NEWS

Moving Past the James Bond Image

By Matthew Harwood

The United  Kingdom's intelligence and security services are trying to put the myth of agent 007 behind them by recruiting more "non-white" agents worldwide, according to The Straits Times.

Britain's secret services want to recruit more non-white agents around the world, a top official said on Monday, dismissing the 'myth' of British spies resembling 007 agent James Bond.

In unprecedented BBC interviews with the MI5 and MI6 domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, two British Asian staff also denied that Muslims were specific targets.

The head of recruitment at the MI6, interviewed in the security service's London headquarters, stressed the need for its foreign staff to come from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds.

'We need people to deploy into a range of situations around the world and people who have a different ethnicity can often go places and do things and meet people that those from a white background can't,' he told the BBC.

Two Asian MI-5 officers also told the BBC that British Muslims were not singled out by the domestic intelligence agency. One of the agents interviewed said that individuals were investigated "only when there was a reason to do so."

However, British Muslims tell a different story. Many Muslims, especially young males, feel the police disproportionately concentrate on them because of their appearance after the attacks of 9-11 and the July 7, 2005 bombings, which killed 52 citizens as well as the four suicide bombers in bombings on the city's transportation system.

Three of the four suicide bombers that day were British citizens, fueling alarm of "homegrown" terrorists within Britain.

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