The Intelligence Olympics

Syria-flag G et al

I heard it first from a Jordanian and spread it to the IDF DMI and the Egyptians. When I told it in Syria I said it was about the Mossad.

Long ago and Far Away —-

The Olympic Committee decided to hold a special series of games to know which was the world's best intelligence service.

A lot of countries sent teams, often from both their military and "civilian" services. Each team was composed of a captain and two sergeants. They all assembled on the island of Cyprus (no idea why). There were various events and they eventually came to the ultimate and most heavily weighted event which was to be a kind of treasure hunt. They all went up into the mountains in the western part of the island where there are a series of parallel ridges covered in pines and separated by deep terrain compartments. They assembled in front of a woodline. In front of the teams there were several UN referees in white coveralls with blue helmets and a stack of cages in each of which there was a white rabbit. The head UN boffin held up a rabbit and said that it would be released into the woods behind him and that after 15 minutes the first team chosen at random would go in after it. The team that came back with a live rabbit in the shortest time would win the event.

The rabbit went in. 15 minutes passed and the KGB team went in after it. They could be heard thrashing about and eventually emerged with the rabbit in 35 minutes. The next team was the French DGSE. They came back with the rabbit in 10 minutes. (The rabbit looked strangely content). Next was the turn of the Mossad. They were back in in 13 minutes loudly proclaiming that they were "the best." The CIA never found the rabbit. Finally it was the turn of the Syrian Mukhabarat (the secret police). A half hour passed, 45 minutes, then an hour. The UN people went in to find them. They went down one steep slope into the valley bottom, then up another rugged incline to the top of the ridge. From the height, they could see the three Syrians who were at the bottom standing in a sandy road. They had captured a large animal. The UN men crept down, hiding the while in the bushes until they were close enough to see and hear.

The Syrians had found a Nazarene donkey. (The kind with a cross marked in the fur of its back). One of the sergeants had a grip on the head while the other sergeant beat the beast's hindquarters with a stick.

The captain was whispering to it, "Confess, confess, we KNOW you are a rabbit…"  ("I'tarif, I'tarif, na'ref annak arnab.")  pl

Please re-post your versions of the story or any other intelligence joke.  In the Middle East "intelligence services" are really secret police.

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18 Responses to The Intelligence Olympics

  1. VincentS says:

    Edward Conlon (in his great book about life in the NYPD, BLUE BLOOD) relates it this way: “They set up a weekend, down south, in Virginia, for the best investigators in the country…In the end, on the last day, they say, ‘We’re gonna have a demonstration, see what everybody’s got.’ They go out to the woods, with two guys from the CIA, two guys from the FBI, two guys from Bronx Homicide.
    They have a little white rabbit in a cage. They let it go, and it scampers off into the woods. The guy waits a little bit and says, ‘Okay, first up is the CIA–go out and find that rabbit!’ The two CIA guys run off and disappear, and in ten minutes they come back with the rabbit. Everybody claps–‘Great work! Look at these guys!’ And then they let another rabbit loose, and they wait, and the guy says, ‘FBI–you’re next! Go get ’em!’ And the two FBI guys go off in the woods, and everybody waits, but in an hour they come back with the rabbit. ‘Good job, guys, good job!’
    Finally, Bronx Homicide is up. The rabbit goes, and they go out after it. An hour passes, and another hour, and another. It’s starting to get dark, and everybody’s getting worried–they’re gonna have to send out a search party for the Bronx guys, forget about the rabbit. Just then, Bronx Homicide comes out of the woods with a bear. One guy has it by the neck, and the other guy is kicking it in the balls, and the bear is saying, ‘Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit!’

  2. N.Z. says:

    Three men were convicted for a wrong-doing :a Frenchman, a Lebanese and a Syrian . The punishment was 20 lashes each on the back, however, each of the three men had a wish to be granted .
    The Frenchman asked that a pillow be tied to his back before he was lashed, his wish was granted, but the whipping caused his back to bleed .
    Seeing what happened to the Frenchman, the Lebanese asked that two pillows be tied to his back, the outcome was the same as the French , the pillows were damaged but more importantly his back was not saved.
    The Syrian was granted two wishes, he was on Syrian land!!! He said: I will like you to whip me a 100 lashes, that surprised the whipper and said why will you raise it ? The Syrian insisted, as for my second wish he added, I will like you to tight the Lebanese to my back…

  3. LeaNder says:

    One guy has it by the neck, and the other guy is kicking it in the balls, and the bear is saying, ‘Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit!’
    I very rarely like these kind of jokes, but this is “verbally” more funny than the above. How does the Bronx Homicide version of the joke sound?

