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theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

January 20, 2011


What do Nazi war criminals, the CIA, Mafia overlords and the Vatican have in common? The secret order of the Knights of Malta.

by Robert Anton Wilson

July, 1989

In spring 1945, when Nazi Germany was in ruins, General Reinhard Gehlan, Chief of Intelligence under Hitler, loaded a truck with top secret documents and drove to the nearest American Army division he could find, to negotiate a separate peace. General Gehlan was evidently a very, very good negotiator. (Of course, he had that truck full of god-knows-what secrets…)

Gehlen soon had an American generals’ uniform and was flown to Washington, where he negotiated further. According to papers secured by professor Carl Ogelsby, under the Freedom of Information Act, by the time Gehlen was through negotiating, he was the head of what became the CIA’s Soviet penetration section, and a number of other top Nazis had CIA jobs as well. Ogelsby regards this as the beginning of the “Nazification” of the American intelligence community. Reinhard the Fox, as some called him, was a Knight of Malta, and that may also have helped.

Who the hell, you may ask, are the Knights of Malta? Didn’t Dashiel Hammett invent them for a detective story?

Well, the Knights of Malta are a fabulously wealthy secret society of Catholic laypersons. Back in the 11th century they were called the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Later they became the Knights of Rhodes, and then the Knights of Malta, as they are still usually known. Their correct name, however, is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (often abbreviated to SMOM) since they now admit Dames as well as Knights. After they lost Malta to Napoleon in 1789, their actual world headquarters has been a small building in the Vatican.

According to Catholic sources, they are a charitable order devoted to good works. According to most secular humanist historians, and especially Freemasons, SMOM is the Vatican’s secret police and all member are sworn to destroy Protestantism, liberalism, democracy and everything else that has interfered with Papal Omnipotence in the last 400 years.

According to English journalist Gordon Thomas, members of the SMOM currently act as couriers between the Pope and the Director of the CIA. According to Mae Brussel, the late conspiracy researcher, members of SMOM are sworn by a oath to obey Vatican order even in cases of murder and treason.

Along with Reinhard the Fox, a few other prominent members of SMOM in recent times have included:

– Franz von Papen, the man who persuaded President von Hindenburg to resign and appoint Hitler the chancellor of Germany;

–General Alexander Haig, White House heavyweight in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations; the man who claimed “diabolical forces” had created some of the evidence against Nixon;

– Alexander de Marenches, former chief of French intelligence;

– William F. Buckley Jr., foremost spokesperson for the “bombs-and Jesus” faction of American conservatism;

– Claire Booth Luce, wife of the founder of Time/Life, longtime Congressional enemy of the New Deal and later US Ambassador to the Vatican;

– Licio Gelli, founder of the secret Propaganda Due (P2) society which the Italian government has charged with conspiring to install a new fascist government by coup, and of several other crimes;

– Roberto Calvi, president of Banco Ambrosiano in Milan, a P2 member who handled Vatican finances in Europe and was often called “God’s banker”;

– Michele “the Shark” Sindona, a lawyer for several Mafia families and owner of several Italian banks and the Franklin National Bank in the US;

– Unberto Ortolani, wealthy Italian fascist, P2 member and founder of secret right-wing groups in Latin America. A business associate of Calvi, and of Bishop Paul “the Gorilla” Marcinkus and Michele “the Shark” Sindona;

– Otto von Hapsburg, descendent of the former royal family of Austria and a prominent member of the Bilderbergers, a secret society of financiers which meets once a year and will seemingly go to any length to prevent the press from learning their full membership roster or what they are meeting to discuss;

– William Casey, Director of the CIA under President Reagan, who died during the Iran-Contra hearings.

You can see that General Gehlen belonged to a Catholic organization that is, to say the least of it, international in scope and highly influential. That may have helped him in his metamorphosis from Nazi to CIA section chief as much as the truck full of secrets did.

Actually Gehlen’s fascist infiltration of the CIA might be described as seducing an old whore. The OSS (predecessor of the CIA) already had a working relationship with the Mafia in both American and Italy by then. This had been masterminded by the convicted pimp, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, who in return for an early parole from prison arranged that the Sicilian Mafiosi would help the invading American Army. This accelerated the American conquest of Italy but it also married the American Intelligence community to the Mob for many decades – up to the present, in fact.

