By Afrim Imaj
Memorie.al / “I, the Security Operative of the Burrel Prison, who coexisted with the ‘enemies of the people'”! However, I will try to make this statement; “to respect” in its essence. I say in its essence, that the forms used by the State Security, such as: the secret network, operational techniques, surveillance, postal control and others, have already appeared in the market. In my stories, I will try to be accurate. To be as truthful as possible, I am obliged to mention concrete names, but never those that should remain a secret. I have decided to take these with me to the grave. After finishing the School of the Ministry of the Interior, I started working with the image that they had created for us as “enemies of the class and the motherland”. I did not encounter this image in practice as it was preached to us, and gradually in my consciousness, it began to fade. A powerful influence, in changing the concept created in me about the class enemy, has played “coexistence”, with the convicts of the prison of Burrell, for many years in a row.
Continues from last issue
Face to face with Enver’s assassin
Although the investigation against Avdul continued for two or three years and he was forced by all means, to show the bases of FRASH in Albania, nothing was achieved in this direction. During this process, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Rexhep Kolli, also met with him, but everything turned out to be in vain. In prison, Avduli, like none of the convicts, had no economic support. Although in this state, he did not take action to seek help from the prison command. After we created some closeness, I recommended that he write to his brothers to help him. He did not accept this suggestion either, arguing briefly: “When I entered these jobs, I did not ask them, therefore even now, I cannot ask them to help me.” During subsequent conversations with him, he told me some moments that further enriched his profile as a patriot.
He was in America when China was admitted to the UN, for which Albania played a decisive role. “Although we were opponents of Enver Hoxha’s regime, we felt proud when the television stations in America announced that little Albania hit the UN with a big punch”, he recalled the experiences of that event. During the conversations with him, I also talked about some of my acquaintances from Golem, the village of Avdul. Just at these moments, the wild man softened, his eyes filled with tears and he sighed, saying that; his soul was burning for his village. Feeling this state, I thought to switch to another plan. Despite the closeness we developed, I could not ignore the fact that he was a staunch opponent of the communist regime and, as such, was unlikely to reveal the bases of FRASH in Albania. I had asked him several times to talk to me about these basics, but he avoided them.
From the various forms of work of the Security bodies, such as investigation, agency, files, operational techniques, etc., there was a lot of data available, which spoke about the bases of FRASH in Albania, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. Based on this fact, as well as Avdul’s patriotic predispositions, I thought of asking for his help, to discover the agents in the service of foreign intelligence, with predatory intentions against Albania’s sovereignty. By now, Avduli had become very friendly with his roommate Sh. N. As soon as he separated from meetings with me, I “emptied” him; for all that he considered “harassment”. This moment was used to record the conversations that would take place between them. Based on this situation, I prepared a detailed plan, where I envisioned an all-round psychological “bombardment”, with advanced actions and personal initiatives not applied before.
I expected to get in touch with his relatives in Gjirokastër and tell them that Avduli had been caught and that he had been serving his sentence in Burrel prison for years. The fact of his arrest was still kept secret. Depending on the situation that would arise, I had planned to organize a meeting between them, even taking Avdul to Golem…! With Avdul, I met almost every day, staying for hours together in the dungeon. Later, I had meetings with him in one of the offices of the prison command. The national issue was Avdul’s Achilles’ heel. He listened to me lost in thought and disarmed of his propaganda tools. To me, that spoke volumes. It had begun to sway, and it wasn’t a little. From an ardent opponent, he had now become “convinced” and at least had the patience to listen, without contradicting him, as was the case before.
Parallel to the ideological processing, the psychological processing was also planned, using his connections in Gjirokastër. He, who at the beginning of our acquaintance was so indifferent when we talked about his relatives, now spoke more fondly. He hadn’t seen his brothers and sisters since he ran away 25 years ago. There was weakness and he felt longing, especially for his father, Hakan Banushi, for whom his mind was full, who was not alive. When I found the right opportunity, I went to Gjirokastra. There I also organized the meeting with Avdul’s father and brothers. After I met uncle Hakan, he greeted me, collected himself and directed the conversation: “Son, we have heard different legends about Avdul. They said that a saboteur came, burned, killed, cut, escaped again, and I don’t know. He could not stay without coming to see me, at any cost. However, you know the stories and we look forward to learning them.”
Not wanting uncle Hakan to tire himself with unnecessary explanations, I intervened: “Then, listen to me carefully! Avduli left America for Albania, with an Albanian friend from Montenegro. On April 7, 1975, they crossed the border at Hani e Hoti, where they were caught by border guards. He spent about 2 years in the interrogator and was sentenced to death. The Presidium of the People’s Assembly sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment. So, it has been about 10 years since he was caught and he has been in Burrel prison for over 7 years. That’s how long I’ve known him. I meet with him almost every day. Our relations have been and are good, that is why I am here today. But that being so, you will say, why did I not inform you before? This also has an explanation.
