The Tibetan people are well known for being devoutly religious and peace loving. What is less known is that thousands of Tibetans took up arms against the invading forces of Communist China and waged a bitter and bloody guerrilla war. From the mid-1950s until 1969 they were aided in their efforts by an unlikely ally in the CIA.

Between 1957 and 1969 the CIA armed, financed and helped to train Tibetan guerrillas who operated, first inside Tibet, and later after the Dalai Lama's escape to India in 1959 from a base in Mustang, a remote corner of northwestern Nepal. This project, code-named ST CIRCUS, was one of the CIA’s longest running covert operations. The withdrawal of the CIA's support in 1969 was as abrupt as its initial involvement was unexpected: the Tibetans had simply fit into America's larger policy of destabilizing or overthrowing Communist regimes, and when that no longer applied, they were abandoned.

With unique archive footage and exclusive interviews with former resistance fighters and surviving CIA operatives, The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet reveals for the first time this hitherto unknown chapter in Tibet's recent history. Presenting a tale that is both heroic and tragic, full of sad ironies and unexpected twists that overturn all preconceptions about both Tibet and the CIA.

Click to view a QuickTime
preview of the program.