  4. NZ that is a good one; and I appreciate the Bronx variation on the joke.
    The original joke made me laugh and I had to share it with my Berkeley-native husband. “This is such a Middle Eastern joke,” I said. “People like us sit around and tell jokes about the secret service.” He thought the joke was funny; I just felt he needed to hear it to “get” a piece of our culture.
    I will never forget how my late father chatted up two Syrian army officers who were touring the ruins of Baalbek when we were there. This was 1995 and the Syrians were still in charge of everything in Lebanon. My father was politically rather “favorable” toward Syria but OTOH he felt free to give the Syrians a hard time about whatever he liked. One of the officers answered my father’s question as to his town of origin: Homs. My father started teasing him about this. Homsis are the butt of jokes, supposedly because they are dumber than everybody else. The guy didn’t think the joke was funny.
    DAD… I was thinking. Dad, we’re in the Bekaa, we’re alone, we’re speaking with two Syrian officers who seem to be bigwigs (accompanied by driver and tour guide) and you start teasing them for being from Homs? Would you shut up already?
    But I didn’t say that. We lived to tell the tale.

  5. Cloned Poster says:


  6. mo says:

    Popular in Lebanon in the mid eighties:
    2 Syrian intelligence men stand on the street corner in Damascus and stop passer-bys at random. Upon stopping the first the senior man shows the passer-by a picture of a donkey and asks him to identify the animal. The passer-by identifies it as a frog and the intelligence guys shoots him and tells the junior guy we don’t want idiots in the country. The experiment is repreated 4 or 5 times, each time the passer-by is shot for identifying the animal wrongly. Finally, they stop a man who looks at the picture and says “its obviously a donkey”. The senior intelligence guys then shoots him.
    His partner asks incredulously, “but he got got it right, why did you shoot him?” to which his senior responds,
    “because he knew too much”

  7. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    A bare bones version of the story President Reagan told at a groundbreaking at Langley.
    The network in Ireland had broken down. The principal agent had died of a heart attack. Exactly who his sub agents were was not known. All that was known was that a man named Murphy was to be contacted in Waterford. The parole was “Tis a fine day were having”. The response was “Sure now and tomorrow will be a better one.”
    The courier sent in to make contact starts at the pub. He says to the pubkeeper “I’m looking for a man named Murphy.” The pubkeeper says “You’ve come to the right town; many of us here are named Murphy”. “The teacher Murphy lives over near the school. The miller Murphy lives over near the mill. The chemist Murphy lives near the apothecary. As a matter of fact my name is Murphy too.”
    The courier thinks, well I might as well start here. “Tis a fine day we’ve been having.”
    The pubkeeper looks at him for a second and says “Ah, tis Murph the spy you’ll be looking for.”
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  8. Mark Logan says:

    The California Highway Patrol version:
    The CIA, the FBI and the LAPD are arguing over who is the most efficient, so they hit upon an idea to work out who really is.
    A rabbit is let loose inside a huge wood, and all three agencies must find it.
    The CIA go first, and they take mineral samples, aerial photos and bring in informants. After two weeks they conclude that rabbits do not exist.
    The FBI go next, and they cover the wood with petrol and set it alight, burning all the trees and plants along with the rabbit. They say the rabbit provoked them.
    The LAPD – since the FBI destroyed the forest – conduct their test in a shopping centre. They let loose the rabbit, and an hour later come back with a grizzly bear. It’s been badly beaten, and is screaming “OK! OK! I’m a rabbit!”

  9. Herb Ely says:

    I always like this story by Victor Zorza about Soviet analysis. It appeared in the WaPO in the mid-1970’s. I typed it out an have referred to it occasionally.
    Freud once told the story of how an East European Jew — and some of us make the best Kremlinologists–observed in the train which was taking him home to his village a young man who seemed to be going there too. As the two sat alone in the compartment, the Jew, puzzled about the stranger, began to work things out: ≥Only peasants and Jews live there. He is not dressed like either, but still, he is reading a book, so he must be Jewish. But why to our village? Only 50 families live there, and most are poor. Oh, but wait, Mr. Shmuel, the merchant, has two daughters; one of them is married but for the other he has been seeking a husband. Mr. Shmuel is rich, and lately has acquired airs, so he would not want anyone from the village for his daughter. He must have asked the marriage broker to find a son-in-law from the outside. But Mr. Shmuel is old and cannot travel to meet a new family, so he would probably want a son-in-law from a family he know. This means it would have to be one that had lived in the village but moved away. Who? The Cohen family had a son. Twenty years ago the moved to Budapest. What can a Jewish boy do there? Become a doctor. Mr. Shmuel would like a doctor in the family. A doctor needs a large dowry. The boy opposite is neat but not well dressed. Dr. Cohen. But in Budapest, Cohen wouldn’t do. Probably changed his name. In Budapest? To Kovacs–a name which comes as naturally to Hungarians as Cohen to Jews.
    As the train drew into the village station, the old Jew said to the young man: “Excuse me, Dr. Kovacs, if Mr. Shmuel is not waiting for you at the station, I’ll take you to his home and introduce you to your betrothed.” Replied the astonished young man: “How do you know who I am and where I am going? Not a word has passed between us.”
    “How do I know?” said the old man with a smile. “It stands to reason”

