Wherever one turns in investigating P2, Gladio, the "black aristocracy," international terrorism, or the Nazi International, one encounters the SMOM — the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, known as "the Knights of St. John" or the "Knights of Malta."
They were omnipresent in the establishment of the financial and human infrastructure of modern international terrorism already during World War II, and immediately thereafter. SMOM member Baron Luigi Parilli, an industrialist with high-level connections into both Hitler's SS and SD in Italy, and to Mussolini's intelligence services, was the main liaison between SS Gen. Karl Wolff and Allen Dulles in Berne. SMOM bestowed one of its highest awards, Gran Croce Al Merito Con Placca, on U.S. Ambassador to Italy Ellery Stone, who had saved Borghese, and who became a postwar vice-president of the ITT corporation, which helped organize the Sept. 11, 1973 overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende and the installation of dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The SMOM awarded its Croce Al Merito Seconda Classe to Italy's OSSchief James Jesus Angleton in 1946, around the same time it honored his boss, Allen Dulles. The following year, it bestowed the Gran Croce al Merito con Placca upon Hitler's Eastern Front intelligence chief Reinhard Gehlen, one of only four recipients of this award at the time. Gehlen's brother was the secretary to Thun Hohenstein, one of the five-member ruling Sovereign Council of the order. As head of the Institute for Associated Emigrations, Hohenstein printed some 2,000 passports, which were used to relocate leading Nazis to safe hiding places around the world. Other leading Knights included CIA chiefs Allen Dulles, John McCone, and William Casey. Nazi International figure Otto Skorzeny was a Knight, as was businessman J. Peter Grace, who used the SMOM's diplomatic immunity as a cover for Iran-Contra activities.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta logo Numerous leaders of Italy's military intelligence organization were members of both SMOM and P2, including Gen. Giuseppe Santovito (former head of SISMI, which replaced SID after 1977), Adm. Giovanni Torrisi, Chief of the General Staff of the Army, and Gen. Giovanni Allavena, head of SIFAR. Another key P2 member who was a Knight was Count Umberto Ortolani, a member of the SMOM's ruling inner council, and a veteran of Mussolini's counterespionage service. Some say he was the real brains behind P2, and he did sponsor the entrance of P2 boss Licio Gelli into the SMOM. Ortolani was a financier who, among other things, owned the second-largest bank in Uruguay, where he commanded enormous influence; the fascist Gelli had been in exile in Ibero-America until higher powers brought him back to Italy in the early 1960s to set up what became the P2 lodge. As with any organization, not all of its members are guilty, and sometimes not even witting of the organization's crimes. In this case, however, given the nature of the beast, that would be relatively rare. Besides the repeated surfacing of SMOM members in terrorist-related activities near the end of World War II, one of their more recent operations illustrates the organization's essential nature.
In 1978, following hard upon the assassinations of Dresdner Bank head Jürgen Ponto, German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, and Aldo Moro, the Knights of Malta were caught red-handed coordinating an assassination operation against Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. LaRouche was the intellectual author of the Bremen summit of that year, where French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and British Prime Minister James Callaghan (the last under duress) signed the Bremen Communiqué, which announced the formation of the European Monetary System. The EMS, in the words of one West German official, was intended to be "the seed crystal of a new world monetary system." Bremen struck horror into the hearts of the world's oligarchy. Said one senior officer of the Banque Bruxelles-Lambert, owned by the Belgian Rothschilds, "It is recognized that it was LaRouche's program that went through at Bremen. If it goes through now, certain important financial centers are going to lose their power. A lot of people are not going to like that." The director of a Knights-run institute in Belgium was more succinct: "LaRouche is the first enemy of the London group." In New York, Knight Henry S. Bloch, director of Warburg, Pincus investment bank, whose hands investigators discovered to be holding many of the strings of the plot, proclaimed LaRouche to be "very dangerous," and pointedly compared him to Malcolm X, assassinated in 1965.
