Intelligence in Public Literature

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It, by Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Interrogation, Intelligence and Security: Controversial British Techniques, by Samantha Newbery

Quantitative Intelligence Analysis: Applied Analytic Models, Simulations, and Games, by Edward Waltz

Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917–1947, by Bruce Hoffman

Eisenhower’s Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, The Maquis, and The Liberation of France, by Benjamin F. Jones

Evasion & Escape Devices Produced by MI9, MIS-X, and SOE in World War II, by Phil Froom

Looking Down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage Over East Germany and Berlin 1945–1990, by Kevin Wright and Peter Jefferies

Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission in History, by Saul David

The OSS in World War II Albania: Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans, by Peter Lucas

OSS: Red Group 2—A Fisherman Goes To War, by David G. Boak

Rezident: The Espionage Odyssey of Soviet General Vasily Zarubin, by Robert K. Baker

The Shadow Man: At the Heart of the Cambridge Spy Ring, by Geoff Andrews

Soviet Leaders and Intelligence: Assessing the American Adversary During the Cold War, by Raymond L. Garthoff

Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess, by Andrew Lownie

U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers Against Japan 1910–1941, by Capt. Steven E. Maffeo, U.S.N.R., Ret.

More Cloak than Dagger: One Women’s Career in Secret Intelligence, by Molly J. Sasson

The Secret Ministry of AG. & Fish: My Life in Churchill’s School for Spies, by Noreen Riols

Secret Revolution: Memoirs of a Spy Boss, by Niël Barnard as told to Tobie Wiese

East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Stephan Blancke, ed.

Labyrinth of Power, by Danny Yatom

Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It, by Dr. Tawfik Hamid. (Mountain Lake Press, 2015) 238, end of chapter notes, bibliography, appendices, index. Updated edition.

Historians refer to the period in the 1930s when Winston Churchill was without a Cabinet position as his “wilderness years.”[1] Although he had no official influence at the time, the future prime minister paid close attention to Germany’s illegal rearmament and would later write that, “My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me.”[2] Dr. Tawfik Hamid finds himself in a parallel position with respect to the contemporary threat from radical Islam, and his book, Inside Jihad, seeks to alert the public before it is too late. What qualifications does he possess that justify his position?

By his telling, Dr. Hamid was born in Cairo in 1961 to a respectable Muslim family. He studied Islam in high school, where he was exposed to some anti-Christian views, but it wasn’t until he entered medical school to follow in his father’s footsteps that he became radicalized. Although he didn’t know it then, he soon found out that “medical schools at the time had become vanguards of fundamentalism in most Egyptian universities.” (31) He was spotted by Jamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), which prepared recruits for leadership positions in other jihadist organizations. He attended lectures by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri—who would later become Osama Bin Laden’s deputy and then leader of al-Qa‘ida—and for the next three years—1979–1982—worked to become a jihadist, ready to “fight and kill the Russian invaders in the name of Allah.” (51) At the same time, he gradually noticed conflicts between the Jamaa interpretations of the Quran and what the book actually said. Then, he learned of a plan to “kidnap a police officer at a medical school function and ‘bury him alive.’” (52) It didn’t happen, but this and other incidents led to his association with another Muslim group—the Quranics—who followed the traditional Quran, avoiding radical jihadist interpretations. In the end, he decided to leave Jamaa despite their threat, “Apostates such as you will be killed.” (53)

Dr. Hamid then emigrated to the United States, where he attended Stanford and Georgetown universities and obtained degrees in internal medicine and cognitive psychology. He goes on to explain explain that, as the terrorist threat became “an intractable scourge” (13) in the United States, he noticed that some observers failed to distinguish between the goals and beliefs of traditional Islam and the distorted dogma of Islamic radicalism, the perpetrators of the terror. Inside Jihad seeks to clarify the differences and to suggest what can be done to neutralize the threat.

Dr. Hamid identifies the “myths and misconceptions about Islam” and the root causes that distinguish it from jihadism. He argues, persuasively and ominously, that many world leaders do not realize that the principal cause of the radicalism is the version of Islam “currently taught and practiced in the vast majority of Muslim communities.” (56) Then he discusses the “categories of Islamic belief” and what needs to be understood about each one. He sees undue emphasis on the distinction between Sunni and Shia Muslims—“they do not differ doctrinally in significant ways,” their murderous clashes notwithstanding. Their motivations and tactics are the same, he suggests. What should be studied in detail when considering Islamic terror are the differences “between Salafi Islam, or Salifism, and Sufi Islam,” and he deals with both in some detail. (79)

In Dr. Hamid’s view, the West is losing the struggle against radical Islam, in part by refusing to criticize the reality of its actions while not recognizing—together with many Muslims—what must be done to reform the radicals. He discusses at length steps toward Islamic reformation.

Inside Jihad concludes with an extensive account of “a strategic plan to defeat radical Islam” that draws on the information in the earlier chapters. Dr. Hamid offers no silver bullet solutions; instead, he focuses on what must be done to defeat Salafism and its goal of an Islamic world under Sharia law. In many ways, Inside Jihad is a deeply disturbing book, but one that should be taken seriously.

Interrogation, Intelligence and Security: Controversial British Techniques, by Samantha Newbery. (Manchester University Press, 2015) 226, end of chapter notes, bibliography, photos, index.

Samantha Newbery is a lecturer in contemporary intelligence studies at the University of Salford, where she specializes in ethical aspects of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. In Interrogation, Intelligence and Security, she examines the so-called “five techniques” of interrogation developed and used by the British military after 1945: uncomfortable stress position, hooding, loud continuous noise, sleep deprivation, and restricting the quality and amount of food intake. The European Commission on Human Rights branded these techniques as “torture” in 1976, but Newbery “avoids describing the ‘five techniques’ as torture.” She acknowledges the existence of the current debate on torture but focuses instead on the origins of the techniques, their objectives, and their results. (3–4) She also recognizes that the benefits of interrogation are difficult to measure, even qualitatively.

After reviewing the “five techniques” and some variations often used in various emergencies since 1945, Newbery analyzes their use in three operations for which public reports are available: Aden (1963–67), Northern Ireland (1971), and Iraq (2003). She writes that in Aden “the military and Special Branch were convinced that interrogation was a valuable source of information.” (52) But she acknowledges there were allegations of mistreatment that potentially lessened their value and complicated correlating results with “specific evidence” they may have provided. (52)

Use of the “five techniques” in Northern Ireland was more complex and involved MI5 as well as the military. Complaints from those interrogated created political problems and investigations that led the British prime minister to ban their use in 1972. Newbery devotes a chapter to examples that suggest valuable intelligence was acquired. Nevertheless, she concludes that, overall, there was “a miscalculation.” (125)

That the banned techniques were employed at all in Iraq is surprising. Newbery writes with a hint of cynicism that the directive banning their use “had very largely fallen from corporate memory.” (148) She analyzes three operations—one called the “Temporary Detention Facility Episode,” (TDF) during which a detainee in Basra died under interrogation with the techniques. She shows how the techniques changed since the 1970s and how sensitive the public has become to their use. Another inquiry followed the TDF episode. It called for additional training and specificity about what is permissible in deploying this “method of obtaining intelligence.” (182)

Interrogation, Intelligence and Security concludes with a review of the lessons learned, noting that the “five techniques” were used “because there is a willingness to believe they produce intelligence and enhance security” (196), while stressing that new policy directives must nevertheless be adhered to. This is a thoughtful and valuable book.

