Friday, March 22, 2019

Feds Bust Largest Cocaine Seizure In 21 Years At Port Of Philadelphia

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the above photo and the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – A multi-agency examination of imported shipping containers at the Philadelphia seaport netted 1,185 pounds of cocaine Tuesday.

This multi-agency team was led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and consisted of partner agencies Homeland Security Joint Task Force-East, U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Philadelphia Police Department, Delaware State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Nether Providence Police Department, the Office of the Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, and the DEA’s Philadelphia Division.
Inside one of the containers offloaded from the MSC Desiree, authorities discovered 13 large black duffel bags containing a combined 450 bricks of a white powdery substance. A sampling of that substance tested positive for cocaine.
The cocaine weighed 537.6 kilograms, or 1,185 pounds, three ounces, and has a street value approximately $38 million.
CBP officers seized the cocaine. HSI is investigating.
“Taking a half-ton of dangerous drugs out of circulation is a significant success for this collective team of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who work very hard every day to keep people safe,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore.  “Customs and Border Protection remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and to disrupting narcotics smuggling attempts at the Area Port of Philadelphia.”
This is CBP’s fourth largest cocaine seizure in the Area Port of Philadelphia, and the largest since a 1,945-pound cocaine seizure May 23, 1998.
The shipping container commodity was natural rubber, which was laden in Guatemala.
CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality. 
On average, CBP seized 4,657 pounds of narcotics every day across the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Mob Talk 29: The Murder Of A New York Mob Boss And Other Mob Stories

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser  discuss the murder of reputed Gambino Cosa Nostra Crime Family boss Frank "Franky Boy" Cali in New York and other mob stories..  

You can watch the video via the below link:

A Look Back At The First James Bond Classic Film, 'Dr. No'

As a pre-teen growing up in South Philadelphia in 1963, my crowd went to the Colonial movie theater every Saturday afternoon no matter what film was playing.

One afternoon, as I sat in the third row with my friends, a black and white image of the inside of a gun barrel came up on the screen and a man walked by, twirled and fired his gun. Red blood poured down on the barrel. I was hooked. 

At this point in my life, I had not heard of Ian Fleming, James Bond or Dr. No. I loved the film, loved the actor who portrayed Bond, Sean Connery, and I loved the character of James Bond. I’ve been a James Bond fan and an Ian Fleming aficionado ever since. 

The introduction of Connery’s Bond, clad in a tuxedo at a gambling casino, stating his name as “Bond,” - cue the Bond theme as he lit a cigarette - “James Bond,” was just terrific. 

For this young movie fan, I had never seen a movie character as cool. And it only got better as the film continued.

There are so many other iconic scenes in the film, such as the three Jamaican blind beggars (Three Blind Mice) turning on the British intelligence chief and shooting him with handguns equipped with suppressors, the tarantula crawling up Bond as he lay in bed, Bond shooting Professor Dent in cold blood, Honey coming out of the ocean, sexy in her white bikini complete with a knife on a belt,  Dr No sneaking up behind Bond and stating “One million dollars” in answer to his question of how much his criminal haunt cost, and Dr No describing his backstory and evil plot during dinner. 

I returned to the Colonial many more times and watched Dr No again and again. 

The first Bond film was atmospheric, thrilling, action-packed, suspenseful, clever and sexy. It is not a perfect film, but it had all of the ingredients I would discover when I later saw the second Bond film, From Russia With Love, and soon after began to read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.

When I read Dr. No, I was sorry that the film makers did not use the deadly obstacle course Dr. No designed to test a man’s pain limit but I was glad they passed on filming Bond’s fight with a giant squid, which was a bit much. I’m also sorry that they didn’t show how Honey’s pain test of being tied down while crabs crawled over her. In the novel, I liked the irony that a simple island girl knew more about Jamaican crabs than the brilliant scientist Dr No, as she knew they wouldn’t harm her. 

The film only showed Bond crawling through the vent system over heated plates and then hit with a current of water (which cooled the plates, thank you), and only showed Honey tied down with crabs around her.

Dr No’s director, Terence Young, a former WWII tank commander, was a stylish and sophisticated man. He took Sean Connery under his wing and dressed him and taught how to act as James Bond. (Young later directed From Russia With Love and Thunderball). 

