My latest article for Digital Journal, called Singapore-Israeli history in ex-journalist's espionage thriller, received over 300 views in the first 24 hours of being published 6 days ago, What was fascinating interviewing Khaled Taleb was learning about the secret relationship between Singapore and Israel which dates back to the early 1960s. Below is the article and interview that was originally published on Digital Journal.

Digital Journal article by Anne-Rae Vasquez: Singapore-Israeli spy thriller by Khaled Talib, an ex-journalist from Singapore

Digital Journal article: Singapore-Israeli history in ex-journalist's espionage thriller

 
Singapore - When people think about Israel, Singapore does not normally come to mind. Surprisingly, Singapore and Israel have had a longstanding secret relationship which goes back 47 years.



The Huffington Post recently published an article by Jim Sleeper called Blame the Israel-Arab war on... Singapore? which draws the similarities and alliances between the two countries.
"...no sooner had Singapore gained its independence in August 1965 than its British-educated founder and first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (whose eldest son is now prime minister), invited Israel to organize his armed forces, because he saw all the parallels between the two young nations that I've just noted. On Christmas Eve, 1965, six Israel Defense Force officers and their families moved to Singapore, followed by waves of consulting teams that established the country's "Total Defense" combat doctrines, its recruitment and training regimens, its intelligence services, and its state-of-art arms procurement. "We are not going to turn Singapore into an Israeli colony," chief of staff and future prime minister Yitzhak Rabin admonished these teams. The Israelis militarized Singaporean society, even with Israeli military songs, to which Lee's soldiers marched in one of Singapore's first real Independence Day parades." - Huffington Post article by Jim Sleeper - Blame the latest Israel-Arab war by Singapore?

It was in Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs "From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965-2000" that the secret relationship between Israel and Singapore was revealed.
"Christmas Eve, 1965, is the unofficial date of the start of the great and continuing love story between Israel and Singapore, a love affair that was kept a deep, dark secret. The international press, like the Israeli media, tried to bring the tale to light. Occasionally, scraps of information leaked out; some were published, some were denied, many were disregarded. The Israelis, as usual, wanted to rush to tell all their friends, but managed to overcome that desire. The fear that the thies would be terminated if they became public knowledge had its effect. Israel imposed a total blackout on the story and the secret was preserved. Until the other side could no longer contain itself." - Haaretz

Digital Journal interviewed Khaled Talib, a former journalist from Singapore, whose upcoming novel Smokescreen brings action and suspense around the hidden Israel-Singapore connections, uncovering unimaginable global plots and events.

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Digital Journal: Tell me something about your upcoming suspense thriller novel Smokescreen.

Khaled Talib: Smokescreen ushers us into a world of global intrigue and sinister, far-reaching alliances between the US, Israel, and Singapore. Set amid the glittering skyscrapers of Singapore’s Raffles City and the opium dens of Chinatown, the novel introduces us to Jethro Westrope, a Singaporean journalist who writes for a magazine, and who hobnobs with the city’s elite. West stumbles onto the scene of a murder: the beautiful Niki Kishwani directs him, in her last breath, to a digital recorder, evidence that puts Jet’s life in serious danger. And much worse — he is framed for Niki’s murder by Chan Boon Seng, chief protocol officer of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and tracked by Chan’s assassin for hire.

Digital Journal: What types of readers will it appeal to?

Khaled Talib: Smokescreen separates itself from the pack by offering an edgy, dark and intense read that will keep you riveted to your chair. Be prepared to lose sleep!

Digital Journal: What inspired you to write Smokescreen?

Khaled Talib: The book was inspired by the relationship between Singapore, a tiny island in Southeast Asia, and Israel. In 1965, an Israeli military delegation arrived in Singapore disguised as Mexicans and started to build the various branches of the armed forces on the island. The two countries have also taken this relationship to a different level and now cooperate in areas like science and defense technology. The inspiration for the novel was also based on an event that took place in Singapore in 1974. Several commandos from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Japanese Red Army jointly attacked the Shell oil refinery complex on Pulau Bukom, a small island lying south of Singapore. I was also intrigued by an incident that took place in 1954 in Egypt known as The Lavon Affair – code named "Operation Susannah." It was a botched Israeli covert operation to plant bombs inside the Arab state. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Digital Journal: Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, could you please share it with us?

Khaled Talib:
So, Mr. Jethro Westrope, if you’re having trouble digesting this, my advice to you is to choose between Kosher and Halal because anything else is grub. Time to wake up, small island man. See the real face of our planet beyond what Google can show you.---excerpt from Smokescreen

Digital Journal: Tell me something about yourself.

Khaled Talib: I was born and raised in Singapore in 1965. My ancestors came from Hadhramaut in Yemen in the 1800s when the island hosted the trading post of the East India Company.

I began my career in Singapore as a staff writer for a weekly oil and gas industry newspaper before switching to the colorful world of magazine journalism. My articles have also appeared in numerous newspapers worldwide. While building a career in journalism, I spent several years in Cairo, Egypt, and worked for a lifestyle magazine.

I constantly got into trouble with the Egyptians as nobody believed I was from Singapore. I looked like an Egyptian, they said. During a press conference at a film festival in Cairo, I asked a famous Egyptian movie star a question in English instead of querying in Arabic. A reporter then started a rumor that I was a spy from Israel. Later, I was approached by a mob of curious journalists. A friend who had accompanied me convinced everyone that I was far from being a threat to the nation.

I wrote an email to author Alex Berenson after reading his story about how he had disguised himself as an Arab to enter Al Azhar mosque in Cairo. He replied to my email, saying that my experience was funny. I wrote to him saying it was funnier that he, being a Jewish person, got away as an Arab while I did not.

To read the full article, please visit my website at: http://anne-raevasquez.com/?p=1615
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Published on February 06, 2013 22:07 • 936 views • Tags: digital-journal, espionage-thriller, khaled-talib, singapore-israel, smokescreen, spy

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