Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No paranoia here: Turkey clears kestrel of suspicions of being an Israeli spy

Another backlog item, as reported by the Times of Israel, July 26, 2013:

A bird captured in Turkey on suspicion of being an Israeli spy was released after a thorough examination revealed that the falcon was not in the employ of the Mossad.

Resident of the Ağın district in the eastern province of Elazığ became concerned after a kestrel, with a tag reading “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel,” ventured nearby, Turkish media reported Friday.

After capturing the winged invader, locals turned it over to Turkish authorities, who had the bird X-rayed at a nearby university, according to the Turkish news outlet Hurriyet.

The bird was apparently registered as an “Israeli spy” by medical personnel.

After determining that the bird had been tagged for research purposes and not snooping, authorities released the kestrel back into the sky.

Israeli use of non-human spies is apparently a large concern in the Middle East. In May of 2012, authorities in Ankara dissected a European bee-eater after becoming concerned that it was carrying an Israeli listening device, and in December an eagle with an Israeli tag in Sudan was captured and touted as a Mossad spy.

In 2010, an Egyptian official said Israel-controlled sharks could be involved in a number of attacks on tourists in the Red Sea.
While the Turks are correct in not underestimating Israeli cleverness and resourcefulness, such willingness on their part to believe in enemy conspiracies is not a recent phenomenon. Submitted for your approval is the following item from The Times of London, April 6, 1920:



CONSTANTINOPLE, March 18 (by mail).

...it was with a feeling of resentment that a large section of us, on reaching the landing-stage at Kadikeui to depart for Galata by the most popular morning boat, discovered that something was happening at the European side which we did not understand. The ticket offices were closed. An empty steamer pulled solemnly alongside. The officials, pressed for explanations, remarked that there had been an order for the boats to stop running.

The public nervously watched the other side of the water. One or two, blessed with the eye of faith, averred that they could see Allied soldiers disembarking at Seraglio Point. Forthwith an explanation was found. The Allies were landing troops on the bridge between Galata, and Stambul, and therefore the boats were not running.


The crowd settled down to lounge about near the landing stage, or to sit in the adjacent cafes. Then came the buzzing of a seaplane, which performed various evolutions above Kadekeui and Haidar Pasha. The crowd promptly thickened. It was a lovely day, bright and clear, and the seaplane was worth watching. We became quite interested. Next came a green-grey launch, flying the tricolour of France, and carrying a disproportionately lengthy naval gun; she performed more evolutions on the water in front of us, and suddenly broke off to stop a tug which had apparently trespassed and send it back to Haidar Pasha.

At this all felt that the explanation that troops were landing could not be correct. Something more was needed. It was supplied by the Nationalist Orator, a fearsome gentleman who pounces mercilessly on friends, acquaintances, and comparative strangers on ferry steamers, and expounds the beauties of Nationalism to them in sonorous tones. Having collected a little group around him by artifices such as were used by Mr. Joseph Finsbury in "The Wrong Box," he explained that the patriotic sailors of the ferry company had gone on strike as a protest against the scandalous language used by Lord Curzon and Mr. Lloyd George against Turkey.

For a moment many accepted the explanation which X. Effendi repeated in French for the benefit of Europeans, adding that the sailors had thereby shown "a laudable and patriotic initiative." But he had barely ceased to perorate when a cabman whose Turkish was fluent if he had no French arrived to inform us that no trains were running and that the British had seized Haidar Pasha Station. The strike had hardly accounted for this!


Presently the crowd began to thin. A great part of it drifted towards a cafe. The writer followed. There sat a happy Greek sailor in his shirt-sleeves. He had seen a great personage, Djemal Pasha, he believed, being marched through the streets in the custody of British soldiers in the small hours of the morning. With vigorous gesture, he described the how and the when in excruciating Turkish mingled with Greek.

I left him spell-binding. That evening I heard more. Yes, it was pretty certain that three Turks had been caught trying to blow up the British general with dynamite bombs. (The general had denied it, but of course there might be political and diplomatic reasons for his denial!)

One of my neighbours who had seen something for himself on the other side found that his servants knew more than he though they had not crossed the water. One had seen captive Nationalists conducted to a launch and British troops occupy Haidar Pasha Station.

"It was very well done," said he; "this time unimportant people were left alone."

"But do you know why?" asked another, who regards the cinema as the greatest educational influence of the age. "The English have brought "Serlo Kolms" (Greeks are as weak over the "sh" as the tribe of Ephraim) out to Constantinople. A wonderful man that! He just puts his nose in the air and smells out evil-doers. How brilliant an idea to employ him!"

Thus do myths arise in the Near East. I shall be surprised if Yanni, grown older and more garrulous, does not one day describe to his wondering and believing friends how he witnessed the dramatic arrest of Djemal Pasha by "Serlo Kolms" on that memorable March 16, 1920.

"Serlo Kolms" is a real being to many frequenters of our cinemas, and recently a newspaper advertising a coming feuilleton published the notice "Sherlock Holmes a Constantinople" in several successive numbers. This was taken literally by certain Greek and Turkish readers, who blamed a rival newspaper for failing to report the presence of this celebrity here! It is now an article of faith with many that Sherlock is here and at work, presumably in the "I" branch.
HT: Hal Lindsey Media Ministries, This week on 'The Hal Lindsey Report', August 23, 2013

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