Sunday, August 1, 2010
This poverty-stricken corner of the Balkans acquired strategic significance during World War II following the Italian occupation and the Allied decision to support the local partisans led by a charismatic Communist, Enver Hoxha. After the war, an effort was made by the Secret Intelligence Service personnel with a knowledge of the country to destabilize the regime in the hope of detaching it from the Communist Bloc. Émigrés, known as “pixies,” were recruited by the SIS and trained in Malta before being infiltrated into the country by boat during Operation VALUABLE between 1948 and 1951. Others, sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency, were parachuted into the country but none survived the experience. Hoxha’s extensive security apparatus easily interdicted the hapless participants, many of whom were convicted at a show trial in Tirana in October 1951, and the project was abandoned.