In their investigations of the SMOM, LaRouche's associates "discovered to their surprise that the mere mention of its name inspires awe and terror in the minds of highly placed government officials, central bankers, senior military and business leaders, and senior diplomatic and intelligence executives," as recorded in a pamphlet issued by the LaRouche organization at the time, "The `Black International' Terrorist Assassination Plot to Kill Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr." The pamphlet further reported, "The power that the Order concentrates is primarily financial, through direct control of most of the Western world's leading investment houses" and far, far more. The pamphlet also noted, "A second source of power is an absolutely unmatched intelligence capability." Which is to say, the SMOM is a leading organizational arm of the Synarchy, bringing together the world's leading aristocrats, financiers, and particularly military and intelligence officials. Its members yearn for the ultramontane world which existed before the rise of sovereign nation-states during the Renaissance, which meant a loss of power and privilege of their families. To them, that vanished world is as if yesterday. Indeed, it has by no means entirely disappeared, but lives on, centered—like the Knights themselves—on the Venetian-descended "independent central banks" of virtually every nation in the world, as LaRouche has emphasized. The Knights of St. John were founded in the late 11th Century, and rose to prominence in the First Crusade of 1095. In 1120, Pope Urban II officially recognized them as a military religious order, and for centuries they remained one of the most powerful military forces in Christendom, first from their headquarters on the island of Rhodes, and then on Malta, from which they were finally driven by Napoleon in the late 18th Century. The Knights were recognized as a sovereign state by a Hapsburg Emperor in the 16th Century. They remain a sovereign state, run from their headquarters at 68 Via Condotti in Rome. They maintain their own fleet of aircraft, have diplomatic relations with 92 nations as well as the United Nations and the Holy See, and enjoy diplomatic immunity. The order is entirely Roman Catholic, and its higher ranks must document an aristocratic lineage and coat-of-arms of at least three centuries. The Grand Master of the order is both a secular prince, and a cardinal of the Church. Reflecting its history, its membership is still heavily comprised of individuals with a military or intelligence background. Pope Pius XII ordered an investigation of this nominally Catholic organization in the 1950s. The Papal Commission charged, among other things, that the Order should not have the sovereignty of a state, and ordered modifications of the SMOM "to bring them into conformity with decisions of the Holy See." However, Pius XII died before the Order could be fully reined in. In addition to the Roman Catholic SMOM, there are four Protestant orders of the Knights, all founded within the last 150 years or so, and all run by ruling houses of Europe. The Roman Catholic and Protestant orders effectively merged on Nov. 26, 1963, four days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Sovereign Head of the British Knights is Queen Elizabeth, while the Netherlands Knights were headed until his death by the former SS official, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, consort of Queen Juliana. In 1927, the Rome-based SMOM authorized the establishment of an American chapter, whose members did not have to prove their aristocratic lineage. Its Treasurer and lay controller was John J. Raskob, the bitterly anti-FDR head of the Democratic National Committee, who in 1934 helped finance a coup attempt against Roosevelt. Its Grand Protector and Spiritual Advisor was Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, one of whose closest Cold War associates was Time/Life publisher and Congress for Cultural Freedom co-founder Henry Luce. Another Knight, who played a profound role in Italy's postwar financial, economic and political history was Prince Massimo Spada, the leading lay financier of the Vatican's Institute for Religious Works, commonly called the "Vatican Bank." Spada gave the mafia-connected heroin launderer and later P2 financier Michele Sindona his entrée into the Vatican's finances, which, given the tax-sheltered, sovereign status of the Church within Italy (as negotiated in the 1929 Concordat between Mussolini and the Holy See), was invaluable for running all kinds of dirty operations. However, in examining the Vatican, one must always be careful to ask, "Whose Vatican? That of all the modern popes? Or that of the black aristocracy?" And to really unravel that question, insofar as it intersects Ortolani, Gelli, Calvi, Spada, and their "Vatican-connected" associates, and the deeper, "permanent" infrastructure of terror in Italy, one must delve deeply into history, particularly that of Venice, to understand the enormous power still wielded by those whom Pope John Paul I, called "the ancients," during the time he was Patriarch of Venice. After all, as LaRouche has stressed, those "ancients" of Venice have given us the modern Anglo-Dutch parliamentary system, with its privately controlled central banks, and the Synarchy's present drive for world rule. Under Anglo-American direction, those Venetian "ancients" also brought Mussolini to power in the first place, and then organized the financial world of the Vatican, into which Ortolani, Gelli, Calvi et al. were inserted.
