In the good old days Mata Hari needed to actually look like a femme fatale.
Now she just needs a sexy picture or a little help from Photoshop.
I don’t know what Sheeba looks like in her real life. But in Facebookistan our men in uniform must like Sheeba ki jawaani because she has managed to lure not one, but two Indian army officers into her honey trap. The age of The Spy Who Loved Me is over. Welcome to the Facebook times of The Spy Who Liked Me.
Pakistani ISI agent “Sheeba” has apparently entangled a lieutenant colonel from the 82nd armoured regiment, currently posted in Rajasthan, with a little Facebook pokey-pokey. “The officer was just chatting online with the woman on the computer … there was no physical contact. No laptops have been lost. We are conducting a CoI into the incident,” a senior officer told the Times of India. Sheeba was already on India’s radar for chatting up a Para Regiment commando in Dhaka last year.
Mata Hari had to dance in a beaded metallic bra and gauzy veils in the salons of Paris, seduce a Russian captain and stretch on a chaise-lounge while a German officer impressed her with stories of German manoeuvres in North Africa. It’s unclear if she was really any good as a spy, let alone a double agent, but she was executed nonetheless. Tokyo Rose had to get behind a microphone and shower propaganda on American troops. Iva Toguri, the best known of several Tokyo Roses, was detained for a year by the U.S. military.
How the times have changed. Today’s Sheebas just have to log on and be flirty. They can Facebook flirt with a dozen men at the same time, switching from chat window to window like a seasoned item girl. For all we know Sheeba is really a pot-bellied ISI officer with a bristling moustache and a flair for sweet talk. To be fair, in this particular case, there is a woman who met the Para Regiment commando at some party in Dhaka. We have no word on how our man in Rajasthan fell into the same honey trap. Perhaps Sheeba showed up frequently as a suggested friend and finally he could resist no longer.
Facebook is obviously proving a far more tricky a terrain for our officers to navigate than Kargil. It’s not just us. In Britain, Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6 was red-faced after his wife broadcast all kinds of personal details on her Facebook page soon after he was appointed to the post. To make it worse, the spy chief’s spouse had almost no privacy settings on her account. So anyone and everyone could see where they lived, who they holidayed with, who their friends were, pictures of his parents, as well as learn his new top secret code name, C. “Congrats on the job, already dubbed Sir Uncle ‘C’ by nephews in the know” read one congratulatory message on her page.
But too little Facebook is also a dangerous thing for your career in intelligence. MI5, Britain’s domestic spy agency, is planning to get rid of some its spooks who aren’t Twitter and Facebook-savvy enough. “The old generation of MI5 have to be completely comfortable using computers and the latest technology,” Jonathan Evans, the director general told the Daily Mail. “I think some of the staff perhaps aren’t quite the ones that we will want for the future.” They should take their cues from the ISI and create their own posse of Sheebas.
But this is no joking matter. Who knows how many other ISI hotties there are out there enticing our lonelyhearts in uniform. It’s bad enough that some experts are claiming that Facebook is making us depressed. Now it turns out it is not just hazardous to our mental health but also a national security risk. Even worse, the ISI is already deploying it as a deadly weapon while we waste our time plying Abu Jundal with biryani. “The future of Facebook is in India,” a headline on Businessweek informed us earlier this year. Thanks to Sheeba, it seems the future of India lies in Facebook.