In addition to Sean Connery, the film has a fine cast with the beautiful Ursula Andress as Honey, Joseph Wiseman as Dr No, John Kitzmiller as Quarrel, Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent, and of course, Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny. 

I’d like to edit the film and remove the cringe-worthy line in which Bond orders Quarrel to “fetch my shoes,” (the line did not appear in the novel as Bond respected Quarrel, who also appeared in Fleming’s earlier novel, Live and Let Die) and edit out some of the film’s mistakes. 

The film’s editor, Peter Hunt, who later directed one of the best films in the series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, said that in the 1960s, directors and editors had no idea that viewers would one day own personal copies of the film and would watch it time and time again, picking up on the mistakes. He said they glossed over mistakes, thinking that the one-time viewer who not catch them.

Ian Fleming reportedly described the film as “Dreadful. Simply dreadful."

He initially disapproved of Connery, a working-class Scotsman, as Bond. But he later warmed to him, writing in a letter to a friend that Connery had the right physique for Bond and that the actor was a fine man. 

Much has been made of the fact that when Fleming wrote Bond’s premature obituary in You Only Live Twice, he noted that the character was half Scot and half Swiss. Many people believe this was due to Connery’s performance, and perhaps this was partly true, but Fleming was also Scottish, and he gave Bond many of his personal attributes.    

Although he knew Bond was made for the movies, he could not have realized just how successful the film series would be, and that the films would ensure that future generations of readers, millions of them, would go on to read his novels. 

I was one.    

You can watch a documentary film on the making of Dr. No via the below link:

Note: In the above photo Sean Connery talks to Ian Fleming on the set of Dr. No

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My Washington Times Piece On How Philadelphia's Sancuary City Polices Freed Illegal Imigrant Who Went On To Rape Child

The Washington Times published my piece on Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policies.

The City of Philadelphia does not like the term sanctuary city. The city’s liberal leaders prefer the term “Welcoming City.” Unfortunately, the city’s “welcoming” policy welcomed an illegal immigrant who was also a child rapist.

On Feb. 26, William S. McSwain, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, announced the sentencing of Juan Ramon-Vasquez, a Honduran citizen, to 21 months in federal prison for illegal re-entry into the United States. Ramon-Vasquez was deported in 2009, but like many illegal immigrants, he chose to sneak back to the United States again.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, he was discovered to be back in America by U.S. Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers while being held in a Philadelphia prison. The City of Philadelphia refused to comply to a detainer lodged by ICE and he was subsequently released from prison.

Instead of being in the custody of ICE and facing deportation once again, Ramon-Vasquez was free to roam around Philadelphia. He was also free to rape a young child.

He is currently serving eight to 20 years in state prison for rape and his federal sentence will run consecutive to his state sentence.

“The facts of this case illustrate all too well the direct threat to public safety caused by the City of Philadelphia's sanctuary city policies,” Mr. McSwain said. “After the City let this criminal loose on the streets of Philadelphia, Ramon-Vasquez repeatedly raped an innocent child. If the ICE detainer had been honored by local law enforcement, this crime never would have happened, and the victim would have been spared horrendous physical and mental trauma.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My Parents Didn't Bribe Anyone To Get Me Into One Of The Most Elite Schools In The Nation

Note: I enlisted in the U.S. Navy when I was 17 and I attended Navy Basic Training (Boot Camp) at the U.S. Navy Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois.

A Little Humor: Granny

The family wheeled Granny out on the lawn in her wheelchair, where the activities for her 100th birthday were taking place. 

Granny couldn’t speak very well, but she could write notes when she needed to communicate.

After a short time out on the lawn, Granny started leaning off to the right, so some family members grabbed her, straightened her up, and stuffed pillows on her right.

A short time later, she started leaning off to her left, so again the family grabbed her and stuffed pillows on her left.

Soon she started leaning forward, so the family members again grabbed her, then tied a pillowcase around her waist to hold her up.

A grandson who arrived late came running up to Granny and said, “Hi Granny, you’re looking good! How are they treating you?”

Granny took out her little note pad and slowly wrote a note to the nephew, “They won’t let me fart.” 

Note: The above photo is Irene Ryan, who portrayed Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies.  

