Most human beings are but a mass of contradictions, no more so than some participating in clandestine operations where both legal skills and illicit ones are often required. Seldom are those practicing tradecraft what they appear to be and in rare cases they are far more than even their handlers expect. One noted Central Intelligence Agency foreign contract agent was an inventor, bank robber, photographer, forger, researcher, and potential assassin. Most knew him merely under the shadowy moniker WIROGUE-1 for decades.
David Tzitzichvili aka WIROGUE-1 was reportedly born in Gori, Georgia, a later Soviet Union holding on July 12, 1918. His parents fled with him and a substantial amount of money prior to the Bolshevik invasion of Georgia. While his family lived excessively for a time, eventually they fell upon poverty and this hardened Tzitzichvili's desire for revenge against the Soviets. "He is a person who cannot tolerate being beaten in competition." He was educated in Paris and studied at several institutions as his family repeatedly moved within France. Several cases of educational rebellion, insubordination, and expulsions from multiple schools are the first signs of his eternal problem with authority.i His family later fell apart following his father and sister's return to Soviet controlled Georgia and his mother's resulting suicide from despair.
Tzitzichvili left his final college attempt with the outbreak of World War II during November of 1939 and joined the French Foreign Legion to serve in its 1st Calvary Regiment. During 1940 while attending a military training course, he withdrew and asked for reassignment to a unit comprised of all Georgians. That same year he was assigned to his requested unit and was discharged when France lost significant territory to German annexation.That same year Tzitzichvili was assigned to his requested unit and was discharged when France lost significant territory to German annexation. During 1942, he was self-employed managing a photo shop in Paris and began training himself in document forgery using personal identification papers and practicing additional photographic techniques.
Tzitzichvili then went to Berlin and found production line work where he received a commendation for developing a cartridge case adjustment device. Privately he began to alter past German official stamps and travel forms and formed a small resistance cell to repatriate and liberate war prisoners. Within two years he was creating several travel documents and learned photographic skills that allowed him to develop more impressive forgery techniques and the recycling of old forged documents. David later provided these augmented materials to people who sought to travel across Germany territory. His illegal activities further expanded into the counterfeiting of German financial vouchers in time. It was during this period he lost his left index finger and thumb in an explosion after attempting to salvage a bomb. Tzitzichvili subsequently worked as a translator for German police having already become proficient in Georgian, French, and German and had a fair grasp of English.
The WIROGUE-1 Project Outline reveals the "subject was arrested by the German police for forgery. He was not unduly held by the criminal investigation branch of the police but passed on to the Gestapo. Subject was brought to Berlin where he was interrogated for several months at Gestapo headquarters." Eventually Nazi officials sentenced Tzitzichvili to death but he convinced officials of his inventive skills it was possible to develop a motor that could run without gasoline. Using the false motor claim, he was able to postpone his sentence and moved from camp to camp until Allied forces later freed him.
Following WWII Tzitzichvili returned to Paris and was employed by a company to perform electrical installation planning and the construction of proto-type model builder. He committed two successful jewelry store robberies on behalf of a friend but a successive bank robbery attempt led to his arrest in 1950 when his co-conspirator informed on him. While serving his prison sentence David Tzitzichvili developed and sold a pocket automatic transit indicator and received a cash settlement for his latest invention in the early 1950s. In 1953, he gave his prison administrator an invention for making cardboard boxes the official constructed and later used. During 1955 Tzitzichvili gains employment as an X-ray machine technician and operator and less than two years later he invented, patented, and sold a calendar device to the French commercial market. While his aggressiveness and criminal intent are often noted, his technical skill and intelligence were largely unknown. He is not a mere criminal patsy but an intelligent operative that a year later in 1958 invented and patented a commercial photomechanical advertising device.
The Central Intelligence Agency first contacted Tzitzichvili in 1958 after they received a lead regarding him. The Agency Station in Frankfurt, Germany recruited him for the Soviet Russia Division in 1959 for use in their REDSOX program targeting the Soviet Union with illegal operations. Officials were concerned after his initial recruitment if he could actually work reasonably with another agent in the proposed operation. Following his psychological assessment and polygraph testing officials decided he would be utilized and one summary reports "Another aspect of his system of ideals proceeds from the life concept of chivalry...This involves the defense and the protection of the oppressed and the weak. It is sort of a Robin Hood concept which he attributes to himself...In other words he is motivated to helping others to obtain love and affection." Despite the very destructive and criminal nature of his repeated actions, he seemed to still be partially motivated by a warped sense of nobility. Yet a motivation to "succeed out of a spirit of revenge" taints his declared "nobility".ii
The first cryptonym he was assigned is AEASPIC and was trained in April 1959 to serve in another CIA project.iii His training at a "covert site ops base formerly in the District of Columbia" included clandestine field operations, small arms, Soviet interrogation techniques, the Russian language, the AESENTINEL operations plan, air infiltration, exfiltration techniques, and the related aircraft practices that best served planned attempts to enter restricted areas.iv However, Tzitzichvili's use in AESENTINEL was postponed and he was assigned to the CIA Technical Services Division to perform cataloging and developmental roles.
