Intelligence Expertise and Imperial Threats: Bengal Intelligence Officers in North America, Europe, and Asia
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This chapter explores how intelligence officers with expertise on “Bengali terrorism” sought to apply their experience against other transnational anticolonial threats. These officers served in Canada, the United States, Ireland, London, Southeast Asia, Palestine, and the British Caribbean. With varying degrees of success, they sought to apply their knowledge of revolutionary movements and anti-terrorist strategies learned in Bengal to other anticolonial conflicts, notably the Ghadar Party’s arms-smuggling efforts in North American, the Irish Republican Army’s campaign during the War of Independence, and the Arab Revolt in Palestine during the 1930s. These officers also epitomized a trend, visible in MI5, SIS, and other imperial intelligence agencies in the first half of the twentieth century, for men with imperial expertise to continue their careers with intelligence agencies elsewhere. The careers of these imperial intelligence officers raise the question of how information and ideas were transferred across the empire and how intelligence and counter-insurgency expertise were shared across the empire in the decades prior to the Second World War.