Born Into Al-Qaida: The Rise to Prominence of Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's Son

The son of Osama bin Laden is the subject of a piece at
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Years after the death of his father at the hands of a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan, Hamza bin Laden now finds himself in the crosshairs of world powers.
In rapid succession in recent weeks, the U.S. put a bounty of up to $1 million on him; the U.N. Security Council named him to a global sanctions list, sparking a new Interpol notice for his arrest; and his home country of Saudi Arabia revealed it had revoked his citizenship.
Those measures suggest that international officials believe the now 30-year-old militant is an increasingly serious threat. He is not the head of al-Qaida but he has risen in prominence within the terror network his father founded, and the group may be grooming him to stand as a leader for a young generation of militants.
“Hamza was destined to be in his father’s footsteps,” said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent focused on counterterrorism who investigated al-Qaida’s attack on the USS Cole. “He is poised to have a senior leadership role in al-Qaida.”
"There is probably other intelligence that indicates something's happening and that's what put this thing on the front burner," he said.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, March 18, 2019

George Blake, the Brit Double Agent And Traitor Whose Information Led To Deaths Of 100s Of UK Spies In Bid To Come Home

Adam Helliker at the British newspaper the Mirror offers a piece on British spy and traitor George Blake wanting to leave Russia, the country he defected to, and return to the UK.

 Living quietly in a small house in a pine forest not far from Moscow is a notorious traitor whom many in Britain may have assumed died years ago.
Yet George Blake is still alive, although his failing health may mean he won't reach his 97th birthday this year.
Few in this country are likely to mourn the fate of this half-blind old man when reminded that during the Cold War he gave the KGB the names of several hundred British agents, most of them living behind the Iron Curtain - ensuring their execution.

Now a rumour has spread among the small circle of Russians who keep in touch with Blake that lately the old traitor become rather misty-eyed about England and has expressed a desire to make one last visit here.

It is a fanciful notion that is unlikely to be fulfilled.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

A Little Humor: A Drunk's Dry Cleaning

A man at a bar became so drunk that he fell right off his stool and vomited all over his shirt. 

Getting up, he said to the bartender: “Oh no, my wife will start a fight when I go home because now she'll  know I drank too much.”

The bartender slipped a $10 bill into the man’s shirt pocket and said: “Just tell her that it was someone else who threw up on you and he apologized by giving you money for dry cleaning.” 

The drunk smiled, had another drink, tipped the wise bartender, and left for home.

The drunk's wife met him at the door and saw his soiled shirt.

“You were at the bar again…” she yelled out. 

The drunk held up his hand and said, “Yes, I did go to the bar and had just one beer when this disgraceful drunk vomited all over me. Check my shirt pocket. He apologized and gave me $10 for dry cleaning.”

The woman, somewhat suspicious, checked his pocket, and then said, “But there’s $20 in here.” 

“That’s because he also pooped my pants,” the drunk said.

Note: The above photo is one of my favorite comics, W. C. Fields..

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wired Up: You Can't Beat An FBI Tape

Alex Napoliello at offers a piece on the FBI recordings of alleged Philadelphia-South Jersey Cosa Nostra crime family members.
What’s a sure-fire way for a mobster to earn a trip to the can? An associate wearing a wire and taping your conversations.
Joseph Servidio, a South Jersey resident who authorities say is a made member of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra, knew this to be true and offered the following advice:
“Eighty percent of eyewitnesses got the wrong person. Eighty percent. They look like the person … so without any corroborating evidence, you can even beat that,” Servidio can be heard saying on tape, according to court documents. “The things you can’t beat are the tapes ... with you saying it.”
Servidio said this to another made man in the Philly mob. An associate who was — you guessed it — wearing a wire and taping their conversations. Referred to in court documents as CS-1, the confidential informant started feeding information to the FBI in 2015 and would go on to record at least a dozen conversations with Servidio.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

On M's Orders: Ralph Fiennes, Who Portrays M, James Bond’s Boss, Says 007 Must Not Be black Or Female - Secret Agent Should Stay True To Ian Fleming's Vision

Amid the various calls for a black, female or transgender actor to portray James Bond once Daniel Craig gives up the role, the Daily Mail offers a piece on Ralph Fiennes (seen in the above and below photos with Daniel Craig), who states that the character of James Bond should remain a white Brit. 

The actor, who portrays M, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service in the James Bond film series, said that Bond should be true to author Ian Fleming’s vision..

He took over his pivotal role in the Bond movies from a woman.

