‘Day of the Jackal’ author reveals he was MI6 agent for 20 years

Frederick ForsythFrederick Forsyth, the esteemed British author of novels such as The Day of the Jackal, has confirmed publicly for the first time that he was an agent of British intelligence for two decades. Forsyth, who is 77, worked for many decades as an international correspondent for the BBC and Reuters news agency, covering some of the world’s most sensitive areas, including postcolonial Nigeria, apartheid South Africa and East Germany during the Cold War. But he became famous for authoring novels that have sold over 70 million copies worldwide, including The Odessa File, Dogs of War and The Day of the Jackal, many of which were adapted into film. Several of his intelligence-related novels are based on his experiences as a news correspondent, which have prompted his loyal fans to suspect that he might have some intelligence background.

But Forsyth had never commented on these rumors until last weekend, when was interviewed on the BBC’s main evening news program. He spoke to the station on the occasion of the upcoming publication of his autobiography, The Outsider: My Life, which will be in stores in October. He told the BBC that he was first recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the late 1960s while covering the Nigerian Civil War. The bloody conflict, which is also known as the Biafran War, pitted the separatist Igbo people against the Nigerian federal government. Like other military conflicts in postcolonial Africa, it attracted the attention of the world’s powers, including France, the Soviet Union, the United States, and Britain. London was firmly on the side of the government in Lagos, but MI6 had reservations, believing that the Nigerian military forces were committing mass atrocities in Biafra. Forsyth said he was recruited by an MI6 officer who wanted to know if children were dying in Biafra as a result of the Nigerian government’s military policies against the Igbo separatists. The intelligence service were apparently hoping that they could use this information to change London’s stance on the brutal civil war. The author told the BBC that he spent the rest of the war “sending both journalistic reports to the media and other reports to my new friend”, referring to his MI6 handler.

When asked if he was paid for his services, he said his assistance to MI6 was provided on a strictly voluntary basis. “The attitude, the spirit of the age, was different back then”, he said, adding that “the Cold War was very much on” and when the British government asked a reporter for a favor it was “very hard to say no”. He did say, however, that MI6 promised to approve passages of some of his novels by way of payment. The author of The Day of the Jackal said he was given a number to call and told to send MI6 his manuscripts for vetting. “If they are too sensitive, we will ask you not to continue”, Forsyth told the BBC.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 31 August 2015 | Permalink

News you may have missed #875 (CIA edition)

Boris PasternakBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Ex-CIA head criticizes Pollard release rumors. General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the CIA, said Sunday that he doesn’t think releasing Jonathan Pollard to save the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is a good idea. Hayden, a Bush administration appointee, told Fox News Sunday that “it’s almost a sign of desperation that you would throw this into the pot in order to keep the Israelis talking with the Palestinians”.
►►CIA official dies in apparent suicide. An unnamed senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia. A source close to the agency said the man who died was a middle manager and the incident occurred after the man jumped from the fifth floor a building in Fairfax County. CIA spokesman Christopher White confirmed the death and said the incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.
►►How the CIA turned Doctor Zhivago into a Cold War weapon. Newly disclosed documents indicate that the operation to publish Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in several Eastern European languages was run by the CIA’s Soviet Russia Division, monitored by CIA director Allen Dulles and sanctioned by President Dwight Eisenhower’s Operations Coordinating Board, which reported to the National Security Council at the White House. The board, which oversaw covert activities, gave the CIA exclusive control over the novel’s “exploitation”. The “hand of the United States government” was “not to be shown in any manner”, according to CIA records. IntelNews has reported previously on allegations that the CIA may have influenced teh Swedish Academy’s decision to award the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature to Pasternak.