Quantitative Intelligence Analysis: Applied Analytic Models, Simulations, and Games, by Edward Waltz. (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014) 282, end of chapter notes, appendices, diagrams, index.

In his foreword to Quantitative Intelligence Analysis, former DDI and NIC chairman John Gannon observes that, “In my early years as an analyst and manager . . . individual brainpower and expertise were the coin of the realm. Methodological approaches, by contrast, assumed time-consuming and credit-sharing collaboration, which was less valued.” He sums up the situation saying, “This undercurrent of resistance to tools and techniques both from individual analysts and the bureaucracy itself, was endemic in the Community into the 1990s.” (xx)[3]

Since then, the advancing information age and the high volume of data involved in analysis has imposed changes in that approach. Today, Intelligence Community analysts routinely employ state-of-the-art, structured analytic techniques such as those described by Richards Heuer and Randolph Pherson.[4] “Brainpower,” writes Gannon, “is now viewed as enhanced by the rigor of modeling, dynamic simulations, and interactive games that are the wave of the Intelligence Community’s collaborative future.” (xxii)

In Quantitative Intelligence Analysis, Dr. Edward Waltz, a senior researcher at Virginia Tech University who has studied these new methods, provides the conceptual background and illustrates the practical application of these techniques in the form of models. The models Waltz has devised “refer to the detailed and often technical descriptions or representations of the analysts’ thinking” about the subjects with which he is confronted. (1)

Waltz defines the models in the analyst’s mind as implicit and those in words, graphics, or on a computer terminal as explicit. He goes on to explain their limitations—how implicit mental models are transformed into explicit computer models, and how they are applied to intelligence problems. The models discussed are illustrated with graphic representations and narrative explanations of what the analyst is thinking or the computer is executing. Then he devotes chapters to show how they are used in target analysis, wargaming, and collection operations that illustrate the power they confer on collaborative work and how teams interact. He offers “case studies” to clarify the process.

A word of caution is warranted here: the procedures illustrated by graphic representations are rather complex. Moreover, the case studies are very general, which is to say that this is not a primer. The quantitative aspect of the book refers to mathematical probability and statistical methods used to evaluate data, but for the most part no detailed explanation of the underlying mathematics is included. He only describes their functions. (131)

Quantitative Intelligence Analysis is not a step-by-step, how-to book and is probably best suited for the classroom or for experienced analysts who haven’t employed these techniques in their work. But it does demonstrate the complexity of modern analytic procedures; the potential value of team analysis; and the extensive technical support now required compared to the John Gannon era. In that sense it reveals what modern intelligence analysis has become.

[Top of page]

Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917–1947, by Bruce Hoffman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 618 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, maps, index.

Can terrorism succeed? Can it achieve the social and political goals its advocates advance? The conventional wisdom is that, in the long run, it cannot. Bruce Hoffman, director of the security studies program at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the US Military Academy’s Combatting Terrorism Center, asks, if it doesn’t work, “why has it persisted for at least the past two millennia and indeed become an increasingly popular means of violent political expression in the 21st century?” (x) Anonymous Soldiers answers these questions using the Arab-Zionist conflict as a case study.

Hoffman’s interest in this topic began while studying terrorism at Oxford University, when he became aware of the “centrality of intelligence” to the study of history in general and terrorism in particular. (xiii) With the release in 2003 of British Security Service (MI5) documents covering the British struggles in Palestine after WWI and drawing on related firsthand diplomatic accounts, Hoffman was able to analyze the emergence of terrorism as a tool by the Arabs and Jews to achieve their goals. At the outset, the Arabs sought to limit Jewish immigration and territorial ambitions, while making Palestine ungovernable for the British. The Jews demanded the Jewish homeland implicitly promised by the British in the Balfour Declaration and sought to undermine the government when the promise was broken.

In the early post-WWI period, the Arabs reacted with a short-lived, largely rural campaign of terror raids on British forces and Jewish communities that were easily put down by British police and Army troops. But as WWII approached the attacks continued and the demand for increased Jewish immigration quotas grew. Thus the Jews created underground organizations—the Irgun, the Haganah, and Lohamei Herut Yisrael, known by its Hebrew acronym, Lehi, to the Jewish and to the British as the Stern Gang[5]—to deal with the Arab campaign of bombings and bloodshed interrupted somewhat by the war. These groups would penetrate the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British Army. Arab attacks increased in frequency and fury after WWII as Holocaust survivors placed new demands on immigration quotas.

Hoffman chronicles these groups as they work individually and sometimes in conjunction to pressure the British government with bombings, assassinations, and prison breaks until its withdrawal in 1947. He uses the famous Irgun attack on the King David Hotel, commanded by Menachem Begin—a future prime minister of Israel—as an exemplar of skill and determination. He questions Begin’s later claim in his memoir that, since he had given prior warning so civilians could be evacuated, the attack was not a terrorist act and only the British Mandate personnel were targets. Unfortunately the call came too late and 92 civilians died, mostly Arabs.[6]

The Jewish terrorist acts against British interests were not confined to Palestine—there were attacks in Rome, Cairo, and London—and Hoffman deals with the international furor that led to condemnation by Albert Einstein, among others. These actions sometimes had unintended consequences, as when the 1944 assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne—a close friend of Churchill—ended any hope of Churchill’s backing. International support was important to the Jewish politicians in Palestine who were seeking some accommodation with the British, and Hoffman explains multiple attempts of Jewish leaders to end the attacks, but they continued until the British left.

Hoffman also deals with the quandary facing British military and security officials in the Palestine Mandate. Even though at one point they enjoyed a “twenty-to-one numerical superiority over five-thousand terrorists” and London was decrypting all the Jewish agencies’ traffic, still they could not stop the attacks. Their “Achilles’ heel in governance and policing in Palestine,” notes Hoffman, “was the lack of intelligence . . . a paucity of Hebrew linguists and skilled detectives.” (415) The political leaders were in a similar predicament. Their recommendations for a two-state solution were rejected by the Arabs and, as Hoffman concedes, only full-scale war would have stopped the terrorists.

Anonymous Soldiers concludes that “Jewish terrorism played a salient role in . . . the British decision to leave Palestine.” But many other factors also contributed to the decision, for example, granting independence to India, the plight of Holocaust survivors, and lack of a consistent British policy. Hoffman doesn’t claim terrorism is the answer to solving dissident revolts. But in the case of the British Palestine Mandate, Begin’s strategy of undermining government control expressed in his book, The Revolt, had worked. A copy of that “seminal work” was found in an al-Qa‘ida library by US military forces in 2001. (484)

Eisenhower’s Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, The Maquis, and The Liberation of France, by Benjamin F. Jones. (Oxford University Press, 2016) 384, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

The story of the OSS Jedburgh teams, their relationship to the French Maquis resistance elements, and their contribution to defeating the Germans in France, has been told before.[7] The typical emphasis on their origins, training, and operations is undertaken with some discussion of the political factors influencing their deployment and rules of engagement. Eisenhower’s Guerrillas takes a different approach. While operations comprise an important part of this story—though little new is added—author Benjamin Jones focuses on complicated and often conflicting political objectives of the Allies.