But Ralph Fiennes has walked into a major casting row by saying that 007 should never change gender. Nor, he believes, should James Bond be played by a black actor.

Fiennes, who succeeded Dame Judi Dench as spymaster M, insists black or female stars should be given their own action films to showcase their talents, away from the Bond franchise.

‘I would like to see a great black actor inhabit a Bond-like persona,’ he said. ‘But not necessarily be in the same franchise.

Ralph Fiennes says James Bond should remain a white man and black or female actors should be given their own action films.

… Fiennes’s stance was supported by Graham Rye, who runs the James Bond 007 Magazine, who said: ‘I agree 100 per cent. Nor should Bond be an Oriental or Asian actor – the same way a Caucasian actor should never be considered to play Shaka Zulu, Jawaharlal Nehru or Genghis Khan.’

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

You can also read my Washington Times piece on no "Jane" Bond” via the below link: 

Sifting Truth From Lies: An Interview With Mark Bowden, Author Of True Crime Book, 'The Last Stone'

Publisher’s Weekly offers an interview with Mark Bowden, the author of a new true crime book, The Last Stone.  

In Bowden’s The Last Stone (Atlantic Monthly, Apr.), detectives try to find out what happened to 13-year-old Katherine and 11-year-old Sheila Lyon, sisters who vanished from a Maryland mall in 1975.

What surprised you the most about how the case unfolded?

The duration and difficulty of the interrogation was far beyond anything I imagined, and it fascinated me. With no physical evidence and, initially, no witnesses, every bit of information about the crime had to come from the suspect himself. And the suspect, Lloyd Welch, was so compulsive a liar that his behavior bordered on comical. He also had every reason in the world not to tell the truth. Building the case against him meant traveling down a long path of deliberate untruths, stories designed to mislead. The detectives had to somehow sift the truth from a mountain of lies.

You can read the rest of the interview via the below link: 

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with Mark Bowden concerning his book, Hue 1968, Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo, and his other books, via the below link

A Little Night Music: Brook Benton's 'Rainy Night In Georgia'

You can listen to Brook Benton's Rainy Night in Georgia via the below link:

Saturday, March 16, 2019

New Zealand Mosque Shooter Borrowed From "ISIS playbook," Says John Miller, NYPD Counterterrorism Head

CBS News offers an interview with John Miller, the NYPD deputy head of counterterrorsm. Miller, a former journalist who once interviewed Osama bin Laden, offers his take on the mass murder terrorist attack in New Zealand.

New Zealand's prime minister said this is one of her country's "darkest days," after 49 people were killed in an attack on Muslims at prayer. Worshipers at two mosques were gunned down Friday in Christchurch, the country's second largest city.    
The main suspect is a white Australian man who has been identified as Brenton Tarrant. He has been charged with murder. Three others have also been taken into custody in connection with the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's history. 
Video that was apparently livestreamed on social media by the shooter shows the attack in horrifying detail. New York's deputy head of counterterrorism John Miller told "CBS This Morning" this attack bears many similarities to ISIS.
"You can see that the neo-fascist groups, white supremacists are borrowing from the ISIS playbook," Miller said. "In this attack you see the phenomenon that we coined the phrase in the NYPD 'dying live.' This was an ISIS tactic where they said if you're going to do a mass casualty attack, you should live stream it over social media. We've seen them adopting many of the tactics, the terrorist tactics you would see in things like ISIS' Rumiyah magazine or Al Qaeda's magazines in terms of instruction." 
You can read the rest of the piece and watch the interview video clip via the below link:

Note: The above photo is of Miller interviewing bin Laden.

