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May 10, 2011

Spy agencies and their failure in solving high-profile murders


Adeela Akmal
May 10, 2011

The world’s most-feared spy agencies, like the CIA, Mossad, KGB, MI-6, ISI and RAW, may have mesmerised a major chunk of the billions of humans living on this planet through their investigative skills, deception, guile, craftiness and bravery, but the fact remains that most of them have been unable to solve the murder mysteries of various rulers and distinguished personalities during the last 50 years.
Despite possessing unbridled powers and massive financial-cum-logistic resources at their disposal to accomplish their missions, these sensitive agencies have seemingly failed to live up to their promise and reputation.
Some conspiracy theorists argue that since sensitive agencies are themselves involved in many of these high-profile murders for inexplicable reasons, therefore, chances of the truth coming to light are bleak and that is why these murders have remained unresolved till date.
Even if one agrees with the hypothesis of these conspiracy theorists, it is hard to believe why the Indian RAW would not pounce on any opportunity to embarrass and prove the Pakistani ISI incapable by solving any such mystery itself (and vice versa), or why the American CIA would have spared the former Soviet Union’s KGB (and vice versa) for any such incompetence?
In fact, none of these otherwise highly-admired secret services have opted to resolve these murder mysteries in a bid to ridicule their worst rivals in profession, stamp their own supremacy and to get a distinct psychological edge over their adversaries.
The list of rulers and distinguished global personalities, whose murders are shrouded by mystery till date include the likes of the former US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was killed in November 1963.
Though the US government had concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository, this conclusion was not accepted by 80 per cent Americans who still hold a belief contrary to these

