From the Archives

The Plot to Hijack the CIA

(The Inside Story: World Report v1:3, October 1994)

Is nuclear terrorism about to emerge?

In early August, German undercover operatives arrested three foreigners smuggling plutonium out of the “former” Soviet Union. Although the metal was of bomb-grade purity, it was only a fraction of the amount needed to build a bomb. However, over the prior four months, German authorities had made two other arrests for separate acts of smuggling Soviet plutonium or uranium.1

Recent stories leaked by Soviet authorities about a new “Russian mafia” have given the West more reason for nervousness. Mikhail Yegorov, a high official in the new KGB, did his best to heighten the fear: “Crime groups in recent years are demonstrating more and more interest toward defense facilities of the former Soviet Union,” he solemnly announced in May.2

The United States is already responding. Soviet personnel have arrived in New Mexico and elsewhere for training in security measures, and in May the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) formally declared it would now open an office in Moscow — to work more closely with Soviet police authorities.3 Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has quietly been setting up a program of cooperation with the Soviet KGB.

But behind this facade of international teamwork to prevent terrorism lies another story — a campaign, orchestrated by the Soviet KGB through its agents and arms in the United States, to turn the CIA into a weapon against the United States, using nuclear terrorism as the excuse.

The wolves surround the prey

At the center of the drive to capture the CIA lies the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a radical think-tank formed in the late 1960s. IPS co-founder and strategist Richard J. Barnet, a former US official, has written books publicly defending Marxist revolution and terrorism, and has called for the dismantling of US intelligence activities against the Communist Bloc.4 The IPS has long been funded by the tax-exempt Field Foundation and its associated Fund for Peace, which pursue the same goal by advocating cooperation with the Soviet Union.5

IPS members have included such prominent leftists as Morton Halperin, the former National Security Council staffer who supervised the drafting of the classified Pentagon Papers — a review of documents related to the Vietnam War. Foreign policy official Leslie Gelb and National Security Council member Anthony Lake illegally authorized the public release of the Pentagon Papers, and later affiliated with the IPS (Lake is now the National Security Advisor for Bill Clinton). Indeed, a number of IPS members were involved in the 1971 Pentagon Papers scandal, causing the FBI to investigate the IPS for espionage.

The IPS has managed to recruit CIA employees who broke with the agency and leaked top-secret information. Several IPS leaders also work with rogue CIA agent Phillip Agee, who has made career of propagating Soviet disinformation while openly acknowledging his own Communist sympathies and the support of Cuban Communists. And former US Senator James Abourezk, founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and an outspoken supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is an IPS trustee.6

During the past twenty years, the IPS has worked with Communist front organizations in building a network for the neutralization of US intelligence. In 1974, the Fund for Peace established the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), which has worked closely with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in pursuing political and legal challenges against US intelligence. Staff and leadership for the CNSS have been drawn almost entirely from the IPS and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG); the NLG is the American branch of the Soviet-controlled International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), operates as a front of the Communist Party, USA, and publicly supports dozens of terrorist groups ranging from the PLO to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). IPS member Morton Halperin became head of the CNSS.7

For many years, the IPS, CNSS, and dozens of other organizations in this network scored only partial victories against US intelligence. But this began changing in February of 1988, when the Soviet Union hosted a conference in Moscow, sponsored by the Soviet Peace Committee — an arm of the Communist Party’s International Deparment.8 Representing the Soviets were such “citizens” as Igor Beliaev, a correspondent for the Literaturnaya Gazeta (Soviet journalists are usually members of the KGB); representing the Americans were such people as John D. Marks, an IPS member who became a leader of the CNSS and headed its Project on the CIA.9 In other words, both sides of the conference were acting on behalf of the Soviet KGB.