In 1948, Congress passed the National Security Act, making part of the government invisible to the people (and to Congress itself.) We have learned to live with a clandestine shadow government , whose actions are hidden from us and whose links with fascism and organized crime we only occasionally glimpse when a few sensational blunders blow the cover here or there.

In the 1950s an Italian wheeler-dealer named Licio Gelli entered the inner sanctum of the CIA/Mafia alliance. Gelli, another Knight of Malta, had honed his skills in the Spy Game by working, during World War II, as a double agent for the Gestapo and the Communist underground, and had managed to convince both that he was faithfully serving them and betraying the other guys. In post-war Rome, Gelli began a new business – creating false ID for Nazi war criminals fleeing prosecution, and finding them jobs in Latin America. Many eventually ended up working for the CIA or the Death Squads which, as everybody knows, have no connection with the CIA except for being recruited, trained, armed, financed, and “advised” by them.

While recruiting Nazis for the CIA, Gelli formed strong links with ODESSA, the secret society of former SS officers, who seemed to be devoted chiefly to (a) evading capture by Israeli intelligence and (b) creating a Fourth Reich in Latin America, the part of the world that seems most ripe for a fascist takeover. Gelli assisted many fascist regimes down there, including buying guns for the Argentines before the Falklands war and helping to restore Peron to power, for which Peron once knelt before him and kissed his hand.

Gelli was on the CIA’s payroll since the mid-1950s. He had originally been hired by them to strengthen the right wing in the Italian labor movement and weaken the left wing. Gelli had done this, most efficiently, by bribing those union officials who could be bribed and arranging to have the Mafia assassinate those who couldn’t be bribed. You must admit that technique was neat.

Signor Gelli also, sometime in there, got himself on the payroll of the KGB. Thus, in addition to the billions he and his friends were soon earning on the financial fun and games we shall discuss below, Gelli was being paid as an intelligence agent by both Washington and Moscow. A man who could convince both the Nazis and the Red Underground that he was on their side in World War II could play the same game in the Cold War years.

Gelli was later called “the Pupper Master” by the Italian press, and indeed even in this age of covert operations he seems to have been uncommonly devious. Our first real glimpse of the inner world of SMOM and P2 under the Puppet Master began when another Knight of Malta, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London on June 18, 1982. Often called “God’s Banker,” Calvi had been manager of Vatican finances in Europe, and belonged to Gelli’s pseudo-Masonic P2 lodge.

Although badly wounded in Italy after the Calvi scandal, P2 still survives and has lodges all over Latin America and in the United States. Former Italian Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini calls it “the new Mafia…a multinational of crime.” All the top dogs in P2 appear to be Knights of Malta, but that may be just another coincidence.

The original coroner’s jury ruled that Calvi had killed himself. This verdict was greeted with derision by most of the English press, which noted that Calvi was 62, not given to exercise, distinctly out of shape, and not likely to have performed the acrobatic feats required in lowering himself over the railing of the bridge and somehow climbing or leaping to the middle of the bottom of the bridge where his body had been found hanging from an under-girder.

A second coroner’s jury was eventually convened and they ruled that the evidence was not conclusive enough to decide if Calvi had killed himself or had been killed by persons unknown.

Clara Calvi, the dead banker’s widow, came to England at the time of the second coroner’s inquest and told the jury her husband had been planning to testify against his former colleagues and lived in terror that he would be killed by order of persons in the Vatican – “at the very top.”

Those who claim foul play in the Calvi hanging have all made much of another rather singular coincidence. The morning Calvi was found dangling (with his pockets full of bricks) from that bridge in London, his secretary, Graziella Corrocher, plunged to her death from a window of Calvi’s Banco Ambrosiano in Milan. Like Calvi’s death, Corrocher’s defenestration was originally pronounced suicide, but many have questioned that verdict. Maybe suicide was epidemic in that bank. Maybe – but then again, as Stalin’s henchman Beria once said, “Any damn fool can commit murder. It takes an artist to arrange a suicide.”

Italian magistrates concluded that during the 1970s, Calvi and his fellow Knight of Malta, Mike “the Shark” Sindona, had fairly well taken control of Vatican finances, with the connivance of Bishop Paul “the Gorilla” Marcinkus (so dubbed because of his gargantuan anatomy: he had served as bodyguard for two Popes.”

