The cry went up through the bazaar in Istanbul, "thief, thief"! A small urchin was running along. Behind him came a young well-dressed man pursueing him. The pickpocket turned into an alley and the man followed him. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain and fell to the ground. Asher and David stood over their prey with satisfaction.
Asher said, "I hope you didn't hit him to hard?" David replied, "No he'll be awake in short time." Then Asher turned to the pickpocket, "Here's the pay we promised you-and here's a bit extra." The thief gave him the pouch he had stolen and strode off with satisfaction. David noted, "You do know, he'll probably be working for them tomorrow." Asher said, "Of course. But he did a dangerous job for us even if he didn't know who we were or care. He earned his pay."
Asher then looked at the pouch and took out the papers. He swiftly photographed each one with a small camera and then replaced them neatly. Asher said, "Our source was right. These are the German diplomatic codes for the next six months." David noted, "It'd be even better if they didn't know they had lost them-but then it still louses up their system." Then he thought, "On the other hand they could be a plant-could anyone really be as incompetant as this fellow and be trusted with carrying the codes?" Asher said, "It's the old 'whose scamming who' game again. But I think we'll come out ahead and I'll tell you why later."
The unfortunate courier started to sit up. Then he looked at Asher and David with fright. Asher said, "Don't worry were not robbers-not ordinary robbers anyway." The man said, "Why is that good news?" Asher replied, "If you had been mugged you would have to figure your way out of this mess yourself. As it is you have some options." Then he continued: "Option 1: you go back to your people and tell them you let your pouch be stolen by a street thief-and end up in a penal battalion for inconveniencing Der Fuhrer.Option 2: You stay here in Istanbul and disappear. You will probably end up with a miserable life as a begger but at least you should survive the war. Of course if your people find you, your out of luck-but maybe they won't bother about you. Option 3: You go to the Brits and ask them to help you disappear. Now they're good at that sort of thing but they will want a quid pro quo, and likly you'll never stop paying. Option 4: You do one favor for us and we'll give you enough to get by-and never bother you again". The courier said, "And who are you?" Asher said, "Let's just say we're more people who have reason to dislike your employer. He does have a knack for getting people to dislike him. Now what we want you to do is take this letter and give it to the German military attache. OK?" The courier said, "fine".
Asher and David waited until he was gone. Then David said, "That's interesting, I didn't know their attache was working for us." Asher said, "I'll tell you about that later." David said, "I just had a nasty thought. You left out option 5. What if he goes to Ambassador von Papen and turns the letter in. Our man gets blown and he becomes a hero." Asher replied, "I'll tell you about that later. Come lets head for the German embassy. "They watched. Then they saw the courier go up to the Ambassador and tell his story. Von Papen called the guards and a few minutes later the attache was in handcuffs.
Then Asher and David walked away. David said, "Don't worry, it happens sometimes-it's a hard game and people get hurt." Then they sat down at a cafe. Asher appeared strangely unworried. David said, "Alright, tell me the secret." Asher replied, "He wasn't working for us." David said, "Is that so? Then what did the letter say?" Asher said, "It was in an easily broken cypher just a little more complex then the ones they had in the back of comic books back in America." "But what did it say?", asked David. Asher said, "It said, 'the Jewish Agency offers it's thanks for your help toward the people of Israel and desires that our arrangement continue. Your pay awaits you at the usual location.'" David looked at him thoughtfully, "Why you little..." . Asher said, "It's strange but I feel rather bad doing that to someone." David replied, "I wonder if he would feel that way".
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This fiendish trick was actually used by the British soldier-adventurer Meintzenhager(if I have the spelling right)upon a Turkish officer in World War I. In that case it was somewhat nastier as it required arranging for a friendly courier to be caught by the enemy.