Avduli, for you at first, tried to be indifferent and not show longing. Trying to argue his position, he told me: ‘I have mine and I can’t deny that. But at the same time, I have no moral right to ask you to help me, because I didn’t ask them when I entered these jobs. I came from America to Albania to overthrow the regime, which my brothers may not want, so I think I should leave them alone. This was our fate and I will submit to it…’! Uncle Hakan got up and hugged me as if I were the son he had missed for so long. So did Hodoja and Zijai, Avdul’s two brothers.
The truth of the organization that would overthrow Enver from Burrell’s cells!
Exactly for this reason, the Deputy Minister of the Interior called me to his office. I followed his monologue almost as if haunted. “From the information we have, from several sources, – he continued the statement, – a group has been organized with the aim of overthrowing the people’s power. The main people involved in this organization are serving their sentence in Burrel prison. This activity also extends to several other prisons. However, all are followed in the processing, with agent files, except for some convicts of Burrell, where we also have the main source of this information…”!
Taking my silence as approval, the deputy minister continued: “So we are in front of a real situation. Now, there is nothing else left, only to provide legal evidence, to go towards hitting her heads”.
As he sat slightly turned away from me, he continued again, simplifying the conversation: “We know that you, in Burrel prison, had good relations with the convicts. That’s exactly why I called you,” he concluded. I tried to answer naturally, reluctant to accept the task. The deputy minister, who finally lost his patience, turned to me rudely: “We are done together, you can leave”! As soon as I left his office, I came face to face with B.D. I realized that he was waiting at the door, just to meet me. I had known him for several years. I spoke to him about the issue I had with the deputy minister. B.D., reprimanded me: This problem has been discussed at high levels. Your opposition will be considered as opposition and will be ignored. You don’t hit the wall with your head. So don’t go away. I will talk to the deputy minister and meet him again…”!
It filled my mind and the next day I presented myself again to the deputy minister. When I confronted him, he cut me short: If you came with the mind you had yesterday, you better go!” I immediately let him know that I had changed my attitude. “Okay then,” he freed himself, and began to make a brief summary of yesterday’s orders. – As I told you, – he continued, – the issue is of particular importance. You will study the “Fox” agent file and then plan the tasks you will follow…”
The secrets of the “Fox” file…!
When I went to Burrel, I pulled the “Dhelpra” agency file from the file. In it, it was about a secret organization, which was run by the convicts of Burrell. Her activity extended to the prison of Tirana, that of Spaçi, Qafë-Bari, etc. The goal of this organization was the overthrow of Hoxha’s government and the seizure of power. Its platform was drawn up, even the list of the future shadow government. The main implicated were: Maqo Çomo, Bardhyl Belishova, Daut Gumeni, Avni Aliko, Abdulla Sallaku, Pjetër Arbnori, etc. Outside the prison, the main suspect was Liri Belishova and behind her, person number 117, who coordinated the organization’s actions. Number 117, which was conspiratorial, because it was a person wearing power. Among those implicated, I was impressed by the name of an agent who was kept in touch by us. The assessment was positive.
His sincerity was proven many times with the means of operative technique and parallel agency. Although the meetings with him were continuous and regular, even though he had given some important information, he had never spoken about the existence of such an organization. On the other hand, my attention was drawn to the fact that, while the number of those involved was very large, the number of sources from which the data was obtained, directly or indirectly, was very limited. None of these sources were part of the secret information network of Sigurimi. The logic in this case made me think of data fabrication and the creation of an imaginary organization. On the contrary, we were in front of a very serious organization, planning tasks to misinform the Security authorities and escape our secret network. In this case, the storm was sparked by a letter that had been addressed to Enver, precisely from the Burrell prison…!
The coup revealing letters sent to Enver…!
From the selection of the data of the agency file, it resulted that; reports about the organization and its members came from the whistleblower S.R. from Dibra. He, in a letter he sent to Enver Hoxha, wrote about it in detail, about the people involved and the ways of coordinating the actions, as well as about concrete facts. He wrote that the convicts exchanged messages with the convict Avni Aliko. It was this one, one of the convicts, who was known by all fellow sufferers for his strong character. Avniu, the son of the “People’s Hero” Asim Aliko, was sentenced to 25 years for absconding. In prison, he worked as an accountant and thus had the opportunity to contact everyone. According to S.R., those who enjoyed the trust of the organization were used to send messages to convicts in other prisons, when they went for medical visits to the Prison Hospital in Tirana.
