Bond… Jamal Bond
Story and art by Suhail Naqshbandi
This story in Comixense was inspired by a real-life incident from May 2020, where a pigeon was ‘captured’ by villagers near the border between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled regions of Kashmir. It was held suspect as it had a “coded ring” attached to it. Incidentally, this wasn’t the first time a bird had been accused of spying as part of the often comical drama of India-Pakistan relations. The following Web page has details of last year’s incident as well as the earlier ones:
Incidentally, here’s the truth about the 2020 ‘spy pigeon’:
This sort of paranoia about pigeon spies is not unique to India, however. During World War II, as the article below mentions, Britain too suffered from such unfounded apprehensions.
“When World War II broke out, Britain was gripped by “Fifth Column Neurosis,” an almost universal belief that the country was riddled with enemy spies, not all of them human. Ben MacIntyre writes in the wonderful Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown, 2012), “When six cows stampeded on the tiny island of Eilean Mor in the Scottish Hebrides, this was immediately ascribed to secret enemy activity. That the spies were invisible was merely proof of how fiendishly clever they were at disguising themselves. Even pigeons were suspect, since it was widely believed that enemy agents had secret caches of homing pigeons around the country that they used to send messages back to Germany.” ”
These fears are not entirely unfounded, though. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did consider using pigeons to spy on strategic sites in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as the article below details.
“Recently-declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents show the use of spy pigeons during the Cold War. An idea that was far from “for the birds”. Indeed, the practice of using avian agents in the intelligence game had its roots in the likes of carrier pigeons, whose deliveries proved vital during wartime. World War I saw the plucky, clucky creatures undertake more elaborate missions. However, projects such as “Tacana” in the 1970s took things to new heights.
Run by the Americans, the operation involved attaching a $2,000 camera to the avian agent via a harness. The documents detail tests conducted over locations such as Washington DC’s Navy Yards. This type of area was significant, as the eventual targets were naval properties behind the Iron Curtain. The Agency hoped to get a unique view on the Soviets’ top secret submarine development.”
The CIA agent / pigeon dynamic was humorously explored in a inspired by a 6-minute animated short film called ‘Pigeon: Impossible’ made in 2009. You can watch that here:
This short film in turn inspired a feature-length animation movie titled ‘Spies in Disguise’, which had a James Bond-like secret agent who gets transmogrified into a pigeon. Here’s the movie trailer:
James Bond has, since he appeared in the first Bond movie, ‘Dr No’ in 1962, set the template for the suave, smooth-talking, gadget-wielding spy. In reality, there is little similarity between such stereotypes and real spies, whose main aim is to be as inconspicuous as possible while they carry out their assignments that usually involve gathering information and passing it on to their home agencies. But the glamorous image of James Bond has made his the longest-running movie franchise ever, with the 25th film ‘No Time to Die’ released in September 2021.
More about 007 here:
You can watch the trailer of ‘No Time to Die’ here: