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Gustav "Gust" Avrakotos
Born Gustav Lascaris Avrakotos
January 14, 1938(1938-01-14)
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, USA
Died December 1, 2005 (aged 67)
Inova Fairfax Hospital, Virginia[1]
Cause of death Stroke
Ethnicity Greek American
Citizenship  United States
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute of Technology
Occupation Case officer, Task Force Chief
Employer U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Known for Operation Cyclone
Awards Intelligence Medal of Merit (1988)[1]

Gustav Lascaris "Gust" Avrakotos (January 14, 1938 – December 1, 2005[2]) was an American case officer and Afghan Task Force Chief for the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Avrakotos was little known to the public until the book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History,[3] was published in 2003.[1] The book, which portrays U.S. involvement in the war as a partnership between Avrakotos and Texas Congressman Charles Wilson, was the basis of the film Charlie Wilson's War, released in 2007.


Biography and career

Avrakotos was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania the son of a Greek American soft drink manufacturer. He briefly worked at Jones and Laughlin Steel mill in Aliquippa before graduating valedictorian from Aliquippa High School in 1955.[4] Avrakotos attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics. He also attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology.[1]

He joined the CIA in 1962 and his assignments included an anti-terrorist mission in Greece and duty in the CIA's Langley, Virginia, headquarters. In the 1980s. while at Langley and working with Rep. Wilson, Avrakotos led Operation Cyclone, the largest covert operation in the CIA's history. Through intermediaries the CIA armed Afghanistan's Mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Avrakotos was re-assigned "just as the Stinger antiaircraft missile launchers downed the first Soviet gunships" and after a brief role in an African assignment, he retired from the CIA in 1989.[1]

Avrakotos then worked for TRW in Rome and for News Corp., for which he began a business intelligence newsletter, working in Rome and McLean, Virginia. He returned to the CIA as a contractor from 1997 until 2003.[1]

Avrakotos died of a stroke in 2005.[1]


Avrakotos was portrayed in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War by Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Avrakotos.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sullivan, Patricia (2005-12-25). "CIA Agent Gust L. Avrakotos Dies at Age 67". Washington Post: p. C08. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  2. ^ Gust L. Avrakotos, Social Security Death Index
  3. ^ Crile, George, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, ISBN 0-87113-854-9
  4. ^ a b Tady, Scott. "CIA agent and Aliquippa native helped down the Soviets," Beaver County Times, December 19, 2007

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