Alexander Irwin Rorke

Alexander Irwin Rorke

Alexander Irwin Rorke, the son of Alexander Rorke, a Manhattan district attorney, was born on 9th August 1926. After graduating from St. John's University he attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

During the Second World War Rorke served as a military intelligence specialist in the U.S. Army. He was responsible for the security of five German provinces and participated in the first postwar roundup of Communist agents in the Allied military zones of Germany.

After the war Rorke married Jacqueline Billingsley, the daughter of Sherman Billingsley, the owner of the New York Stork Club. Rorke became a freelance newsman.

According to a declassified FBI document, Rorke began working for the CIA in 1960. His contact officer was Commander Anderson of the United States Navy who was assigned to the CIA office in New York City. Rorke later joined Frank Sturgis, in attempts to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

On 19th December 1961, Rorke and Sturgis, who was known as Frank Fiorini at the time, were involved in a CIA operation that included dropping over 250,000 anti-Castro leaflets on Cuba. Rorke was later interviewed by the FBI about these anti-Castro activities. The FBI report on this interview stated: "Rorke advised that in the event Fiorini would be arrested for his anti-Castro activities, he, Rorke, having good connections with a well-known newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved.For the information of the Bureau, the newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved."

Rorke and Geoffrey Sullivan made several flights over Cuba, including a bombing raid on a refinery area near Havana on 25th April 1963. Later that year Rorke began working for Luis Somoza, former president of Nicaragua. Jacqueline Rorke said her husband told her he was going to Mangua to see Somoza about opening an export-import business, but that he and Sullivan filed a flight plan in Fort Lauderdale for Panama. After refueling at Cozumel, they changed the flight plan to make Tegucigalpa, Honduras, their destination.

Rorke and Sullivan and a passenger identified as Enrique Molina Garcia, took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 24th September, 1963. Later that day their aircraft disappeared while flying over Cuba. According to a statement released by Sherman Billingsley: "They were last seen when they were kidnapped or captured and are being held by the agents of an unfriendly government or, possibly, by that government itself."

Alexander Irwin Rorke was declared legally dead in 1968.

Primary Sources

(1) FBI memorandum to J. Edgar Hoover and William Sullivan from SAC, New York about an interview with Alexander Irwin Rorke (22nd June 1962)

Alexander Irwin Rorke, Jr., who has been closely associated with Frank Fiorini for the past two years, was interviewed on 6/22/62 concerning instant matter...

Rorke advised that on the last leaflet-dropping flight over Cuba, he was with Fiorini and that one of the two planes they used were lost, and the pilots of this lost plane were identified as Bob Swannee of Mississippi and Bob Thompson of Melbourne, Florida. Rorke stated that this leaflet-dropping operation was entirely supported by the CIA.

In connection with the flights over Cuba, Rorke stated that Fiorini does not pilot the planes and acts for the most part as a co-pilot. The planes are rented in the United States and flown to bases outside the United States such as the Bahamas. In making the contract for the rental of the planes, usually someone other than Fiorini signs the contract, although Fiorini is in contact with local CIA agents in Miami relative to the details of the flight. Rorke stated that Fiorini has instructions that on these flights, if he is arrested or stopped, he is to notify the officers that they should telephone a number which is the number of the CIA office in the Miami area. Fiorini has also been informed, according to Rorke, that if anyone arrests him, CIA will get him out. Rorke identified the CIA contact in Miami as one “Barker”. Rorke stated that he did not know whether this was an assumed name or the individual’s real name.

Rorke advised that he could not understand why the Bureau was interested now in the activities of Fiorini as all of Fiorini’s actions are fully known to CIA in Miami and there should be a record of his activities on file with CIA in Washington, D.C. Rorke stated he knows for a fact that Fiorini has not done anything on his own and that whatever he has done in the past he has done on instructions from CIA…

Rorke advised that he originally made contact with CIA regarding Fiorini and recommended the use by CIA of Fiorini and his group. Rorke identified Commander Anderson of the United States Navy, who is assigned to CIA overt office in New York, as his original contact. He further advised that additional contacts had been made in Washington, D. C. and activities of Fiorini and his group had been discussed through intermediaries with Colonel King and Deke James of CIA headquarters, Washington, D.C….

Rorke advised that in the event Fiorini would be arrested for his anti-Castro activities, he, Rorke, having good connections with a well-known newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved.

For the information of the Bureau, the newspaper chain, will make plenty of trouble for those involved.

(2) Havana Journal (25th July, 2007)

An American woman has sued Cuban leader Fidel Castro, alleging he caused the wrongful death of her pilot father after he was shot down over Cuba and imprisoned in 1963 while on a covert mission.

Sherry Sullivan filed her lawsuit in May in Waldo County Superior Court, but the judge delayed action until last week while considering how to serve papers to the defendants, who also include Castro’s brother Raul, the Cuban army and the Republic of Cuba.

The judge decided to send a certified Spanish translation of the suit to Cuba by registered mail, but has yet to receive proof of its delivery to the parties named.

The lawsuit alleges that Geoffrey Francis Sullivan, who was 29 at the time, was captured after being shot down and that he died while being held in a Cuban jail for political prisoners. His daughter contends that Fidel Castro had “intentionally, unlawfully and with complete disregard for human life” caused Sullivan’s imprisonment and eventual death.

No formal record of the death was ever recorded. The Social Security Administration has declared that Sullivan is dead, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has listed him as missing in action.

“I don’t have any actual proof that my father was executed, but I believe he was,” Sullivan told the Bangor Daily News.

The lawsuit says Geoffrey Sullivan and New York newspaperman Alexander Irwin Rorke Jr., who was believed to be a CIA operative, took part in numerous anti-Castro operations in the three years leading up to their disappearance.

The last known sighting of the pair was when they took off from Mexico on Oct. 1, 1963, in a twin-engine Beechcraft. A month earlier, Sullivan and Rorke allegedly had taken part in a bombing run over Cuba, an act that received widespread news coverage and identified both men as being involved.

Sullivan, 52, said she has devoted her life to “uncovering the truth” about her father, but was stymied in her repeated attempts to gather information from government agencies. She has more than 100,000 pages of documents related to the case, she said.

Her suit states that she “has credible information from a variety of independent, identified, sources that her father was captured and held by Fidel Castro and the government of Cuba” in violation of international law.

The suit says Castro and his co-defendants are liable under a 1996 U.S. law that allows victims of states identified as sponsors of terrorism to sue for damages.

In recent years, Castro’s regime has been repeatedly sued in American courts. The damages are generally to be paid from Cuban assets frozen by the Kennedy administration.