As Colin Beavan explains in Operation Jedburgh, the British and Americans viewed the invasion of France as a military operation, the first step on the way to Berlin and Nazi defeat. They planned to establish a military government in France headed by Eisenhower until the end of the war. But as Jones points out, the French provisional government, led by Charles de Gaulle, would have none of it. From their point of view, the invasion was just the first step to regaining French sovereignty. In de Gaulle’s view, he would lead the new French government once the Germans were expelled. The French resistance, a loose collection of quasi-military units, ironically supported logistically entirely by the Allies, pledged their allegiance to de Gaulle. Britain and America considered their support after the invasion to be crucial to tying down German military units. De Gaulle agreed, but demanded official American and British recognition of his provisional government before he would consent to Allied use of the resistance. Complicating matters, French recognition was beyond Eisenhower’s authority, and Roosevelt opposed it. The practical consequence was that the French were denied a role in planning for the invasion, and that, in turn, made coordination of Jedburgh efforts with the resistance difficult.

Two events occurred that eased Eisenhower’s task of getting the support of resistance units after D-Day. First, Roosevelt finally recognized de Gaulle as the leader of France, and second, he added French general Pierre Koenig to his staff to coordinate operations with the French. In the end, resistance operations delayed German movements after D-Day, as intended.

The Jedburghs teams—one American, one Frenchman and one Brit—were originally conceived by the British to support the resistance units with which the Special Operations Executive (SOE) had been working since early in the war. For reasons of security, they were not dropped into France until after the invasion. In his book, Beavan shows that the record of the 93 Jedburgh teams was mixed. They performed well only when liaising with well-organized resistance units, though their secondary mission of supporting Allied headquarters went well, setting a precedent for coalition warfare. Eisenhower’s Guerrillas reveals the interaction of solid military planning and often conflicting political considerations, and adds a new dimension to the Jedburgh story.

Evasion & Escape Devices Produced by MI9, MIS-X, and SOE in World War II, by Phil Froom (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd, 2015) 383, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

While undergoing escape and evasion training with the British army in West Germany during the Cold War, Phil Froom developed a passionate interest in the WWII origins of the special devices and procedures that they were then being taught. When he learned that no single book had been written on the subject, he began studying official records and memoirs, collecting documentation from firms that built the special devices, and conducting interviews with survivors to learn how they were actually used. The result is the impressively illustrated coffee table edition, Evasion & Escape Devices.

Besides regaining one’s freedom, successful escape from captivity had two principal military benefits: return of the highly trained personnel themselves, as well as the intelligence they could provide. For these reasons Britain formed a special unit designated MI9 to conduct the training required before deployment and to develop the devices necessary to aid those captured. Evasion & Escape Devices describes how MI9 accomplished its mission in every theater of war. The book pays particular attention to the development of special devices, methods of secret communication with prisoners, and covert delivery of equipment to help prisoners escape and then evade recapture.

The kinds of special devices developed drew heavily on the experience of those who had successfully escaped during WWI and WWII. Communicating with prisoners through “letters and books from home” that contained coded instructions (and later through Red Cross packages and bogus charities), allowed the delivery of instructions and essential devices. Froom provides detailed illustrated examples of silk maps, button compasses, playing cards, passports, needle guns, Gillette razor blades with hidden messages, (255) and a great variety of concealment devices.

When the United States entered the war, its soldiers were faced with the same problems and—based on the British precedent, Froom explains—they established their own version of MI9, designated MIS-X. Located at Ft. Ward, in Alexandria, Virginia, MIS-X developed training programs and a variety of devices. For example, miniature radios were hidden in cigarette packs, cribbage boards, and baseballs. At one point, writes Froom, communication with some camps was such that entire radio sets were shipped and the prisoners managed to steal the parcels before the Germans inspected them. (38)

The German prison authorities were not asleep at the switch, however, and they eventually discovered many of the items sent to the prisoners. But the prisoners greatly outnumbered their guards and the volume of gadgets was so great that communication was effectively continuous.

Froom does not neglect the players that made MI9 and MIS-X a success. The most well-known of those mentioned is Charles Fraser-Smith, the inventor of what he called “Q” devices, a term the James Bond movies applied to Desmond Llewellyn, himself a prisoner of war for five years in Colditz Castle. (9)

While Evasion & Escape Devices does not comment on the number of prisoners actually aided by MI9 or MIS-X, other sources make clear the program helped many, particularly downed airmen.[8] Phil Froom has provided the most comprehensive account to date of the efforts to assist POWs in their duty to escape captivity during WWII. A fine reference work.

Looking Down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage Over East Germany and Berlin 1945–1990, by Kevin Wright and Peter Jefferies. (The History Press, 2015) 224, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

Aerial photography was a major source of tactical and strategic intelligence throughout the Cold War for all participants. For many in the United States, its importance was highlighted publicly during the U-2 incident in 1960 and later with the satellite programs used during nuclear arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. In addition to strategic collection platforms, each nation’s military conducted fixed-wing aerial reconnaissance, which was common knowledge. But one Western aerial collection program was kept secret from the public during the Cold War, though ironically not from the Soviet Union. Looking Down the Corridors tells that story.

After the end of World War II, British, US, and French occupying forces reached an agreement with the Soviet Union that provided ground and air access to the divided city of Berlin from the Western occupied zone of Germany via three well defined virtual corridors. In the case of aircraft—military and civilian—the corridors created flight paths that passed over territory the Soviets and their allies would have to traverse before attacking the West. Thus, in the spring of 1946, Britain and the United States began secret aerial reconnaissance flights in the corridors. A wide variety of aircraft with photographic, SIGINT, and radar sensors were employed to collect data on targets on both sides of the corridors. The imagery recorded Soviet and later East German military activity for early warning purposes, while at the same time providing important order-of-battle intelligence.

Authors Kevin Wright and Peter Jefferies interviewed participants and examined records declassified since the end of the Cold War to produce a comprehensive record of flight operations and the intelligence they produced. For perspective, the authors include descriptions of the major events that influenced collection priorities—for example, the Berlin Airlift, the Czech invasion, and even “non-corridor peripheral flights” (57) over Russia and the Baltic and Caspian seas.

Since four nations were involved in all activities involving Berlin, a Berlin Air Safety Centre (BASC) was formed to control all flights. In separate chapters on corridor operations for Britain, the United States, and France, the authors explain how they operated within the agreed-upon rules. They discuss the targets, types of aircraft employed, and the response of the Soviets when they attempted to harass (there was an occasional shootdown) aircraft they asserted were flying outside of agreed-upon altitude or geographic limits. With a few exceptions, no attempt was made to disguise the nature of the collection flights, since the aircraft had to open doors that concealed the cameras and were thus visible to the Soviets during flight. The Soviets did not file complaints, however, since they were flying their own reconnaissance missions. The result was that the flights were kept secret from the public. (186ff)

In addition to the corridor flights, the authors discuss the British military mission (BRIXMIS) in Berlin that flew light aircraft in the Berlin area from which crewmen employed handheld cameras to collect close-up imagery of Soviet and East German equipment, such as the then-new T-72 tank.

The authors include a chapter on the joint imagery exploitation of US and British units that eventually provided imagery readouts. Their advance warning of what turned out to be the Czech invasion in 1968 and preparations for building the Berlin Wall are noted in a chapter discussing the value of the program.

