The Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is merely the tip of a US intelligence iceberg. Much of the CIA, whether or not it is with a “wink and a nod” from its director Gina Haspel, a veteran of the agency’s extraordinary rendition and torture program, exists in the murky world of “carve out” contracts and front companies. This “unofficial CIA” is where “plausible deniability” for US intelligence actions is of paramount importance.
Under Donald Trump, who is on record favoring CIA kidnapping and torture programs, the CIA has been given a green light to carry out “targeted assassinations.” Although most of these targeted kills have been carried out by drone attacks in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, where civilian deaths from “collateral damage” are estimated to be well over three hundred, recent events point to the CIA’s return to the “bad old days,” when it engaged in a global program of assassinating political leaders.
The 1960s and early 70s were rife with examples of CIA assassinations of foreign leaders. Victims included Dominican Republic president Rafael Trujillo, Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, and Chilean President Salvador Allende.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11905, which banned political assassinations. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter reiterated that policy with Executive Order 12036. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, which stipulated in unambiguous terms that “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”
Trump has all but gutted these prohibitions against political assassinations, preferring to return the CIA to its deplorable past of committing heinous political crimes against innocent people. Two recent assassination attempts in Africa, carried out on the same day—June 23—in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo, bear all the markings of a coordinated attack. What would be the motive of the CIA in trying to kill Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s first Muslim prime minister and an ethnic Oromo, and Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa?
The common denominator is Israel. With Trump all but opening every filing cabinet and safe in the CIA to Israeli agents-of-influence, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his White House adviser and partner-in-crime, Jason Greenblatt, the murders of Ahmed and Mnangagwa would have been welcomed news in Jerusalem.
The Israelis are fearful that Ahmed, known as “AA” in Ethiopia, will bring Ethiopia, which has had historical links to Israel, closer to Arab and Muslim nations. That fear is shared by the Trump White House, which cannot distinguish between American and Israeli national security interests. Had AA been killed by the explosion that tore through a rally of his supporters in Addis Ababa’s central Meskel Square, killing two and injuring 156, Ethiopia’s foreign policy, including its closer ties to Turkey, would have altered course in Israel’s favor.
A few hours after the explosion in Addis Ababa, a bomb detonated in Bulawayo during a rally of supporters of Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the former chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Force. Some 49 people were injured, including Chiwenga’s wife and senior members of the Zimbabwe government. Mnangagwa is busy cleaning up the corruption of his predecessor, the long-serving president Robert Mugabe. As part of his reforms, Mnangagwa is investigating the activities of the Zimbabwean intelligence agency, the feared Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), which engaged in various covert operations with Israel’s Mossad during the Mugabe years.
Although Mugabe had a tortuous history with Israel—he once lauded Adolf Hitler—he was careful to not let his lucrative financial interests with Israeli diamond and other mining interests be damaged by his political rhetoric. In January 2018, when Mugabe was on the political ropes and his long tenure appeared at an end, he reportedly reached out to Mossad, with Mugabe’s blessing, to ensure the continuation of the kleptocratic Zimbabwean regime. According to the Zambian media, Zimbabwe’s corrupt former finance minister, Ignatius Chombo, met Mossad interlocutors in Lusaka, Zambia, to seek their assistance in saving Mugabe’s faltering regime. Under the auspices of Zambian President Edward Lungu, Mossad is alleged to have offered Chombo mercenaries who would massacre the anti-Mugabe leaders of the Zimbabwe government armed forces, including then-Vice President Mnangagwa and Army chief Chiwenga.
After the Lusaka meeting, Mossad agents met with Mugabe; Chombo; ruling ZANU-PF party leader Kudzanayi Chipanga; and Grace Mugabe, the Zimbabwe First Lady; to arrange for a Mossad-supplied battalion, including snipers and armed drones, to launch a counter-coup against the anti-Mugabe government factions from an Israeli forward base in Zambia. The Mossad was to be paid $10 million out of a slush fund Mugabe maintained at the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank.
There was a problem with the deal: the Mugabe-Mossad coup was exposed to Mnangagwa and Chiwenga by Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya. The $10 million in cash to be paid to Mossad after the coup was discovered in Chombo’s house. In a firefight between Zimbabwean forces and Israeli mercenaries at Chombo’s house, 10 soldiers of fortune and 4 ZANU-PF militia members were killed by government forces.
Even after the unsuccessful counter-coup, Mugabe was confident that the Israelis and Lungu would bail him out and defeat his enemies. Mugabe was wrong. Chiwenga, discovering Lungu’s involvement, threatened to take over all of Zambia within one hour. Lungu reached out to Botswana for assistance, but that nation refused to get involved on behalf of Mugabe, a leader with whom it had political and border problems for years.
There are many Israelis who fear that their relationship with Mugabe, especially in the diamond and weapons smuggling business in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola will be brought to light. Behind Mugabe’s long endurance as Zimbabwe’s strongman was Israel’s provision of anti-riot equipment, including armored vehicles and lethal and non-lethal crowd control weapons, to Zimbabwe. Even more embarrassing for the Israelis was their training of Mugabe’s personal security force, the 5th Brigade, in using anti-dissident military and security hardware. This training also involved Israeli advisers working with military personnel who trained the 5th Brigade in tactics—North Koreans.
Mnangagwa’s policy of shining sunlight on the covert operations of the 5th Brigade, the CIO, and Mossad in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries would irritate Israeli embeds in the White House, including people like Kushner and Greenblatt.
Kushner and Greenblatt, who have no military or foreign policy experience, except for their lavish service to Israel, have proven that inexperience is not a barrier to their meddling in foreign affairs. So long as neoconservative war monger John Bolton is the national security adviser, the Kushner-Greenblatt duo will have a carte blanche to engage in as much subterfuge on behalf of Israel as they desire.
Kushner and Greenblatt were involved in backing Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates sanctions against Qatar, as well as cutting the Palestinian Authority out of negotiations on a Middle East peace agreement. Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, where Israel has political and strategic interests, would not be immune to Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s chicanery.
AA has also been re-organizing Ethiopia’s intelligence service, the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). As with Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe, AA is stepping on egg shells in exposing the past human rights abuses of his nation’s intelligence service. In return for helping to facilitate 140,000 Ethiopian Jews migrating to Israel, Mossad provided NISS and its predecessor intelligence agencies with sophisticated interrogation and electronic surveillance equipment to ensure that successive Ethiopian dictatorships could quash all political and ethnic opposition.
The Israeli firm, Elbit Systems Ltd., supplied the Ethiopian government with software that allowed it to spy on Ethiopian dissidents operating from abroad, including in the United States, Britain, and Canada.
AA and his ministers and Mnangagwa and his vice president, Chiwenga, obviously have the goods on illegal Israeli intelligence activities in their countries. And for that reason, alone, there was enough reason for the CIA, under Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s direction, to blow them to smithereens on June 23. The assassination plots failed, however, the CIA, now under extremely corrupt control, will surely try again in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, as well as in other countries, from Nicaragua and Venezuela to Mexico and Palestine.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).