  10. LeaNder says:

    Nightsticker, that’s a good one. 😉

  11. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Leila, for putting things into context for a nitwit like me.
    & Herb’s, I can understand you copied it. It’s wonderful.
    This was a nice interlude.

  12. SAC Brat says:

    My uncle was a russian professor.
    “How do you catch a lion?”
    “Catch a cat and beat him until he confesses he is a lion”‘ says a chekist.
    In Egypt explorers discovered the mummy of an unknown pharaoh. Specialists from England and Germany tried to identify him but failed. Specialists from the USSR were called in. They entered the tomb and a short while later emerged to announce: “It’s Ramses XVII.”
    “How could you tell?’
    “The son of a bitch confessed.”
    Stalin’s pipe goes missing. Beria begins an investigation. By the end of the day he has arrested a hundred people. The next morning the cleaning lady finds the pipe under Stalin’s couch.
    Stalin telephones Beria: “Don’t work so hard, Lavrenty. The pipe turned up.”
    Beria replies: “OK, but what should I do with the prisoners? Ninety-nine already confessed.”
    “One didn’t confess? Better continue the investigation.”

  13. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Just one more, I promise.
    The phone rings at the FBI headquarters. “Hello?”
    “Hello, is this FBI?”
    “Yes. What do you want?”
    “I’m calling to report my neighbor Tom. He is hiding weapons of mass destruction in his firewood.”
    “We’re on the way.”
    Thirty minutes later, the FBI HRT fast rope into Tom’s backyard. They search the shed where the firewood is kept, break every piece of wood, find no weapons of mass destruction, swear at Tom and leave.
    The phone rings at Tom’s house. “Hey, Tom! Did the FBI come?”
    “Did they chop your firewood?”
    “Yeah they did.”
    “Okay, now it’s your turn to call. I need my garden plowed.”
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  14. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Just one more, I promise.
    The phone rings at the FBI headquarters. “Hello?”
    “Hello, is this FBI?”
    “Yes. What do you want?”
    “I’m calling to report my neighbor Tom. He is hiding weapons of mass destruction in his firewood.”
    “We’re on the way.”
    Thirty minutes later, the FBI HRT fast ropes into Tom’s backyard. They search the shed where the firewood is kept, break every piece of wood, find no weapons of mass destruction, swear at Tom and leave.
    The phone rings at Tom’s house. “Hey, Tom! Did the FBI come?”
    “Did they chop your firewood?”
    “Yeah they did.”
    “Okay, now it’s your turn to call. I need my garden plowed.”
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  15. Maureen Lang says:

    Pat (& SST commenters),
    You folks have no idea how many people I, my husband, & others on our email addy lists have sent this post/comments to- it must be close to a hundred by now. Thanks!
    Nightsticker et al.- why stop when you’re on a roll? If you’ve got any more takes on the theme, I hope you keep ’em coming.

  16. “GQ: War report covers featured Bible quotes
    Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Tuesday, May 19, 2009
    A series of intelligence reports from early in the Iraq war regularly featured cover sheets combining the images of U.S. troops in combat with biblical quotations, according to an article posted on GQ magazine’s Web site.
    The intelligence reports, which were titled “Worldwide Intelligence Update” and often were hand-delivered to the president by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, contained inspirational passages, such as this from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
    Another, from Isaiah, reads: “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, The nation that keeps the faith.”
    According to GQ, the covers were created by Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense.
    When some Pentagon employees expressed concern about the repercussions should the covers be leaked in the midst of a war in a Muslim nation, Shaffer was unmoved, the magazine said.
    A Christian, Shaffer said he would continue to use the quotations because “my seniors” appreciated them, GQ reported.
    His seniors included Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and President George W. Bush.
    The article pointed out that it was not Rumsfeld’s style to motivate using religion, but suggested he may have allowed the cover sheets as a way to make a personal connection with Bush, who often quoted the Bible.”
    Does Shaffer have all his marbles…?

  17. curious says:

    found it while tweaking the wiki
    The KGB, the GIGN and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at catching criminals. The Secretary General of the UN decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it. The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist. The GIGN goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies: the rabbit had it coming. The KGB goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

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