Humor Magazine

I Do Hope George Smiley's Recruits Learned Their Lessons Well

By Davidduff

An article in The American Spectator by Tom Rogan caught my eye and provoked some idle thoughts.  In it, Mr. Rogan, a young American with a history of graduate and post-graduate studies in Britain, ponders the difficulties facing British intelligence agencies and points up the difference between 'us' and 'them over there'.  In essence, the American tactical approach to security intelligence gathering against potential terrorists is to find the evidence as fast as possible and then 'bang the perps up'!  By contrast, the British prefer to play it long, surveilling the suspects for as long as possible so as, hopefully, to be led on to further suspects and thereby build up a picture of the networks as a whole.  According to Mr. Rogan this "softlee softlee catchee monkey" approach is coming under severe pressure for three reasons.

First, the Syrian civil war is training British Jihadists 'in the field', so to speak, so that when they return to Britain they are ready to go.  Second, the Syrian theater is a very different 'theatre' from the long-existing Pakistan one.  In dealing with the Pakistan community the Security Services have an enormous sea which they must trawl but they are heped by the fact that huge swathes of British-Pakistanis detest the Jihadists as much as the indigenous population and many of them are prepared to assist.  However, that cannot be said of the relatively small Syrian community.  Third, the Security Services in Britain are stretched by very different but equally deadly events in Ulster, plus, homegrown 'fusion' cells where a few like-minded British-born individuals slowly coalesce and form a sort of 'amateur-night' terrorist cell.

I must confess, I am astounded at how well the Security Services carry out their immensely tricky operations.  First, it is necessary to recruit Brit-Pak sources prepared to operate in cities like Bradford where a Caucasian would stick out like a sore thumb.  Then, having identified suspect premises, it is necessary to gain entrance and fix surveillance devices so well hidden or disguised that the people who live there will never find them.  Then there is the problem of actually following the suspects which, I can tell you, is nowhere - and I mean absolutely nowhere - as easy as it looks on those cops 'n' robbers films you see on TV.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece on 14 Intelligence Company which operated in Ulster during the 'troubles'.  There, at least, they did not have to operate with a skin color problem but what they had to solve was the problem of how they could gain access to premises in tiny hostile villages where everyone knew everyone else and a stranger, or a strange car, would instantly be noted.  Then there was the problem of following a vehicle without being spotted across miles of countryside where the roads were very few and far between.  (You can read some of their exploits in The Operators: Inside 14 Intelligence Company by 'James Rennie'.)  As operations in Ulster wound down, 14 Int Coy was disbanded and in my post on the subject I hoped that their key operators and the skills they had honed so well were not wasted by MI5.  Judging by the success, so far, of the Security Services nipping in the bud several potential terror attacks, it looks as though the lessons and the skills have not been lost.

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