Sunday, March 3, 2013

RFK and Operation 3111

Operation 3111 Analysis

A memo approving CIA covert operation 3111 is one of the JFK assassination related documents among the records of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that was sought by Max Holland and mentioned in his February 2012 FOIA suit filed with the NARA.

Holland withdrew the suit once it was clear that all the records being sought were released.

We get the document thanks to Max Holland’s persistence, but it comes with his spin on it.

On 28 February 2013, under the title of RFK OK’d Sabotage Against Cuba in November 1963 Holland distributed the document and wrote:

“Ever since the Church Committee’s investigation of the intelligence community in the mid-1970s — if not earlier — it has been well known that Robert F. Kennedy was deeply involved in the Kennedy administration’s efforts to subvert and overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro. RFK regularly attended meetings of the so-called Special Group of the National Security Council, which directed and coordinated US policy toward Cuba, including most covert operations. And as Harris Wofford observed in his 1980 book, Of Kennedys and Kings within the Special Group the attorney general was the driving force behind the clandestine effort to overthrow Castro. From inside accounts of the pressure he was putting on the CIA to ‘get Castro,’ he seemed like a wild man who was out-CIAing the CIA.”

“Still, extant records specifying RFK’s direct involvement are few and far between. One of seven documents released by the National Archives in response to a Judicial Watch lawsuit, however, is an EYES ONLY memo that reveals Robert F. Kennedy personally signed off on a sabotage operation against Cuba in November 1963.”

SECRET                                                   4 NOV 1963



SUBJECT:  Prosposed Infiltration/Exfiltration Operation
                    For 8 November 1963

  1. The purpose of this memorandum is to present for your consideration and approval, the initial infiltration/exfiltration operation for the month of November 1963. Additional proposals for operations during the month of November 1963 will be presented at a later date.

  1. The proposed operation is as follows:


DATE : o/a/ 8 November 1963

PLACE/PURPOSE: A low-key sabotage operation against a warehouse and pier at Nazabal on the coast of Norther Las villas. This operation will be accomplished by a commando group landing on the pier and destroying the pier and warehouse with demolitions and Incendiaries. This operation, if successful, will reduce dockage and storage facilities as part of our continuing long-range program.

  1. It is required that approval be granted for the conduct of the operation outlined in paragraph 2 above.




Declassified under the provisions
Of the JFK Assassinations Records
Collection Act of 1962 (PL1DQ4161(?)
By_____NARA, Date 9/22/90

Indeed, there’s RFK’s oval seal and imprimatur that proves to me that RFK read the memo and approved the operation 3111, but that’s not the most interesting thing about this document.

For starters, Operation 3111 is most certainly one of the few – one a month – officially approved CIA operations that would be carried out by the CIA’s JMWAVE maritime unit in Florida, one that we know quite a lot about.

This makes me wonder if there is a relationship between this “Operation 3111” and the U2 “Mission 3111” of October 1962 – a year earlier, which detected Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Mission 3111 – a U2 flight over Cuba that took place on 18 October 1962, a year earlier – makes me wonder why the CIA would identify two different missions a year apart with the same tag number, unless there is a specific difference between a mission and an operation?

CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) By Mary S. McAuliffe see p. 263 and 281. 76. Lundahl, Memorandum for Director of Central Intelligence and Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, “Additional Information – Missions 3111 and 3113,” 21 October 1962  p. 263

The State Department had previously announced that US policy would forbid attacks against Cuba from US shores, and the FBI and other branches of government cracked down on the unauthorized raiders – though they did work with some  (ie. Pawley Operation Red Cross).

As detailed in The JFK Assassination – The Administrative Details, these missions date to a policy decision made at an April 1, 1963 meeting that approved a series of covert operations against Cuba, and should be viewed as a continuation of them.

Operation 3111 appears to be one of the approved missions, and its date – November 4 approval for a mission on November 8, four days later, must be reviewed in relation to the previous mission – the October 30-31 mission that resulted in an all out shoot out on the beach, the loss of an infiltration team and the cover blown of the mother ship Rex, a photo of which was published on the front page of the November 1, 1963 New York Times.


He Asserts Cuba Captured Small Boats From Vessel – Miami Owner Denies It

By The Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Oct., 31 – Premier Fidel Castro charged last night that the Central Intelligence Agency was operating a raider ship called the Rex, and that she had been used in a sabotage mission against Cuba. He said two small boats from the Rex and several C.I.A. agents had been captures.

Premier Castro described the Rex as a 150-foot diesel vessel flying the Nicaraguan flag. He said she was based in West Palm Beach.