Officials cancel Project AESENTINEL as Tzitzichvili was living in Washington D.C. on June 17, 1960, and he was reassigned to the African Division after it "expressed interest and agreed to utilize him." Eventually officials would replace his cryptonym with its more notorious incarnation WIROGUE-1. One of multiple pseudonyms he would further assume for operational use is Georg Franz Heiner. Despite the extensive use of WIROGUE-1, he reportedly was not aware what specific intelligence group was using him. "He knows he is connected with some intelligence organization...He does not know anything about KUBARK (CIA) organization nor its modus operandi."v The Agency considers resettling him in Mexico during August of 1960.vi
David Tzitzichvili is later a foreign contract agent deployed to the Congo under the cover of a photographic business owner. To prevent his discovery by prior associates and enemy agencies he undergoes plastic surgery, wears a wig, and his false documents claim he is Austrian. His mission's initial purpose is to "provide a long term deep cover asset...in the Republic of Congo and adjacent areas in order to build a covert net in support of operation activities and to provide an asset utility support for KUBARK personnel under official cover."vii The Eisenhower Administration had prior decided that Congolese Prime Minster Patrice Lumumba was a threat to national security due to his countries extensive uranium holdings. Lumumba's decision to undertake diplomacy with the Soviets and others who might threaten US access to these uranium stores inspired the discussion and planning of his potential assassination.viii
Leopoldville Station within the Congo sent a message after reviewing the project to CIA Director Allen Dulles that offered, "WIROGUE One appears to be just what the doctor ordered."ix Agency officer William Harvey consequently uses him for spotting and recruiting potential sabotage agents and assassins under Project ZRRIFLE. Tzitzichvili and even more notorious sabotage agent and potential assassin QJWIN stay in the same hotel during December 1960. The CIA's Leopoldville Station would eventually regret using Tzitzichvili for his "freewheeling... lack of security...inability to handle finances, and unwillingness to follow instructions." It seems WIROGUE is ever a classic example of personality beset with contradictions.
Some details make Tzitzichvili a perfect candidate for political assassinations and illegal projects such as his dependency on the CIA. Officials in there project assessment confide to each other "The more important built in control is the fact that he will be under false documents, and being stateless, he is completely dependent on KUBARK to perpetuate his quasi legal existence to eventually legalize his status. Added to this is the control which stems from the prospect of resettlement in another country. This would give him status as a citizen. Realizing these points, subject is more than willing to play ball with us." Added to this advantage is Tzitzichvili's chronic need to commit escalating crimes and challenge his intellect without consideration to the law. He is skilled in multiple languages, covert operations, well versed in deception, and had extremely valuable technical insights.
Yet he also presents the same unpredictable streak we can observe in various intelligence related individuals and Tzitzichvili further has a severe issue with authority he believed was undeserving or unfair. While evidence does not support that he was utilized to kill Patrice Lumumba and had distinct problems with following orders, he still proves to be a useful mold for a potential assassin officials would utilize in the right circumstances. In 1964, Tzitzichvili was turned over to another official group for resettlement and the Agency believed he could not cause potential controversy because he knew little of the CIA. Officials did not anticipate the notoriety his assigned cryptonym would gain and its attachment to programs historically related to the Kennedy administration later declassified files revealed.
i. Central Intelligence Agency, WIROGUE, Volume III, Subject: David, January 8-10, 1959, National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 104-10182-10057, pp. 1, 2
ii. Ibid, pp. 2-3
iii. Ibid, Project Outline, November 16, 1960, pp. 1-4, 8
iv. CIA, File on WIROGUE, Subject: Informal Character Assessment of WIROGUE, October 9, 1964, NARA ID: 104-10182-10069
v. CIA, WIROGUE, Volume III, Project Outline, pp. 5-7
vi. Ibid, Mexican Resettlement Arrangements for AESENTINEL agent AEASPIC, August 19, 1960
vii. Ibid, Financial Annex, Project WIROGUE-Loan, November 16, 1960
viii. House Select Committee on Assassinations, CIA Segregated File, Memo on QJWIN, Box 36, NARA ID: 104-10103-10291, pp. 1, 7
ix. CIA, WIROGUE, Volume III, Cable from Leopoldville to Director, WIROGUE, November 2, 1960