that was available to the Stragi Commission, Aginter agents were distributed in major cities all around the globe.
The agency itself was headed by Yves Guérin-Sérac, a Catholic anti-communist activist, former officer of the French Armed Forces and veteran of the Indochina War (1945–54), the Korean War (1950–1953) and the Algerian War (1954–1962), where he had fought with the dissident paramilitary Organisation armée secrète (OAS) against Algerian liberation efforts. Hired in June 1962 by Franco assumably for counter-insurgency operations, Guérin-Sérac subsequently chose to set up headquarters in Salazar's Portugal, which was according to him the last stronghold against Communism and atheism.89
Strategy of tension
Aginter Press was responsible for a series of false flag bombings and participated in an attempted coup d'état organised by Italian neo-fascists, a period which became known as Italy's Years of Lead.
1969 Piazza Fontana bombing
The first in a series of bomb attacks occured on December 12th, 1969, in a bank on Piazza Fontana in Milan, where 17 people died, and many more were injured. The objective of the operation was to blame the attack on Italian communists. The Italian neo-fascists Guido Giannettini as well as Aginter agent Stefano delle Chiaie are considered to be the masterminds behind the devastating attack.
"We found unambiguous reports and evidence that reveal a collaboration of Giannettini and delle Chaie with several Italian secret services and reveal their joint responsibility for the attack in Milan. According to that, Giannettini was delle Chiaie's liaison with the secret services, who helped him escape after the attack on Piazza Fontana."7 Massimo Theodore – Member of the Parliamentary Investigation Committee
Giannettini was also working with the CIA and BND. Italian magistrate Guido Salvini, in charge of the investigations concerning the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, explained to the Italian senators that:10
"In these investigations data has emerged which confirmed the links between Aginter Press, Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale... It has emerged that Guido Giannettini (one of the neo-fascist responsible of the bombing) had contacts with Guérin-Sérac in Portugal ever since 1964. It has emerged that instructors of Aginter Press... came to Rome between 1967 and 1968 and instructed the militant members of Avanguardia Nazionale in the use of explosives."
1974 Train Bombing
1974 the terror continued, when on 4th of August, a bomb exploded on the express train from Florence to Bologna, that left 12 dead and 48 wounded. When Stefano delle Chiaie was suspected to be behind the attack he fled to Spain using a forged passport and an Aginter press card with the name Martelli. With delle Chiaie's escape the terror wave shifted to Spain, where his declared enemies became opposing forces against dictator Franco.11
Aginter strategic document
An Aginter Press document, titled "Our Political Activity," was discovered at the end of 1974 and described the use of pseudo-operations:12
"Our belief is that the first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favouring the installation of chaos in all of the regime's structures. .. In our view the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state under the cover of Communist and pro-Chinese activities. .. Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu — propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our Communist adversaries. .. (These operations) will create a feeling of hostility towards those who threaten the peace of each and every nation. (i.e. Communists)"
Battle again opposition movements
Aginter Press is alleged to have fought an underground battle again opposition movements in Spain, Portugal and Italy. It is suspected of having assassinated General Humberto Delgado (1906–1965), founder of the Portuguese National Liberation Front, although this has been disputed since PIDE's officer Rosa Casaco has admitted he was involved in Delgado's assassination. According to disputed sources, Aginter Press is alleged to have been responsible also for the assassinations of anti-colonialist leader Amílcar Cabral (1924–1973), founder of the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), and Eduardo Mondlane, leader of the liberation movement FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), in 1969.1314 According to other versions, both Cabral's and Mondlane's assassinations were the result of struggles for power within the independentist guerrilla movements.
During the April 1974 Carnation Revolution which put an end to Salazar's Estado Novo, Yves Guérin-Sérac, João Da Silva and others associates quit Lisbon for Albufereta, Spanish site of the Paladin Group (founded by Otto Skorzeny), near Alicante (Southern Spain). They then escaped with forged French passports to Caracas, with the alleged "benediction of the Foccart networks."1
AGINTER - AGÊNCIA NOTICIOSA E EDITORIAL LDA
Rua De Campolide, 27 5ºesq.
