Was Permindex Involved in Plotting the Assassination of French President Charles de Gaulle?
Updated: Apr 17
The Mostra dell'Arte Moderna building during the Permindex show-case, 1960. After the installation of the lights, the word Trade Center stands out (ASFE42 2638 – EUR SpA Historical Photographic Archive)
Many conspiracy books allege that Permindex was involved in an assassination attempt on President Charles de Gaulle of France. Let's have a look at what these books say and examine their sources.
James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes: (page 386 in the Kindle edition)
There were at least four international newspapers that exposed the bizarre activities of Permindex when it was in Rome. One problem was the mysterious source of funding: no one knew where it was coming from or going to. Another was that its activities reportedly included assassination attempts on French Premier Charles de Gaulle. Which would make sense since the founding member of Permindex, Ferenc Nagy, was a close friend of Jacques Soustelle. Soustelle was a leader of the OAS, a group of former French officers who broke with de Gaulle over his Algerian policy. They later made several attempts on de Gaulle’s life, which the CIA was privy to. Again, this mysterious source of funding, plus the rightwing, neo-Fascist directors created another wave of controversy. One newspaper wrote that the organization may have been “a creature of the CIA … set up as a cover for the transfer of CIA … funds in Italy for illegal political-espionage activities.”
DiEugenio says that Permindex's activities "reportedly included assassination attempts on French Premier Charles de Gaulle."
His source is William Davy's book, Let Justice Be Done, page 99. Here is what Davy wrote:
However, one newspaper, that enjoys a better reputation, reportedly published an expose' linking PERMINDEX with the assassination attempts on French President, Charles deGaulle. In the spring of 1962, Les Echos (the French equivalent of the Wall Street Journal) ran several news and editorial reports of deGaulle's accusations of PERMINDEX involvement in many of the attempts on his life. (Since I have not seen the newspaper articles in question, I cannot comment directly on the veracity of the report). However, it seems quite clear that there was a link between PERMINDEX and the French assassination attempts.
Here is his footnote for these allegations: (page 298)
Executive Intelligence Review, Dope, Inc., (Washington D.C: Executive Intelligence Review, 1992.), p. 528, n.4. NOTE: I use this reference with much reluctance. I cannot, in all honesty, support most of the wild conclusions in this book. Therefore, I urge caution on the part of the reader. If there are any researchers with access to French newspaper archives, tracking this down would be a worthy project.
This is an astounding footnote! Davy references a Lyndon LaRouche publication, Dope, Inc., which claimed the British Royal family, the Kennedys and others were involved in worldwide dope smuggling. He then tells his readers that they should perhaps check French newspaper archives!
And this was good enough for James DiEugenio!
Here is what Dope, Inc., says in its 1978 edition:
By the way, here is what a later edition of Dope, Inc says: (the one referenced by Davy)
The only sources I can see are to Paese Sera and there is a footnote on page 528 that says, "see also Les Echos during spring 1962 for numerous news and editorial references to Permindex's role in the assassination attempts against President de Gaulle."
Interesting how no one can actually give a firm date for an article in Les Echos. And no once can source that SDECE study.
By the way, Louis Bloomfield, slandered by Dope, Inc., was so alarmed that he wrote the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP):
Most of the material in Dope, Inc. comes from the Torbitt Document, a notorious 'memorandum' which trafficked in the most ridiculous conspiracy theories. Here is what it says about Permindex and de Gaulle:
A group of Fascist French generals dedicated to keeping Algeria as a French colony were the middle group in the 1961 and 1962 assassination attempts on French General DeGaulle. A French colonel, Bastien Thiery, commanded the 1962 group of professional assassins who made the actual assassination attempt on DeGaulle. Colonel Thiery set his group of assassins up at an intersection in the suburbs of Paris in this final attempt in 1962 to kill DeGaulle. The gunmen fired more than one hundred rounds in the 1962 Colonel Thiery assassination attempt. But General DeGaulle, traveling in his bullet proof car, evaded being hit, although all of the tires were shot out. The driver increased his speed and the General was saved.
Colonel Bastien Thiery was arrested, tried and executed for the attempt on DeGaulle's life but he was the breaking point between the operating level of that assassination attempt and the people financing and planning it and he went to his death without revealing the connection. General DeGaulle's intelligence, however traced the financing of his attempted assassination into the FBI's Permindex in Switzerland and Centro Mondiale Commerciale in Rome, and he complained to both the governments of Switzerland and Italy causing Permindex to lose its charter and Centro Mondiale Comerciale to be forced to move to Johannesburg, South Africa.
General DeGaulle was furious at the assassination plots and attempted assassination upon himself. He called in his most trusted officers with the French Intelligence Agency and they advised him that they were already working on the investigation to ferret out who was behind DeGaulle's attempted assassination. The French Intelligence Agency in a very short while completely traced the assassination attempt through Permindex, the Swiss corporation, to the Solidarists, the Fascist White Russian emigre intelligence organization and Division Five, the espionage section of the FBI, into the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Belgium. French intelligence thus determined that the attempts on General DeGaulle's life were being directed from NATO in Brussels through its various intelligence organizations and specifically, Permindex in Switzerland, basically a NATO intelligence front using the remnants of Adolph Hitler's intelligence units in West Germany and also, the intelligence unit of the Solidarists headquartered in Munich, Germany.
Of course, nothing is sourced in the Torbitt document.
