Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Why Palme Assassination Suspect Gunnarsson Was Murdered

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Writing the history of anything requires essentially the same process - adopting a method for studying a subject, amassing evidence which either proves or disproves the approach, and then writing up the findings in a way which are persuasive with those knowledgeable about the matter. Whether one is dealing with a most routine event or a most esoteric object, the task is the same. The only serious problems which can radically alter the process are when sources of crucial information either choose not to disclose important actions and information or the recorders of the results plot to distort the findings in writing up the conclusions.

While scientific and technical distortions of histories are legion - it is easy to manufacture data and results to prove almost any hypothesis - ones regarding society are much more difficult to achieve because they are much more rarely attempted successfully. In most questions regarding the world, there is a mass of evidence pertaining to them, and all controversial claims are subjected to a barrage of complaints from all kinds of perspectives and perceptions. Claims that the Holocaust never occurred, and the 2000 election for the US Presidency was not stolen by George W. Bush's Republicans come readily to mind.

The only exception is in the area of intelligence and covert operations where the governments concerned continuously refuse to acknowledge even the most obvious activities for all kinds of reasons, leaving historians largely in the dark about where to start and how to proceed in any history. The shortage of possible ideas and evidence to support them is nowhere more prevalent when one tries to write a history of a process which went terrible wrong. Here authorities will act as if no such process even occurred. Consequently, claims that the Dallas assassination of President Kennedy was the result of a botched conspiracy, or that Dr. David Kelly was assassinated by a similar process are harder to get even a hearing for, much less a favorable verdict by the public.

A good, recent example of historians failing to put together the strands of a similar process occurred when Viktor Gunnarsson, the first suspect in the assassination of Swedish statsminister Olof Palme
in Stockholm on February 28, 1986, was himself murdered outside Boone, North Carolina, during the early morning of December 4, 1993. Just before the killing, Borge Wingren, a former Swedish police inspector, had written a book, entitled He Killed Olof Palme - naming Gunnarsson, who often boasted of having committed the crime, as the statsminister's shooter - and now, it seemed, he had finally gotten what he most deserved.

Gunnarsson was a neo-Nazi, with all kinds of connections to covert operators, especially in the Central Intelligence Agency. Well before Palme's assassination, he established a Stockholm branch of the European Workers' Party (EWP), a right-wing group, despite its name, founded by the infamous Lyndon LaRouche. It was known for putting up posters around the Swedish capital, contrasting Palme's mentor, Tage Erlander, as the nation's father (landsfader) with his former secretary, Palme, the nation's betrayer (landsförrädare). For eliminating such vermin, LaRouche's group recommended vigorous applications of DDT.

In the fall of 1985, Gunnarsson went to an EWP convention in London, an assembly that the famous Soviet military historian, Edinbrugh's Professor John Erickson, helped put together for finally helping arrange the downfall of the USSR. Erickson, given the unprecedented contacts he had developed with the Soviets, especially in the Red Army, in helping Cornelius Ryan research The Last Battle, and in writing his own magisterial Stalin's War with Germany, had concluded that time had finally run out on the USSR's attempt to contain America's 'deterrence by puishment' through its bridgehead in Scandinavia by Russia's defense in depth - what he elaborated on in his 1985 article "The Soviet View of Deterrence: A General Survey."

And Gunnarsson came back from the conference to help arrange conditions on the ground in Stockholm by providing deceptions for the real assassin, an agent of former SAS Major David Walker's KMS firm, whose shooting was to provide the trigger for the whole operation. While Erickson came to Stockholm, demanding that Palme do something to stop Soviet intrusions into Swedish territory, Gunnarson did everything he could to make it look as if he was preparing to kill Palme. By now, a reasonable shot with a pistol, thanks to weapons training he had had with some US Marines from the Embassy in a basement of a house in a Stockholm suburb, Gunnarson told his girl friend that the statsminister would be shot with ammunition capable of penetrating bullet-proof jackets while the performance of his bodyguards was being reassessed. On the day of the murder, a friend of Gunnarsson's was surprised to see that he had shaved off his moustache.

On the night of the assassination, Gunnarsson did everything he could to make it look as if he were the assassin. He had an apartment along the escape route the real assassin took in making his getaway. He admitted that he was in the area when the shooting took place, and he had no alibi for where he actually was when it happened. Shortly after Palme was shot, he apparently tried to flag down a cab in a most agitated state, and then he barged into a cinema, 45 minutes after the movie had started, in a similar state which caught the attention of two girls who were sitting nearby.

