Saturday, December 04, 2004

Dutch Cold War operation a model for fighting Islamists

A brilliant Cold War intelligence operation run by the Netherlands offers a blueprint for a new method of strategic warfare against Islamist extremists.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands (MPLN) was for 25 years a phony organization run by Dutch intelligence to penetrate "militant Marxist subculture" and infiltrate the People's Republic of China.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, the MPLN attracted Dutch extremists and was so successful that Chinese intelligence gave its leader, Peter Boevé (aka Chris Petersen), clandestine funds to finance a Maoist newspaper that was secretly edited by the Dutch intelligence service.

"Petersen" had been a Dutch intelligence agent since 1955, when he infiltrated a Soviet-sponsored world student congress in Moscow. He set up the MPLN in 1969. The party central committee was "stacked with secret agents" and gave the impression it had a large underground cadre organized among clandestine and disparate cells. This attracted real extremists to join.

"The whole thing was a hoax, set up by the secret services to learn all they could about what was going on in Marxist Peking," the former MPLN head told the Guardian. "Petersen" was so credible that he was received personally by Mao Tse-tung and Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha.

"We took everybody in," Boevé/"Petersen" said. "As far as I know, the MLPN was the only wholly fake radical party to have existed, and certainly the only one to have really worked. We passed inside information on every Maoist policy nuance to all the western intelligence forces. It was a wonderful adventure."

According to the Wall Street Journal, "the fake party helped the Dutch secret police divide Holland's legitimate [sic] Communist movement, keep tabs on Maoist groups and gain access to China's elite." MPLN leader "Petersen," the WSJ reports, "issued regular communiques - all drafted by [Dutch intelligence] - denouncing real Communists as sellouts and urging voters to reject them."

This is exactly the type of operation the US and its allies - no doubt the Dutch - should be running against Islamists.

As he cleans up and reorganizes the US intelligence apparatus, CIA Director Porter Goss should establish an entire permanent office devoted to running such operations.

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