By Albert Lulushi/
In 1949 a newly-minted branch of the CIA, 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. Theirs was an elaborate plan, coordinated with the British Secret Intelligence Service, aimed at detaching Albania, the weakest of the Soviet satellites in Europe, from Moscow’s orbit. The operation suffered a dismal failure and was substantially shut down by 1954.
Operation Valuable Fiend: CIA’s First Paramilitary Operation against the Iron Curtain uncovers the true story behind CIA’s Albanian operation – beyond the simplistic view often taken on the subject that assigns the blame for the failure of the operation to Kim Philby, the most famous Soviet mole inside the British SIS.
Operation Valuable Fiend is the first book to offer a full accounting of the operation based on hundreds of declassified CIA documents, memoirs, and recollections of key participants in the operation. The book is unique not only for its extensive use of primary sources, but also because it presents a multi-faceted view of the story, correlating and juxtaposing facts and elements of the operation reported by participants on the American side against those recounted by their opponents on the Communist side.
Valuable Fiend reveals the true factors that contributed to the ultimate failure of the operation, including: An atmosphere of competition and jealousy, rather than cooperation, between branches of the CIA and between the CIA and other friendly intelligence services.
Distracted and inexperienced CIA case officers outsmarted by operatives of a ruthless Stalinist regime determined to consolidate its power with no mercy for their opponents.
Conflicts and rivalries among the anti-Communist factions, exacerbated by the intrigues of King Zog, CIA’s colorful ally who was Europe’s only Muslim monarch, married to a Hungarian-American countess, and a member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, all at the same time.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the book shows the imprint that the operation left on the planning and execution of other Cold War paramilitary actions that followed, including CIA’s coup d’états in Iran and Guatemala, and the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
[Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA’s First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain]
History US $24.95
In 1949, a newly minted branch of the CIA, flush with money and determined 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 spark an uprising and detach Albania, the weakest of the Soviet satellites in Europe, from Moscow’s orbit. The operation, called Valuable Fiend, resulted in dismal failure and was shut down by 1954.
In this groundbreaking book, 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, and CIA memoirs were heavily sanitized.
Narrating the early days of the operation, Lulushi recaptures its heady promise, the zeal of the men in charge, and the courage of the Albanian patriots who risked and often gave their lives in paramilitary actions. He also documents the range of factors that led to its failure, from inexperienced CIA case officers outsmarted in spy-vs.-spy games by their ruthless Stalinist opponents to inter-branch rivalries within the CIA and conflicts and lax security among anti-Communist exile groups. Yet Operation Valuable Fiend was also the proving ground for techniques used in later CIA paramilitary actions—involving some of the same agency operatives—including the successful coups d’état in Iran and Guatemala and the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
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Albert Lulushi, a native of Albania, fled 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. He lives in Oakton, Virginia.
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“Albert Lulushi has told a fascinating story well and made excellent use of untapped archival resources.”
— David Robarge, chief historian, Central Intelligence Agency
“An important and well-researched account of one of the Cold War’s less known and often misunderstood clandestine operations . . . The book tells a lively and well-written, if discouraging, story. The reader has a treat in store, and any student of the history of America’s role in the Cold War will find the book indispensable.”
—Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, former ambassador, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs
“In Operation Valuable Fiend, Albert Lulushi has done a splendid job in updating our knowledge of the clandestine activities that CIA and its partners conducted in Albania in the late 1940s and early 1950s.”
—Nicholas C. Pano, professor emeritus of history, Western Illinois University
[Barcode with ISBN: 978-1-62872-322-9 and price: $24.95]