Paul the Gorilla was soon manager of the Vatican Bank and had set up another bank in the Bahamas, called Cisalpine, which he co-owned with Roberto Calvi, who at one point owned more banks and holding companies than anybody in the world, except that most of the banks later turned out to have no existence in sensory-sensual space-time or ordinary reality: they were only notions on papers – ghost companies, useful for laundering funds and confusing bank examiners. The Cisalpine Bank really existed, however, and later came to the attention of the DA’s office in Dade County, Florida, because they had uncovered its links with what they called “the biggest cocaine laundromat” in the world. This was an outfit resonantly named the World Finance Corporation and was run by a “former” (or allegedly former) CIA agent, Hernandez Cataya.

The World Finance Corporation was reported to the Dade county cops by garbage men who said they often found marijuana stalks in the bank’s rubbish. That sort of thing attracts attention of Florida law enforcement people. Further inquiry revealed that the CIA was using the bank for payments to “deep cover” agents in Latin America and that most of the cocaine money from Latin America was being laundered through the WFC and then sent on to the Cisalpine in the Bahamas, where Paul the Gorilla and Roberto Calvi ran it through the Vatican Bank and Banco Ambrosiano and a merry-go-round of Sindona’s banks in a system so tricky that not even God himself knows where the money finally landed – although most students of this caper believe a large chunk of it might be found in those Swiss accounts with which Licio Gelli was later to be obsessed to the point of foolhardiness. The Dade County DA convicted a few WFC officials but claims the CIA prevented him from getting the evidence he needed to convict eight others, all of whom seemed to have links to the agency.

Also in the 1970s Paul the Gorilla and Mike the Shark set up a deal in which the American Mafia – specifically, the Johnny Roselli family, acting through New York’s Rizzo family – printed a billion dollars (yes, $1,000,000,000) in counterfeit stock which was deposited in the Vatican Bank and then disappeared almost totally from the sight of profane investigators. Only $100 million has ever been tracked down; the other $900 million is probably still circulating.

Businessmen in tight spots often buy counterfeit stock, deposit it in a bank long enough to establish a hefty “line of credit” and then sell it to someone equally desperate before the fraud is discovered. Counterfeit stocks sell at 10 percent of the face value, but if successfully deposit them without being caught, your line of credit equals face value; thus, for a $10 million investment, you can be worth $100 million on paper. If the counterfeits are bought and sold fast enough, most of the operators of these scams escape detection.

Johnny Roselli, who arranged the printing of these counterfeits for Paul the Gorilla and his associates in the Vatican, also had a long track record with the CIA, having collaborated with them in several assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. Many investigators – e.g. columnist Jack Anderson and English journalist Anthony Summers – have claimed there is good evidence that Roselli was involved somehow in the Kennedy Assassination. Roselli disappeared while under subpoena by the House Select Committee on Assassinations and was later found dead. Roselli’s close associate, Sam Giancana – who had at least once discussed a plan to assassinate Kennedy, according to one witness before the House Select Committee – was also killed while under subpoena. Sam was shot through the mouth – the sasso in bocca, traditional Mafia punishment for suspected informers.

An even stranger corner of the “new Mafia” had been revealed when the police attempted to arrest Licio Gelli.

Gelli skipped Italy before the police could nab him, and investigations about how he had been tipped off revealed that many members of the secret police (devoted to protecting the government) were also member of P2 (devoted to overthrowing the government.) This phalanx of double agents included General Musumeci, the Chief of Intelligence, who was subsequently indicted for conspiring, with Calvi, Gelli and other, in the attempted fascist coup.

Musumeci, in fact, was charged with aiding the allegedly left-wing bombers he was supposed to be hunting down. The embattled general died (of natural causes, it seems) before he could stand trial, but meanwhile over 950 other agents of P2 were uncovered in the Italian government, and P2 was being blamed for the Bologna railway bombing of 1980 and assorted other terrorist acts previously attributed to the Red Brigades. (Gelli had explained this policy of terrorism, which he called “The Strategy of Tension,” in a paper written for P2 initiates. The strategy of tension was supposed to make Italians welcome a totalitarian coup to save them from Mad Bombers.)

