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Strange Secrets

Strange Secrets: An Interview With Author Nick Redfern
by Kenn Thomas, Editor of Steamshovel Press

      Nick Redfern emigrated to the USA to live in 2001. Nick's new book, Strange Secrets: Real Government Files on the Unknown (co-written with British author Andy Roberts), is just about to be published by Simon & Schuster. We speak with him about the book and its revelations linking the world of British, American and Russian Intelligence with that of the unexplained.

      Q: What, broadly, is Strange Secrets about?

      A: Essentially, the book is an examination of official files created from the 19th Century to the present day and shows the way in which various Intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, MI5, the US Defence Intelligence Agency and former KGB - among numerous others - have investigated unexplained phenomena and unsolved mysteries and have collated what might be termed real-life X-Files.

      Q: Can you give the readers a few examples of the information that appears in the book?

      A: Sure. The first thing I would want to stress to anyone reading this interview and who is contemplating buying the book, is that it does not rely on questionable or anonymous sources or unverifiable data. Even though some of the subject matter might be considered bizarre, the book is based solely on an examination of official documents that have surfaced via the US Government's Freedom of Information Act or the British Government's Thirty Year Ruling. I guess that perhaps one of the strangest revelations is the fact that both British and US Intelligence have investigated the so-called Crop Circle mystery. Practically everyone who reads UFO Magazine, I am sure, has heard of Crop Circles and has seen photographs of the various formations - or pictograms - that appear throughout England and the world each year. But less well known is what has been learned about the subject at an official level. For more than a decade rumours have circulated to the effect that the British Government has undertaken covert investigations of Crop Circles. To an extent, at least, that is true. At the Public Record Office at Kew there exists an intriguing file prepared at the height of the Second World War by none other than MI5 and that was declassified in 2001. The file deals with the way in which MI5 suspected that Nazi sympathisers and Fifth Columnists in the UK were sending messages to - and communicating with - the enemy. Interestingly, MI5 learned that in Poland, Holland, France and Belgium, this included 'the cutting of cornfields into guiding marks for aircraft'. To illustrate how closely this parallels today's Crop Circles, the official file refers to enemy sympathisers 'beating out signs twenty metres in diameter on harrowed fields or mowing such signs on meadows or cornfields'. Crop circles in other words! Interestingly, MI5 investigated a number of such formations that appeared in various British fields from 1940-1943 to determine if any of those same formations were some form of coded message intended for German pilots flying overhead.

      Q: Have British authorities been involved in investigating other, similar mysteries, too?

      A: Yes, and particularly during the Second World War. One perfect example is contained in a chapter we title 'The Dowsing Detectives.' This is a look at a fascinating and never-before-seen file on a piece of wartime history that reveals the way in which elements of the British Police Force used people with dowsing abilities to locate dead bodies buried under the rubble created by Hitler's forces. As with many controversial subjects, the Police file reveals that there were as many believers in the ability of the dowser as there were those who thought that the subject should be ignored. But what is perhaps most interesting is that it was police personnel themselves that were doing the dowsing. And they had some startling successes too in locating dead bodies purely by water divining-means. And these events attracted the keen attention of the British Government, with the files and reports reaching the wartime Ministry of Home Security, which took a close interest in the way in which the controversy developed.

      Q: What is the oldest file you have in the book?

      A: This would have to be a series of documents that we found in the files of the British Admiralty that are held at the Public Record Office at Kew. Contained in these documents are various accounts of sightings by naval personnel of what can only be described as Sea Serpents. Let me quote to you the text of one such report, written in 1830 by Captain James Stockdale of the ship the Rob Roy, who had an amazing encounter near the island of St. Helena on Sunday, May 9 of that year. Stockdale wrote: 'About five p.m. all at once while I was walking on the poop my attention was drawn to the water on the port bow by a scuffling noise. Judge my amazement when what should stare us all in the face as if not knowing whether to come over the deck or to go around the stern - but the great thundering big sea snake! My ship is 171 feet long overall - and the foremast is 42 feet from the stern which would make the monster about 129 feet long. The brute was so close I could even smell his nasty fishy smell.' This is just a small extract from Stockdale's account and it makes for bizarre and illuminating reading. And this is just one of a number of such accounts held in the British Admiralty's Sea Serpent File.