Looking Down the Corridors documents a little known chapter in Cold War intelligence. It is meticulously documented, thoroughly illustrated, and well written. A really valuable contribution.

Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission in History, by Saul David. (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) 446, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

On Sunday 27 June 1976, Air France flight 139 left Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel, where security was notoriously tight and landed in Athens, Greece, where security was notoriously light. By the time the plane left for Paris, the 283 passengers had been joined by a team of hijackers led by two German terrorists linked to the anti-fascist Baadder-Meinhof gang. Once airborne, they forced the pilot to divert to the Entebbe airport in Uganda. There, the Jewish passengers became hostages, while the others were sent on to Paris. With Ugandan President Idi Amin’s complicity, the terrorists demanded the release of colleagues already in Israeli jails. Israel’s policy was not to negotiate with terrorists. Seven days later, the hostage takers were dead and all but three of the Jewish hostages were back in Israel. Operation Thunderbolt fills in the details.

If this sequence of events rings a bell, it is because a movie was made of the event and many books have been written about the operation—five in the past six years alone. What, then, justifies this one? There are several reasons. It is an exciting, well-told story that keeps a reader’s attention through the step-by-step planning and execution of the rescue attempt. More important, historian Saul David better illuminates the political controversies among Israeli president Yitzhak Rabin and his defense minister, Shimon Peres, and other participants in the operation. And finally, David supports his story with diaries, interviews with the surviving hostages, and official documents recently released.

As might be imagined, worldwide public reaction to the rescue was positive, except, of course, in Muslim and some African countries; official government responses, however, were not. David discusses attempts to condemn the operation in the UN and Britain’s refusal to send a message of congratulations, as had Germany, France, and Switzerland, among others. The United States, writes David, had it both ways: President Ford sent a message expressing his “great satisfaction”, while the State Department was upset that Israel had broken its agreement not to use military equipment supplied by the United States, in this case the C-130 aircraft, outside Israel. (349)

David provides hints at the role Israeli intelligence played. He notes that an “informant” drew a “map to mark the spot” where the murdered hostage Dora Bloch was buried; a copy of the map is included in the book. (360) Then evidence surfaced that Amin had ordered her execution while at the same time claiming she had been returned with the other hostages. At this point, Britain broke relations with Uganda. The mysterious death of Wadie Haddad—the sponsor of the hijacking—was not due to an incurable disease (as was claimed), but rather, according to one account, was the work of Mossad and a box of poisoned Belgian chocolates (his favorites) he consumed.[9]

In the end, David asks, did Operation Thunderbolt “make it harder for Israeli politicians to push through compromises required for peace”—even though it saved lives? (373) He leaves the answer to history.

The OSS in World War II Albania: Covert Operations and Collaboration with Communist Partisans, by Peter Lucas. (McFarland & Company, 2007) 210, endnotes, bibliography, photos, maps, index.

OSS: Red Group 2—A Fisherman Goes To War, by David G. Boak. (AuthorHouse, 2011) 227, photos, no index.

These two books, published long ago but only recently come to our attention, are about little known OSS operations. Both fill gaps in OSS history.

In his foreword to The OSS in World War II Albania, Fatos Tarifa, the former Albanian ambassador to the United States (2001–2005), makes an extraordinary claim: “This is an outstanding work and the first of its kind.” (1) He is correct on both counts.

Author Peter Lucas, himself of Albanian descent, originally went to Albania intending to write a biography of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian dictator. When he came across a picture of Hoxha marching in Albania’s WWII victory parade, one of the men with him was identified as Capt. Tom Stefan, the OSS liaison officer to Albania. Unaware that such a position existed, Lucas decided to abandon the Hoxha story, and pursue the OSS involvement. He went on to interview survivors, examine archival records, and visit safehouses employed in Albania.

Lucas soon learned that the British also had a liaison team in Albania, several of whose members had written memoirs with little detail about the OSS role. Both teams were aware the partisans were communists, but they were fighting the Nazis—the common cause justifying Allied provision of communications, supplies, and intelligence—and Lucas tells how it was done. He also discusses the sometimes awkward relationship between Britain and the United States as both competed for influence with Hoxha. But The OSS in World War II Albania mainly focuses on the exploits of several OSS team members. Lucas devotes chapters to each, devoting the most space to Captain Stefan, son of Albanian parents, who spoke Hoxha’s same dialect and established a relationship, which was initially close, with the leader.

After the victory parade, Stefan’s relationship with Hoxha deteriorated, a circumstance arising from politics, Hoxha’s increasingly severe treatment of his enemies, and Stefan’s marriage to an Albanian without Hoxha’s permission. When the OSS officer was called home, Stefan smuggled his wife aboard the plane, ending his latent hopes of returning to Albania in a diplomatic post. After being rejected by the State Department for service as an Albania expert, Stefan’s marriage deteriorated, and he ended up dying homeless in Los Angeles.

With his photographs and superb documentation—both Albania and American— The OSS in World War II Albania provides a fine contribution to the OSS literature.

OSS: Red Group 2 is a memoir of David Boak’s service with an operational group (OG), the combat element of OSS. The overall story of the OGs appeared in Albert Lulushi’s recent book, Donovan’s Devils.[10] Boak’s contribution is a firsthand account of one man’s service with partisans in North Africa, England, France, India, Burma, and China with his unit “Red Group 2.”

Boak takes us from his fishing days in New Jersey, to college in North Carolina—interrupted by the war—to ski troops in Colorado, and finally to his adventures in OSS that began in early 1944. After service behind the enemy lines in France after the invasion, it was off to the Far East via California. He arrived in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater in April 1945. By the time he reached China, after driving the Ledo Road from India, the war was nearly over. But he managed one assignment in conjunction with Chinese guerrillas behind Japanese lines and a few skirmishes after the war was over because the Japanese army hadn’t gotten the word. Then, after more than six weeks afloat, Boak finally reached the “land of the Big PX” (215) and could go fishing again.

OSS: Red Group 2 concludes with some pertinent observations on what the Army forgot about guerrilla warfare after WWII and what it took to relearn it all again during the present difficulties. Boak has a good sense of humor and tells his story well.

Rezident: The Espionage Odyssey of Soviet General Vasily Zarubin, by Robert K. Baker. (iUniverse, 2015) 626, end of chapter notes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

If the era of the whistleblower didn’t begin on 7 August 1943, it was certainly presaged by an anonymous letter addressed to “Mr. Hoover” that arrived that day at FBI headquarters. Among other revelations, it named all the KGB (NKVD) officers serving in the Washington rezidency, including Vasily Zubilin (true name Zarubin), the Rezident responsible for KGB operations in America during World War II.

FBI counterintelligence specialist and Russian linguist Robert Baker had been aware of the letter, and when it became public in 1995 it came to mind after he interviewed Zarubin’s daughter Zoya—herself a former KGB officer—in 1996 as part of his FBI duties. After his retirement in 1999, and with Zoya’s and her brother Peter’s cooperation, Baker began the research that resulted in Rezident.

Zarubin is well known to enthusiasts of intelligence history for his frequently mentioned wartime service in the United States, where he coordinated the work of the Soviet Union’s spies. Baker tells the rest of Zarubin’s fascinating story. Born in 1894, he served in both the czar’s army and the Red Army, from whence in 1919 he was recruited into the Cheka and rose to the rank of major general. In between, he was stationed in China, Finland, Demark (his first assignment and an illegal), France, Germany, and his first duty in the United States (also as an illegal).

