Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Secret Career as KGB Double Spy and Agent

The passing of a high-profile figure left over from another century happened serendipitously in the week that two of its two darkest shadows were conjured up by Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, when he said that the West and Russia “have slid into a new Cold War,” and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who described the Syrian war as a “third World War by other means.”
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Egyptian Christian Copt, who became the first Arab UN Secretary General, died quietly in a Giza hospital, Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the age of 93, as a respected diplomat in honorable retirement.
A live wire in the stormy events of the 1990s – the break-up of Yugoslavia, famine and genocides in Africa and Middle East peacemaking – he managed to keep his secret life as a faithful Russian spy and double agent under deep cover, while dabbling in them all.
The UN Security Council, which honored his death with a minute’s silence, may have hesitated had its members known about top-secret CIA File No. KG-84-HJ. which covered his clandestine career.
While at school in Alexandria of the 1930s, fate first knocked on his door. Among his classmates were two Jewish youths who grew up to become important Russian Communist spies.
Henri Curiel (1914-1978), who founded Egypt’s communist party, was also one of the fathers of modern counterintelligence, the first 20th century spymaster who reverted to the old method of human couriers, as the safest form of clandestine communications and proof against code breakers and electronic eavesdroppers.
George Blake, aka George Bechar, the name given him by a father whom no one but Curiel knew was Jewish, became one of the KGB’s most successful spies, associate of the notorious Cambridge Four (Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt), before he was caught by the British.
He escaped a British prison in 1966 and lives in Moscow up until the present day.
Boutros-Ghali was never caught or exposed to any kind of notoriety.
However, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence experts can offer a brief glimpse at a chapter or two of his checkered dual career during which he pulled the wool over the eyes of four US presidents.
1. In the late 1980s, when the Russian occupation of Afghanistan was on its last legs, the FBI and the CIA developed a new version of its PROMIS software to identify Soviet spies buried as moles in US intelligence agencies. This version was run only twice. The first test run in 1988, codenamed “Play Actor,” found 28 names. The second one the following year codenamed “Skylight” uncovered 198 names.
Boutros-Ghali’s name turned up on both lists.
2. In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, then President of Russia was vacationing at a Black Sea villa, when a coup was mounted against him by Kremlin security bosses, to prevent him signing a treaty for turning the dying Soviet Union into a confederation. Boutros-Ghali was one of the secret plotters. Gorbachev found himself under house arrest, cut off from the outside world and about to be pushed aside in favor of the head of the KGB’s foreign intelligence branch.
CIA Director Robert Gates (later Defense Secretary) was charged with cooperating with the emerging Russian leadership to save the falling Soviet empire from slipping out of reach. Aware of Boutros-Ghali’s secret role in the coup and his undercover Russian connections, Gates asked him to act as liaison between the CIA and his KGB masters. Moscow headquarters gave the Egyptian spy the go-head for the mission, which was codenamed by the US agency “Alpha Program.”
This program gained immediacy as the Soviet Union sank into chaos and Gorbachev’s democratic reforms, plus the burden of the Afghanistan war, threatened the Russian economy with catastrophic breakdown.
The coup eventually failed, due to the unexpected rise of Boris Yeltsin, who seized the moment to snatch control of the political scene in Moscow.
The Egyptian diplomat-spy’s underhand intervention in other events was less benign. His machinations were instrumental in the disastrous outcome for America of three episodes in the 1990s: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the humiliating US debacle in Somalia of October 1993 (later a book and film titled “Black Hawk Down”) and the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

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