U.S. and Cuban intelligence agents also began picking up chatter about a Yankee commando. In the summer of 1958, the C.I.A. reported whispers of a rebel, “identified only as ‘El Americano,’ ” who had played a critical role in “planning and carrying out guerrilla activities,” and who had virtually wiped out a Batista unit while leading his men in an ambush. An informant from a Cuban revolutionary group told the F.B.I. that El Americano was Morgan. Another said that Morgan had “risked his life many times” to save the rebels, and was considered “quite a hero among these forces for bravery and daring.” The reports eventually set off a scramble among U.S. government agencies—including the C.I.A., the Secret Service, the State Department, Army intelligence, and the F.B.I.—to determine who William Alexander Morgan was, and whom he was working for.

David Grann knows.

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