Zarubin managed to survive the Red Terror purges in the late 1930s. In 1940 he was assigned to a Polish prisoner of war camp near Katyn, where a mass execution of Polish officers took place. Baker found no evidence that Zarubin participated in the so-called Katyn massacre ordered by Stalin, as some have charged. (351)

In July 1941, after the expulsion of the Soviet rezident in the United States—an interesting story in itself—Zarubin arrived to replace him. For the next four years, accompanied by his third wife, Liza—also an experienced NKVD officer, whose story Baker includes in some detail—the Zarubins worked diligently to run some of the most famous agents ever to serve the Soviet Union under the noses of the FBI.

Baker goes over Zarubin’s cases at length. The Moscow investigation that followed the receipt of the anonymous letter absolved Zarubin of malpractice but turned up an administrative problem that led to his recall in 1944. After a later investigation ended well, Zarubin was given awards and made deputy chief of the first chief directorate, where he served until retirement in 1948. Baker suggests retirement was not Zarubin’s choice but the result of one of Stalin’s anti-Jewish campaigns. (552) After Stalin’s death, Zarubin periodically was called back to train new officers. He died in 1972 of a heart attack.

Rezident is thoroughly documented with Western and Russian sources—VENONA, books, and interviews—and supplemented with what Baker calls “administrative sections” that consider attributes of the Zarubin story that add background but can’t be firmly attributed. Baker also adds detailed historical descriptions of events surrounding Zarubin’s career that add helpful context. Baker has done a fine job showing how the KGB/NKVD functioned against its “imperialist” enemies through the life of one of its most effective officers.

The Shadow Man: At the Heart of the Cambridge Spy Ring, by Geoff Andrews. (I.B. Tauris & Co., 2015) 275, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

The Gresham public school in England, founded in 1555, has a webpage that recognizes notable “Old Greshamian” graduates. The citation for James Klugmann, class of 1931, notes he was a “contemporary of Donald Maclean”—not otherwise mentioned—and “a leading British communist who served with the SOE during the War and later became official historian of the Communist Party of Great Britain.” The Shadow Man reveals other attributes that brought him to the attention of MI5.

After graduating Gresham, Klugmann attended Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1931, where author Geoff Andrews depicts him as one of many prominent intellectuals who chose communism as the path to the future, at least for a while. It was Klugmann, however, who followed communism—openly—for the entirety of his life. He befriended others on the same path: he mentored Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, and US citizen Michael Straight.

Since Klugmann was an open communist known to MI5, he seldom participated in clandestine activities. At the urging of Burgess and Blunt, however, and somewhat reluctantly, according to Andrews, he helped Arnold Deutsch recruit John Cairncross, the so-called “fifth man,” and, Andrews suggests, very likely worked to bring Oxford students to the attention of Soviet intelligence. (125)

By 1935, Klugmann had become a promising academic and “a person of enormous prestige, even a sort of guru.” (74) He went to Paris for two years of research and, while there, became involved with Soviet propagandist Willi Münzenberg’s Comintern activities. The pull of the party overcame his academic bent, and he abandoned his Cambridge studies to become a professional revolutionary. During this period, his travels for the Comintern included trips to India and China, where he met Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong. (78)

When World War II began, Klugmann—apparently feeling no obligation to adhere to the German-Soviet Nonagression Pact of 1939—returned to England to join the Royal Army Service Corps as a private. Andrews observes that, as a communist well known to MI5, Klugmann should never have been allowed overseas, but as a result of an administrative foul-up he was sent to Egypt, where he learned Arabic. (129) His linguistic abilities, his knowledge of communist activities in Yugoslavia (acquired working for the Comintern), and help from a Gresham colleague soon earned him a position in SOE and a commission as an officer. MI5 and later historians suspected he aided both the Soviets and the British.

Klugmann never admitted manipulating reports to the advantage of the partisan, and Andrews concludes from his analysis of the allegations, “We can exonerate Klugmann from claims that he acted as a Soviet agent.” (145) After the war, MI5 still kept him under close surveillance and even heard him admit during a talk at communist party headquarters that he had worked for Soviet intelligence before the war. (151) Still, inexplicably, they merely continued the surveillance.

Klugmann returned to work for the party after the war and became its “Cold War intellectual,” editing several of the party’s publications, contributing to its education programs, and eventually writing the first two volumes of a party history. His time as a party functionary was often difficult, as the Soviet leaders and their policies changed. Andrews goes over these times in detail, and they should be of interest to communist party historians.

MI5 made one more attempt to get evidence on Klugmann’s spying by enlisting the help of Cairncross to gain a confession in a bugged conversation over lunch. It failed, as did Klugmann’s refusal to be debriefed by MI5 in connection with the Philby case. (219, 223)

While in quasi-retirement in 1973, Klugmann gave an interview to the BBC “to discuss his love of book collecting”—a most admirable passion—but he told the journalist that he “would hate to be remembered for my book collection.” (234) He wanted to be remembered for his contribution to communism. The Shadow Man assures that is a goal only partially fulfilled.

Soviet Leaders and Intelligence: Assessing the American Adversary During the Cold War, by Raymond L. Garthoff. (Georgetown University Press, 2015) 142, endnotes, index.

Throughout the Cold War, few Americans thought it likely there would be a hot war with the Soviet Union because of stated US national security policy and roughly offsetting military capabilities. Nevertheless, the United States and her allies remained concerned about Soviet expansionism and the intense propagation of its ideology. At the same time, however, “the United States was seen by Soviet political leaders and by their intelligence services as the ‘Main Adversary’” because the Soviets saw the “American-led Western bloc waging political warfare against it.” (ix) How then did intelligence and ideology influence the Soviet leadership’s views and how did their perceptions of their adversaries evolve during the Cold War?

Raymond Garthoff, a former State Department officer and CIA analyst, and now a diplomatic historian at the Brookings Institution, is uniquely qualified to answer this question from the Soviet point of view, and he does so in Soviet Leaders and Intelligence. His approach is chronological. He examines “the interaction between the political recipients of intelligence assessments”— from Stalin to Gorbachev—and “the intelligence chiefs who provided them.” (x)

Initially, writes Garthoff, Stalin, the political realist, “did seek to continue the wartime Big Three partnership after the war, albeit in his own way,” (1) and he reviews a number of actions that support this observation. At the same time, the Soviet ambassador to the United States reported to the 1946 Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris that “the foreign policy of the United States, which reflects the imperialistic tendencies of American monopolist capital, is characterized in the post-war period by striving for world supremacy.” (9) By the fall of 1947, this assessment was regarded as “too soft” and when the COMINFORM was created later the same year, the official Soviet view was that the world was comprised of “two counterposed ‘camps’, with the capitalist/imperialist camp headed by the United States.” (11). Thus did the United States become “firmly established as the USSR’s main adversary” (15) and the Soviet intelligence services were reorganized to improve intelligence assessments that reflected the leadership’s views. Garthoff discusses the changes in detail, adding that “none . . . had a discernible impact on Stalin’s headstrong personal role in interpreting events and deciding policies.” (16)