The Legacy of History: The Venetian Factor In 1582, the 40 or so families which controlled the vast fortunes and far-flung intelligence capabilities of Venice, split into two factions: the nuovi (the "new" houses, or families) and the vecchi (the "old" houses). On the surface, the appellations seemed to refer to those families ennobled since the serrata, the closing of the Grand Council in 1297, who were called the nuovi; whereas those who had already held titles of nobility, were the vecchi. In fact, the upheaval was the result of the establishment of sovereign nation-states for the first time in history, as a consequence of the Renaissance. The city-state of Venice, never more than 200,000 people, could not stand against the new powers that were coming into being, founded to promote the Common Good of their citizenry; the sheer numbers, the science and technology, the military power, were too much for even the powerful and devious masters of La Serenissima (as Venice is famously called). The nuovi realized that, notwithstanding the bloody religious warfare which Venice had unleashed in Europe following the failure of the League of Cambrai to defeat Venice in 1511, its days were ultimately numbered. They took several strategic actions. First, under the leadership of Paolo Sarpi, they created the philosophy of empiricism, as a sense-certainty-based fraud whose purpose was to destroy the creative method of Platonic hypothesizing. Second, also under Sarpi's leadership, they launched a fierce war against the Vatican, posing as the bastion of "enlightened" Europe against obscurantist Rome. Third, they brought the newly emerging Protestant powers England and Holland (whose rise came largely thanks to Venice itself), into what had always been the cornerstone of Venice's fortunes—its trade with the East Indies. The Venetians founded the British East India Company in 1600 (from a merger of the England-based Venice Company and the Turkey Company) and the Dutch East India Company in 1602, and the wealth derived from this trade helped create or enrich a number of great aristocratic families in both countries, along the Venetian model. And, as LaRouche has often emphasized, the British East India Company became the foremost power in the world in 1763, in the wake of the British-rigged Seven Years' War among contending European powers, in the classic Venetian "divide and conquer" method. Fourth, they moved much of their fortunes (and even some of their families) north, first into Holland, and then into England, where they created what would be known in the 18th Century as "the Venetian Party." As part of this, they established the famous Wisselbank (Exchange Bank) of Amsterdam in 1609—the most powerful bank in the world—modelled upon their own private, patrician-controlled banks, followed by the Bank of England in 1694, both serving as the models upon which all central banks have been established since then. In part because of these redeployments, Venice's financial power remained huge well into the 18th Century, as did its legendary spy system, brilliantly chronicled by Friedrich Schiller in his novella Der Geisterseher (The Ghost-Seer), and American intelligence operative James Fenimore Cooper in his novel The Bravo.8 Barings Bank in England, the bank of the British East India Company, for instance, was the vehicle for Venetian funds in Britain, and was at the center of the "Venetian Party," together with the Bank of England. Napoleon Bonaparte had been partially sponsored and funded by Venetian and Genoese families: The Genoese Princess Pallavicini of that era famously punned that her family owned "la buona parte"—"the best part"—of him. His Corsican family had been retainers for the Genoese and Venetian nobility for centuries; and, as noted above, his favorite sister married a Borghese. When Napoleon's ravages had ended, Count Giovanni Capodistria, a Venetian nobleman acting as a government minister of Russia, almost single-handledly wrote the essential documents issued by the 1814-15 Congress of Vienna, which established the ultra-reactionary Holy Alliance. Capodistria also pulled together the modern nation of Switzerland, in part as a repository for Venetian family funds (fondi), which were also used to found several insurance companies in the late 18th Century. These later included the Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà (RAS) and the Assicurazioni Generali di Venezia e Trieste.9
