the final act

the man who sits down opposite me looks nervous – he has only emerged into public since an amnesty was announced by the current president for all those involved in operation radicalise. he doesn’t look much different from the days when all those training videos were issued, so one wonders how he has managed to survive in the world at large.

‘oh, by acting,’ he says ‘once they announced they had captured me and disposed of my body at sea people stopped looking. i got work on general hospital and other shows, if you can believe it, playing sympathetic moslems who were persecuted by people who associated them with the acts of terrorism being perpetrated by my so-called organisation.’

‘and what did you do if anyone remarked on your resemblance to a dead terrorist?’

‘oh, i would just tell them i was a lookalike and i was dressed this way for film work.’

‘and they believed you?’

‘sure, why not? saddam hussein had lookalikes – this kind of thing is just accepted nowadays. whatever they dream up in hollywood is nowhere near as wacky as some of the things which go on in real life.’

‘so, where have you been living?’

‘so-cal, on my own vineyard.’

‘are you worried that people are going to be angry to find out that your fate was a lot better than that of the people who were killed in your name?’

‘of course they’re going to be angry, and they have a perfect right. when i first joined the CIA i never expected to end up in the position i was in. some might call it deep cover but it was something entirely different. using money from a slush fund i was tasked with building an organisation that set the west supposedly against the moslem world; i was an agent provocateur.’

‘how do you feel that it didn’t work?’

‘well, it did for a while, and it did in some ways. i am glad it was not a total success though. half of us probably wouldn’t be here if i had succeeded. but think about it – the second remit of the mission was to make it easier for the american government to tighten homeland security and that worked like a dream; people were agreeing to things they never would have agreed to beforehand.’

‘so, do you still meet with some of the people who mounted the whole operation?’

‘of course – i still have a handler too. i probably shouldn’t say that, but yes, they have managed me from day one and i don’t see them relinquishing that in the near future, if ever. i am sure in the days to come that some of the other people who were playing this dangerous game are going to emerge from the woodwork, and you are going to be very surprised jjust who was involved.’

‘any hints?’

‘sorry, no – it would be more than my life is worth.’