Who killed Rajiv Gandhi?
An electronic discussion held in May 1991

Item 8 by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed, May 22, 1991 (00:01)
Who killed Rajiv Gandhi?

Offhand I can think of four possibilities:

1. Militant Sikhs
2. Agents of the Bharatiya Janata Party
3. Tamil Tiger separatists
4. The CIA

Pro & Con:

1. Pro: The Sikh militants want a separate state. They offed his mother, Indira.
2. Pro: The BJP is up-and-coming and fanatical. With Rajiv eliminated they stand to gain greatly in the current elections.
3. Pro: The assassination took place in Tamil Nadu. Rajiv ordered the Indian Army into Sri Lanka.
4. Pro: The bomb was apparently concealed in a bouquet of flowers and triggered from a distance; this was apparently a sophisticated explosive device requiring expertise.

Not much in the way of Cons. Locating the assassination in Tamil Nadu could be an easy way to cast suspicion on the Tamil Tigers, who seem to me to have no real motive. The CIA probably has no reason to off Rajiv, unless he was becoming an obstacle to their drug operations (but as far as I know India is not important to the CIA in this respect).

My guess is that it was the BJP. They are fanatics and Rajiv was the main obstacle to their winning big in this election.

#8.1 (42) by Roger Niclas (roger), on Wed May 22 10:34:21 1991:

You left out several other possibilities:

The Surete
Black September
The Mossad
The Red Brigades

With the exception of the last, all have a record of political assassination, and are at least as likely to have been involved as the CIA. Whatever is it in your water supply, I wonder, that makes you see the shadowy hand of the CIA in everything?

Frankly, from the method used, it seems much more likely that it was FTD.

#8.2 (42) by Ilsa VanHook (icv), on Wed May 22 11:44:47 1991:

Some kind of award for response #1!

#8.3 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed May 22 15:36:59 1991:

The CIA has a proven history of violent interference in the affairs of foreign governments. I'm surprised that roger pretends to be unaware of it. As for the other groups he mentions, none are more likely than the CIA to have been involved, and most less. But thanks to roger for increasing the number of possibilities (though I think we can rule out Black September and Baader-Meinhof).

I'm surprised that ilsa sees anything in response #1 to merit a reward. And if anyone wishes evidence of the shadowy hand of the CIA, they ... references will gladly be supplied upon request.

Continued reflection upon the question of this topic reinforces my suspicion that the Bharatiya Janata Party is the most likely culprit. They are really the only ones that could benefit from this heinous act.

#8.4 (42) by Future Site of Fred's Bowl-A-Rama (editor), on Wed May 22 15:47:30 1991:

I still think it was FTD.

I believe, by the way, that the FTD option was what won award.

#8.5 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed May 22 15:55:36 1991:

Editor presumably means the "Federal Take-Out Division". However, I'd consider a reward for listing a couple of nefarious groups that I've not heard of before. OK, who's the Surete? And the AAU? Oh, and roger forgot to mention any of a bunch of Chinese Triads. And the Illuminati.

#8.6 (42) by Ilsa VanHook (icv), on Wed May 22 16:44:21 1991:

Well, *I'm* in the Illuminati, and I didn't do it.

It has to be the FTD. Of course, some local group will be found to take the fall (or to be "the patsy", as Mae Brussel would have put it).

#8.7 (42) by Ian McGowan (ian), on Wed May 22 17:06:15 1991:

The pink panther did it? How about ETA?

#8.8 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed May 22 19:44:54 1991:

Before we all get carried away outdoing each other with sparkling witticisms and humor we might take note of the fact that Rajiv Gandhi appeared to be a decent human being who apparently had done nothing to justify being murdered, and that his assassination probably is the start of bad things to come for India for many years.

#8.9 (42) by Lesley Cupitt (lesley), on Wed May 22 20:18:42 1991:

And the Vatican might have done it ...