Despite the growing Soviet enmity, Garthoff sees hints of eventual coexistence in Stalin’s policies that were continued by Khrushchev and each of his successors. As he discusses each regime in turn, Garthoff highlights the diminished impact of ideology on Soviet national policies as it continued its gradual decline until the arrival of Gorbachev’s “new thinking.” Here Garthoff stresses that “intelligence played no role in promoting the new thinking that fundamentally recast Soviet foreign policy,” (82) though the KGB may not have realized it as they continued attempts to be influential.  “Gorbachev’s early interest in intelligence reports quickly declined,” Garthoff notes, and he explains how that happened. As one KGB chief wrote later, “when the information confirmed Gorbachev’s views, it was welcome. But when policy and reality started to diverge, with the situation in the country going from bad to worse, he did not want to know.” (87) In the end, Gorbachev relied on his own political judgment, but that was not enough to save the Soviet Union.  As KGB Vadim Kirpichenko wrote, “The bitter truth is that not the US Central Intelligence Agency, and not its agents of influence in the USSR, but we ourselves destroyed the state.” (94)

Soviet Leaders and Intelligence concludes that, as the role of ideology and intelligence declined as primary factors in Soviet decisionmaking, the adversarial relationship with the West diminished and policy decisions were based on the judgment of Soviet leaders and their Western contacts. They no longer viewed the United States as a “permanent adversary . . . predestined to conflict.” (101)

Garthoff’s assessments, based largely on Soviet sources, are a valuable contribution to the explanation of why the Cold War ended as it did.

Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess, by Andrew Lownie. (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) 448, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

On Friday, 25 May 1951, two British diplomats boarded the ferry Falaise at Southampton, England, and headed for France. One, Donald Maclean, was on a watchlist and, when an immigration official recognized him, he was reported immediately to MI5—but MI5 failed to act in time. The car the two left behind had been rented by Guy Burgess of the Foreign Office; French and British intelligence offices were notified, but the French port police were not, and the diplomats disappeared.

In September 1952, at the suggestion of Ian Fleming, then executive editor at the Queen Anne Press, suggested to his former “old Estonian” colleague, journalist Cyril Connolly, that he publish a book about the still mysterious disappearance of Burgess, who had also attended Eton. In The Missing Diplomats, Connolly, discounting the possibility they were spies, speculated the two might have gone on a secret mission or been kidnapped.[11] Then in 1954, KGB defector Vladimir Petrov in his book, Empire of Fear, named Burgess and Maclean as Soviet agents and some of what the British and American intelligence services already knew became public.[12]

Gradually, over the next 45 years, more of the “missing diplomats” story emerged. They had not acted alone and several Cambridge compatriots who had also spied for the Soviets—Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross, and Michael Straight—were publicly identified and dubbed “the Cambridge Spies.” Their stories quickly became the subject of numerous scholarly and journalistic articles. Philby, Cairncross, and Straight also contributed with memoirs and, except for Cairncross, each was the subject of a biography.

Stalin’s Englishman, the most recent contribution, is by far the most comprehensive biography of Guy Burgess. In many ways the most perplexing and controversial of the Cambridge spies, Burgess was also a complex, often conflicted human being. Author Andrew Lownie presents a life portrait of an attractive upper-class man from a good family, educated at Royal Naval College (Dartmouth), Eton, and Cambridge University. He was also an engaging conversationalist and an astute political analyst who relished dealing with people in high places. At the same time, Lownie reveals, he was a loyal communist; an alcoholic; a philandering homosexual; possessed of bad breath, dirty fingernails, an often untidy appearance. And yet, many friends tolerated his eccentricities while enjoying his company. Despite these qualities, Burgess was successively a BBC producer, an MI5 agent, an MI6 officer, a diplomat in London and Washington, and a productive Soviet agent whom no one in the government suspected until he defected.

Drawing on documentary material recently released by the British National Archives, which  included Burgess’s correspondence, memoirs by former colleagues, and interviews with past associates and family, Stalin’s Englishman provides a chronological account of the highlights and challenges of Burgess’s career. An example of the former is the day he spent with Churchill, a man he genuinely admired. (91ff) In the latter category, Lownie shows how Burgess succeeded in his double life in part because of class tradition (no one with his background could possibly be a traitor) and in part because of a bureaucratic willingness to overlook his eccentricities and his homosexuality, which was illegal at the time.

Lownie also provides some new material in Stalin’s Englishman. Although a confirmed homosexual—a theme that pervades Lownie’s book—Burgess “had several heterosexual affairs” and once introduced Clarissa Churchill—Churchill’s niece and later Anthony Eden’s wife—to his mother as his fiancé. (171) In another example, Lownie adds evidence that Burgess did in fact have a “roaring affair” with Donald Maclean, a topic often disputed in other accounts. (83) He also adds evidence that Burgess never met Philby in Moscow. And Lownie reports, for the first time, that an MI5 report noted that, at his death, Burgess was writing a memoir. (318)

A few chapters of Stalin’s Englishman deal with Burgess’s despairing life in Moscow after his defection. Perhaps Burgess summed it up best: “I’m a communist, of course. But I am a British communist, and I hate Russia!” (309) Guy Burgess died on 30 August 1963 from sclerosis of the liver, among other ailments. Donald Maclean spoke at the funeral. Burgess’s remains were returned to England.

In his final chapter, Lownie considers the significance of Burgess’s life. He includes the views of some KGB officers who worked with him in Moscow. His onetime London controller, Col. Yuri Modin, thought Burgess was the “moral leader” of the Cambridge spies. KGB general Sergei Kondrashev said Burgess was “the most important of the Cambridge spies” (323), a view Lownie, but not all former intelligence officers, share. This is a fine biography about an effective spy and a disgraceful traitor who lived to enjoy communist reality first hand. It fills a major gap in intelligence history.

U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers Against Japan 1910–1941, by Capt. Steven E. Maffeo, U.S.N.R., Ret. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) 540, footnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, maps, index.

For those who recall the 1970s, the title Behind Closed Doors brings to mind a country ballad sung by Charlie Rich. A generation earlier though, Behind Closed Doors [13] was the title of a book about counterespionage, later to become a TV series, both based on the naval intelligence files of RAdm. Ellis M. Zacharias, a Japanese linguist, battleship commander, and later deputy chief of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

The profile of Admiral Zacharias is just one of the 59 “minibiographies” of ONI officers serving on 7 December 1941 included in Steven Maffeo’s interesting book. Though there are three officers about whom full biographies have been written (Capt. Joe Rochefort, Adm. Edwin Layton, and Capt. Jasper Holmes), a 2013 poll of 40 serving naval intelligence officers “showed virtually no recognition” of the others. (xxii)

U.S. Navy Codebreakers seeks to make the contributions of these others part of the historical record. Maffeo has divided his book into four parts. The first deals with officers involved with radio direction-finding and traffic analysis. The second concerns cryptographers, cryptanalysts, and codebreakers. Part Three deals with linguists, translators, and intelligence officers, and the final part with what he calls “hybrids”—multiskilled and multiproficient.

Captain Maffeo, himself a former naval intelligence officer who also served the Army Signal Corps, has produced a fine reference that accomplishes just what it set out to do.

[Top of page]

More Cloak than Dagger: One Women’s Career in Secret Intelligence, by Molly J. Sasson. (Connor Court Publishing Pty, Ltd., 2015) 316, endnotes, photos, index.

