Gila Tilman VS Islamic spies
Written by Eli Eshed. .
Appeared originally in Hebrew here
The strange and suspense filled story of Israeli Doctoral reasercher Gila Timan
who had find herself at the 70s in the middle of activities of extrame islamic activists who had tried to steal atomic secrets at English university and built with them the first Islamic atomic bomb.
I'm a great collector of books dealing with international, and especially Israeli, espionage and spies. I believe I have one of the largest collections on the subject, both fictional and Documentray and academic works, including research on historic secret-service agencies, various situations best left untold, and memoires by secret-service agents and directors.
My collection also includes suspense and spy novels written by individuals known to have been in the secret-services, such as the head of the Israeli "Mosad",Isser Harel, who wrote two spy novels and others.
It is often hard to distinguish between books presenting factual memories and those merely offering fictional stories.
There is also a rare genre consisting of the memoires of people who were neither spies nor secret service directors, seemingly ordinary people, who found themselves suddenly caught up in the midst of complicated and dangerous espionage affairs.
One of the only books in this genre has the unusual title (which apparently drew me to the book): Islamic intrigue at the university : including the Islamic nuclear bomb. The book describes an affair even stranger than its title. The author relates the true story (as far as can be ascertained) of an Israeli doctoral student during the 1970s who became entangled in an espionage plot and the attempt to pass knowledge regarding nuclear science to Islamic elements in London.
The topic of unconventional weaponry, nuclear, chemical and biological, is at the center of global attention today. There are special concerns regarding the likelihood that such weapons will fall into the hands of a regime governed by extremist ideology, as happened in the case of North Korea and as may happen in the case of Iran. But there are even greater concerns. It is known that apparently some moderate Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, have nuclear weapons. What will happen if the current government of Pakistan falls and an extremist organization, like the Taliban, rises to power? What will happen if nuclear weapons are smuggled into countries lacking government, such as Somalia, into the hands of terrorist organizations and pirates? One can guess that, in such a case—they will not hesitate to use them. Certainly, they will not refrain from making threats and applying a new form of atomic blackmail.
One should know that there are some particularly radical Muslim jurists who would permit the use of nuclear weapons in a war against heretics; they are, however, a small minority. Yet, such minorities have shown that they are capable of taking control of entire countries.
If nuclear weapons were to reach a leader with an extremist ideology or a radical terrorist organization, they are likely to use them, causing unprecedented destruction.
The struggle against nuclear armaments has been going on for decades. It is known that the raeli Secret-Service has taken action and engages in various missions to prevent nuclear knowhow from reaching Islamic extremist factions
. Naturally, most of these actions are top secret. Yet, we know that some of them succeeded; perhaps others did not. In fact, certain nuclear information has leaked over the years and some is still reaching countries such as Pakistan, Iraq and Iran today, though Israel has been waging a secret war for years in an attempt to prevent them from gaining nuclear arms. This 'war' is older than most of us think; it has been going on since the 1970s, maybe even since the 1960s.
Details on the early stages of this struggle may be found in Islamic intrigue at the university: including the Islamic nuclear bomb: the story of a doctoral student in London (Hebrew edition, Y. Golan, c2002; English edition, Mazo, c2004), an interesting book by Gila Gat-Tilman, a research biologist.
Gat-Tilman's book reads like a suspense novel or an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. The first part describes the experiences of the young doctoral student, Gila Tilman (Gat-Tilman today) in England and in the world of British academia, rife with petty intrigues, and also with more and less successful friends and partners. Up to this point, the story is routine, similar to that of every student at every foreign or Israeli university. As such, the book ought to be better edited and condensed, leading more quickly to the key section of the plot.
Gat-Tilman describes her life as a doctoral student of biology in London at the university, where many Muslim students came to study in her second-year there. In light of this fact, a great many of the Israeli and Jewish students left, also because of the ongoing, abrasive propaganda aired against the State of Israel. Only naïve and brave Gat-Tilman remained.