#8.10 (42) by Lesley Cupitt (lesley), on Wed May 22 20:25:27 1991:

Yes counterspy is right. There seems to be no natural successor — and Ranjiv at least appeared to be promoting efforts for the good of his country.

If it's possible for a politician to be so noble.

#8.11 (42) by Lesley Cupitt (lesley), on Wed May 22 20:31:11 1991:

Oh, and the Surete is the French equivalent to the MI5. Very nasty people by all accounts. Speaking of nasty people, there's the BOS too.

And the AAU is the Amateur Athletic Union.

#8.12 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed May 22 21:27:53 1991:

Thank you for the information.

And the BOS?

#8.14 (42) by Cynthia Lewis (clewis), on Wed May 22 21:47:18 1991:

I cannot imagine his poor wife taking over for him. She'd be nuts to do that.

#8.15 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Wed May 22 23:28:44 1991:

Right. The Congress Party hasn't adjusted to the fact that the Nehru dynasty has now come to an end (Lord Curzon's Revenge — i.e. his revenge for Nehru's having seduced his wife at the time of Indian independence).

Without a Nehru or a Gandhi the party has no-one. This was and is presumably quite clear to the BJP. Just one Hindu fanatic to change the course of Indian history ...

#8.16 (42) by Lesley Cupitt (lesley), on Wed May 22 23:36:44 1991:

BOS — South African intelligence. Really very unpleasant. The kind of people that even the innocent law-abiding John Smiths of this world fear.

#8.17 (42) by Ilsa VanHook (icv), on Thu May 23 09:13:32 1991:

"I just don't know what the world is coming to." — former CIA director George Bush, on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

#8.18 (42) by Roger Niclas (roger), on Thu May 23 09:50:41 1991:

The point I was making, counterspy, was that it takes a peculiar sort of perspective to say "A political figure was assassinated. Must be the CIA, unless, of course, it's someone who had a discernible motive."

Political assassination has a time-honored history, and the CIA is no more likely to have done any particular one than has any other apparently motiveless organization; less, probably, since it apparently leaks like a sieve.

Yes, Gandhi's untimely demise is tragic, and almost certainly a rotten turn of events for India. I wasn't making light of it, merely of the turn of mind that needs to see the CIA or aliens from beyond the spiral arm behind everything.

#8.19 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Thu May 23 15:31:15 1991:

Tsk! Tsk! Misrepresentation again! Roger, I'm surprised at you! I presented four possible suspects, one of which was the CIA. I then said that I thought the BJP did it (thus not the CIA). To paraphrase my position as "Must be the CIA unless someone else" is, to put it kindly, less than accurate.

#8.20 (42) by David Ryan (dr), on Thu May 23 19:27:09 1991:

Now wait a second — the Vatican? I know that the Swiss Guard have updated their tools of violence, however.......

If this had occured in Jerusalem, maybe, maybe the long arm of the Pope could be suspected since the Vatican has had a long term interest in turning the new capital of Israel into an international city under some kind of joint jurisdiction to include a representative of the Bishop of Rome. But, India.....?

If the Brits were still involved in Indian Affairs, then you'd be right to associate the possibility of an IRA involvement ..... however, in the present circumstances this seems pretty remote.

I heard on the news today that the bomb was designed to go off as the assassin bent forward with the "toe to head bow". This is really horrible since this type of bow is intended to show the highest kind of spiritual respect — the person bends forward and sweeps the feet of the venerated person with their hand which they then place to their forehead. The meaning is akin to "the very dust from your feet would enlighten me and bless me."

I don't know enough about the politics of India to venture a guess as to why our CIA might have an interest in such an act. However, I don't think it's correct to say that one group is as likely as another. The motivation behind these types of acts is all important. It's important to understand what motivates these types of acts on the part of governments or other types of organizations. I say this because it's necessary to argue against such actions and addressing the motivation is one aspect of that type of opposition. I don't believe that our CIA has any right to operate like a terrorist organization. Certainly we have not only a right but also a very rational basis for being guarded and suspicious about the possiblity of illegal covert actions by our CIA. The history and foolishness of their previous misdeeds have been documented through congressional investigation. These investigations and the detailed evidence which they produced regarding the illegal misconduct on the part of the CIA have given us every reason to maintain a strong sense of alertness and suspicion. Given these acts of our own Congress, I'd think it would be only natural for us to wonder — "Gee, are these our guys? I hope not."