Beliaev and Marks were assigned the task of finding ways to neutralize US opposition to Soviet-sponsored revolutionary movements. They have described the origins of their plan in Moscow:

As much as the Soviet-American relationship has improved, we recognized that our nations still had substantial differences in the Third World — from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to the Middle East. We immediately decided that our best chance to make a difference was to identify a single issue on which effective U.S.-Soviet collaboration might be possible.… After two days of deliberations with the fifteen or so Americans and Soviets who made up our committee, we agreed that terrorism would be our issue.10

Thus was born the “Soviet-American Task Force to Prevent Terrorism.” Its first meeting was held in Moscow in January, 1989, and was again co-sponsored by the Soviet Peace Committee. The Task Force quickly gained high-level support in both countries:

The Soviet delegation included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and key institutes within the Academy of Sciences [read: heavy KGB involvement — Eds.]. On the American side, more than half of the delegation were current consultants to the U.S. government on counter-terrorism.…

…both the U.S. and the Soviet governments were providing at least tacit support to the Task Force…

…the incoming Bush administration and Soviet authorities gave their tacit blessings and asked for full reports. The week before we convened, the KGB’s Deputy Director, Lieutenant General Vitaly Ponomarev, declared on Moscow Radio: “We realize we have to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorist acts, including hijackings of planes.… We are willing, if there is a need, to cooperate even with the CIA, the British intelligence service, the Israeli Mossad, and other services in the West.”… Within days, James Baker, the new American Secretary of State, testified before Congress: “We ought to find out whether Moscow can be [helpful] on terrorism and if not, why not.”11

A subsequent meeting was held at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, that September. Beliaev and Marks were still organizing the event, which now included such KGB officials as Lieutenant General Feodor Sherbak and Major General Valentin Zvezdenkov.

The Americans were represented by former CIA director William Colby and former deputy director Ray Cline.12 As CIA station chief in Rome during the 1950s, Colby had directed the CIA apparatus to work closely with Italian Communists. While on assignment in Vietnam, Colby had secretly maintained contact with a probable KGB agent without notifying his bosses at CIA; upon being named CIA director in 1974, Colby promptly fired the counterintelligence officers who investigated him for that suspicious contact. Also in 1974, while still director of the CIA, Colby participated in the founding conference of the CNSS — alongside various Communists and assorted radicals.13

Once again, both sides of the Task Force were loaded with Soviet agents and sympathizers.

The Task Force’s recommendations were predictable. Terrorism was redefined so as to exclude Soviet-sponsored revolutionaries. Instead, various potential anti-Communists were labeled as real or potential terrorists — including Soviet citizens who hijack planes to try to escape their walled-off dictatorship. The PLO-orchestrated intifadeh was specifically defined as non-terrorist, whereas “Israeli extremists” were identified as terrorists.14 Under the category of “religious extremism,” the Task Force labeled not only “muslim fundamentalists” but also Lebanese Christians and “Jewish extremists” as terrorist, while the PLO was never suggested as being terrorist. Indeed, the Task Force recommended that Middle East terrorism be solved by pressuring Israel to make concessions at the negotiating table.15 In addition, the news media has already hinted that Christians in the United States might also be labeled potential terrorists for opposing abortion.

The Task Force named two other categories of terrorism: “narco-terrorism” and “techno-terrorism” (meaning nuclear or other high-technology terrorism). Using these as excuses, the Task Force endorsed or recommended such measures as universal and total gun control, tight controls over the international movement of money (supposedly to hinder the laundering of drug money), and the establishment of an international tribunal to which “terrorists” would be extradited.16 Under such a tribunal, extradited suspects would lose the protection of their legal and constitutional rights of their home countries. In making these recommendations, the Task Force praised Soviet criminal law as a model for international law.

To finish off the CIA completely, the Task Force also recommended that the United States begin training Soviet police agents, and that the two countries begin sharing intelligence information. The former would lead to international US/Soviet teams to fight terrorism, and would allow Soviet agents to enter the United States to move against alleged “terrorists” — potentially even innocent anti-Communists. The latter proposal would provide the Soviet KGB direct access to our intelligence, while allowing the Soviets to hand us carefully-engineered disinformation that US officials would presume to be reliable. The Task Force even called for the US to hand over classified information on security measures protecting our “civilian nuclear facilities.”17 The use of such information can only be imagined.