Since Oswald was himself murdered before his trial by a man called Jack Ruby, Kennedy’s assassination has given birth to numerous conspiracy theories.
President Johnson had created the Warren Commission, chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren, to investigate the assassination.
The Commission concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin of Kennedy. The results of this investigation are still disputed by many.
In 1979, the US House Select Committee on Assassinations had found both the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed.
Harold Edward Holt, an Australian Prime Minister, had disappeared while swimming in December 1967 and was presumed drowned.
He had remained Prime Minister for 22 months only. Although a large search operation was launched to trace of Holt, no success could greet the Aussies and just two days later, the government officially pronounced him dead.
Many rumours regarding Premier Holt’s death resultantly surfaced.
While there were claims he had committed suicide, other though he had faked his own death in order to run away with his girl friend. Then there were stories that he had been kidnapped by a Chinese submarine and taken to China.
Interestingly, no official Australian government enquiry was conducted into Premier Holt’s death or disbelieving disappearance. The 1968 assassination of Robert F Kennedy, a United States Senator and brother of former President John F Kennedy, had also helped a few conspiracy theories to blow up.
Robert Kennedy was killed on June 5, 1968, as he was about to win the US Presidential elections. In this case, the single attacker was Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant, who was first sentenced to death and then his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972.
Sirhan was alleged to have killed Kennedy for the Senator’s support for Israel. Some investigators differed with the official version of the case. For example, according to one theory, the location of Kennedy’s wounds suggested that his killer had stood right behind him, but some witnesses said that the assassin was standing sideways.
This had led to the hypothesis that a second gunman may actually have fired the fatal shot. In November 2006, the BBC’s ‘News Night Programme’ had also presented a research by a filmmaker, according to whom; the CIA was involved in the murder.
Edward Mutesa, the King of Uganda, was either murdered or had died from alcohol poisoning in London in 1969. Nothing concrete came up in this case as well, despite the fact that this murder had taken place on the domain of the British MI-6.
Omar Torrijos, President of Panama, had died in a plane crash in 1981. The culprits responsible were never brought to justice, despite massive US interests in this country. Panama, as a matter of record, has otherwise been a victim of at least eight US interventions since 1890.
Some key political figures in Panama later accused the CIA to have been behind their head of state’s murder, basing their theories on reports that a few US businessmen had strongly opposed the negotiations between late President Torrijos and a group of Japanese tycoons, who were promoting the idea of a larger canal for Panama.
Pope John Paul I, whose 33-day reign is among the shortest in papal history, was found dead sitting up in his bed on September 29, 1978.
The Vatican reported that the Pope had most likely died of a heart attack. It has been claimed that the Vatican altered some of the vital details of the discovery of the death.
Since the autopsy was not performed, as was customary, not many clues into Pope’s death could hence be traced. And then a lot of inconsistent statements had followed after the Pope’s death, which naturally led to a number of conspiracy theories.
Eduardo Frei Montalva, President of Chile, had died in 1982. Though the exact cause of his death is yet to be known, many believe that he was poisoned. Again, the CIA has had a distinguished presence in this country for years, but it could not solve the case.
Former Swedish Premier, Olof Palme, was assassinated in February 1986. While he was walking home from a cinema with his wife Lisbet, Olof Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range.
A second bullet had wounded his wife, who later recovered. A noted critic of US and Soviet foreign policy, Premier Palme, would often use harsh phrases against imperialist ambitions and authoritarian regimes. His unwavering opposition to apartheid then led to suspicions that the South African intelligence may have been behind his murder.
Two years after the assassination, a small-time criminal and drug addict was arrested, tried and convicted for Palme’s murder, but the conviction was later overturned on appeal.
As a result, the crime remains unsolved. Since Palme was a strong critic of the Vietnam War, he was not enjoying cordial relations with the US at the time of his death. This led to more theories.
Pakistani military ruler, General Ziaul Haq, had died in a plane crash in August 1988 along with numerous high-ranking Army officials, including the then ISI Chief General Akhtar Abdul Rehman.
By the way, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Lewis Raphel, was also on board and so was General Herbert Wassom, the head of the US Military aid mission to Pakistan.
A board of inquiry concluded the most probable cause of the crash was sabotage. It also suggested that poisonous gases were released to incapacitate the passengers and the crew.
Neither CIA nor the ISI have been able to speak anything beyond these few lines. The India RAW, in the neighbourhood, has also failed to utter a single word on this accident, though it could easily have done that to humiliate the ISI at least! But for that RAW needed to have certain clues, which it, of course, didn’t.
Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, was killed in May 1991. The assassination was carried out by the Tamil Tigers. Although the Jain Commission report had nominated various people and agencies, suspecting them of their involvement in Rajiv’s murder, none could be brought to justice. And 20 years down the lane, the Indian RAW still remains a dumb observer.
Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the former President of Georgia, had died in 1993 in circumstances that are very unclear too. Although KGB was formally dissolved by then, none of the Russian or Central Asian spy agencies could shed light on this murder.
While Gamsakhurdia’s widow said that her husband had shot himself, the Russian media endorsed her statement.
However, the Georgian Interior Ministry had suggested that the president had either been deliberately killed by his own supporters or had died following a quarrel with his former chief commander.
JuvEnal Habyarimana, the President of Rwanda, was killed in a puzzling plane crash in 1994. His death resulted in political instability, leading to the genocide in Rwanda and the outbreak of full-scale war in Burundi.
President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was also aboard the same plane.
Though numerous Western powers kept on observing the Rwandan genocide in times that followed, none barring the French government had actually endeavoured to dig the root cause of this plane crash.
Since the aircraft had a French crew, a France carried out a probe to deduce that Kagame, the President-to-be, was responsible for the incident.
President Kagame was later quoted as saying that the French were only trying to cover up their part in the genocide.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005, in Beirut. The investigation, led by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the United Nations into his assassination, is still underway and fingers are being pointed at various suspects.
The two-time Pakistani Premier Benazir Bhutto was killed on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi. Despite the fact that her own party is in power and her husband Asif Zardari is the country’s President, her actual killers are still at large or even if they have been traced (as a few key PPP government functionaries claim time and again), none of them has actually been brought to justice.

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