Super-secret clandestine organization remains as elusive as ever
A super-secret entity, known as ISTO, or International Strategic and Tactical Organization, which this editor previously reported was involved in coups and assassinations primarily in Africa, including the April 6, 1994 double assassinations of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, remains as secretive and elusive as ever. However, WMR has been informed by a well-placed source that ISTO has been active as late as 2006.
After French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere named a number of Rwandan government officials as behind the 1994 missile attack on the Rwandan presidential aircraft that resulted in the deaths of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, ISTO, which reportedly consists of U.S. defense contractors, oil company executives, and wealthy Republicans, began a campaign via the Belgian media to spread the disinformation that it was France that brought down the aircraft of its ally, Habyarimana, and three French military officers said to have shot down the plane -- Cyrille Lafortune, Michel Billet et Raymond Meghuira -- were supplied to the Rwandan embassy in Canada. French investigators originally tracked down an ISTO operation in Canada. There is also a strong indication that ISTO elements were represented in Rosslyn, Virginia, the home to a number of defense and intelligence contractors.
The three French officers identified by ISTO's interlocutors in Belgium turned out to be bogus. Neither the French St. Cyr military academy nor INTERPOL and the French Judicial Police had any record of the individuals identified.
There are strong indications that ISTO operates as a front for the CIA.
The CIA's use of Canadian front operations to carry out some of its "wet affairs" is not new. The CIA's use of a Canadian firm that interacted with then-Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is well documented. After Tsvangirai became Prime Minister after a lengthy political stalemate with President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai's vehicle was struck on March 6 by a truck bearing U.S. embassy license plates. Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was killed and Tsvangirai was injured. The truck that killed Susan Tsvangirai and almost killed Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister was owned by John Snow International, and contracted to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a long-time cipher for CIA clandestine activities in Africa and elsewhere. However, three days after the crash, John Snow International sent out a confidential memo that stated that on the day of the crash with Tsvangirai's car, the driver was not a JSI [John Snow International] driver on that particular day.
John Snow International, named after a 19th century physician who worked on cleaning up drinking water supplies to prevent epidemic outbreaks, manages public health projects in over 38 countries
The JSI memo stated: "'As you may have heard, there was a tragic car accident on Friday (March 6) in Zimbabwe in which the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured and his wife was killed. The vehicle involved in this accident was registered to USAID/Deliver (a JSI Project) although not driven by a JSI driver, as far as we know. At this point, further details about the accident are unknown. Understandably, this tragedy has generated a lot of media interest. If you receive any inquiries from the media, we ask that you please direct them to Penelope Riseborough, WEI/JSI Director of Communication in Boston."
After the crash, newspaper articles began to appear suggesting that Mugabe's loyalists had something to do with the crash. It was the same modus operandi used by ISTO in the case of the aerial assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents. Independent Member of Parliament Jonathan Moyo demanded a full inquiry into USAID's activities in Zimbabwe. WMR has recently learned of a strong link between a top former USAID official and ISTO's highly-covert operations.
In October 2004, Tsvangirai was accused by Mugabe's government of involvement in a plot to assassinate Mugabe. Tsvangirai's comments, allegedly implicating him in the plot, were secretly tape recorded at a meeting in Canada between Tsvangirai and officials of the political lobbying firm Dickens & Madsen, which was representing Tsvangirai's political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in North America. The firm also had long-standing links to the Mugabe regime.
The alleged tape recording had been made by Israeli expatriate author and Dickens & Madsen employee Ari Ben-Mensahe, who claims to have once worked for Mossad and who was born in Tehran before emigrating to Israel. A dubiously edited copy of the tape was later aired on the Australian SBS television network and resulted in Tsvangirai's trial in Zimbabwe on treason charges. Newsweek magazine and reporter Seymour Hersh, who previously used Ben-Menashe as a source, have called him a fabricator.
Whatever Tsvangirai knew about covert Western intelligence support for his party and presidential candidacy may have later earned him a death sentence by parties associated with ISTO.