If we say that It's just as likely to be our CIA as some other group, I think we are accepting an assumption — an implicit statement that our CIA has (or ought to have) carte blanche. This is contrary to the will of the people and Congress has made this extremely clear — not in theory but in actual law. These laws are based upon the reality of past mistakes and their intention is to ensure that such stupidity is prevented from occuring again. The job of the interested citizen is, I think, to remain vigilant, suspicious and vocal. Given the recent history of our "intelligence community" such a posture would seem only natural.

#8.21 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Thu May 23 20:41:43 1991:

Unfortunately the CIA is not under civilian control. Whether it is under military control or not, I'm not sure. It's part of the secret state security apparatus which developed following WW II.

Did you note what Webster said recently when he resigned as CIA director? He said that in his term of office he wasn't able to get a handle on the organization. This from the guy who was supposed to be in charge. I strongly suspect that those who really control the CIA are never publicly known. The director is always just a figurehead, though in some cases (such as Bush) he may be aligned with the real controllers.

The CIA is a rogue organization. It considers itself outside the law (though it is not actually a monolithic organization, and has factions and parts which don't know what the other parts are doing). This is the secret government of America, which you don't read about in the daily papers. The alleged government, those guys in Congress, are there to keep the corporate capitalists happy and to delude the people into believing they live in a democracy. It's still dreamtime in America.

#8.22 (42) by Philip King (pk), on Thu May 23 23:09:22 1991:

ILSA!! I love that George Bush quote!

Wow... what a pathetic thing for the president of the USA to say. Sure sounds like he doesn't have a clue what's going on in the world. Seems to confirm my worst suspicions.

Reminds me of how the Reagans had to be coached on such matters as the names of the Soviet states, and their leaders, when they went to have a 'summit' meeting with the Soviet leader.

Another interesting tidbit that my co-worker said to me this week: He heard this from a person who had visited some Israeli mucky-mucks in his research for a book on the American/Global economy. According to this guy, Israel has in place enough atomic explosives to create a virtual crater of the majority of the country .... or at least the most important areas. He says that they are so stubborn and adamant about their control of the country, that if it ever appears that the Palestinians or Arabs are about to gain control of the country, they will just blow it to smithereens ... along with all of the historical artifacts, of course.


#8.23 (42) by Ian McGowan (ian), on Thu May 23 23:40:37 1991:

The US has long been opposed to any soviet presence on the gulf. Considering the current destabilised condition of iraq which, correct me if i'm wrong, is adjacent to uzbeckistan, which in turn is pretty strongly occupied by the russian army. Lesley made some very good points about why our military couldn't stay in Saudi Arabia — maybe someone in langley thought it would be a good idea to establish a friendlier govt. in india in case we need a permanent base in the gulf. Sounds kind of unlikely that india would consider allowing us a base but stranger things have happened.

#8.24 (42) by Lesley Cupitt (lesley), on Fri May 24 00:14:54 1991:

dr, friend, mate and best pal; I was kidding about the Vatican. At least in this instance. Although they have been known to indulge in the past with this kind of thing.

Like counterspy, I am surprised that roger should take this stance re the CIA. Since they have been so active in this kind of activity. But I can't see the motive in the case of Rajiv.

Anyway, I have no opinion regarding the real culprit.

#8.25 (42) by David Ryan (dr), on Fri May 24 03:18:13 1991:

The Vatican *does* engage in the destablization of governments, however (at least in our time) it hasn't done so with violence (as far as we know). We should never forget that JP-II ordered an elected member of our Congress to resign his post. Although he had served several years in the House and the people of Massachussetts supported him by a large percent, the man did resign — allowing the Pope to, effectively, exercise a veto in our electoral process. (I was also trying to kid around in my reply about India & the Vatican.)

