Betrayal is the core of the entire intelligence community and ironically, despite being obsessed with it, it is in fact their domain.
Your heart is racing. Sweat is running down the back of your neck. You have been arrested for spying by a foreign government when all along all you thought you were doing was serving your country. The MI6 agents were such decent people. You were on first name terms with them and they even played with your kids when they visited you in your leafy country home. ‘Peter’, the chief agent who asked you to carry out the ‘mission’ gave you his card. The police holding you allow you one phone call anywhere in the world so, holding the card, you call the direct number on the card. To your amazement a young woman answers and tells you that no such person of that name works there and that she doesn’t know of such an individual called Peter.
The penny drops. Betrayal is the core of the entire intelligence community and ironically, despite being obsessed with it, it is in fact their domain. Betrayal is the very oxygen of spies who use it to brilliant effect. Perhaps this is why they are so obsessed with it, like a thief who is the most diligent at protecting his own home against theft.
The story of the British businessman left in a cell to rot for years when the operation goes wrong is not anything novel. It’s standard practice and there are many example of this, some even being the basis of dramatized documentaries, like that of Peter Bleach a UK based legitimate arms dealer who was arrested in 1995 for illegally trafficking arms which was actually a MI6 operation which went terribly wrong leaving him the fall guy.
But is the same story of Shamima Begum, a former British citizen who travelled to join the Islamic State (IS) group in 2015 at the age of 15, whose story continues to intrigue journalists? Begum, it is claimed now by the BBC and a recently published book, was smuggled into Syria by an intelligence agent who was working for Canada.
According to the BBC, Britain’s top police agency, Scotland Yard was informed that Begum and her two friends were “trafficked” from their home in East London into Syria by a smuggler who was a double agent working for both ISIS and Canadian intelligence, according to The Secret History of the Five Eyes, an upcoming book written by journalist Richard Kerbaj.
Unbeknown to Begum, Canada had recruited Mohammed al-Rashed, a human trafficker, when he applied for asylum at the Canadian embassy in Jordan which might help her case against the UK state which ruled previously that she be stripped of her British citizenship. Not only was she a minor when she travelled to Syria, but she as also duped into the illegal act of becoming a fully signed up member of ISIS by an agent working for an ally of the UK who was collecting data on those joining the group from western countries.
Many in the West, in particular, in the UK will be shocked by the revelations. But then again, one must consider the level of ignorance and naivety with the British public. Indeed, many refused to believe that in the heyday of the Syrian war, MI6 recruited and trained ISIS and Al Qaeda operatives in Syria to fight the Assad regime and, when required, to stage chemical attacks with the objective of framing Assad with western press (which was very successful). Indeed, is practically impossible for editors working on newsdesks in London to even believe that in 2014, Obama actually had a ‘dirty dozen’ list of 12 or so extremists groups who were all al Qaeda or ISIS splinter groups (which were hilariously called ‘moderate rebels’) and who were paid handsomely for fighting against ISIS. Western journalists only noticed the operation going slightly array when shipments to the groups specifically of anti-tank weapons were sold onto other ISIS/Qaeda groups who used them specifically against the Syrian army.
The West’s agenda in Syria is hardly a noble one though and the Begum case reminds us of that the only common theme which comes from such stories is how devious and nefarious the West is. Passing aside that American troops’ very presence in Syria is entirely illegal under international law we only have to look at the hundreds of oil tankers snaking their way out of northern Syria laden with their stolen booty – a story which hardly made it to the pages of the Washington Post or New York Times in recent days, but one which serves a purpose none the less. Most of what the West does in Syria is illegal and immoral and the Begum story won’t shed any tears for hardened hacks who know the territory well. For the spooks in Canada or in the UK, it hardly registers. Their trade, after all, is their treachery.