Lisboa, Lisboa, 1070-026
Secret meeting place
Rua das Praças 13
- Christie, Stuart. Stefano delle Chiaie. Portrait of a Black Terrorist. London: Anarchy Magazine, 1984.
- Duarte de Jesus, Jose. A Guerra Secreta de Salazar em África. D. Quixote, 2012. ISBN 978-972-20-4935-1.
- Ganser, Daniele. NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Frank Cass, 2005. ISBN 0-7146-8500-3.
- Laurent, Frédéric. L'Orchestre Noir. Paris: Stock, 1978.
- Documents about Aginter Press, acquired in the course of the criminal investigation lead by the Stragi Commission (french)
- 1. a. b. Patrice Chairoff, B... comme barbouzes - Une France parallèle celle des basses-œuvres du pouvoir, Editions Alain Moreau, 1975, pp. 253-255.
- 2. Documents on Aginter Press acquired by the Stragi Commission, published by the Associazione Antimafia Rita Atria, http://www.ritaatria.it/LeStorie/IncidentieStragi/PiazzaFontana.aspx.
- 3. On November 22, 1990, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Operation Gladio. Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.1990.324.01.0186.01.ENG (No C 324/201). Archived on Wikisource, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/European_Parliament_resolution_on_Gladio.
- 4. (in French) Barbara Myriam, " Gladio: et la France?," L'Humanité, 10 November 1990, archived version of 30 June 2008, https://web.archive.org/web/20080630053627/http://www.humanite.fr/1990-11-10_Articles_-Gladio-et-la-France.
- 5. Philip Willan, "Paolo Emilio Taviani," The Guardian, 21 June 2001, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2001/jun/21/guardianobituaries.philipwillan.
- 6. Senato della Repubblica, Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabili delle stragi: Il terrorismo, le stragi ed il contesto storico politico, Redatta dal presidente della Commissione, Senatore Giovanni Pellegrino, Rome, 1995, pp. 204 & 241, quoted in Daniele Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass, 2005), p. 115, ISBN 0-7146-8500-3.
- 7. a. b. "Kennzeichen D: BND-Schmiergeld," documentary by Egmont Koch and Oliver Schröm, ZDF, 16 February 2000.
- 8. Paris Match of November 1974 (front page), quoted by Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies, 117.
- 9. Stuart Christie, Stefano delle Chiaie, London, 1984, p.27.
- 10. Judge Guido Salvini hearing before the Italian Parliamentary Commission of investigation on terrorism in Italy, 9th session of 12 February 1997 (9ª SEDUTA - MERCOLEDI 12 FEBBRAIO 1997, Presidenza del Presidente PELLEGRINO), https://web.archive.org/web/20160303175430/http://www.parlamento.it/parlam/bicam/terror/stenografici/steno9.htm, quoted in Ganser, Natos Secret Armies, 120.
- 11. Kennzeichen D: BND-Schmiergeld, documentary by Egmont Koch and Oliver Schröm, ZDF, 16 February 2000.
- 12. Stuart Christie, Stefano Delle Chiaie, 32; Lobster Magazie, October 1989, 18; both quoted in Ganser, Nato's Secret Armies, 118.
- 13. "Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO's Stay-Behind Armies," ETH Zürich, 12 December 2008, https://web.archive.org/web/20081212053626/http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/coll_gladio/chronology.cfm?navinfo=15301.
- 14. Joao Paulo Guerra, "Gladio actuou em Portugal", in O Jornal, 16 November 1990, quoted by Ganser, Nato's Secret Armies, 119; Stuart Christie, Stefano delle Chiaie, London, 1984, p.30.
- 15. a. b. Jose Duarte Jesus, A Guerra Secreta de Salazar em África, Leya, 2012, https://books.google.de/books?hl=de&id=ZUBp54PXDZEC&dq=%22aginter%22+lisboa+campolide+duarte&q=lisnoa+campolida#v=snippet&q=lisboa%20campolida&f=false.