A vessel called the Rex, 174 feet long, returned to Palm Beach Monday and was tied up today in the Port of Palm Beach. She flies the Nicaraguan flag and carries large searchlights, radar and a crane on the stern. Two motor launches were missing from their davits.

The port director, Joel Wilcox, said, “The dockage is paid by the Sea Key Shipping Company from a post office box. I know nothing of the Rex’s activities. “

Oil Man Claims Ship

J.A. Belcer, a Miami oil company executive, told The Miami Herald that the Rex belonged to him, but denied hat it had participated in raids against Cuba.

He said he bought the vessel from the Paragon Company, identified by The Herald as a Nicaraguan firm formerly owned by the family of Luis Somoza, an ex-President of Nicaragua.

Mr. Belcher told The Herald that for most of the year he had leased the Rex for electronic and oceanographic research to the international division of the Collins Radio Company of Dallas. He said the ship’s captain, identified as Alexander Brooks, had told him the Rex had never been in Cuban waters.

Premier Castro, in a radio and television broadcast, said that the captured agents might face death sentences.

In his three-hour speech, the Premier accused the C.I.A. of “stepping up its activities against Cuba in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Flora.”

He accused the Central Intelligence Agency of murdering workers, landing weapons and infiltrators in Cuba, hiring saboteurs and using postal packages to send explosives into Cuba.

“This was the kind of aid the United States sent to Cuba after the hurricane,” he said. “They thought they had their opportunity after the hurricane. This explains and justifies Cuba’s rejections of the United States offer to aid.”

There are two other mysterious vessels of Nicaraguan registry operating out of ports of Florida’s southeast coast. One sometimes changes color.

The Leda is tied up at Port Everglades and the Port of Fort Lauderdale, 45 miles south of Palm Beach. She is registered from Greytown, Nicaragua, which is now known as San Juan del Norte.

A Miami man who knew a crewman on the Villaro said today, “She was a funny ship. She changed colors all the time. Sometimes the hull would be blue with a green deck. Other times it was gray with an orange deck. My friend said she was working in oil exploration.

Coast Guard headquarters in Miami said it had no listing for any of the ships or their companies.

END NYT ARTICLE Nov. 1, 1963 p. 1

The Rex was also on a sabatoge mission according to William Turner (Rearview Mirror – Penmarin Books, CA. 2001, p. 185-186), when he wrote that it was “a sabotage attack on a shore installation in Pinar del Rio Province,” and a deposit a team of commando assassins infiltrators. “It was a CIA operation,” with an all Cuban crew, says Turner. He also reports, “When a mission was scheduled, they received a phone call, then a nondescript CIA van picked them up and took them to the West Palm Beach berth where the Rex was tied up. The dockage fees were paid by a CIA front, Sea Shipping Company, which operated out of a post office box.”

The Captain of the Rex, Alejandro Brooks, received his orders from Gordon Campbell, the director of the CIA’s naval operations. “The men belonged to the Commando Mambises,…the CIA’s elite, the Green Berets of the secret war. They were led by Major Manuel Villafana, a spit-and-polish officer who had commanded the Bay of Pigs air force. Villafana insisted that his men be paid low because he wanted them driven by hate, not money.”

According to Turner, “The Rex was not listed in Jane’s Fighting Ships. It was a World War II subchaser pulled out of the mothball fleet at Green Cove Springs, Florida. Painted a classy dark blue, the 174-foot vessel could cut through the waves at twenty knots. It flew the blue-and-white flag of Nicaragua, whose strongman, General Luis Somoza, had hosted the Bay of Pigs invasion brigade…”

“There were oversized searchlights, elaborate electronics gear that towered amidships, and a large crane on the aft deck capable of raising and lowering twenty-foot speed boats,” wrote Turner. “After the Rex put to sea, its guns were brought up from below decks and secured in their topside mounts: two 40-mm naval cannon, a 57-mm recoilless rifle, and two 20-mm cannon.”

Having interviewed some of the crewmembers, Turner got a full report on what happened. “The target on this mission was the giant Matahambre copper mine near Cape Corriente on the bootheel of Pinar del Rio Province…when the Rex arrived at the landing zone, there was a sense of foreboding: the Cape Corriente light, normally flashing a warning to maritime traffic, was dark….As the vessel came to a stop, two specially designed fiberglass speedboats, called Moppies, slid down the high-speed davits on the afterdeck…They were to link up with two commandos who had infiltrated a week earlier to reconnoiter the target. The answer came back in the wrong code; it was a trap.”

