Yehuda Avner writes in the Jerusalem Post (thanks to Romy) about a revealing encounter with a veteran British espionage agent:
Carefully combing a few long strands of gray hair over the top of his bald head, he retorted rather ominously: “In this war of ours on Arab terror all our bloody state-of-the-art technology isn’t worth a damn farthing. Deploy as much highfalutin satellite surveillance and computer decryption as you like, it won’t track down Bin Laden in a month of Sundays. The only way to go after him and his sort is by going back to the most primitive methods of intelligence in the book: personal counter-espionage.”
“In other words, plain, straight forward, old-fashioned spying,” explained Sir Herbert. And then, sardonically, “Allah will not be mocked. He toys around with our clever gadgets and laughs in our faces. Islamists wage their holy war by simply outflanking our technology.”
“Precisely,” snapped the other fellow. “So what we need are first-class operatives – people who look like them, talk like them, think like them, can infiltrate them, and then eliminate them. Your blokes are champions at that sort of thing.”
“People of your tribe. Jews are past masters at duplicity. You have any number who can pass convincingly as Muslims. In your Mossad and Shin Bet you have Jews who speak native Arabic and can adopt Islamic disguises at the drop of a hat.”
Sir Herbert interjected: “That’s how you won the intifada, isn’t it? Your intelligence was superb. Through infiltration, dissimulation and deception you got your killer almost every time.”
“And that’s why we could do with some of your human assets,” said Sir Charles wistfully, knocking his liquor back and wiping his chin with the back of his hand. “We need people like yours – types who can pass muster as Arabs, win over their trust, crawl into the insides of their minds, gather hard intelligence. MI6 and the CIA simply don’t have enough of them.”
“Why not?” I asked.
The MI6 man leaned toward me and in a conspiratorial manner, whispered: “Because our Muslims can’t be trusted, that’s why. Their first loyalty is to Islam, not to Britain. It’s the same in the US.”
My host concurred: “Islam poses such a powerful bond over its fellow believers that the problem of recruiting Muslim undercover agents is acute. Walk into a Muslim neighborhood and begin making inquiries about terrorists and you will hit a wall of silence.”
Grimly, as if infected with an existential angst, Sir Charles brooded: “We’ve never had a security problem like this in England before. And it’s getting bigger all the time.”
As he spoke, a white-coated waiter glided between the armchairs and potted palms, holding up two liquor bottles in a pose of affability, pausing to top up a glass of whiskey here and bestow a drop of brandy there.
Scotch-refueled, the old spy rambled on: “It’s not like Northern Ireland during the Troubles, when we could do our undercover work like a fish in water. Even the most diehard Irish Republican nationalist cracked under a little bit of coercion, or the promise of a little cash. But your average Muslim fanatic – he’d rather blow himself up first, and take you with him into the bargain.”
Sir Charles’ speech was now getting warped with whiskey, and he began to nod off. So for the next 20 minutes Sir Herbert and I talked quietly of other matters, particularly the latest Israel-Palestinian developments. Then we gathered up our belongings, descended to the Athenaeum’s exit, and stepped out into the street.
“Good Lord, look at that!” he barked abruptly, halting in his tracks, outraged.
Propped up against the nearby wall of what was once Joachim von Ribbentrop’s ambassadorial London residence, an Evening Standard billboard bellowed: “POLICE BUST FINSBURY PARK ARAB TERRORIST CELL.”
Sir Herbert, his long aristocratic nose white with resentment, blew out his cheeks and exclaimed, “This is the Battle of Britain Part Two, and it’s more insidious than the last. Think about it: western civilization has been locked in an historic war with Islam now for 1,000 years. We had thought we had settled it for good in our favor, thanks to our technological superiority. But look what’s going on now. All our modern gadgetry is impotent in face of their fanaticism. So, by George, yes – the MI6 and the CIA could do with a strong infusion of Mossad and Shin Bet savvy. Do me a favor and tell your people that when you get back home.”