Friday, March 9, 2012

A Mole in His Majesty’s Secret Service

A mole is a spy who works for an enemy nation, but whose loyalty ostensibly lies with his own nation's government.

Perhaps the most famous examples of moles are the Cambridge Five, five men recruited as students at Cambridge University who later rose to high levels in various parts of the British government. Kim Philby was the most famous of them.

However, following is the unheard of account of a pre-WW II infiltrator who baffled the British Secret Service for a very long time.


“How’s Aniston?” I blurted after a sip of brandy. He choked on a pickled cucumber. “Aniston?” he mumbled. “Like Mickey Aniston?” With apprehension looming in his eyes, he coughed spasmodically, congesting his, already, red face into a flare. He borrowed my cognac, supposedly to shove off the cause of his choke.

“Yes, Mickey Aniston, my boy, the one I recruited in Egypt.”

He nodded knowingly. “Yeah, yeah, tall, reddish brown crown of hair, freckled face, and zappy mouth. Sure, Henry, I know him.” He took another gulp of the drink and snapped without looking me in the eyes. “He’s on the run.” He put the glass on the table, but still held it between his palms. “Haven’t you heard? It's been two years since the incident. Perhaps Johnny McMahon could tell you the best of it.” But the hard look in my eyes told him that I wasn’t waiting for any McMahonian storytelling.

He loitered a little, trying to evade the inevitable by asking about my family. “They perished in the disease. Quit stalling, Jack. If I have any family remaining,  it’s Mickey Aniston.” He poured it all. Slow and painful he told it, but never complete and farthest from the truth, in my eyes, at least. Of course, I’d never believe that, you, the Michael Aniston raised by my hands, would be a defector.

It was me who handpicked you off that regiment in Cairo, remember? And it was me who taught you the tricks of the trade. I raised you, boy, and I know you. Are you rash at decisions? Of course. Inconsiderate and vulgar? Sometimes. But a defector to the Commies? That’s something I can’t stomach. He recounted how you messed in Lausanne with a Russian defector. A blunder horrible enough that someone up the ladder in Box 850 couldn’t let the matter go unaccounted for.

“Some boss up there ripped open your boy’s history bag. And, oops, what he found. Your boy always messed the Commie stuff; always on the flipping side.”

Broody stopped his emotional dribble for a second, looked in his glass. “Words, scattered here and there, even claim that Mickey was a red boy from the start. Right when you picked him up some inn or bar off the streets in Cairo.” I waved all his bullshit with my arm, but he insisted. “The boy did things for the Russians even when he was under your custody, sipping the first drops of your nursery drink.” His bloody sneer implied that I was a fool, or even worse. My face must have changed colours, and my voice gone a tad loud.

“And who is the son of the bitch who believes this shit?”

My voice must have attracted a head or two, and Broody retreated once again behind his defensive hedge. He finished his dinner without another word.

The next week had me struggling to accustom back to city life, so naturally, your matter drifted off my mind. As well, I had to start fulfilling my transfer papers in the headquarters, on a number of appointments, as early as possible.

On one of those, I had the chance meeting with John McMahon.

Well up the ladder of evolution, far from poor Broody, lies McMahon. Twelve years off the streets, in the offices, had eventually toned down the man’s temper and given him the demeanour of an aristocrat. He received me in his office over tea. He retold Broody’s shit but in an orderly manner; the bastard recounted as if he was reading from a book.

“The fifth floor people couldn’t tolerate his last disaster. Not because he did it. He didn’t. But 'cause it happened with him. And it isn’t the first time, mind you. His entire career was spread on walls like some dirty laundry badly washed. His professionalism seemed botched, especially when he was confronted with Communist affairs. His clients got sacked, handled, or erased at the eleventh hour. Initially, his production would appear promising, then he managed to screw up at the last minute; the Admiralty was his victim on two consecutive counts. A deliberate study of his career opened the eyes of the inquisitors to strong shades of doubt shrouding the boy’s past: his curious involvement in the loss of Sidney Reilly at the Finnish border to the hands of the NKVD, and even earlier in the murder of Sir Lambert Stanford, a Governor-General of Sudan in the twenties.”