“The commandos fired at the riverbank,” only to be raked by return fire from heavy machine guns. One raft was torn apart by tracer bullets, spilling the dead and dying into the water…Then one of the Moppies was framed in the searchlights of a Russian built P-6 patrol craft: the Rex quartermaster piloting it surrendered….Brooks made a feint toward open sea, then doubled back and hugged the coastline…The move paid off. Minutes later, a pair of Cuban helicopters…dropped flares…..(illuminating)…the 32,500 ton J. Louis, …carrying a cargo of bauxite from Jamaica to Texas. Five Cuban MiGs began strafing….US Navy Phantom jets took off and headed for the scene. But just before arriving, the Phantoms were called back….” 

[BK Notes: After I wrote a blog post about the Rex mission, I received an email from the son of one of the mambasies who escaped in another moppie. He told me that the physician for the Rex Dr. Armando Cruz is still alive and practicing in Florida, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2012 Son from Moppie One]


My dad was on that second moppie you mentioned in your article.  They were picked up by the merchant ship and taken to Panama where they were in jail and questioned until the CIA intervened and got them out. I’d love to know more. I only know the stories my dad told me but would love to read any additional research you have on this…. They had casualties on board.  They didnt know what had happened to the other Moppie and the Rex had gone.  They later saw from afar the glow of the freighter being attacked.  They thought it was the Rex under fire.  He didnt mention their stopping the merchant ship by firing any weapons.  He said they signaled the ship and their story was that they had gone out to fish but had engine trouble.  Of course no one would believe them because their boat was all shot up.  But they werent allowed to talk and that was their story and they were sticking to it….  

Thank you.
Onan Cordova

Both the target of the Rex attack Pinar del Rio and the 3111 – Nazabal, are on the North Shore of Cuba within easy reach of Florida Keys.

The proposed target - pier and warehouse at Northern Las Villas

Here’s a video of Nazabal today, a quiet fishing village without much industry though it appears to have a train and trolley, and an extensive boat pier though few if any boats.

Nazabal today video showing pier, though there appears to be some ruined pier as well
NAZABAL 3 - YouTube
The 3111 operatioon to Nazabal, if it proceeded and completed, should have made the news like the Rex mission did, since you can’t blow up a pier and warehouse without attracting attention, but I haven’t found any evidence of this yet, and some of the sabotage missions that Brad Ayers planned and practiced for were often postponed or called off.

In any case, we know that RFK approved it, as did the Special Group and CCC, and we suspect that these Cuban missions out of JMWAVE are connected to the Dealey Plaza operation, as some of them are – Bayo-Pawley, Rex, Clare Booth Luce’s Julio Fernandez and possibly Operation 3111, if we can learn more about it.

As for RFK, concludes White (editor of the Cuban documents), “Robert Kennedy, such a conspicuous figure on the Cuban matters in 1961-62, was less prominent in 1963 in shaping administration policy towards Castro. But his role remained significant.”  

Witness reports place RFK at JMWAVE when William Harvey was there, as Harvey instigated an incident when RFK tried to read a classified cable and Harvey snatched it out of his hands saying he wasn’t cleared to read it. Later, RFK ostensibly flew in to the Everglades to meet with some of the commandos assigned to certain covert raids approved by the Special Group and the President, which included five raids in the summer and fall of 1963, which were presented in April and approved in early June, 1963.

On April Fools Day, 
April 1, 1963, the Cuban Coordinating Committee – Covert Operations in Cuba (CCC-COC) met, the subject of an April 3 memo from Gordon Chase of the National Security Council to McGeorge Bundy, the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. It included a still classified agenda and matters discussed by the Cottrell Committee, which White identifies as “An interdepartmental committee, chaired by Sterling J. Cottrell, in early 1963 to coordinate the administration’s covert and overt Cuban policies.”

In summary, Gordon Chase notes, “In approving the three programs for Special Group considerations, the committee recognized that they will probably be of marginal value only: however, they will cost us very little, financial or otherwise.” Under agenda item number four, “Sabotage of Cuban Shipping – The Committee…will recommend to the Special Group the incendiaries which would be timed to go off in international waters and the abrasives in the machinery. While the propaganda boost might be nil, they are easier to effect than limpets and could really hurt Castro.”

Then Chase tells McBundy, “The Committee gave the CIA the option of using its own Cubans or of using DRE as a cut-out.”

The DRE are the anti-Castro Cuban Student Revolutionary Directorate, whose members interacted with Oswald before the assassination.

JFKcountercoup: DRE REPORT

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