At the turn of the 20th Century, the "ancients" of Venice, although diminished, still commanded important financial and intelligence power, both on their own behalf, but also because they deployed as part of the British- (and subsequently Anglo-American-) dominated world which their ancestors had created. In the wake of the split/redeployments of 1582, they cloned themselves and their institutions and methods to dominate northern Protestant, often freemasonic Europe, while they still maintained their power in their historic seats of control in the formerly Hapsburg-ruled southern, more Catholic portions of Europe, in particular in Italy and Spain, and in the Church at Rome. They played a crucial role in organizing the Balkan Wars which laid the immediate basis for World War I, for which Britain's King Edward VII had schemed for decades. In the early 20th Century, a group of Venetian financier patricians, led by Count Piero Foscari of an ancient family of Venetian Doges, established a number of companies and banks. Chief among the latter, was the Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI), and in particular its Venice branch.10 Though Foscari was the undisputed leader of this Venetian group, its most active public figure was Giuseppe Volpi, later known as Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, after his early-1920s rule of Italian-occupied Libya on behalf of Mussolini. Acting as the point-man for an international financial syndicate including the Bank of England, the Mellons, and the House of Morgan, Volpi organized Mussolini's rise to power, precisely as Schacht did later for those same forces in installing Hitler in Germany. Volpi was Mussolini's Finance Minister from 1925 to July 1928, following which he became a member of the Grand Council of Fascism, and, in 1934, chairman of the Industrialists Association. He designed Mussolini's economic doctrine of corporatism along the model originally laid down by Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842-1909), the founder of the Synarchy of Empire movement, and the inspiration for the Martinist freemasonic lodges through which the modern Synarchy was organized. Nominally a tripartite pact among corporations, the state, and labor, it was basically rule by corporations, i.e., private financiers. In 1929, Volpi oversaw the famous Concordat between Italy and the Vatican, in which, among other things, Italy recognized the Vatican as a sovereign state, and paid financial compensation for the Papal States in central Italy which it had taken over in the second half of the 19th Century. The compensation was 1,550 billion liras, a sizeable sum at the time. One Bernardino Nogara was chosen, seemingly "out of the blue," to manage this fortune. The prominent American diplomat George Kennan wrote in his Memoirs: 1925-1950 about the extraordinary power commanded by Nogara: "A so-called `mystery man,' an Italian banker by the name of Bernardino Nogara, had been granted sole control by the papacy over the entire fortune of $92.1 million the church had received from the Lateran treaty. . . . No Vatican official, not even the Pope himself was allowed veto power over Nogara's decision. Nor would the banker permit any religious or doctrinal policies of the church to stand in his way. . . . Never before in modern Church history had anyone been granted such sweeping authority by the church, not even popes themselves, with all their supposed infallibility, let alone a layman, and non-Catholic (Jewish), as in Nogara's case." His impact on the Church may also be judged by the epitaph delivered upon his death in 1958 by the head of the SMOM in America, New York's Cardinal Spellman: "Next to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing to happen to the Catholic Church is Bernardino Nogara." Whether or not he was Jewish, the "mystery man" was no mystery at all. Nogara had been managing director for a Venetian firm run by Foscari, Volpi, et al. in the Ottoman Empire already back in 1901. Reflecting his Venetian ties, Nogara became Italy's representative on the Ottoman Debt Council, a sort of IMF for the Ottoman Empire, whose purpose was to bleed it and carve it up. The British sponsored freemasonic lodges in Salonika, from which the "Young Turks" were organized to oust the Sultan. The freemason Volpi was intimately involved in the coup, as, undoubtedly, was Nogara. Nogara was the head of theBCI branch in Istanbul, and was Volpi's chief intelligence agent in the Ottoman Empire until that empire disappeared in the World War I which Volpi and his friends had done so much to help organize, through the masonic lodges and through Venice's ancient financial and familial ties in the Balkans. After Nogara had been chosen Delegate of the Special Administration (later known as the Administration of the Holy See Patrimony) to oversee the investment of the wealth flowing from the Concordat, he became vice president of the BCI, upon whose postwar premises the P2 lodge would be founded. Nogara established intimate financial relations with the cream of the Synarchy, including the Paris and London Rothschilds, Crédit Suisse, Hambros Bank in London, J.P. Morgan Bank, and the Bankers Trust Company in New York, and the Paris-centered Banque de Paris et des Pay Bas (Paribas), a stronghold