Kol Cuni “Nik”

Born in 1915 in Shkoder. Cuni was recruited for a mission into Albania by Italian Naval Intelligence during the early part of 1949. He was one of a number of Albanians taken from Italian refugee camps and sent to the Island of Montecristo for training in clandestine operations.

Approximately 20 Albanians took part in the training program, among which were: Alush Lleshanaku, Zef luka, Gjon Gjinaj, Gjon Melyshi an Pasko Letaj. Both Cuni and Lleshanaku were given special training in radio transmission.

Each member of the group: Gjon Gjinaj, Kol Cuni, Pjeter Gjoci, Pashko Letaj, Zef Luka, Ndue Frisku, Bardhok Gjeta, Mirash Marku-Ndou and Nikoll Marku, was issued cold weather clothing, a machine gun, a Beretta pistol, hand grenades, compasses, Zeiss binocular, a Rolex watch and pup tent. The group was also given 300 gold napoleons. The group commanded by Cuni left Rome aboard a tri-motor military airplane at 1635 hours on 28 December 1949. The group jumped at approximately 1935 hours and landed in an area approximately 15 kilometers northwest of Kukes, slightly off the target area.

Cuni himself landed on a tree and spent almost two hours freeing himself. After making contact with the rest of the group they spent the night walking towards Dardhe. The group was supplied by frequent parachute drops.

Alush Lleshanaku’s team arrived on Ash Wednesday, 1950, with no trouble. The team was to operate in the Elbasan area. Cuni met Lleshanaku approximately seven days after the latter arrived and after a short stay with Cuni, Lleshanaku and his group left for Elabasan.

Lleshanaku operated in the Elbasan area and maintained radio contact with Rome almost on a daily basis. Approximately three months after the arrival of Lleshanaku’s group his radio failed and Lleshanaku personally went to Elbasan to obtain spare parts. On the Elbasan-Puka road he met Cuni, who advised him against going to Elbasan and made arrangements to provide the radio spare parts. Approximately one month later Lleshanaku was killed in a skirmish with Sigurimi agents.

Cuni remained in Albania until 1951 fighting the communists. During this period he never wavered in his fierce anti-communist beliefs. When he decided to cross the border into Yugoslavia, he contacted Pal Bib Mirakaj to inquire as to what type of treatment he would be facing. He was assured that he would be granted political asylum with all rights as a political refugee. Prior to leaving Albania he made contact with Rome and was given permission to leave.

Cuni crossed the Yugoslav border near Gjakova in May or June 1951.  He was accompanied by 25 armed men and women. Cuni would eventually emigrate to the United States where he died in 1984.