It took more than 60 years after the end of World War II for the role of senior women intelligence officers to be acknowledged with biographies. The first three were SOE officer Vera Atkins (OSS and SOE), CIA officer Virginia Hall, and MI6 officer Dame Daphne Park.[14] Now Molly Sasson, at 92, has contributed a fourth. Her autobiography, More Cloak than Dagger, adds to the recording of the wide range of intelligence duties these pathbreaking women accomplished.

Molly Sasson grew up in England, was educated in Holland, studied music in London, and joined the Royal Air Force during WWII. Fluent in French, German, and Dutch, she was assigned to intelligence duties. After the war, while stationed in Germany, she was called to London for a meeting with MI6 that changed her life. Grigori Tokaev, a Soviet aeronautical scientist co-opted by the GRU to work in Germany, had defected with his family. Sasson was asked to help MI6 and assist with his settlement in London, a task she performed well for two years.

Sasson’s RAF service ended in 1954, after she became pregnant—a condition not allowed women in active service at the time—and she went to the Netherlands where her by then-retired RAF officer husband had found work. It was there because of her fluency in Dutch that she was recruited by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO). Among other duties, she soon began liaison counterespionage work with the Dutch domestic security service (BVD), mainly against the KGB, a relationship that would continue for 14 years.

When the head of ASIO, Brigadier Sir Charles Spry, visited Holland in 1959, he briefed Sasson on the VENONA program and other ASIO operations, including his concerns that MI5 and the CIA were withholding important intelligence from his service. (He was right, since VENONA had revealed poor security in ASIO.) The situation improved somewhat in 1954, thanks to the defection to ASIO of KGB officer Vladimir Petrov, who also suspected ASIO had been penetrated by the KGB. Trusting Sasson, Spry offered her an appointment to ASIO to work in counterintelligence. She accepted and in 1960 moved to Australia.

For the rest of her career, Sasson would work on ASIO CI operations. She describes the many bureaucratic and political obstacles she encountered and adds vignettes on the Soviet penetration, investigations she conducted, most of which were resolved by quiet retirement—as opposed to prosecution—to her great frustration. By way of background, More Cloak than Dagger includes her assessment of the two principal sources Sasson used in her work—Oleg Gordievsky and Vasili Mitrokhin—and some of the precedent-setting controversies that influenced the development of ASIO. The latter include chapters on the Cambridge spies and Roger Hollis, the director general of MI5 and suspected Soviet agent.

Sasson retired in 1983 and became an international cat show judge—a longtime hobby—and later Consul-General of the Republic of San Marino. But she will be remembered more by her former colleagues for her precedent-setting work as an intelligence officer.

The Secret Ministry of AG. & Fish: My Life in Churchill’s School for Spies, by Noreen Riols. (Macmillan, 2013) 304, no index.

Intelligence-related codenames are often intended to deflect attention from an operation’s true purpose or person’s actual duties. “Manhattan Project” and “Tube Alloys” were US and UK codenames, respectively, for aspects of atom bomb programs, and “The Fluency” committee concerned a British molehunt—not language competence. Perhaps the most unusual WWII codename was the “Secret Ministry of AG. & Fish,” a fictitious British war cabinet office created by Noreen Riols to put her mother’s mind at ease—she never learned the truth—while her daughter was employed by the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

In her memoir of the same name, Ms. Riols, the only woman survivor of SOE’s F Section (concerned with operations in France), relates how she ended up training officers who were to be sent behind German lines in France. Her path to SOE was unusual. Called to duty as a teenager, she was faced with service in a munitions factory or the military. She initially chose the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WREN) “mainly because I liked the hat.” (11) But the bureaucracy disagreed with her choice. The rules also kept her out of a BBC job she had been offered. About to be sent to a factory, she was saved by an SOE recruiter. Her qualifications included fluency in French and a willingness to keep her work secret. That she was young and attractive, she would eventually learn, also mattered.

At first Riols “didn’t really have a job title . . . I was a general dogsbody . . .” (25) or—in indisputable English—a girl-Friday. But the work was interesting and she met some of the most famous SOE officers, including Forest Yeo-Thomas and Leo Marks, the cryptographer whose father owned the “84 Charing Cross Road” antiquarian bookstore.

Eventually she was transferred to the training facility at Beaulieu “where future agents learned the art of spying.” (130) There were 25 officer instructors at Beaulieu, all but two who had served in France and escaped when their codenames became known to the Germans. One of the two civilians was the “handsome, charming, efficient—everybody liked him—Kim Philby.” (133)

Riols was one of three women at Beaulieu who became “decoys.” (149) Their job was to meet trainees “by coincidence” in their off duty hours at hotels or pubs. After striking up conversations, they would try to persuade them—by any means necessary—to reveal details of their upcoming missions. Riols tells stories about those who “couldn’t resist a pretty face” (157) and were released from the program.

Throughout the book, Riols includes diversions that reveal some of the operations undertaken by SOE agents and the price they paid when caught. She also includes stories about the political battles that occurred within MI6, an organization that did not look favorably upon SOE.

The Secret Ministry of AG. & Fish concludes with some reminiscences of Riols’s post-war life and her contributions to preserving the SOE story. This engaging book, written from the perspective of a low-level employee, adds to the richness of the literature of SOE’s wartime service.

Secret Revolution: Memoirs of a Spy Boss, by Niël Barnard as told to Tobie Wiese (Tafelberg, 2015). 304, endnotes, photos, index.

Change at the top often results in a period of bureaucratic, if not operational, uncertainty in an intelligence agency. And when the new chief is in his 30s, comes from academia, has no prior intelligence experience, and arrives with a mission to bring order to a chaotic security situation, the chances of success are slim. These were the circumstances that Niël Barnard faced in 1980 when South Africa’s Prime Minister P. W. Botha suddenly appointed him to head the National Intelligence Service (NIS). Curiously, Botha never explained his choice, and the surprised Barnard never asked. (35)

Bernard’s initial marching orders were to provide the prime minister with honest assessments of the data his service was given for analysis. Of course this required receipt of accurate and timely information. But at that time collection was the province of the military and the police, and both bureaucracies wanted to be the one to inform the PM. The initial result was chaos. But in the end, Barnard, with Botha’s backing, won the day. He redefined the NIS mission to include responsibility for relations with foreign intelligence services, collection of foreign intelligence, a separate cryptologic capability, and the protection of foreign dignitaries. Domestic security responsibilities were parceled out to other agencies.

With these issues settled, Barnard describes in general terms the NIS relationships and operations with various foreign services in Africa, Russia, and the West. He clearly admires the MI6, the German BND, and the Mossad but dismisses CIA with the comment that it “would not win many gold medals in an intelligence Olympiad.” (86) As to the KGB, he is proud that NIS honored its request to keep their extensive contacts secret from the CIA. (91)

By 1986, with NIS providing reliable intelligence, Botha “accepted, perhaps with reluctance, that a negotiated settlement was the best option to solve our political predicament” with the increasingly violent African National Congress (ANC). (150) Progress was slow. In 1988, Botha charged Barnard, by now a trusted confidant, with heading up a small government team to conduct more formal exploratory talks. Barnard writes that Botha acknowledged that the only result would be a majority black government with Mandela as president. Barnard met with Mandela some 50 times, during which he tried to get Mandela to halt the violence before he and his colleagues were released and elections held. Mandela refused and eventually Botha and his successor, F.W. De Klerk, gave in.

