Book Review of Manning and Kendall’s Intelligence Arabic


The book titled Intelligence Arabic, which may be translated into لسان المخابرات (Intelligence Tongue), is a unique publication bringing to spotlight an Arabic jargon which has been locked away in modern Arab history in the mazes of secrecy in intelligence headquarters and centers across the Arab World. The Arabic trilateral root /kh b r/ originally involved a connotation-free process of derivation producing words like yukhbir 'to inform', khabar 'a piece of news', khibrah 'experience', etc. With the establishment of 'modern' Arab states, this tri-consonantal root has given us some negatively-nuanced terms in Modern Standard Arabic, namely 'istikhbaaraat/mukhaabaraat 'intelligence' and mukhbir/ mukhbiruun 'mole/moles'. For the Arab masses, these words have become extremely taboo and scary due to the ill-reputed practices of the intelligence services which have been mainly institutionalized by Arab dictatorships to spy on and persecute their own peoples rather than protect national security, the way it is in western democracies. However, as a result of complications of regional and world politics, especially with the ever-increasing phenomenon of terrorism worldwide, such intelligence services have started to assume an instrumental role in regional as well as world security


Mohammed Farghal



Book Review, Manning, Kendall, Intelligence Arabic