That idea of India as the new staging area for US domination of the Middle East also crossed my mind as a possibililty. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

The press report in Friday's Chronicle was a bit much to read since the details of the assassination are grusome. Not only had she given the extreme bow to the feet, but Gandhi reached down to her in graciousness in order to bring her upright. It was at that point that the explosion occured which blew body parts over a 21-foot area. Although the assassin's head was blown off, her entire face survived in one piece and they are now trying to identify her.

Judge Webster has always had a reputation as a highly capable administrator and if he made a remark that he was never able to get a handle on the CIA during his tenure of office, that's pretty frightening. If that is the case, the only reason for it would be that he was prevented from doing so. I tend to believe those concepts which are always floating around about the "secret government". I keep recalling Oliver North's congressional testimony in which he talked about this "off-the-shelf" program and that "off-the-shelf" project, etc. I could not believe that testimony of that type was received so calmly. His arrogance was due to his own conviction that Congress was, in fact, not the ultimate authority. It appeared that most congressional members had the same understanding. None of them seemed willing to deal with the essence of the issue before them, which was the nature of their own power & authority.

#8.26 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Fri May 24 04:07:59 1991:

"In 1950, the National Security Council was set in motion with NSC order #68, a blue-print for the state in which we still live, where 86 per cent of the federal revenue goes for war and the rest supports the largely irrelevant cosmetic government of Congress and Judiciary and the never-ending issues-less presidential elections.

"Ollie North gave the game away on TV. In effect, he told the Senate, 'We are the government of the United States and what are you clowns doing getting in our way? Don't you know that you are nobody? We are the government. We're saving freedom. We're saving mankind. And here you are screwing us up.'

"I gazed into those tiny little dishonest eyes and saw America, with a k that NSCers had inserted in place of our c."

— Gore Vidal, "Who Owns the US?", $5 (+$2 postage) from Odonian Press, Box 7776, Berkeley, CA 94707.

#8.27 (42) by David Ryan (dr), on Fri May 24 13:48:59 1991:

My sentiments exactly. I'll have to read that book. What year is it?

The sad, sad thing, though, was the expression on those senators' faces: pure jello — although in some cases they tried a front of outrage, etc., it was easy to see that as the saying goes, he had them by the you know what.

#8.28 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Fri May 24 15:31:52 1991:

The book is recent, probably published 1990 ... 1991 actually. A 96-page collection of five interviews with Gore Vidal.

#8.29 (42) by Roger Niclas (roger), on Fri May 24 16:10:18 1991:

I was merely pointing out that the inclusion of the CIA on a list of only 4 suspects was a bit odd. There's a strong implication there in that they're a _serious_ contender.

My vote is still for FTD.

#8.30 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Sat May 25 06:10:49 1991:

Indian investigators have reported that it seems that the explosive used to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi was a plastic explosive (called PVX?) which is made in the U.S. Now *who* could have supplied the assassins with *this*? Presumably it wasn't the Red Brigades.

#8.31 (42) by J Matisse Enzer (matisse), on Sat May 25 10:54:55 1991:

Explosives are like micro-chips — they are commodities available everywhere.

#8.32 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Sat May 25 19:22:55 1991:

Hmmnn... don't think our local 7-11 had any C-4 last time I looked.

#8.33 (42) by Roger Niclas (roger), on Sat May 25 22:51:31 1991:

Matisse, it's no use arguing with a closed mind. counterspy believes what he chooses to believe, and he'll find corroboration in tea leaves if it's necessary

#8.34 (42) by Future Site of Fred's Bowl-A-Rama (editor), on Sun May 26 00:13:07 1991:

Look harder, counterspy. They're near the Slurpee machine, on the bottom shelf of the Doritos rack.

