Our dumb times – revisited
In 2008, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s official news agency, Wafa, reported that Israel (read: Mossad) had released poison-resistant rats to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes. If you took the news seriously you might think of it as a remarkable scientific achievement to train rats so that they could distinguish between Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of a city – an achievement this columnist, acting on Mossad’s behalf, once named “Project Mickey Mouse.”
In 2011, Saudi Arabia announced that it had “detained” a vulture carrying an Israeli band. The griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of the Tel Aviv University and was condemned for being a part of a “Zionist espionage plot.” Mossad’s “Operation Angry Birds” had failed. We never learned whether Saudi courts had ruled to behead the spy vulture, or to sentence it to life in prison, or to force it to reveal the names of its collaborators.
In 2012, a migratory bird (a common bee-eater) caused alarm in a Turkish village in the southeast after villagers thought it was an Israeli spy. According to press reports, villagers’ suspicions were aroused when the bird was found dead in a field with a metal ring around its leg stamped “Israel.” They called the police after deciding that the bird’s nostrils were unusually large and may have carried a microchip fitted by Israeli intelligence for spying. That was probably “Operation Angry Birds II.”
And in 2013, Turkish security officials detained (detained!) a kestrel on suspicion that it was spying for Israel. This spy was also quite self-revealing, as the metal ring on its leg carried the words “Tel Avivunia Israel.” The local governor, who must also be an expert counter-espionage agent, decided to send the bird to a university hospital in order to check for surveillance equipment hidden in its body.
The kestrel escaped police interrogation as no spying gadgets were found inside its body. The bird’s name on the hospital’s x-ray sheet read: Israeli spy. The lucky agent was released after it successfully passed itself off as an NGO official doing academic work in the Turkish skies (though it may have been blacklisted by Turkish immigration officers).
Now that Turkey and Israel are singing the normalization blues, the news of Mossad spies disguised as bee-eaters and kestrels no longer come in abundance. Israel must have suspended “Operation Angry Birds.” That’s nice. But “our dumb times” are not limited to this part of the world.
In 2013, Indian security forces found a dead falcon fitted with a small camera and, in 2010, another pigeon was detained over spying fears. What the detained pigeon told Indian interrogators remains secret – as the profession dictates.
In 2015, Indian police seized and searched a bird they suspected Pakistan was using for espionage, fearing it was carrying spy equipment.
Most recently, Indian officials took a pigeon into custody, just like the kestrel in Turkey a few years earlier, after it was found carrying a threatening note addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi near the country’s heavily militarized border with Pakistan. A police inspector said the message referenced the 1971 conflict between India and Pakistan. Indian security did not say what would now happen to the pigeon.
In these days of oriental insanity the Saudis should beware of their camels as this species are big enough to conceal Israeli spying gadgets; while Indian intelligence should beware pink elephants hiding Islamist drones in their bodies. Watch out, the elephant ear can always be used as a secret radar of the enemy.
As for Turkey, the days of Mossad birds are passé. It is now time to catch Gülenist migratory birds that once attended Gülenist schools and/or deposited money at Gülenist banks. Bad birds.