In the play The Adventure of the Slave Jaber's Head, by the late Saadallah Wannous, a fierce conflict arises between a caliph and one of his ministers.
The minister requires the assistance of a foreign king to seize power. However, strict security measures at the entrances and exits of Baghdad make calling out for help risky.
As such, the minister decides to write a message on the shaved head of a slave, Jaber, and then waits for the slave's hair to grow back. Jaber eventually leaves the city safely and reaches the foreign king, delivering the message.
This cunning act of espionage, however, results in the downfall of Jaber, who does not realise a deadly sentence awaits him: "To keep this matter secret, kill the messenger without delay."
Espionage is an ancient practice rooted in human desire for power and influence. It has been used for trade, military intelligence, politics, and national security for thousands of years.
The Romans and Greeks used spies to monitor colonies and border regions, gathering information about potential opponents. Ancient China gathered secret information to maintain security and facilitate trade. Even Napoleon Bonaparte used spies in wartime.
The Cold War era (1947-1991) between America and the Soviet Union witnessed intense espionage activities, with both countries devoting significant funds to it.
During preparations for conflict, information became a vital commodity. Birds, cats, and dolphins were used to complete espionage missions, not to mention an army of spies and agents designed to take over in the event of an actual war between the two sides.
Today, espionage is just as important, but technology has advanced significantly. Tools have evolved from carrier pigeons to artificial intelligence.
Just a few months ago, there were several discussions between China and Washington regarding espionage, prompted by the appearance of Chinese balloons in American skies.
Similar stories have emerged about spy games between Iran and Israel, and Moscow and the West.