Here, the story takes a hair-raising turn, when the heroine, Gat-Tilman, realized that her Muslim student acquaintances were members of hostile, anti-Israeli groups, Arab terrorists and others, mostly Pakistanis, engaged in learning the various secrets of atomic, chemical and biological warfare and other things that might harm Israel and the world—all of which they were relaying to their countries for the purpose of building weapons for use against Israel.
Worse yet, these students were afraid that she would figure out what they were doing. They suspected that she was an Israeli agent following them around (not an unreasonable assumption, considering all the details found in the book that actually occurred). They attempt to harm her and even try to drug her. The book includes an excellent description of the author's sense of horror and uncertainty, when she does not know what to do with this frightening information. Should she report it to the Israeli Secret-Service? Or should she keep it to herself and carry on with her academic life, avoiding conflict with her university colleagues and the local authorities? Indeed, the very choice is chilling, since these Arab students were already aware of Tilman's interest in them and their actions; they had even begun to sabotage her research and her various scientific projects.
Throughout the book, Gat-Tilman deliberates on the question: Why did she not just flee the university that had gradually turned her life into Hell? She explains that the university had provided her very good conditions. But she also refused to go because of stubbornness–she would stay, come what may. At that time, there was a commonly-accepted notion that Israelis never run from danger and always win their battles, and Gila-Tilman, a loyal, patriotic Israeli, had internalized and believed this.
At some point, as mentioned above, the Muslim students and certain elements at the university suspected Gila of investigating them and of being an Israeli agent. They began to take various types of action against her. Gat-Tilman describes herself in the midst of a complex domestic struggle between British pro-Israel and pro-Arab elements. At that time, she passed on information about what she had seen to the Israeli Security Forces, under the assumption that keeping silent was tantamount to treason against her homeland.
According to her account, certain anti-Israeli elements in the British Security Forces, that were no doubt aligned with some university professors who supported Muslims (due to the large grant they had received from Islamic countries), drugged and questioned her for over 10 days, a scene that reads like something out of a horrifying Hitchcock thriller.
But finally, Gila managed to get free, left the university, returned to Israel and submitted all the information she had amassed to the Israeli Secret-Service. No one can say what they did with that information. She claims, in light of events she later experienced in Israel, that they took her report seriously, using it to wage various clandestine missions.
The events she described in her book occurred in 1973. Since that time, Pakistan is known to have procured nuclear weapons and it is most likely that much of the information they got came from the English university described by Gat-Tilman or other similar institutions. There are some such institutions today that serve as sources for active terrorist organizations and Islamic extremists, and they are at the forefront of those calling for bans against Israel.
Unfortunately, much that is in the book is hazy; it is clear to the reader that many significant details are missing to complete the puzzle which is at the heart of the story.
Gat-Tilman's book is definitely interesting and thought-provoking in regard to the accessibility of dangerous data in our world. It also raises the question: What should people do if they encounter such an affair? Should they close their eyes to what goes on around them? Or should they investigate, thus endangering themselves…? These questions remain unanswered. According to her book, it is clear that in Gila Gat-Tilman's case the answer is positive. She did not turn a blind eye and did not hesitate to endanger herself.
Following this book, Gila Gat-Tilman published another book of articles dealing with moral values and science. Science, pseudo-science and moral values by Gila Gat-Tilman
Books by Gila Gat-Tilman can be acquired by writing to the author at P.O.B. 3165, Beer-Sheva, Israel or via the "Minibook" bookstore at 93 ha-Histadrut St., Beer-Sheva, Israel. English edition is available at "Amazon" and at "Mazo publishers" www.mazopublishers.com
The review was written on the 9th of Sept. 2009 in the column entitled "Espionage" on the website: "The universe of Eli Eshed" www.notes.co.il/eshsd
Islamic intrigue at the university : including the Islamic nuclear bomb
Science, pseudo-science and moral values by Gila Gat-Tilman
The accelerated germination of Carrichtera annua seeds and the stimulating and inhibiting effects produced by the mucilage at supra-optimal temperatures BY Gila Gat-Tilman
[Translated from Hebrew by Ethelea Katzenell]