#8.35 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Sun May 26 04:08:54 1991:

Perhaps roger can inform us as to how he know what counterspy believes. it cannot be by reading what counterspy writes here since obviously roger does not — or if he does he cannot remember it. Have I ever said here: the CIA did it? No. I say: the BJP did it. But I did quote an Indian report that the explosive used appeared to have been made in the U.S. And I did ask: Who could have supplied it? Did I say the CIA supplied it? No. The question remains open.

#8.36 (42) by Philip King (pk), on Mon May 27 00:11:02 1991:

I happen to agree that putting the CIA amongst the names of 4 groups likely to have committed the assassination makes it seem that one would consider them to be a major suspect. If there had been 20 names, the perception would have been different.

Indicating that the explosive originated in the USA also seems to give tacit approval to the idea of suspecting American (i.e. CIA) involvement. Why else mention it?

On the other hand, as someone else aptly mentioned, explosives (like firearms) are commodity items. The USA (as well as everyone else) is quite fond of brokering arms deals through various 3rd parties, to make it appear that the weapons came from different sources. Not to mention the idea of brokering the sale of Eastern-bloc-related weapons to our interested parties, so that we can always point the finger at the USSR if anyone suspects.


#8.37 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Mon May 27 03:12:04 1991:

As for the source of the allegedly-U.S.-made plastic explosive, it's true that, considering that the U.S. is the world's largest deadly weapons merchant, the Indians could have got it from just about anywhere.

Reminds me of the recent report (in one of the big East Coast papers) of anti-aircraft missiles being shipped (under the surveillance of the CIA) to Argentina, from where they were passed on to Iraq, where they were used against U.S. planes during the raids on Baghdad. Endlessly curious.

But to return to the subject of the plastic explosive used in the assassination of Gandhi: This stuff requires considerable expertise to use properly. This is not the kind of expertise you'd expect to find among your common or garden Indian terrorists. In addition to the question of where the stuff came from, one might ask who provided the expertise which enabled it to be used. Just asking ...

#8.38 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Mon May 27 04:33:03 1991:

I didn't make it clear that those anti-aircraft missiles used against U.S. planes in Iraq originated in the U.S. Seems there's this firm in Alabama or some such place that began life c. 15 years ago as a CIA front, and turned into an ongoing business. The CIA of course kept tabs on it. Seems the company shipped these missiles to Argentina in violation of several U.S. laws (the U.S. govt. prefers to reserve the profits from arms technology transfers for itself). The CIA did not see fit to inform the Justice Dept. that this was going on. The reports stated that they were not sure whether the CIA was aware that the missiles were being re-exported to Iraq. The officers and former officers of the company have been indicted and face jail time for having encroached on the govt's turf.

#8.39 (42) by Philip King (pk), on Mon May 27 19:19:36 1991:

It's all endlessly fascinating, isn't it?

#8.41 (42) by Mike Johnson (counterspy), on Tue May 28 00:18:49 1991:

The BBC reports that the Austrian airliner (Lauder Airlines?) that was destroyed, apparently by a bomb placed on board, had among its passengers a British official involved in United Nations efforts to stamp out smuggling of heroin from the Golden Triangle. Who could have done such a thing?

And a piece by Charles Wallace in the L.A.Times about the bombing of this airliner curiously fails to mention this possible connection to the Golden Triangle heroin smugglers. Curious, no?

Could this be another instance of "reporting" which covers up the really interesting facts (because embarrassing to the powers-behind-the-scenes) and presents the officially sanitized version of events for the ever-gullible readers, who, perhaps and in any case, would rather not know what is really going on?

"Just as the CIA abandoned the mujahideen after they had served its purpose, India abruptly turned its back on the LTTE [the Tamil Tigers] for a host of political reasons.  It was an enraged LTTE suicide bomber who assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1989." — Arundhati Roy, Brutality Smeared in Peanut Butter, The Guardian, 2001-10-23.

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