Ellis Shuman

Spy thriller exposes Israel-Singapore ties

In Smokescreen, a fast-paced espionage thriller by Khaled Talib, someone wants the prime minister of Israel dead. An innocent man will be blamed for the assassination.

Israel’s leader has held secret talks with the Palestinians, including Hamas, and is willing to make serious concessions in exchange for peace. The historic announcement detailing the peace deal will be made in Singapore upon the prime minister’s visit, and that is where the assassination will take place. Similar to conspiracy theories surrounding the killing of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, blame for the assassination will be placed on a patsy to divert attention from the real conspirers.

Why Singapore of all places? Israel established diplomatic relations with the island country in Southeast Asia in 1969 and the two nations enjoy a reportedly “extensive security relationship”. In his book, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965-2000, published in 2000, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s controversial founding father, disclosed the fact that the Israel Defense Forces helped established the Singaporean army. Singapore has purportedly made major purchases of surplus IDF tanks, as well as aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles, and surveillance technologies.

Smokescreen by Khaled TalibIt’s against this very real, yet low-profile military connection between Israel and Singapore that the action of Smokescreen takes place. In the opening chapter, we are thrown into a shadowy meeting between elite IDF officers and the chief protocol officer of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Plans are being drawn up at the desert headquarters of Sayeret Matkal for a high-risk operation, indicating the command level of the Israeli officers involved.

The man chosen to take the blame for the assassination is “a simple guy” who works for a glossy Singapore magazine. Jet West is not the “next Jason Bourne” but he is thrown into a Bourne-like set of complications that quickly get out of control. A beautiful woman is murdered and Jet escapes the scene, yet the gun used to kill her is found in his apartment. But that is the least of Jet’s worries. He soon learns that is going to be involved in the plot to kill the Israeli prime minister. “You’re just the unlucky guy chosen to die,” he is told, a sentence he refuses to accept.

What sets this thriller apart is its unique setting. Singapore is a land rarely visited by Israelis, and the author brings it alive with his vivid descriptions. “Exotic sights and smells dominated the old neighborhood: dried fish, fried noodles, funeral offerings, incense sticks, wooden clogs, paper umbrellas, and mountains of gaudy tourist hats.” As Jet races through the narrow, noisy streets, the reader can’t help but gawk at the scenes and sounds of the small island state.

Will Jet escape his role as the smokescreen – “the thing that’ll thwart eyes away from the actual plan” – or will he arrive too late to prevent the assassination and his role as the biggest scapegoat in history since Lee Harvey Oswald? Read this exciting thriller to find out!

Author Khaled Talib was born and raised in Singapore. He has written for magazines, newspapers and news syndications, and works in public relations. He was based in Cairo where he reported for Egypt Today and served as editor of the Community Times. Talib is also author of The Little Book of Muses, a collection of inspirational phrases for writers.

About the Author
Ellis Shuman made aliya to Jerusalem as a teenager, served in the IDF, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now lives on Moshav Neve Ilan. Ellis is the author of ‘The Burgas Affair’ – a crime thriller set in Israel and Bulgaria; ‘Valley of Thracians’ - a suspense novel set in Bulgaria; and 'The Virtual Kibbutz' - a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. Ellis lived with his wife for two years in Bulgaria, and blogs regularly about Israel, Bulgaria, books, and writing.