After the so-called fall of the communist regime, the CIA formed a new government in Albania in 1991. Even though I was still a child, I remember vividly the enthusiasm of the Albanian people, especially the youth. They were eager to work, immigrate, invest, start a business, study, build a new house, and prosper. This enthusiasm would reflect more their imperial past rather than a reaction against the regime that kept them locked up for five decades.

That spirit and eager to grow economically and prosper – an imperial spirit of the country of the grand viziers, was not neglected by the Albanian Government and the CIA. The regime had changed, but not the decision of keeping Albanians under poverty and oppression, a decision that was made by the British Empire in 1912 when they occupied the country of the grand viziers.

In the throes of this enthusiasm of the Albanian people, the CIA in cooperation with the Albanian Government started many pyramid schemes. There were financial institutions that promised a deposit interest rate of more than 50% in a few months. Massively, Albanians started to deposit their cash into such Ponzi schemes. People sold their houses, apartments, livestock and whatever they could in order to grow their wealth.

The imperial Albanian people were not stupid, but such Ponzi schemes were endorsed by the Government and the President of Albania. In addition, I remember first hand undercover intelligence service officers going personally to people’s houses to convince them to deposit their cash into such fraud financial institutions. It was a very well-organized governmental process. Then, people had just come out of communist isolation, so they were not very well educated on such American fraud schemes.

In the late 1996, all the Ponzi schemes declared bankruptcy. The money of the Albanian hardworking people was stolen flagrantly by the Government and the CIA. All over the country, people took to the streets to protest against such an unprecedented fraud. The situation escalated into the civil war of 1997.

On March 28, 1997, a group of residents from Vlora, Albania, boarded a ship in order to escape to Italy. Sadly, their ship was collided by an Italian navy ship. As a result, 84 people died in what is known as The Tragedy of Otranto.

A few days ago, it marked the 26th anniversary of this tragedy caused directly by the Government of Albania in cooperation with the Italian Government and the CIA.

Twenty six years later, there are still many questions unanswered.

How did the Albanian Intelligence Service convince them to board the ship? What was the role of the CIA, the US Embassy and the UK Embassy in Tirana? Was there in that ship someone who probably was the main target of the US Government?

Who was in that ship really matters in order to understand why the CIA caused that tragedy.

We stand with the families of the innocent victims.

Sabri Lushi


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