Monday, April 4, 2011

David Ignatius

From Ken Silverstein's Harper's Magazine Q & A with David Ignatius about the latter's thriller, Body of Lies:

Is the book’s main plot–the effort to bring down the terrorist group headed by Suleiman–modeled on a true-life story?

The idea for this book began with a conversation with a senior CIA official. I asked him about the agency’s post-9/11 strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda. He said he hoped to rely on help from intelligence services in the Arab and Islamic world. I asked if he had encountered any superstars in these friendly services, and he mentioned a top Jordanian official. The next time I was in Amman, I asked the palace if I could speak with this particular gentleman, and it was duly arranged. From those conversations, I began to sketch a portrait of my character Hani Salaam, the imaginary chief of my Jordanian General Intelligence Department.

The novel is about deception, and I drew on some real examples. The Jordanians, working with the British and American, have been especially skillful in using their penetrations of hostile groups to sow deception and distrust. Their deception operations against the Abu Nidal Organization were so successful that they basically caused the group to implode. The Abu Nidal operatives were literally shooting each other. In “Body of Lies,” I imagine how a similar operation against Al Qaeda might be run—and the pitfalls therein.

The other historical root for the book is the famous British World War II deception of the Nazis described in the memoir, “The Man Who Never Was.” The challenge was to convince the Germans that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue