Gust Avrakotos

Gust Avrakotos

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Gustav Lascaris "Gust" Avrakotos (January 14, 1938 – December 1, 2005) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 case officer and Afghan Task Force Chief for the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

.

Avrakotos was little known to the public until the book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, was published in 2003. The book, which portrays U.S. involvement in the Afghan-Soviet War as a partnership between Avrakotos and Texas Congressman Charles Wilson, was the basis of the film Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy drama film recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with "bare knuckle attitude" CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen in their...

, released in 2007.

Biography and career


Avrakotos was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Aliquippa is a city in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States, within the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The population was 9,438 at the 2010 census. Formerly a borough, it was formally named a city in 1987 by the Aliquippa Council.-History:...

 the son of a Greek American
Greek American
Greek Americans are Americans of Greek descent also described as Hellenic descent. According to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimation, there were 1,380,088 people of Greek ancestry in the United States, while the State Department mentions that around 3,000,000 Americans claim to be of Greek descent...

 soft drink
Soft drink
A soft drink is a non-alcoholic beverage that typically contains water , a sweetener, and a flavoring agent...

 manufacturer, from the island of Lemnos
Lemnos
Lemnos is an island of Greece in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Lemnos peripheral unit, which is part of the North Aegean Periphery. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Myrina...

. He briefly worked at Jones and Laughlin Steel mill in Aliquippa before graduating valedictorian
Valedictorian
Valedictorian is an academic title conferred upon the student who delivers the closing or farewell statement at a graduation ceremony. Usually, the valedictorian is the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution...

 from Aliquippa High School
Aliquippa High School
Aliquippa Jr./Sr. High School is located in the city of Aliquippa in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. in 2007, The Jr./Sr. High supports grades 9–12 with an enrollment of 465 students. By 2010 the grade 9–12 enrollment declined to 329 pupils with further decline projected through 2019...

 in 1955. Avrakotos attended the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics. He also attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology
Carnegie Institute of Technology
The Carnegie Institute of Technology , is the name for Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering. It was first called the Carnegie Technical Schools, or Carnegie Tech, when it was founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie who intended to build a “first class technical school” in Pittsburgh,...

.

He joined the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 in 1962 and his assignments included an anti-communist mission in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and duty in the CIA's Langley, Virginia
Langley, Virginia
Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

, headquarters.
It has been alleged that Avrakotos was the link between the CIA and Greek Secret Service (KYP) and that he met future dictator Georgios Papadopoulos and other military men who played a part in the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. It has been implied that Avrakotos played a role in approving the Greek Junta coup against Cyprus President Makarios and the subsequent Turkish invasion .

In the 1980s while at Langley and working with Rep. Wilson, Avrakotos led Operation Cyclone
Operation Cyclone
Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency program to arm, train, and finance the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, 1979 to 1989...

, the largest covert operation
Covert operation
A covert operation is a military, intelligence or law enforcement operation that is carried clandestinely and, often, outside of official channels. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation...

 in the CIA's history. Through intermediaries the CIA armed Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

's Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 during the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

. Avrakotos was re-assigned "just as the Stinger antiaircraft missile launchers
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 downed the first Soviet gunships" and after a brief role in an African assignment, he retired from the CIA in 1989.

Avrakotos then worked for TRW
TRW
TRW Inc. was an American corporation involved in a variety of businesses, mainly aerospace, automotive, and credit reporting. It was a pioneer in multiple fields including electronic components, integrated circuits, computers, software and systems engineering. TRW built many spacecraft,...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and for News Corp., for which he began a business intelligence
Business intelligence
Business intelligence mainly refers to computer-based techniques used in identifying, extracting, and analyzing business data, such as sales revenue by products and/or departments, or by associated costs and incomes....

 newsletter, working in Rome and McLean, Virginia
McLean, Virginia
McLean is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. The community had a total population of 48,115 as of the 2010 census....

. He returned to the CIA as a contractor
Independent contractor
An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when...

 from 1997 until 2003.

Avrakotos died of a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 in 2005.

Portrayal


Avrakotos was portrayed in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy drama film recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with "bare knuckle attitude" CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen in their...

by Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman is an American actor and director. Hoffman began acting in television in 1991, and the following year started to appear in films...

. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Avrakotos.

External links