FIDEL CASTRO outmanoeuvred the US at every step when it came to espionage, according to shocking new revelations from a CIA intelligence chief.
The Cuban leader, who led a revolution in 1959 that deposed the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, was the target of Washington’s intelligence agencies throughout his life.
Despite the Soviets aiding Cuba economically and militarily, former CIA counterintelligence chief James Olson has revealed in a new book that Castro was the master of dealing with any CIA plot to remove him.
Waves of agents were sent to deal with the revolutionary leader – but none were able to get close to Castro, according to his report.
When ranking countries in terms of their counterintelligence, Mr Olson wrote: “I rank Cuba only number three on the dangerous scale, but I rank it number one on the obnoxious scale.
“When I was chief, no foreign intelligence service rankled me more than the Cuban Intelligence Directorate (DGI).”
Part of the CIA’s strategy in Cuba following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion was to infiltrate the Cuban state on an individual level.
However, Mr Olson revealed a harrowing account of a former DGI defector who witnessed Castro’s skill first hand.
He said: “In his CIA debriefings, Florentino Aspillaga told us a shocking story.“
“He said that all 38 of the Cubans the CIA thought it had recruited over the previous 26 years were doubles, controlled and run against us by the DGI.
“This was a devastating indictment of CIA counterintelligence, one of the worst and most embarrassing compromises we have ever had.
“The DGI beat us – and beat us soundly.”
He also claimed that the Cubans were far better in espionage than their Soviet patrons, despite a huge gap in funding and training.
Mr Olson added: “The DGI was trained by the Soviet KGB, but like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, this was a case of the student surpassing the master.
“The DGI was far better than the KGB in terms of audacity, tradecraft and discipline.
“The CIA could penetrate the KGB and sometimes count on it to make tradecraft mistakes.“I wish that had been the case with the DGI, but it was not.”
However, covert action was also key, the former CIA chief said that two cases in particular, Ana Montes and Philip Agee, were shining examples of Cuba running operations “under the noses” of the CIA.
He added: “It was no small feat for the Cubans to run these cases as long as they did.
“We are lucky that Cuba is as small as it is – because otherwise we would be in big, big trouble.”
James Olson’s ‘To Catch A Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence’ is available now.