of the Synarchy in France in the interwar and postwar years. He also promoted a cadre of uomini di fiducia, "men of confidence," Vatican lay Catholic or even non-Catholic financiers, who would oversee the enormous new Vatican holdings. Nogara bought large or controlling interests in dozens of major banks, utilities, insurance companies, and industrial corporations, even as he reorganized previous Vatican holdings, such as the "Catholic banks" which were generally Catholic-owned, and which did business with the Church and its officials, as opposed to the "secular" banks. The most important of these "men of confidence" was Prince Massimo Spada (a Vatican title), who had been inducted as a Knight of Malta in 1944. Spada either chaired or sat on the board of an astounding array of the holdings Nogara purchased. Noting only a few of the more important (and their capital), as of the late 1960s, these included: He was vice-president of the Banco di Roma (one of Italy's largest banks, historically associated with Rome's black nobility), and sat on the board of its Swiss subsidiary; Italy's biggest domestic gas company, Società Italiana per il Gas (37,412 million liras); president of the Trieste-based Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà insurance company (4.320 billion liras); vice president and managing director of the L'Assicuratrice Italiana; vice president of both the Unione Subalpina di Assicurazioni and of the Lavoro e Sicurtà (750 million liras); Shell Italiana, the Italian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell (129 billion liras invested in Italy); vice president of the Istituto Bancario Italiano (10 billion liras) and the Credito Commerciale di Cremona (2 billion liras); board member of the Banca Privata Finanzaria; board member of the huge financial holding companies, Società Meridionale Finanziaria (122 billion liras) and the Istituto Centrale Finanziario (150 million liras); vice president of the Finanzaria Industriale e Commerciale; president of the Banca Cattolica del Veneto (3 billion liras); board of directors of FINSIDER, a state-controlled holding company (195 billion liras), which is part of IRI, the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale, formed during the Fascist regime, which constituted the country's largest cartel and controlled the biggest shipyards; the Italia shipping line; Alitalia airlines; Alfa Romeo; and the entire telephone system. FINSIDER produced at the time over 90% of Italy's steel and was the backbone of IRI. Spada was also a board member or executive of dozens more banks, insurance, and industrial companies. In 1963 he was appointed Privy Chamberlain of Sword and Cape, one of the highest of all Vatican titles, one also held by his brother Filippo.11 With all of this enormous power, and despite his leading position in the Catholic Church, Spada sponsored the rise of Michele Sindona as one of the Vatican's "men of confidence." His choice was most peculiar, not only because Sindona had been a Fascist during the war, but because during that time he had made connections (through American OSS-connected mobster Vito Genovese) to the Inzerillo and Gambino crime families, for whom he laundered heroin money. Reviewing the picture sketched above, we thus find that an intricate financial web originally woven by Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata and his Venetian aristocratic friends and associates such as Bernardino Nogara, had grown by 1960 to include Michele Sindona, who financed one of Gladio's most important assets, the "Black Prince" Borghese. Sindona also "was one of the channels, perhaps one of the most important, to back up" the attempted coups of 1970-74, as Greene and Massignani put it. Sindona later sponsored the rise of Banco Ambrosiano's Roberto Calvi, the P2 financier who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982, in a ritualistic masonic murder. And, when the P2 financial scandals exploded, one of those arrested as a key figure in them, was Massimo Spada, the protégé of Volpi's friend Nogara. The membership of the ostensibly Catholic—and therefore ostensibly anti-freemasonic—Rome-centered SMOM overlapped with the freemasonic, presumably "anti-clerical" P2 lodge; they were the "twins" of Italy's Venice-centered oligarchy. The privately run international monetary system is now collapsing, and the desperate financial oligarchy is trying to consolidate a new, worldwide fascism, driven by new waves of terror, such as 9/11 and the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid. In this context, much of the superstructure of Gladio is finally being exposed by those opposed to this new fascism. Those exposés are essential. But, we must go still deeper, to lift the veil from "the ancients," and through them from the Synarchy to which they have given birth, of which they remain a crucial component.