Former Defense Intelligence Officer Pleads Guilty To Attempted Espionage

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, a resident of Syracuse, Utah, and a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer, pleaded guilty today in the District of Utah in connection with his attempted transmission of national defense information to the People’s Republic of China.  Sentencing is set for Sept. 24, 2019. 
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney John Huber for the District of Utah and Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office announced the charges.
Hansen retired from the U.S. Army as a Warrant Officer with a background in signals intelligence and human intelligence.  He speaks fluent Mandarin-Chinese and Russian.  DIA hired Hansen as a civilian intelligence case officer in 2006.  Hansen held a Top Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor.
As Hansen admitted in the plea agreement, in early 2014, agents of a Chinese intelligence service targeted Hansen for recruitment and he began meeting with them regularly in China.  During those meetings, the Chinese agents described to Hansen the type of information that would interest the Chinese intelligence service.  During the course of his relationship with the agents of the Chinese intelligence service, Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for information he provided them, including information he gathered at various industry conferences.  Between May 24, 2016 and June 2, 2018, Hansen solicited from an intelligence case officer working for the DIA national defense information that Hansen knew the Chinese intelligence service would find valuable.  Hansen agreed to act as a conduit to sell that information to the Chinese.  Hansen advised the DIA case officer how to record and transmit classified information without detection, and explained how to hide and launder any funds received as payment for classified information.  The DIA case officer reported Hansen’s conduct to the DIA and subsequently acted as a confidential human source for the FBI.
As Hansen further admitted in the plea agreement, Hansen met with the DIA case officer on June 2, 2018, and received from that individual documents containing national defense information that Hansen previously solicited.  The documents Hansen received were classified. The information in the documents related to the national defense of the United States in that it related to United States military readiness in a particular region and was closely held by the United States government.  Hansen reviewed the documents, queried the DIA case officer about their contents, and took written notes about the materials relating to the national defense information.  Hansen advised the DIA case officer that he would remember most of the details about the documents he received that day and would conceal some notes about the material in the text of an electronic document that Hansen would prepare at the airport before leaving for China.  Hansen intended to provide the information he received to the agents of the Chinese intelligence service with whom he had been meeting, and Hansen knew that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.
Hansen pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government.  The plea agreement calls for an agreed-upon sentence of 15 years.
Special agents of the FBI, IRS, U.S. Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency were involved in the investigation. 
The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Lund, Karin Fojtik, Mark K. Vincent and Alicia Cook of the District of Utah, and Trial Attorneys Patrick T. Murphy, Matthew J. McKenzie and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington assisted with this case.

Friday, March 15, 2019

A Little Humor: Blonde With A Gun

A young blonde woman suspected her boyfriend of cheating on her. 

In a fit of anger, she drove to a local pawn shop and bought a gun.

She showed up at his apartment unexpectedly, slammed open the door, and sure enough he was in his bedroom, naked in the arms of a beautiful redhead.

This angered her, and in the heat of the moment, she opened her purse and pulled out the handgun she bought earlier. 

She took aim, but grief overcame here and she pointed the gun at her own head.

“Honey, NO!!! Don’t do it!!!” he yelled.

The blonde started crying and through the tears screamed: “Shut up, cheater. You are next.”

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin's Master Agent

Nicholas Shakespeare at the Spectator offers a review of Owen Matthews’ An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent.

Interviewed on the Today programme on 7 March, a former executive of the gigantic Chinese tech firm Huawei admitted: ‘It is the nature of humanity to spy, to conduct espionage.’ A gold-plated incarnation of this impulse is the tall, craggy-faced German journalist who was arrested in his pyjamas in his Tokyo house in October 1941. ‘I am a Nazi!’ he insisted to the Japanese police, who, before entering his study, had politely removed their shoes. On the sixth day of his interrogation, he finally broke. He raised his vigilant, deep-set blue eyes, which could have charmed the whiskers off Blofeld’s cat, and said: ‘I will confess everything.’

Over the course of 50 interrogation sessions, Richard Sorge removed the scabbard of ‘a slightly lazy, high-living reporter’, which had shielded him for 12 years, and revealed his inner steel: the blade of an unyielding communist and consummate dissembler, the only person in history in the reckoning of Owen Matthews, his latest and most thorough biographer, to have been simultaneously a member of the Nazi party and the Soviet Communist party. ‘No other agent had served Moscow for so well or so long.’

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Long Strange History Of Novelists Who Became Spies: The Overlapping Worlds Of Espionage And Fiction

In writing about his new spy thriller, The Moroccan Girl, at, via St. Martin’s Press, Charles Cumming (seen in the below photo) looks back at the famous novelists who became spies or were spies before they became novelists. 

In my new novel, The Moroccan Girl, a successful writer of spy thrillers becomes an agent for MI6. Kit Carradine is in his mid-30s. He lives alone in London, forever putting off the moment when he has to sit at his desk and write the required 1000 words per day which will allow him to meet the deadline on his latest book. Restless and easily distracted, Carradine is struggling to come to terms with what he calls the “Groundhog Day routine” of the writer’s life. In short, he’s a bit bored.

