CIA-MI6 planned to assassinate Syrian leaders in 1957
Flashback; a Guardian article provides documentary evidence of a conspiracy. It cites a report, found by Matthew Jones, a specialist in British and US postwar foreign policy at the University of London, in the private papers of Duncan Sandys, Macmillan’s defence secretary, setting out the nuts and bolts of a plan, including proposed assassinations
A document was drawn up in Washington by the top echelons of the CIA and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as MI6 was then called. It shows that they planned to use agents provocateurs to launch a series of incidents. These events would create political turmoil to provide a pretext by Syria’s pro-Western neighbours to mount an invasion in support of the government’s right-wing opponents.
A key element of the plan was to assassinate three leading figures:
Abd al-Hamid, head of Syrian military intelligence, Afif al-Bizri, the pro-Soviet chief of staff, and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist Party.
The report was quite plain. It stated, “In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about desired action in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals.
The removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light of the circumstances existing at the time.”
“Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.
“The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid overlapping or interfering with each other’s activities… Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”