The last sentence was a surprise that hit me like a slap on the face, as sudden, as painful. I interrupted vehemently.

“What do you mean he had something to do with the murder of Sir Lambert Stanford?” He looked puzzled over my excitement, before giving me a conciliatory nod. “Ah, he was under your courtship then. Yes, the two of you were the centre of the new covert Cairo office. But hey, the boy is believed to be Communist all through, Galloway. Sorry if you missed it, but it’s true all the same,” he said with authority.

I challenged him.

“But what implicates him in the murder of Sir Lambert Stanford? I supervised him in the Cairo office during that period. Being a junior recruit then obviously put his actions under my scrutiny.” McMahon served my protest to the open window.

“A local agent, Mr. H. Perhaps you remember the guy?” I nodded. “This Mr. H specifically said that Agent Spark, your boy’s code name, had given him an A over Sir Lambert Stanford, which meant to guide his underground group...”

“The Cairene radical ring he infiltrated” I was remembering.

“Yes, the Wafdist underground ring...He has confirmed beyond doubt that Spark gave him an A over Sir Lambert Stanford. The letter A, if you remember, meant to direct H to exercise his influence over his country fellows and authorise the murder of a political adversary.”

I escalated my protestation.

“The hell he did. The boy received the telegram that advised him to carry out the command, from the London office. I saw the damn thing. I was puzzled all right, but what options do we have in this job?”
His hand stopped me in contempt. “Don’t let your memory trick you, old man, and don’t let your love for the boy make you a foolish liar at this age. How could you see the telegram, when you were in Assuit, 200 miles to the south, four days earlier, and for two days to come, at the time General Stanford was murdered?”

His knock-out punch sent me reeling in defeat. I guess you know why.

Events that happened twenty-three years ago, during that rainy week in Cairo, were vivid in my mind.  Only the restraints of surprise and doubt harnessed my tongue from complete revelation. I was almost  confronting McMahon on the spot and disputing his claims, telling him that I never went to Assuit and declaring that the telegram was not received by you, but by Sunshine; me.

I just lost momentum.

I wondered how to reveal a twenty-three-year-old story of how I had decided to stay pondering upon a chance meeting with an Italian beauty of Jazeera Club, and that you, youthful and enthusiastic as ever, took up my assignment, taking the train to Assuit to feed back on some silly intelligence gathering. That left me alone in Cairo, to receive the telegram directed to agent Spark. Mindful to keep things in order and assignments in time, I contacted Mr. H in your guise and delivered the message.

Now they are saying there wasn’t such a telegram!

“Perhaps I wasn’t with Mickey when he got the word, but I definitely knew about it,” I baffled for a while. “Did someone check correctly; sure the telegram was sent by someone in the London office? Were the archives revised perfectly?” I continued miserably.

McMahon sneered, “Why for God’s sake would this goddamn Circus ask for the execution of a British official in Cairo? Are you mad? Out of your freaking senses?”


“Don’t you 'but' me. Quit fighting for your kid. You look awfully disgusting. Putting yourself in his alley makes you look like a collaborator, or perhaps even worse, a lover whose arse misses the fun.”
I had to concede defeat, for the time being. “What happened of him? Aniston.”

“How on Lord’s earth would I know? Some inquisitor from fifth floor met him in Lausanne. The fool interrogated him rather revealingly. Next morning your boy flees the city. The word of mouth establishes that some French official  spotted him in Leningrad.”

There was nothing more to be said by either.

I quit the door, but you didn't quit my mind. Somehow, one of my ancient love affairs proved to be the spear with which your career and dignity were successfully violated and destroyed.

I simply couldn’t live with something like that for the rest of my life.


Find out how the hunt for the REAL mole hits upon a century old mystery, an adventure that will trace the events back to CIVIL WAR America; "Spy Hunt in Dixie",  an espionage thriller available only on

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