Frank Terpil, American CIA agent and arms dealer, Dead

  Criminal, Law

Frank E. Terpil was born in 1939, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S and died on March 1, 2016.

He was a CIA agent.

He was asked to leave the agency for misconduct in 1971.

Frank Terpil then “went rogue”, and was supplying things such as poison, weapons or mercenaries to all comers on a commercial, rather than ideological, basis.

He served for a while in the U.S. Army, then Frank joined the CIA in 1965, working in the Technical Services division, which adapted technology and weaponry for covert work.

When he left the CIA, he supplied dictators including Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Idi Amin of Uganda.

A U.S. court had indicted him on charges of large-scale illegal arms dealing, in 1980.

Frank skipped bail and left the U.S.; in 1981, he was sentenced in absentia to 53 years’ imprisonment, with the judge describing his operations as “trade in death and destruction”.

Nonetheless, Frank was never put on the FBI most wanted list.

He relocated to Lebanon, offering his services to Yasser Arafat of the PLO.

During 1982, journalist David Fanning and director Antony Thomas produced Frank Terpil: Confessions of a Dangerous Man, which won the Emmy Award for best investigative documentary.

After the invasion of Israel into Lebanon in 1982, Frank moved to Cuba, at that time in dispute with the U.S. and subject to an embargo.

Frank Terpil served for the General Intelligence Directorate, trying to persuade CIA agents to defect though he was not ideologically aligned with the government.

Frank and fugitive Robert Vesco joined forces and offered their network of contacts to the Cuban government.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, there was a slight improvement in relations between the U.S. and Cuba; Frank and Vesco were put under house arrest for defrauding Cuba.

During his later years, Frank Terpil posed as Robert Hunter, an Australian retiree, living with a young Cuban wife at the Playas del Este, outside Havana.

Reportedly, Terpil was concerned that improved U.S.-Cuba relations might lead to his being deported to the U.S.

During 2015, his health was bad; one leg and part of the other foot were amputated following complications from diabetes.

Frank was reported to have died of heart failure on March 1, 2016, three weeks before U.S. president Barack Obama was to make the first visit of a U.S. president to neighboring Cuba in 88 years; it has been suggested that he faked his own death.

Frank Terpil passed away in 2016.