Then, a miracle. While en route to an afternoon screening of a film in Notting Hill (another instance of Carradine avoiding his desk), our hero is buttonholed by a mysterious man named Robert Mantis who claims to be a fan of his novels. The two men later meet for lunch, where Mantis reveals not only that he is an intelligence officer, but also that MI6 want to recruit Carradine as a support agent. Before he has time to ask himself whether or not he is doing the right thing, Carradine is on a plane to Casablanca operating as a bone fide British spy.

Could such a thing happen in real life? Does MI6 use writers in this capacity—or can I be accused of writing a 350-page wish-fulfilment fantasy? The answer is: of course! MI6 has a well-documented history of recruiting novelists to its cause.

Take Frederick Forsyth, for example. In his 2016 memoir, The Outsider, the author of The Day of the Jackal revealed that he had worked as a support agent for MI6 for more than two decades. On one occasion during the Cold War, Forsyth agreed to have sensitive documents hidden in the paneling of his car, which he then drove across the border into Communist East Germany. At an agreed time, Forsyth met a contact in the men’s lavatory of a prestigious Dresden museum and passed the documents to him from one locked cubicle to another.

… Forsyth was by no means the first famous writer to work for British intelligence. During World War One, MI6 recruited W. Somerset Maugham as an asset in Switzerland. While supposedly working on a new play, Maugham was in fact spying for king and country. The celebrated novelist and dramatist later produced Ashenden, a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories inspired by his experiences. Winston Churchill was said to be so incensed at Maugham’s breach of the Official Secrets Act that he demanded several of the stories be destroyed to prevent publication.

Already well-established as a writer, Graham Greene also did his bit, working for MI6 in Sierra Leone during World War Two. Greene’s Head of Station was none other than Kim Philby who, of course, was secretly working for the Soviet NKVD at the time. Greene later gave his MI6 code number—592000—to a character in Our Man in Havana, that devastating satire of espionage. He also parlayed his experience of the secret world into two of the finest spy novels of the 20th century: The Quiet American (1955) and The Human Factor (1978).

Why should novelists be sought after by intelligence services? Well, as Mantis tells Carradine in The Moroccan Girl: “Writers on research trips provide perfect cover for clandestine work…The inquisitive novelist always has a watertight excuse for poking his nose around. Any unusual or suspicious activity can be justified as part of the artistic process.” Put it another way: as an author visiting Moscow or Tehran, I can write things down, take photographs, meet politicians and business leaders – all under the legitimate guise of researching a thriller.

It works the other way around, too. The most famous spy-turned-author is undoubtedly John le Carré, who worked for both MI5 and MI6 while writing his first three books. The global success of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold allowed him to retire from the secret world and to devote himself full time to writing.

And then there is Ian Fleming, whose experiences in naval intelligence during World War II led to the creation of the most famous spy of them all—James Bond. Fleming was also partly responsible for one of the most ingenious intelligence coups of the war: Operation Mincemeat, in which false Top-Secret papers were planted on a corpse with the intention of misleading Nazi command.

… Already a world-famous writer at the outbreak of war, Ernest Hemingway was keen to be of service to his country. A recent biographer alleges that ‘Papa’ set up a counterintelligence bureau in Havana on behalf of the FBI and offered his 38-foot yacht, Pilar, for use as a scouting vessel to search for German U-Boats. Perhaps Red Sparrow author Jason Matthews, himself a former CIA officer, could confirm or deny this story?

The Moroccan Girl was inspired by these real-life examples of novelists turning to espionage—and vice-versa. Fans of Eric Ambler might also recognize my homage to The Mask of Dimitrios, in which a celebrated mystery writer, Charles Latimer, is drawn into a real-life crime story by Colonel Haki of the Turkish Secret Police. The Moroccan Girl may tackle the era of Trump and Putin, but it is a deliberately old-fashioned spy novel about an ordinary man who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances: An Ambler specialty.

You can read the entire piece via the below link:  

Note: The top photo is of W. Somerset Maugham. Below are photos of Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, John le Carre and Eric Ambler. Also included is William F. Buckley Jr, not mentioned in the piece, but he served briefly in the CIA and later wrote a series of spy thrillers.