Page 1, 18th February 1994

18th February 1994
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Page 1, 18th February 1994 — CIA linked to '81 papal assassination
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CIA linked to '81 papal assassination

By VIVIANE HEWITT IN ROME POPE JOHN PAUL II'S Would

be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, did not shoot to kill, He had orders to wound only and the attack was designed as a personal warning from the West.

Following these latest revelations, speculation heightened this week that the CIA masterminded the shooting on 13 May, 1981 in St Peter's Square.

It is now thought that John Paul II had forged a secret, unofficial "pact" with Moscow on the future of his native Poland. At the time, Poland was in turmoil , following the Gdansk shipyard strikes and the creation of the rebel Solidarnose trade union under current Polish President, Lech Walesa.

The Pope is said to have received guarantees from Moscow that if he worked to attenuate events in his homeland, the Soviets would not tighten their grip on the country by means of a new armed forces occupation.

Concerned at the Vaticans go-it-alone policy, the United States wanted to force the Pope to breach even unofficial relations with the Soviet Empire.

For, the United States hoped that the Polish crisis in the early 1980s would accelerate the fall of Communist bloc regimes.

Shedding this new light on the background to the attack on the Pope, as he greeted pilgrims on a Wednesday afternoon from his opentopped jeep, is a former Italian civilian intelligence (SISDE) officer, forensic scientist and criminologist Francesco Bruno.

Bruno also suggested in declarations in Rome that the so-called "Bulgarian Connecdon" with the shooting was a "prefabrication" by the CIA to blame the Soviet Union for the attack, via Bulgarian secret agents said to be Agca's accomplices.

This manoeuvre was also designed to shock international opinion and heighten the Soviet bloc crisis from within.

However, Bruno added the West may have used the Soviet's fear of the Polish pope.

He suggested that it could still not be ruled out that a plot to eliminate Karol Wojtyia originated in fanatic Soviet breakaway factions and was them "taken over, or adopted by the opposite bloc".

"I mean the West, the United States, NATO," he said, adding that such men as Oliver North, embroiled in the Nicaragua arms scandal, and CIA operative Michael Ledeen, an expert on Italians affairs, were key figures at the time.

Agca's revelation of the "Bulgarian Connection", 18 months after a determined silence in jail, might also have been highly organised to sound feasible.

Agca claimed that he decided to talk because his "contractors" had failed to keep their promise to him to have him "sprung" from Italy's top security jail where he is serving life imprisonment.

Bruno claims to have evidence that the Turkish gunman had no intention of assassinating John Paul II. "He was ordered to would the Holy Father, to warn him. And the warning may not have come from the East", Bruno said.




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