JFK researcher Jean Davison, author of the superb Oswald's Game, commented on this on John McAdams JFK assassination forum:
If Charles de Gaulle actually said that a CIA front called Permindex plotted to kill him, as some claim, this should've been big news in France and elsewhere, doncha think? I've looked at a stack of books on de Gaulle in a university library and couldn't find *any* that listed Permindex or "Centro Mondiale Commerciale" in its index or in its discussion of the assassination attempts against de Gaulle. I don't see credible evidence that he ever said this.
Joan Mellen, in her book A Farewell to Justice, writes: (page 136 - 137 in the Kindle edition)
CIA had, in fact, founded PERMINDEX to organize its political policymaking. In Italy, this had meant opposition to a coalition of socialists and communists that would have resulted in a majority government. The CIA preferred the Christian Democratic Party and so CIA Counter Intelligence chief James Angleton filtered ten million dollars of CIA money to the Christian Democrats. In Les Echos newspaper, de Gaulle named PERMINDEX as having been involved in the attempt on his life. The French, no less than the Italians, considered PERMINDEX a “subsidiary of the CIA.” Paese Sera would call PERMINDEX “a creature of the CIA … set up as a cover for the transfer of CIA funds in Italy for illegal political espionage activities.”
There is no footnote in her book about when the allegation might have been in Les Echos.
Paris Flammonde, in his book The Kennedy Conspiracy, writes: (page 217)
Ferenc Nagy, who, while premier of Hungary, was "compelled by Communists in key government positions to expel from his party various of its members who had been arrested for plotting ... against the government," and who, while on a trip to Switzerland on May 29, 1947, telephoned his resignation to Budapest, moved in shadowy areas of finance and politics. "President of Permindex and Board Member of the CMC," reports Paese Sera, " [he] was said by the French press to be a munificent contributor to the philo-fascistic movement of [Jacques} Soustelle, and [a] patron of far-right movements throughout Europe, including Italy."
His source for all of this is Paese Sera.
Jim Garrison also mentions the allegation in his book On the Trail of the Assassins: (pages 117 - 118 in the Kindle edition)
As for Permindex, which Clay Shaw also served as a director, the Italian press revealed that it had, among other things, secretly financed the opposition of the French Secret Army Organization (O.A.S.) to President DeGaulle’s support for independence for Algeria, including its reputed assassination attempts on DeGaulle. This observation, had we known about it in 1967, would have brought us full-circle all the way back to the blimp base at Houma, Louisiana, where David Ferrie and others from Guy Banister’s operation repossessed the munitions from the Schlumberger bunker which the C.I.A. earlier had given to the assassination-minded O.A.S. It would certainly have helped our case against Shaw to have been able to link him definitively with the C.I.A. Unfortunately, however, with our limited staff and finances, and many leads to follow, our investigation was not able to uncover any of this crucial background information when we needed it most.
Garrison's source is "the Italian press" which was Paese Sera, and he also references two books in Italian about American interference in Italy. They probably discuss the Paese Sera articles. Garrison also bizarrely lists Robert Morrow's book Betrayal as a source. In that book Morrow even spells Permindex as Permidex (an error from one of the Le Devoir articles which took the error from Pravda).
Of course, Garrison is wrong about his knowledge of the Paese Sera allegations. He knew about them right after the articles appeared.
Another book with the same allegation about Permindex is JFK: The Documented Screenplay, which this source for the scene in which Garrison shows Shaw a clipping from the Italian press: (page 83)
Paese Sera article, Mar. 4, 1967: Rome-based Centro Mondo [sic] Commerciale and its Swiss affiliate Permindex were ostensibly trade organizations whose purpose was to “aid in the establishing of a permanent exposition and generally assist in terms involving trade.” [Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p. 215.] In 1962, Charles de Gaulle drew attention to Permindex, publicly accusing it of raising funds for the Secret Army Organization (OAS) that tried on several occasions to assassinate him. [Marrs, Crossfire, p. 499; see also Le Devoir, Mar. 16, 1967; Torbitt, Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal, p. 17-21; and “Permindex: Britain’s International Assassination Bureau,” Executive Intelligence Review, Nov. 14, 1981.]
What a collection of sources! Flammonde and Le Devoir got their material from Paese Sera. The Torbitt document and the LaRouchian publication, Executive Intelligence Review, just made stuff up.
What does Paese Sera itself say about this allegation. Here is an excerpt from their March 4, 1967, article:
The March 6, 1967, edition of Paese Sera was more specific:
Now, it is Permindex who is financing Soustelle and the OAS.
So, this all started in Paese Sera. The Torbitt document and then the LaRouchians took this to a new level with a specific charge about Permindex and the assassination of de Gaulle.
Welcome to the fantasy world of conspiracy theorists.
Here is a .pdf of the Torbitt document.
Previous Relevant Blog Posts on Permindex
Did Permindex Move to South Africa After it was 'Forced' to Leave Italy?
Permindex went bankrupt; it was not forced out of Italy, and it did not relocate to South Africa.
State Department Documents on Permindex
The complete set of State Department documents on Permindex.
Chris Peeks interviews me about Permindex.
James DiEugenio Gets it all Wrong on Permindex/CMC
Conspiracy theorists mislead people on Permindex/CMC.
"Coup in Dallas" - The Story of a Factoid
Many books maintain that the President of Permindex, Ferenc Nagy, lived in Dallas in 1963. He actually lived in Herndon, Virginia.
Was Permindex Running an Assassination Bureau?
Was Montreal lawyer Louis Bloomfield running an assassination bureau?
Conspiracy Nonsense Snared a Canadian
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