CIA Memo on BKI Missions – 1952




5 JAN 52

1. CIA is in general agreement with the SS statement of the difficulties of operating in Albania; we have felt for some time, as SS evidently has also, that the small size of the country and the extensive security precautions of the Albanian government, coupled with a disillusionment of the Albanian people in the ability of the West to aid them effectively, have made this area operationally one of the most difficult in Europe. Indeed, our experience leads us to the conclusion that the difficulties are increasing rapidly to the point where they will become virtually insuperable unless positive measures are taken to prevent the disappearance of our remaining opportunities for intelligence and resistance activities within the country.

2. As an initial measure toward this end, CIA proposes that we jointly reexamine the objectives of our two services as regards Albania in the light of what we can realistically hope to attain. Experience to date shows that from bases presently available our attempts to build up active internal resistance merely result in a dissipation of future potential strength as the most energetic anti-Communists are killed or forced to flee the country. We therefore propose that our program be revised to conform to the following objectives:

  1. Resistance-wise, we should endeavor to keep alive any resistance movements which now exist or which may develop without outside aid in the future. However, we should not attempt to build up new resistance movements, since we see little chance at the present time of their contributing substantially to the anti-Communist cause.
  2. Propaganda-wise, we should take all measures necessary to sustain faith in the anti-Communist forces outside the Iron Curtain including the Albanian leaders who have taken refuge there.
  3. Intelligence-wise, we should maintain sufficient coverage of the country to keep ourselves advised of any increase in its importance as a Soviet base, or of the possibilities for successful resistance.

3. CIA feels that the first measure which should be taken to realize the above objectives is the unification of the Albanian emigration. The failure thus far effectively to unify the emigre parties is a critical weakness in our joint position vis-a-vis Albania, and a barrier to developing any coordinated and economical program. Outside Albania, it has resulted in an inability by either of our services to realize the full recruitment potential of the emigration and a consequent considerable waste of manpower greatly to the advantage of the enemy.  Within Albania, our operations have been at best handicapped and at worst liquidated, in large degree due to the inability of the National Committee for a Free Albania as now constituted to inspire faith and hope in certain sectors of the population.

4. In our opinion, therefore, the prerequisite of any well coordinated program is a revamping of NCFA to include representative of BKI and the wing of Balli Kombetar led by Ali Klissura. While still maintaining the position that both these groups should ideally be represented as parties, CIA proposes a compromise arrangement whereby one member of each group would be included on the Committee in the individual capacity of a prominent emigre. In the case of the BKI, we believe that although this party has previously refused2 such a compromise, OSO is in a position, as a result of long association with certain BKI leaders, to obtain BKI acceptance. If this is obtained, it may then be possible to induce the Klissura group to follow the BKI’s lead.

5. We realize in this connection that there has been some doubt as to the extent of the contribution BKI is capable of making.  We attribute this doubt primarily to a lack of knowledge of the accomplishments of intelligence operations utilizing BKI members over the past three years.  We of course readily admit as self-evident that any leader’s strength is sapped by the mass execution, flight, or imprisonment of this most stalwart followers, but we see no evidence to indicate any significant ideological trend away from the leaders concerned.  As evidence, on the contrary, that they have retained a stronghold on the allegiance of the population in their home territory and still possess a significant potential strength, we submit, as an Annex, a resume of our operations using BKI personnel.

6.  We believe that the enlargement of the Committee as above suggested will do much to reassure the Albanian population as to the unity of purpose of their leaders abroad.  However, it cannot entirely accomplish this purpose unless complemented by another equally essential measure: the curbing of factious disputes which are aired through newspapers and radio programs most of which exist either under the direct auspices of, or by the grace of indirect financial aid provided by the United States and the United Kingdom.  The reaction to these disputes within Albania itself is illustrated by a w/t1 message from one of our agents within Albania in April 1951 who, contrasting the situation of the population within the country with that of the emigres, signaled as follows:

  • “The discord is among those persons abroad from whom the Albanian people expect help in liberating the country.  Is this the proper recompense for a people which still preserves its patriotism undiminished?  This is not the moment for criticism and argument among individuals or parties. It is a time for action! Those who were guilty in the past will be condemned in good time. But now such criticism so greatly damages and demoralizes resistance in the cities and armed resistance in the mountains that if this story drags on there will soon be very little resistance left in Albanian territory.  It is easy to talk and criticize when seated at a desk.  On the other hand, it is difficult to work and fight in Albania itself, as the Albanian people have for seven years, suffering the losses of thousands of families who have been placed in concentration camps or put to death by torture or the firing squad. In the name of all the armed resistance and of the Nationalist city-dwellers, we ask that an end be put to discord and disagreements, and that each one give a helping hand to the other for the one purpose of liberating the Fatherland!”

7.  The above comment, though directed by the agent at Albanian broadcast of the BBC, is equally applicable to other propaganda media at the disposal of the several Albanian parties, especially their newspapers.  It is felt that since these parties exist almost entirely by virtue of the support tendered them by our services for the express purpose of enabling them to fight Communism in their native countries, it is their duty to direct their energies to that end rather than to the aggrandizement of their individual refugee factions.

8.  We propose therefore that SIS 3 and CIA issue an ultimatum to the several parties to case their disputes, emphasizing that failure to do so will result in the cessation of all aid.  Supplementing this ultimatum, we regard as essential a continuing joint effort to ensure that all propaganda media, whether radio broadcasts, newspapers, leaflets, or other, operate within the framework of our joint policy, and not be keyed to objectives in excess of those decided upon as a result of the reexamination suggested in paragraph 2.

9.  The above are in our opinion the basic necessities for a coordinated program.  Further to implement such a program, we offer the following proposals:

    1. In the field of operational planning, an exchange of general as opposed to specific plans should continue as it has in the past as regards PC activities and be extended to include SO matters.  Either service may propose particular operations to the other in cases where participation by the other would offer a better chance of success.  In such cases, CIA would favor an exchange of operational briefings and debriefings, data on air, sea, and land infiltration and exfiltration facilities, progress reports, and information on disposal resources.  However, we believe that an attempt to place all operations on a joint basis would contribute little to the accomplishment of the missions of CIA and SIS, and would on the contrary result in an administrative burden which would impede effective action by either party.
    2. With regard to the exchange of information on recruitment, we believe that an opportunity for more extensive cooperation exists as concerns attempts to induce the doubling or defection of Albanian representative abroad (except in the United States and England), since these are delicate operations which could easily be upset by the uncoordinated efforts of two or more services to approach the same individual.  We therefore propose that it be made standard procedure for SIS and CIA to keep each other informed prior to any attempts of this kind.
    3. As regards the training of agents , we are in full agreement that such training shall be carried out by each party separately.
    4. In the overall recruitment field, present understandings that CIA and SIS will reciprocally avoid attempts to recruit agents known to be working for the other service should continue to suffice.
    5. We favor a fuller exchange of CE information on Albania and propose that SIS and CIA should each furnish the other upon request all derogatory information on any suspect individual or, if this cannot be divulged because of the nature of the source or of existing agreements with other services, state as precisely as possible the nature of the derogatory information on hand.
    6. As regards operations intelligence and briefings, we agree that both SIS and CIA should upon specific request and within the limits of their capabilities, exchange at the headquarters level any information regarding the security situation or other conditions affecting the selection of pinpoints for sea landings or air drops, and that the information available at the headquarters level maybe supplemented when appropriate at the field level. It is understood that, as in the case of CE information, such an exchange may be limited if necessary because of the nature of the source or existing agreements with other services.
    7. The exchange of documents under existing agreements has been very full, and we naturally expect that cooperation along these lines will continue as it has in the past.

1Wireless telephone/telelgraph
2Reference to the attempted recruitment of Ndue Gjon Gjomarkaj in September 1949
3Secret Intelligence Service