Have the Soviet-dominated Task Force, and the IPS network of Marxist organizations, been succeeding? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Two months after the Task Force’s first conference, “[Soviet] Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and [US] Secretary of State James Baker agreed to put anti-terrorist cooperation on the superpower agenda. By June, the two governments had opened up official discussion at the working level and had reached their first agreements on superpower cooperation to prevent terrorism.” The news media accorded the meetings favorable coverage.

“In December 1989, the KGB formally accepted the [Task Force’s] recommendations regarding information sharing. Two months earlier, William Colby and Ray Cline personally presented these same recommendations to CIA Director William Webster.… Then, in October 1990, Webster told the Associated Press that the CIA and KGB were sharing intelligence about terrorist threats and that several times U.S. information had been ‘pivotal’ to Soviet preventive action.”18

As of this year, the US has already begun training Soviets in nuclear security measures. President Clinton is meanwhile arranging to provide additional hundreds of millions of dollars to the Soviets, supposedly to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials.

During June and July, FBI director Louis Freeh concluded agreements with Russia, “former” Soviet Republics, and Eastern European governments for sharing intelligence and to allow foreign agents to operate throughout the various countries. Speaking to officers of the renamed KGB, Freeh declared that “we are proud to join in this battle with you,” and praised the “police-to-police bridge” now being established between the FBI and KGB. “We have now already joined (forces),” boasted KGB official Sergei Stepashin, head of the Soviet Federal Counterintelligence Service. “When we are together, we’re undefeatable.”19

Perhaps. But this will not be comforting when the FBI knocks on your door.


1. Whitney, C.R., NY Times, “Russian security services linked to plutonium plot,” SF Chronicle, 8-16-94, pp. A1, A13.

2. Sniffen, M.J., AP, “FBI warns of danger of nuclear theft rings in Russia,” SF Chronicle, 5-26-94, p. A17.

3. Ibid.; Perlman, D., “Russian nuclear security so bad it almost invites bomb thieves,” SF Chronicle, 8-22-94, p. A12.

4. Barnet, Intervention and Revolution (1968), and Barnet, The Economy of Death (1969), as cited in Broken Seals, report of the Western Goals Foundation, Alexandria, VA, 1980, pp. 3-7, passim.

5. McIlhany, W.H., The Tax-Exempt Foundations, Arlington House, Westport, CT, 1980, p. 213; Gannon, F.X., Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Vol. II, Western Islands, Boston, 1971, pp. 97-105.

6. Broken Seals, Op cit., passim; Findley, P., They Dare to Speak Out, Lawrence HIll Books, Chicago, 1989. p. 98.

7. Broken Seals, Op cit., passim; Outlaws of Amerika, report of the Western Goals Foundation, Alexandria, VA, 1982, pp. 51-60, passim.

8. Barron, J., KGB Today, Reader’s Digest Press, New York, 1983, p. 61.

9. Marks, J. and Beliaev, I, Eds., Common Ground on Terrorism, WW Norton & Co., New York, 1991, p. 10; Broken Seals, Op cit., pp. 10, 12, 15, 18.

10. Marks & Beliaev, Op cit., pp. 20-21.

11. Ibid., pp. 21-22.

12. Ibid., p. 25.

13. Martin, D.C., Wilderness of Mirrors, Harper & Row, New York, 1980, pp. 183-184, 217; Epstein, E.J., Deception, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1989, p. 100; Story, C., Soviet Analyst 22 (9-10), June 1994, p. 4; Broken Seals, Op cit., p. 17.

14. Marks & Beliaev, Op cit., pp. 53, 56.

15. Ibid., pp. 65, 71-72, 179.

16. Ibid., pp. 139, 152-154, 173, 175

17. Ibid., pp. 168, 171, 174.

18. Ibid., pp. 24-27.

19. Perlman, Op cit.; Smith, R.J., Washington Post, “US-Russia nuclear effort stalls,” SF Chronicle, 8-29-94, p. A12; LA Times, “FBI chief vows to aid Russian cops,” SF Chronicle, 7-5-94, p. A8.