      Q: The Press Release for the book also talks about British Government files on Foo Fighter sightings during the Second World War.

      A: Yes. As many readers will know, the Foo Fighters were essentially a precursor to what would later become known as Flying Saucers and UFOs. All credit to finding these Air Ministry and Royal Air Force files must go to my co-author Andy Roberts and Dr. David Clarke. Throughout much of the war, military pilots - both Allied and Axis - reported close encounters with strange aerial phenomena that became known as Foo Fighters and that were described as being like small balls of light or globes of light that would approach military aircraft at high speed, fly alongside them and then usually streak away at high speed without exhibiting any outward hostility. The Air Ministry's files from the War reveal the details of a number of such cases and the way in which they were investigated at an official level, along with the theories that the Foo Fighters were possibly some sort of German secret weapon. But one report in particular falls into a classic UFO category and refers to the sighting by a Royal Air Force crew taking part in a raid on Turin in 1942 of a 2-300 foot long object seen flying at an estimated speed of 500 MPH.

      Q: The book contains several other chapters that have a UFO connection to them.

      A: Yes. We also include an extensive chapter on FBI files on the so-called Cattle Mutilation mystery that has afflicted much of the USA for decades. On numerous occasions dating back to at least the 1960s, ranchers across the USA have reported finding their cattle dead with blood drained from their bodies and organs removed with what looks like surgical precision. Unmarked helicopters are often seen in the vicinity of the mutilations, as are unusual and unidentified aerial lights. Again, for the sceptical, I would stress that this is all corroborated in the FBI's own officially released records that are reproduced in the book. Various theories have been put forward that these mutilations are linked with UFOs or Satanic cults. However, I dug very deeply into this mystery and located at the National Archives in Maryland various formerly Top Secret files from the late 1940s showing that the US Government's Research and Development Board was very concerned that a hostile nation would attempt to cripple the US food chain by deliberately infecting the cattle herd with a lethal biological agent. Moreover, it was stated at the time that US authorities should keep a regular check on the cattle herd to determine if someone had successfully infected it with lethal and dangerous viruses. Personally, I'm now convinced that many of the so-called Cattle Mutilations are the work of covert military units that periodically and randomly carry out stealthy checks on the US cattle herd to determine the presence of these emerging viruses and diseases that might have been introduced deliberately by foreign and unfriendly nations and maybe, today, even by terrorist-type groups.

      Q: Strange Secrets also addresses the way in which the US Government and the Nazis attempted to build Flying Saucer-like aircraft. Can you expand on this?

      A: Yes. There have been long-standing rumours to the effect that the Nazis developed prototype aircraft in the latter stages of the Second World War that would broadly fit the classic description of a UFO or a Flying Saucer. Several such reports exist in the files of the FBI in the form of interviews with former Luftwaffe personnel, for example. Similarly, the FBI's records reveal that as far back as 1947, a number of FBI agents were personally convinced that UFOs were the product of a secret US programme that was designing and building Flying Saucer-like craft based on captured German technology brought to the US at the close of the Second World War and in conjunction with the Paperclip operation that secured the use of numerous German scientists for postwar research. But perhaps most eye-opening are the files we reproduce in the book from the US Air Force that show as far back as 1962, studies were being undertaken to try and build and deploy a fleet of battle-ready and fully armed Flying Saucer-style spacecraft that would orbit the Earth at a height of 300 miles for up to six weeks! We also show the way in which the CIA carefully exploited the UFO mystery as a cover for its covert U-2 flights at the height of the Cold War.

      Q: In terms of content, what would you say is the strangest official file that appears in the book?

      A: That would have to be the FBI's file on the Contactees. These, as I'm sure you're aware, were people who, in the 1950s and 1960s, claimed to be in contact with human-like aliens who wanted us to disarm our nuclear arsenals and live in peace. Many of the accounts are of an outrageous, bizarre nature and are very cult-like. And as strange as it seems, the FBI collated extensive files on many of these people who claimed alien contact. However, the Freedom of Information Act shows that the foremost reason for the FBI's interest and concern in these people was not because of the alien aspect of their stories per se. Rather, it was because several of the Contactees, such as the notorious George Adamski, were claiming that their alleged alien friends had a Communist style of government! Today this aspect of the FBI's investigations might seem totally unbelievable and unwarranted; but 50 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, J. Edgar Hoover dispatched agents to uncover anyone that might have Communist leanings; and this included the so-called Contactees. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

      Q: The book also focuses on religion, too.

