Most people believe the worst damage from espionage against the U.S. has been the theft of highly classified secrets, such as the technology for the atom bomb. As one who spent decades at the top of the Soviet bloc intelligence world – until, by God’s grace, I defected in 1978 – I can tell you that the absolutely worst, and often irreparable, damage done to the Free World has been caused by disinformation.
As I reveal in my new book, “Disinformation,” co-written with Professor Ronald Rychlak, during the Cold War more people worked for the Soviet bloc disinformation machinery than for the Soviet army and defense industry put together.
The Cold War is indeed over, but, unlike other wars, it did not end with a defeated enemy throwing down his weapons. Indeed, today's terrorism against the U.S. was generated by the same enormous disinformation machinery.
In the late 1960s, KGB head Yuri Andropov, with whom I worked at one time, tasked the Soviet bloc's disinformation machinery with turning the rest of the world against the U.S. by reviving anti-Semitism. Andropov knew that the U.S. would stand with Israel and that he could convince the European leftists and the Islamic world that America was dominated by Jews.
Andropov's disinformation came to light in 1969, when Palestinian terrorists – secretly trained at the KGB’s Balashikha special-operations school east of Moscow – hijacked an El Al plane and landed it in Algeria. There its 32 Jewish passengers were held hostage for five weeks, during which time Andropov's disinformation machinery portrayed Israel and the U.S. as the main dangers to world peace.
This pattern continued for years, as Andropov expanded his efforts from hijacking Israeli planes into organizing public executions of “Zionists.” Andropov's puppet, Dr. George Habash, Marxist leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, explained: “Killing one Jew far from the field of battle is more effective than killing a hundred Jews on the field of battle, because it attracts more attention.”
By 1972, Andropov's disinformation machinery was working around the clock to persuade the Islamic world that the U.S. intended to transform the rest of the world into a Zionist fiefdom. He wanted us to convince Muslims that the U.S. Congress was a "Council of the Elders of Zion" which conspired to have the Jews take over the world. If we whipped up Muslim anti-Semitism, then terrorism and violence against Israel and America would naturally follow.
Thus, the Romanian DIE (counterpart of KGB foreign intelligence), which I headed, in 1972 received from the KGB an Arabic translation of the old Russian forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” We also received "documentary" material in Arabic produced by the Soviet disinformation "proving" America was a Zionist country whose aim was to transform the Islamic world into a Jewish fief.
My DIE was ordered to disseminate these documents within its targeted Islamic countries. During my later years in Romania, the DIE disseminated thousands of copies of “The Protocols” and similar “documents” each month.
The fruit of the KGB’s disinformation campaign was seen on Sept. 11, 2001. The weapon of choice for that horrific act was a hijacked airplane – a concept invented and perfected by Andropov's disinformation machinery.
What is the lesson here for us? We can win the current War on Terror only by detoxing the Islamic world of its anti-Americanism. When I worked for the Soviet bloc disinformation machine, I helped foment that toxin.
Today, with our new book, “Disinformation,” I hope to provide insight that will cure the addiction to it.