Gelli, after his escape from Italy, was subsequently reported in Uruguay, near the previous home of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi war criminal who had been employed for nearly 40 years by the CIA. It was later revealed that Gelli had helped Barbie get employment with the CIA and that the secret P2 lodges Gelli and Ortolini had formed in Latin America played a key role in supporting Vatican and CIA objectives there.

After his 1982 flight to Uruguay, Signor Gelli later returned covertly to Switzerland, to withdraw funds from a numbered bank account. He was apprehended by Swiss police and placed in a maximum security prison until he could be extradited to Italy. The “maximum security” prison managed to hold the wily Gelli for only three days – 72 hours – and then, in some manner not yet determined, he escaped and was soon back in Uruguay. That was also neat.

Some Swiss wits claim the prison should have a sign showing the famous Three Monkeys (“See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil”) and a motto, “Ficken-sienicht mit P2!” (“Don’t fuck with the P2!”)

Meanwhile, the beleaguered Italian government – falling apart as more and more P2 members were uncovered in its highest offices – was trying to extradite Mike the Shark from the United States to stand trial for murder and conspiracy.

It was due to Mike the Shark’s wheeling and dealing that the Vatican now owns substantial shares in the World Trade Center, Proctor & Gamble and Paramount Films.

Mike the Shark was a guest at one of Nixon’s White House parties. When New York DA Frank Hogan tried to extradite Paul the Gorilla to stand trial in connection with the billion-dollar counterfeit stock fraud, Nixon’s Justice Department intervened to protect Marcinkus. Puppet Master Gelli was a guest at Reagan’s January 1981 inauguration: there is even a photo of Gelli and Reagan together, smiling as if at some private and wonderful jest. Bishop Paul the Gorilla advanced to Archibishop. In those halcyon days everybody in the CIA/P2/SMOM loop was making billions – or hundreds of billions, if you believe some estimates of the profits in the drug traffic.

But then Mike the Shark fell, and he fell hard. A New York jury found him guilty of 65 counts of stock and currency fraud. Despite being defended by Nixon’s law firm in the extradition matter, the Shark was finally returned to Italy, where he was convicted of murdering a bank examiner. He was awaiting trial on further conspiracy charges when he was poisoned in his cell.

According to “Coverup,” a film by the Empowerment Project, most of the guns for the Contras and other death squads in Latin America go through a Costa Rican estate belonging to a former, or allegedly former, CIA officer. “Coverup” has an interview with a pilot who flew several missions and says he always brought cocaine back to the States after delivering the guns to the terrorists. The money for all this went through the WFC in Miami and hence onward to the Cisalpine Bank in the Bahamas and the rest of the Marcinkus-Calvi-Sindona financial Fun House.

Historians will marvel at the era of fun and games – when Nancy was telling us “Just say no” and the CIA was telling pilots “Just fly low,” when Colonel North was drafting a plan to suspend the Constitution indefinitely and bragging to friends, “The old man (Reagan) loves my ass,” when cocaine and guns and money were flowing like a river in flood through the secret bank accounts of the CIA and its friends, including the P2 faction in Rome and the Vatican. And the CIA was governed by William Casey, yet another Knight of Malta, and a man with no qualms about lying to Congress, as Barry Goldwater finally noticed with dismay. “I am really pissed off,” Goldwater eventually wrote to Casey, when the full extent of Mad Bill’s deception began to dawn on the Senate.

Mad Bill, like General Musumeci, died of natural causes while under investigation. Sometimes I wonder if the artists who, in Beria’s words, “arrange” suicides have learned to “arrange” natural deaths.

Licio Gelli finally returned from his hideout in Uruguay to make another attempt to get the money our of that Swiss bank account. The Swiss police nabbed him again – sometimes the greatest conspirators are the greatest fuck ups – and managed to return him to Italy that time. He was acquitted of complicity in the Bologna railway bombing and is awaiting trial on further conspiracy charges.

Pondering all this I recall an old friend, Alan Watts, Zen philosopher and wit. “The greatest error of historians,” Alan once told me, “it that the Roman Empire ‘fell.’ It never fell. It still runs the Western world, through the Vatican and the Mafia.” I didn’t believe that when Alan said it; I thought it was one of his jokes.

Now I wonder.

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