Little wonder that when the plotters' plan to make Soviet spy Stig Bergling the real decoy failed, and the assassination did not trigger the final showdown with the Soviets - thanks to more spying for Moscow by the Agency's Aldrich "Rick" Ames and the Bureau's Robert Hanssen, the refusal of Altantic Fleet Commander Admiral Carl Trost to join up Task Force Eagle with NATO's Anchor Express Exercise for a military thrust across Norway's Finnmark region into the USSR's Kola Peninsula, and the disaster which occurred to the Norwegian forces when they attempted to move through the Vassdalen Valley - the Stockholm police were obliged to go after Gunnarsson, but it achieved little result. The police were so eager to indict him that it showed a key witness a photograph of Gunnarsson before a police lineup including him - what only resulted in the resignation of prosecutor K. G. Svensson after he had ordered Gunnarsson's release. Then an intensive examination of the jacket he was apparently wearing at the time for gunpowder traces proved fruitless.

The fiasco over Gunnarsson's arrest proved so embarrassing to Swedish authorities that he, instead of suing all the people who had libeled him while he was under arrest for the shooting, wrote a book, Jag och Palme mordet, in which he continued to spin his ambiguous tale about who really assassinated the statsminister.

While the police and the public moved on to possible other suspects of the killing, Washington's secret government obviously didn't, as I have tried to indicate in my article in the archive about why it took so long to uncover the spying for Moscow by Ames, and Hanssen. CIA was most anxious to drag out the process as long as possible in the hope that some solution to the Stockhom shooting would be arranged, and problems dealing with Iran-Contra would be cleaned up in the interim with as little dangerous fallout as possible. And this was certainly the case, as it was another eight years before Ames was even arrested.

By the early 1990s, Gunnarsson thought that it was safe to start a new life, especially since people angry over Palme's assassination were continually threatening to kill him over the still unsolved crime, and he moved to North Carolina in the States. While living in Salisbury, Viktor ultimately made the acquaintance of Kay and Jason Weden who were living chaotic lives of drugs and loose behavior, though she finally became engaged to a local police officer, Lamont C. Underwood, around Thanksgiving in 1992. She later admitted to having dated, and having had sex with another man, Johnny Denton, at the same time. Once Underwood learned of the affair, the engagement was called off, though it resumed at the New Year, only to be finally ended in June 1993.

By this time, the Agency was becoming most concerned about matters because Ames's spying was finally unraveling, and it was most concerned it could lead to Gunnarsson, especially what Felipe Vidal aka Charles Morgan told him as he tried to recruit assassins of the statsminister eight years earlier. While Gunnarsson did not shoot Palme, he might well have known who did, particularly after Oliver North, the operation's key player, paid Major Walker in April 1986 $100,000 for some unspecified operation. (For more on this, see the article about him in the archive.) This was after the hunt for Palme's killer had turned into a complete fiasco, and the assassin had clearly gotten away with it.

By now, the Bureau was conducting a full scale surveillance of Ames, following him wherever he went, going through his trash with a fine-tooth comb, and bugging what he said in his house or over the phone. The crucial give-aways as to his guilt were discovered by a colleague who was able to see the memory of what was in his laptop computer, the note he sent to his handler about arranging a meeting in Bogota, and conversations he had had with his wife Rosario about the trip and despositing the money he had obtained from it. For Langley, the most disturbing find was a note that Ames had written a year before but was only now discovered, indicating that his efforts were well known by Soviet counterintelligence, the MBRF - what implied that he knew how all the double agent operations in the USSR at the time of the Stockholm shooting had been stymied.

To limit any unnecessary fallout from the Ames' arrest, the Agency decided to do away with Gunnarsson - what Underwood had now set himself up as the fallguy for by having a confrontation with Kay Weden while she was having dinner with David Summer on November 12, 1993. While Underwood claims it was about problems he was having with her son Jason owing him money, and stealing things from his apartment, Weden and Summer later claimed that he threatened to kill Summer. Three weeks later, after Gunnarsson, Weden and her mother had dinner in a local restaurant, Gunnarsson disappeared, only to be found early in January naked, and quite dead outside Boone, shot through the forehead and the neck.

For the next several years, the state of North Carolina went through the greatest claims, contortions and cover ups apparently to convict Underwood of Gunnarsson's murder - essentially using 17 strands of hair from Gunnarsson for DNA evidence, and found allegedly on a mat in one of Underwood's cars to send him to prison for life for killing a man he never even met. (For details, readers should consult Underwood's web site.) The state of North Carolina, it seems, would like everyone to believe that Underwood was capable of killing anyone who had anything to do with Weden, even her mother, Mrs. Miller, except Kay herself.

The murder of Gunnarsson and the railroading of Underwood had the desired effect on the problems Ames was causing the Agency. His prosecution and imprisonment did not even lead to the discovery of Hanssen, much less who really killed Gunnarsson and why.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How do you explain that Underwood didn't know Gunnarsson until he saw his car outside Weden's house. We know he called a dispatcher friend and asked him to look up the license plate because the conversation was taped.
We also know that Underwood wrote threatening anonymous letters to Weden because the characters matched the tape in his typewriter. So Gunnarsson was not the target. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time by dating Weden while a jealous Underwood was stalking her.