- Editor's Note
This issue begins with an article by Ariane Knüsel discussing the counterintelligence operations of the Swiss Federal Police against spies working for the People's Republic of China (PRC) during the Cold War. Because Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to recognize the PRC's Communist regime as the government of China, Chinese intelligence services used the PRC's diplomatic outpost in Bern and consulate general in Geneva for political and commercial espionage throughout Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. The role of counterintelligence in Cold War Europe has received little scholarly attention, and the role of Swiss counterintelligence has been largely ignored, in part because of lack of archival access. Knüsel shows that even though Switzerland embraced neutrality in its foreign policy, the Swiss Federal Police worked closely with Western counterintelligence agencies to counter and disrupt espionage by Chinese and Soviet-bloc agents. This cooperation was undertaken quietly to avoid controversy, but it proved to be highly beneficial for all parties involved.
The next article, by Toby Matthiesen, looks at the role of the Communist Party of Saudi Arabia (CPSA) in the politics of the Middle East during the Cold War. Saudi Arabia, as the site of the two holiest places in Islam under the rule of a brutal Islamic regime, was not the most propitious site for a pro-Soviet Communist Party to take root. Yet, even though the CPSA was small and faced severe repression, it functioned from 1975 through the end of the Cold War as the only orthodox Marxist-Leninist party in the Middle East. Because the Soviet Union had no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia until 1990 and therefore had no embassy, Soviet support of the CPSA (financial and otherwise) came through various channels tied to international far-left organizations. Soviet and East German links with the CPSA were especially close, and CPSA delegations regularly came to events and consultations in the USSR and East Germany. Defying harsh strictures in Saudi Arabia, the CPSA sought to recruit women into its activities and also worked with the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia, including during the November 1979 rebellion in the country's Eastern Province. The failure of that uprising, and the reprisals that ensued, did not initially paralyze the CPSA, but in 1982 the Saudi regime launched a devastating crackdown on the Communists and an allied far-left party. From exile, CPSA leaders continued to build ties with Soviet-bloc parties and to build new networks within Saudi Arabia, but the party's concrete effectiveness after the 1982 crackdown was much reduced, especially in light of the rise of an ultra-Islamist reform movement known as Sahwa (Awakening), which increasingly became the locus of opposition activity. The waning and end of the Cold War, the demise of the Soviet bloc, and the gradual emergence of other peaceful reform movements further accelerated the CPSA's disintegration. [End Page 1]
The next article, by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, shows how and why the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) secretly convinced the leaders of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) that one of their party's top members, William Albertson, was an FBI informant. The rumors the FBI circulated about Albertson were untrue, but CPUSA General Secretary Gus Hall and other leading party officials were duped into believing that Albertson was betraying them. Hence, despite Albertson's strong denials of culpability, he was expelled from the party. Only recently, with the declassification of the FBI's Operation Solo files, has it become possible to understand why the FBI framed Albertson. Haynes and Klehr demonstrate that the false rumors not only stoked disarray in the CPUSA's highest ranks but also, more importantly, protected the identities of two real informants, Morris Childs and Jack Childs, who were among Hall's closest confidants. For some 25 years, from 1952 through 1977, the Childs brothers provided extremely sensitive information to the FBI about the inner workings of the CPUSA, including the party's financial and political links with the Soviet Union. This relationship was formalized as Operation Solo from 1958 to 1977. Two leaks to the press in April 1964 threatened...