Among other things, S.R. wrote that; the convicts of Burrel, Mersin Vlashi and Gjet Kadeli, also knew about the organization. According to him, these were unstable types, who with a little work could cooperate with the Security and tell everything. At first glance, S.R.’s letter had many true facts. It was true that Daut Gumeni, Avni Aliko, Abdulla Sallaku and Pjetër Arbnori had very good relations with each other. Meanwhile, we also had information from other sources that Avni Alikua was passing letters from one arm to another. Also, there were data that the convicts used the Tirana kaush, when they went for medical visits, to exchange messages. It was impressive that the condition of the other guilds was known quite well by the convicts of Burrell. They were among the first to be informed about new arrests, about their investigative processes, etc. At the same time, they were among the first to learn about the movements of convicts, from one ward to another, as well as the transfers of the officers who served in them.
In addition to the letter that Enveri received from Burrel prison, in the agent’s file, there were also two letters addressed to the Ministry of the Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office from convicts K.L., from Qafë Bari prison and U.N., from Spaçi. Even in them, there was talk about this organization, highlighting as the main leaders: Daut Gumen, Avni Aliko, Abdulla Sallak and Pjetër Arbnor. From the comparison I made of the two letters, with that of S.R., I found some moments that would leave you doubting that they had coordinated with each other before compiling them. However, these were only suspicions, which had to be confirmed, otherwise they were dismissed. From the check in the directory of the Camp-Prison Directorate, it was found that S.R., together with the other two convicts who informed about this organization, had been together at the same time, in the prison of Tirana. In that period, the security partner, “Korabi”, was also there. I met with him. I asked him about the days he had been in prison in Tirana.
In the written report he gave me, he informed me: “During the days I was in prison, I was particularly impressed by the relations of S.R., with the convict K.L., of the Spaç ward and U.N., of the Qafë Bari ward. Their behavior made me think that they were doing something with each other. This report did not prove anything, but rather increased my doubts. They had appeared as witnesses against the convicts who participated in the Spaçi and Qafë Bari Revolts. This fact probably united them with S.R., because he was also known by the convicts of all the Re-Education Departments, as such. Although S.R. was identified by me as an unreliable source, in the further measures, it was planned that he would be “kept close” by us and from time to time, we would ask him for clarifications about the problems he raised in the letter addressed to Enver Hoxha. In order not to create doubts, we used him as an accomplice, without being such, instructing him on the way of dealing with the convicts, which he implied.
Among other things, he informed that; was doing his best to convince Mersin Vlashi and Gjet Kadel to denounce the organization’s activity. One day, in the room where S.R., of Mersini, was located, a fight took place between some convicts. This was used to carry out our operational actions. Some of the convicts were put in dungeons, while three others were transferred to different rooms. S.R., and Mersini, were isolated in two dungeons that were next to each other. Both of these were equipped with the means of operative technique, for intercepting conversations. From the eavesdropping, it turned out that S.R. was talking to Mersin Vlashi, through a code that convicts use to communicate when they were in rooms that were separated by the same wall. It was more or less like working with Morse code. According to the conversation, it turned out that S.R. tried to convince Mersini, so that he too would denounce the created organization. To continue further, we decided to join them in a dungeon together.
Only through this direct action, it would be possible to clarify the position of S.R., as well as the level of authenticity of the information that had been provided until that time, about the organization’s existence. From their interceptions, it turned out that S.R. tried to convince Mersin to write a letter to the prison operative and inform him about the organization, but he did not accept such a proposal. After this situation, for Security, everything became clear. It was proven that S.R. was a professional manufacturer of fake evidence. Immediate intervention was planned to stop him.
If he continued the pressure on Mersin, there was a risk that the latter would break. The tape of S.R.’s conversations with Mersin was decoded and sewn into the “Dhelpra” agency file. Likewise, the conclusions of the comparison of S.R.’s statements with the recorded conversations. It was finally proven that S.R. was not honest. All the convicts of Burrell thought of him as such and could not digest the fact that Sigurimi “valued” his information. It was the moment that even the condemned learned that we did not accept anyone to slander. It was therefore decided to unmask S.R.
Eye to eye with the cheater
The next day I called S.R., at the office of the prison commissioner. From the beginning, I told him: “The letter you sent to Enver Hoxha and everything you have reported so far, about the organization formed by the convicts, their connections with people outside the prison, the platform they have, and other details, I have studied them very carefully. Now I ask you to reproduce it once more. Before you start talking, I want to tell you that, if there will be changes, with what you want to say now, I reserve the right to think that they are not true. Then I’m listening to you.”
S.R., began to talk about what he had written on paper, but now with a special emotional charge. From time to time, he said that the convicts Mersin Vlashi and Gjet Kadeli were also aware of this situation, which is afraid to denounce, but with a little pressure and a small promise, they can agree to cooperate.
