The Perfect Square

John Le Carré died on the 12th of December last year, at the age of 89. I was twelve when I read his third book, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold—since then, I read everything he wrote.

Unlike other spy novelists, and in sharp contrast to the current fad, there was no gripping first chapter that hooked you to the book. He built the house from the ground up, and slowly reeled you in. His books had no explicit sex (unlike mine) and although people got hurt, wounded, and killed, he never indulged in it—all in all, very British.

If I had to pick his best book, it would be The Honourable Schoolboy—Le Carré’s heroes orbited around public schools (which in the UK means private schools), Oxford and Cambridge, and the British army—hardly the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.

Most of the authors I read, much like the music I prefer, are considerably older than I am—many are dead. Dylan is only ten years younger than Le Carré.

After Le Carré died, I bought The Spy Who Came In from the Cold—but this time in digital, and I have been slowly savoring it, mixed in with other reads, as the fancy takes me.

The spymaster’s pen name means ‘The Square’, and when I was choosing a pseudonym, it struck me as a fine idea to have two names, one simple and one complicated—Peter Wibaux seemed the perfect choice—and even though, like Le Carré, the name sounds French, that’s not where I got it from.

New revelations about the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a physicist prominent in the Iranian effort to develop a nuclear weapon, drew immediate comparisons to both Le Carré and James Bond—always a bizarre pairing.

Bond movies (I’m one of the few people that read Ian Fleming’s early books) are the polar opposite of a Le Carré plot. After I read the article published recently, I can assure you this story is much more John than James—although on balance it’s closer to Frederick Forsyth than to Le Carré, simply because of the nature of the action.

Jacob Nagel, who was an acting national security advisor for Netanayahu, and a former IDF official, states:

It is certain that if Iran developed the bomb, it would be a problem for the whole world… Israel especially cannot live with a nuclear Iran. So we will defend ourselves by ourselves, and in the process we are defending you, too.

The Mossad had documents proving that Fakhrizadeh had worked on several nuclear warheads, each one able to cause five Hiroshimas.

He was serious. He still meant to do what he planned. So someone decided that he had had enough time on earth.

The assassination was meticulously planned, starting with the murder weapon—very little can be found about it, except that it was a ‘one-ton automated gun. The question then arises of how such a weapon was brought into Iran from hostile territory. We’re told it was smuggled in piece by piece, which would mean it was then reassembled locally.

The black Opel in which Fakhrizadeh was assassinated. The accuracy of the hit is obvious from the state of the vehicle.

Although the one-ton gun is all over the net—not least because plagiarism is the web’s dirty secret—and there are passing mentions of the use of satellites and AI, the one-ton bit remains bizarre.

Why one-ton? From the images of the car, the projectiles went through the glass, which given the profile of the victim, must have been bullet-proof. That means 50 calibre or larger, i.e. a round 13 mm in diameter, or about half an inch.

John Browning first created the M2 .50 machine gun back in 1918—it weighs around one hundred thirty pounds, if you include both the tripod and the traverse. That leaves 942 kg (over 2000 lb) to spare, if we’re talking metric tons.

Where did that go? Presumably the weapon was mounted on a frame, and there will have been a number of support systems, as well as a bomb to destroy the weapon after the kill.

One-ton-gun has a rap ring to it, but I still can’t see what might make it that heavy or how you could possibly drive it around in a police state undetected.

Nevertheless, an automated gun appears to have been used—twenty Mossad operatives were involved in the plot, over a period of eight months. Some of the people involved were Israelis, but not all.

The remarkable thing about the killing is that Fakhrizadeh’s wife, sitting less than a foot away from her husband, was unharmed, while thirteen bullets hit the physicist. Twelve bodyguards who accompanied the couple in convoy were all unharmed. Then the bomb went off and blew up the gun, which was fitted inside a Nissan pickup.

The Mossad people all made it out, according to the account in the Jewish Chronicle—that may well be disinformation, if some of the spies are deep cover assets based in Iran.

The Iranian was killed on Friday, November 27th, which raises the question of whether this was a last effort by Trump to power-blitz Israel before Biden took office. Israel says no, the Americans had nothing to do with it.

Apparently, there was a courtesy call made to Washington, but a source states Israel never asked for permission.

“It was more like checking the water temperature.”


The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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