News you may have missed #740

Timo KivimäkiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Denmark professor accused of spying challenges court secrecy. Timo Kivimäki, a Finnish humanities professor at the University of Copenhagen, is accused of spying for the Russians and is being tried at the city court in the Danish city of Glostrup behind closed doors, meaning no information about the trial, including the precise charges, can be disseminated. But following demands from both Kivimäki’s lawyer and the Danish media, he has been granted permission to appeal against the decision to hold the trial in secret.
►►Analysis: CIA’s links with Hollywood are longstanding. Some US officials are suggesting that the producers of a new motion picture, which deals with the raid that killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, received “extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration” from the Obama administration, and particularly the US Intelligence Community. In light of this, a well-researched article in The Los Angeles Times reminds readers that the close connection between the movie industry and the US military and intelligence community goes back decades. The US military has been using movies to drive up recruitment since the 1920s; and the CIA these days even posts potential movie story lines on its website.
►►CIA funds helped launch literary journal. The Paris Review has been hailed by Time magazine as the “biggest ‘little magazine’ in history”. At the celebration of its 200th issue this spring, current editors and board members ran down the roster of literary heavyweights it helped launch since its first issue in 1953. Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, T.C. Boyle, Edward P. Jones and Rick Moody published their first stories in The Review; Jack Kerouac, Jim Carroll, Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides all had important early stories in its pages. But as American novelist Peter Matthiessen has told interviewers –most recently at Penn State– the journal also began as part of his CIA cover.

News you may have missed #671

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►German ‘spies’ detained in Pakistan. Three alleged German spies have been detained in Pakistan by police and released to German diplomats, according to reports. The men were detained last Saturday in the northeastern city of Peshawar by officers who accused them of belonging to “an unauthorized liaison office of the German embassy”. A Pakistani official said counterintelligence authorities had been observing the three Germans “for months”.
►►Was poet Pablo Neruda murdered? Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, died exactly 12 days after the brutal coup that ended the life of his close friend, socialist President Salvador Allende. The official version was that he died of natural causes brought on by the trauma of witnessing the coup and the lethal persecution of many of his friends. But now Neruda’s body might be exhumed for testing to address long-simmering suspicions that the poet was poisoned.
►►Britain’s secret mission to beat Gaddafi. British efforts to help Libyan rebels topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground –and on the quiet– British special forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters. The BBC’s Newsnight program has produced a report on the subject. The report includes information on E Squadron, which has not hitherto been discussed publicly. It was formed in 2007 to work closely with MI6, and is mainly involved in missions “where maximum discretion is required”.

Soviet KGB may have killed Albert Camus, claims paper

Albert Camus

Albert Camus

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Albert Camus, one of France’s most revered intellectuals, who died in a mysterious accident in 1960, may have been killed by Soviet intelligence, according to an article in one of Italy’s most reputable newspapers. Camus, a philosopher, novelist and journalist, who won the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, died on January 4, 1960, during a road trip from Provence to Paris. Camus had initially planned to accompany his wife and children on a train ride to Paris, but changed his mind at the last minute, after his trusted friend and publisher, Michel Gallimard, offered him a ride in his car to the French capital. That evening, as Gallimard and Camus were driving through the small town of Villeblevin, Gallimard’s Facel Vega FV3B rammed into a tree at high speed. Camus was killed instantly, while Gallimard died in hospital several days later. But an article published last week in one of Italy’s oldest newspapers, Corriere della Sera, claims that the two men may have been killed after Soviet intelligence agents sabotaged Gallimard’s car. The allegation is based on Italian literary scholar Giovanni Catelli, who reportedly unearthed a written testimony by Czechoslovakian author and translator Jan Zábrana. The testimony is included in the Czech-language edition of Zábrana’s personal diary, in which he claims that “a man who knew lots of things and had very informed sources” had told him that Camus’ assassination was “ordered personally” by Dmitri Shepilov, who was the Soviet Union’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1956 to 1957. Read more of this post

Comment: Some early remarks on bin Laden’s assassination

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
It is tempting to consider the impact of Osama bin Laden’s assassination on al-Qaeda-inspired groups and, more broadly, on America’s “global war on terrorism”. Yet any such endeavor at this point would be inevitably speculative. The truth is, nobody has the slightest idea of the possible strategic spillover of bin Laden’s killing, and this includes the White House, the CIA and NATO. There are, however, some general remarks, mostly of operational nature, that can safely be made on the basis of the limited factual information that has been made available. To begin with, it appears that the assassination of al-Qaeda’s senior figurehead was conducted by ground forces, and not remotely, as has been the case with the vast majority of US assassination operations carried out in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the past several years. This potentially strengthens the argument, made frequently by Western and Pakistani officials, that significant achievements in the field of counterterrorism can only be conducted by surgical-type ground operations, based on accurate and actionable intelligence.

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News you may have missed #0253

  • Iran undecided on nukes, says US military spy chief. The US Pentagon’s top intelligence official, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, has said what intelNews has been pointing out again and again, namely that the key finding of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran has not yet committed itself to nuclear weapons production, is still valid.
  • Nobel winner demands Germany uncover Romanian ex-spies. Herta Mueller, the Romanian-born German winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature, has called on Germany to find and prosecute former agents of Romania’s Securitate secret police, large numbers of whom have resettled in Germany after communism ended in Romania 20 years ago.

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News you may have missed #0236

  • Airline bomb plotter’s father warned CIA about his son. Dr. Umaru AbdulMutallab, the father of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Christmas Day airline bomb plot suspect, visited the US embassy in Nigeria in November, where he told a CIA agent that he believed his son was under the influence of religious extremists and had traveled from London, England, to Yemen.
  • New book details Stasi spying on Günter Grass. A new book, entitled Guenter Grass im Visier: Die Stasi-Akte (Günter Grass in the Crosshairs: The Stasi Files), is to be published in March in Germany. Among other things, it will detail spying operations against the Nobel Prize-winning author by the East German secret police, the Stasi.
  • Former Albanian spymaster claiming benefits in Britain. Ilir Kumbaro, Albania’s former spymaster, is wanted by authorities for having kidnapped and tortured three men in his homeland. But after falling out with officials there, he fled to Britain in 1996, where he has lived for 13 years using the alias Shaqa Shatri.

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News you may have missed #0154 [updated]

  • Breaking news: Castro’s sister says she spied for the CIA. Juanita Castro, Fidel and Raúl Castro’s sister, says she voluntarily spied for the CIA from 1961 to 1964, when she left the island for Miami. She said she met a CIA officer called “Enrique” at a hotel in Mexico City in 1961; she was then given the codename “Donna” and codebooks so she could receive encoded instructions from Washington.
  • Was Milan Kundera a communist police informant? Documents unearthed by Czech academics allegedly show that the Czech-born author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being denouncing a Western spy to Czechoslovakia’s StB secret police during his student days.
  • Afghans complain about US spy balloon. A US spy balloon (see previous intelNews coverage) flying over the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan, is prompting privacy complaints from residents.

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Mexican agency spied on Nobel laureate author Márquez

Márquez

Márquez

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Mexico’s defunct Dirección Federal de Seguridad  (DFS) intelligence agency spied on Colombian-born Nobel laureate author Gabriel García Márquez, according to revelations published in El Universal newspaper. The Mexican daily aired declassified documents allegedly showing that the DFS tapped the author’s home telephone, systematically monitored his whereabouts, and kept a “bulging file” on him spanning several decades. The monitoring began in 1967, when Márquez moved from Colombia to Mexico, and continued until at least 1985. The apparent reason for the spying is that the Mexican state considered the best-selling author of Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude to be a communist sympathizer and even “a Cuban agent”. Read more of this post

Newspaper claims CIA had say in 1958 literature Nobel award

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Back in 1958, literary circles were surprised by the Swedish Academy’s decision to award that year’s Nobel Award for Literature to Soviet writer Boris Pasternak. This was because the author of Doctor Zhivago was considered an outsider, his literary stature overshadowed by those of Italy’s Alberto Moravia and Denmark’s Karen Blixen, who were strongly favored to win the prestigious prize. Furthermore, Pasternak’s novels were at that time considered obscure and had not yet been published in Swedish. His Doctor Zhivago, which was banned in the USSR, was first published in Italian, after the novel’s manuscript was secretly smuggled out of the Soviet Union. It was therefore a big surprise when Pasternak’s candidacy unexpectedly received the support of Anders Esterling, the influential Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. Now Italian newspaper La Stampa claims it has uncovered information pointing to a CIA role in the Academy’s surprise decision. Specifically, the newspaper alleges that “a CIA lobby operating in the Swedish Academy” pressured its voting members to offer the award to the Soviet writer after learning that his works had been banned in the USSR. Pasternak was eventually prevented from receiving the award by the Soviet authorities. He was rehabilitated in the USSR following Stalin’s death. Intelligence (and literary) historians will be interested to know whether the CIA played a role in the initial smuggling of Pasternak’s novel out of the Soviet Union.