– Listen here, – I interrupted. – From what you have said so far, I think I was right, that I suspected. You are a professional cheater period.
– I’m sorry for insulting me, – he said and added that he was ready for what he said; he agreed to face Mersini and Gjeta. At this time, I opened the door and called the guard officer to bring Mersin there. When he got there, I told you: – Security has information about an organization that was created by the convicts in prison and in other words, with the aim of overthrowing the government by violence. For this, we have information that you also know. If you have something to say, say it…!
– Listen, sir, – he began. – Don’t believe these things, because they don’t respect you. S.R., he must have told you something about me too. But he is known as a fraud and you would be wrong to deal with him. I told him that I would bring S.R. He immediately agreed. Entered S.R. in office. I told him that Mersini knew nothing about what he had claimed.
– It is understandable that Mersini means this that he is afraid, – he answered. – Yes, I want to advise him not to be afraid, because the Party will take into account the danger that threatens us. Then, he turned to Mersin and said: – Weren’t we together in the airing, when Avni Aliko and Pjetër Arbnori called us, a year ago, and proposed that we join the organization they had formed. – No sir, – Mersini reacted immediately. – These are not true. Do you want me to lie, so that I can take people by the neck in vain? I am also telling S.R. not to engage in these games, because it is meanness.
S.R., tried to say something, but I interrupted him by saying: – What you are going to say from now on has no value. I opened the door and told the policeman to take Mersini to his room. I called the guard officer and asked him to bring Gjet Kadel there. Gjeta was of eastern origin, living in the villages of Kurbin. He had been convicted of an escape attempt and had been serving his sentence for many years. He was impulsive. When he saw injustice, he was not afraid to argue even with the service policemen. – Why did you call me -, he asked me as he entered the office. I started the conversation with him, getting straight to the point.
– You know the convict S.R., who is in front of you. He claims that you know about an illegal organization, which was formed by convicts, to overthrow the people’s power in Albania. S.R., interrupted me, addressing you to Gjeta. – It’s good to tell the truth, because the Party will get its head out of this job. They leave nothing undiscovered, so tell them, and don’t be afraid. Speak now, because tomorrow will be too late, and you will regret it.
– Listen Mr. Operative, – Gjeta addressed me. – For you to deal with this man, it does not honor you. This is the pattern of the trickster, in the ranks of all prisoners. This is an incredible liar.
– Regardless of this, – I intervened, – do you accept S.R.’s claims that you are aware of the existence of an organization created in the Burrell prison?
– Absolutely not! These are fictions, of the one before us.
– Agreed, – I intervened, – there is no need to continue. You Gjet, you can go and forgive us for the inconvenience, but the meeting with you was requested by S.R., and not by me. All these talks were transcribed by the Operative Worker, Nduja, and the information was recorded in the agency file. I felt satisfied, not only because I had solved a difficult problem, but also because the doubts that arose in me from the first moment about the report of S.R. This convict had rare deceptive qualities, so much so that if you didn’t know him, with his stories, you were in danger of believing the unbelievable.
The letter he had sent to Enver Hoxha was highly appreciated, being considered very trustworthy. Based on it, several active processing files were opened. But successive operational actions fully clarified the situation, as well as the fraudulent position of S.R. Now, even those who were convinced of the organization’s existence, if they read the “Dhelpra” agency file, enriched with new data, would be convinced of the opposite. After that, I exposed S.R., in front of all the convicts, for false reporting. I took S.R., handcuffed, to every room in the prison. That’s why I ordered the convicts not to mistreat S.R., since such a thing could bring consequences for me.
The last fascicle of the “Fox” folder!
It didn’t take long and S.R. sent a letter to the Central Committee of PPSh, and another to the Minister of the Interior, where he accused me, that with hostile intent, I had covered and protected a dangerous organization, which had been formed by the prisoners of the prison Burrel and that I had attacked, those who were trying to help the Party, for discovering and attacking it. In it, he also talked about the “secret connections” I had with members of the organization, mentioning Avni Aliko. The Deputy Minister of the Interior, who had given me the task of uncovering the organization in Burrel prison, urgently asked me to prepare to report on the work done, for this purpose.
I sat down and prepared a summary of all the data contained in the agent’s file, including the clash in the dungeon with Mersin Vlashi, the confrontations and information of the operative technique, which fixed these actions. I also took with me the original tape of these talks. During the meeting, the deputy minister, who became familiar with all this, claimed that it was very clear that we were dealing with a professional fraudster and an imaginary organization.
– As we had started, – emphasized the deputy minister, – we risked getting into a dead end and leading innocent people to death. Before I left, he ordered me to prepare a generalization about the “Fox” case and the agency file, to be archived for archival interests…! Memorie.al
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