Apartheid was abolished in February 1990; Mandela was released; and Barnard resigned, returning to his family and academia. Secret Revolution tells an unusual success story that demonstrates what sound management practices can achieve when applied firmly and how a trusted intelligence chief quietly accomplished a delicate political mission that helped create a new democratic government.

[Top of page]

East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Stephan Blancke, ed. (Verlag Dr. Köster, 2015) 480, footnotes, no index.

Editor/contributor Dr. Stephan Blancke writes that he works as an analyst and lecturer in a “government function” in Germany. (476) A political scientist and lawyer, he concentrates his research on international state- and non-state intelligence matters, especially North Korean and Chinese espionage. The idea for the present book grew out of his academic studies, where he realized how little was available in English on East Asian intelligence, particularly the five countries covered here.

East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime contains 22 articles—an introduction, five articles on China, four on Japan, three on South Korea, six on North Korea, and three on Mongolia—each written by a specialist in the intelligence service covered. Organized crime is included because it is a problem in each country and internationally, and state intelligence and security agencies are responsible for dealing with it.

The depth of each of the discussions concerning these intelligence agencies and their associated cultural backgrounds and crime related organizations varies. Each country has at least one article devoted to intelligence services, though only the article on China’s intelligence provides organization charts—and these are very general. The section on Mongolia’s services is the most general, while articles on Japan, South Korea, and North Korea, in particular, offer more detail. Versions of several articles have appeared in relatively obscure journals. The documentation in each case is substantial.

East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime offers a glimpse of intelligence services in countries that is not found elsewhere in English. Dr. Blancke has performed a valuable service.

Labyrinth of Power, by Danny Yatom (Danny Yatom and Contento, 2016) 733, photos, no index.

Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom served in the Israeli Defense Forces and was chief of staff and security adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak before being elected to the Knesset, where he served until he retired in June 2008. But of principal interest here is the period 1996–98, when he was director of the Mossad, and Labyrinth of Power begins with his account of that challenging assignment.

Joining Mossad from the military meant Yatom was an outsider and he worked hard to gain the confidence and respect of his subordinates. An early challenge concerned a senior case officer whose premier agent absolutely refused to be handled or even to meet any other case officer. This arrangement lasted for 23 years before Yatom and a colleague decided to investigate. Surveillance soon proved the case officer was his own agent and he went to prison. A precedent had been set.

But counterterrorism, writes Yatom, was Mossad’s high priority mission at the time, and its overseas operations sought to penetrate Hamas and the related organizations that continued to kill Israelis. After Hamas attacks in Jerusalem in August and September 1997, the prime minister decided to respond by assassinating a senior Hamas leader.  Mossad was assigned the operation. Yatom provided a list of priority Hamas targets. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his security advisers selected Khalid Mashal, then living in Amman, Jordan, where Hamas had its headquarters. Yatom opposed the selection for three reasons. First, Mashal wasn’t senior enough. Second, Jordan had just recently signed a peace treaty with Israel, and third, Yatom was a personal friend of King Hussein. In fact, Yatom had been his guest in Amman just weeks before. But he eventually agreed with the PM’s decision and Mossad planned the operation.

Its execution was a disaster. “Nearly everything that could go wrong, did.” (20) Mashal survived, though he was hospitalized with mysterious symptoms. Moreover, the Jordanians arrested several of the Mossad officers. Yatom writes that he was forced to plead with the king for their return and, as partial compensation, offered to give “the Jordanians the means to save Mashal’s life.” (25)  The king agreed and the operatives were returned but only after Israel was forced to release key Hamas leaders then in Israeli prisons.

Yatom is not the first to tell this story. Australian journalist Paul McGeough wrote a book about it and there are important differences.[15] While Yatom does not mention what caused Mashal’s hospitalization, McGeough wrote that a poison was injected in his ear as the assailant walked by him. Further, Yatom states that Netanyahu instructed him to do what was necessary to save Mashal and get his officers back. McGeough’s version is that the Jordanians eventually realized Mashal had been poisoned and a furious King Hussein called Netanyahu and demanded the antidote if he wanted to get his men back.

There is no way to reconcile the differences; Yatom doesn’t mention McGeough’s book. But he does add considerable detail about the principal Israeli players and the two investigations—one staffed by members outside the government and one by the government—that looked into the fiasco. Both investigations were critical of Yatom, but not of Netanyahu, though they did not recommend he resign. Yatom describes the bureaucratic politics at work as various players sought to protect their careers.

Then a second disaster hit. A Mossad team sent to Europe by Yatom’s deputy and unknown to him was caught implanting bugging devices in Hezbollah facilities in Bern, Switzerland.[16] (85) Two catastrophes so close together was too much for the prime minister; Yatom’s resignation was accepted.

Labyrinth of Power also tells of Yatom’s upbringing and his post-Mossad career working with several prime ministers while participating in attempts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians at Camp David and Oslo. Though unsourced, the book is a firsthand account and thus worth serious attention—while keeping in mind that differing views exist.

[Top of page]



[1] Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (Macmillan, 1981).

[2] Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Houghton Mifflin, 1948), 667.

[3] See in this issue a reprint of Jack Davis, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good Analysts,” his chapter in Analyzing Intelligence: National Security Practitioners’ Perspectives which describes his view of the pressures on analysts that have led to biased analyses.

[4] Richards J. Heuer Jr, and Randolph H. Pherson, Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysts (Sage, 2015).

[5] The title of this book comes from a poem by the leader of the Stern Gang.

[6] Menachem Begin, The Revolt: The Dramatic Inside Story of the Irgun (Nash Publishing, 1972). A plaque affixed to the fence of the rebuilt King David Hotel says that the Irgun gave a 25-minute warning to evacuate the building.

[7] See for example: Colin Beavan, Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America’s First Shadow War (Penguin Group, 2006).

[8] See M.R.D. Foot and J. M. Langley, MI: Escape and Evasion 1939–1945 (Little, Brown, & Co., 1980).

[9] Ami Pedahzur, The Israeli Secret Services and The Struggle Against Terrorism (Columbia University Press, 2009).

[10] Albert Lulushi, Donovan’s Devils: OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines—Europe, World War II (Arcade Publishing, 2016).

[11] Cyril Connolly, The Missing Diplomats (Queen Anne Press, 1952), 14–15.

[12] Vladimir Petrov, Empire of Fear (Praeger, 1956).

[13] RAdm. Ellis M. Zacharias, Behind Closed Doors: The Secret History of The Cold War (G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1950).

[14] Sarah Helm, A Life In Secrets: The Life of Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE (Little, Brown, 2005); Judith L. Pearson, Wolves At the Door: The True Story of America’s Great Female Spy (The Lyons Press, 2005); Paddy Hayes, The Queen of Spies: Daphne Park Britain’s Cold War Spy Master (The Overlook Press, 2016).

[15] Paul McGeough, Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal [sic] and the Rise of Hamas (The New Press, 2009).

[16] Ibid, 229. McGeough’s account says there were seven European cities involved.

[Top of page]


All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

Posted: Oct 05, 2016 12:23 PM
Last Updated: Oct 05, 2016 12:23 PM