Operation Gladio | How The Mob Financed The CIA's Secret Army After World War II, the CIA hatched a covert plan to stop Soviet expansion in Europe. They created a secret army, recruiting an unexpected mix of allies. This clandestine operation, known as Gladio, spanned across all NATO countries. What began as a defensive strategy quickly morphed into something far more sinister. Innocent civilians became casualties in a shadow war fought on European streets.