      A: That's correct. We have a chapter in there on the CIA's file on Noah's Ark. There have been stories quietly told for many years that in the late 1940s and 1950s the CIA carried out a covert search for the remains of the legendary Ark of Noah that, according to the Bible, came to rest on Mount Ararat, Turkey. There are references to satellite and aircraft imagery of the Ark and even tales of remnants of the Ark having been recovered by US Intelligence. The files that the CIA has released via the Freedom of Information Act add valuable and intriguing data to this story. Within the CIA, the Ark - or what some suspected to be the Ark - became known as The Ararat Anomaly.

      Q: It's been a long-standing and acknowledged fact that US Intelligence has spent a lot of time delving into the world of Remote Viewing or what might be termed Psychic Spying.

      A: That's right. Our book includes a whole section titled Mind Games that includes 5 chapters on the way that research into the power of the mind as a potential tool of espionage has been studied in both Russia and the USA. Maybe strangest of all was the research that both the US Department of Defence and the Russian military carried out to determine if Extra-Sensory Perception - or ESP - existed in the Animal Kingdom. Their conclusions - reached entirely independently - suggested it probably did exist in some form in higher animals such as dogs. The US DoD report also focuses on the possibility of an afterlife in the animal kingdom and discusses various experiments that had been undertaken to try and ascertain this. We also show that in 1952 the US Department of Defense was briefed on the way in which extrasensory perception could be used as a tool of psychological warfare. On this later subject of psychological warfare, we also reveal the way in which the US Army exploited legends of Vampires, Werewolves, Witchcraft and Sorcery to terrify superstitious enemy troops on various battlefields in the Philippines and in Vietnam.

      Q: Having conducted all of this research, what are your conclusions about the way in which the worlds of officialdom and the unexplained have crossed paths?

      A: Well, it's quite clear from examining the files on ESP and Psychic Spying that this research was carried out purely to determine if, at the height of the Cold War, there was a chance that the phenomena could be used as a tool of espionage. Similarly, the FBI's files on the Contactees had deep Cold War overtones and related directly to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's concerns about Communism and the very real Soviet threat that existed at the time. And it can be argued that the British Government files on Crop Circles, Dowsing and the Foo Fighters were created largely as a result of the Nazi threat of the 1940s. And of course, the issue of lethal viruses and biological warfare as it relates to the Cattle Mutilation issue is one that is very relevant in today's post-9-11 world. But there are files in the book that are more problematic in terms of the motive for their creation - such as the CIA files on Noah's Ark.

      Q: Briefly and finally, does the book focus on any other areas?

      A: Yes. We have chapters on the Royal Air Force's files on sightings of the Loch Ness Monster; FBI records on so-called Spontaneous Human Combustion; official records on encounters with real-life Men in Black; US Government files on rare weather phenomena such as Ball-Lightning; British Government records on sightings of large, predatory cats seen roaming the countryside - such as pumas and panthers and much more.

      Q: Can we expect to see any other titles from you in the future and what are you doing in the US now?

      A: I'm doing a lot of work with Ryan Wood, of www.majesticdocuments.com on the whole MJ12 controversy. Andy Roberts and I have a book coming out next year on an alleged UFO crash incident in Wales in 1974 and that coincides with the 30th anniversary of the case, and I also have another book out next year on another big interest of mine - cryptozoology, or the search for unknown animals.

      Strange Secrets: Real Government Files on the Unknown by Nick Redfern & Andy Roberts is published by Simon & Schuster's division, Paraview Pocket Books in May 2003. ISBN: 0-7434-6976-3. It is available in all good bookshops and can also be ordered from
www.amazon.com and from Simon & Schuster's website, www.simonsays.com Nick Redfern can be contacted at skywatcher4u@aol.com

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