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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


I have just been watching Panorama, on the subject of Islamic terrorism, and according to an investigator in Morocco, Al Qaeda has a new dress code. To start with, you must wear a beard and robes. You only switch to ordinary western clothes, to blend in, when you switch to “active service”.

This reminds me of a snatch of dialogue I recall from the movie Ice Station Zebra, which went approximately as follows. (I only saw it a long time ago, so what follows may be somewhat approximate.)

Patrick McGoohan (yes – The Prisoner himself) plays a secret service agent, and he is asked what he thinks of one of the people on the expedition, or at the base, or whatever.

“Yes” says the McGoohan character, “we’ve been watching him.”

What do you make of him?

“Oh,” says McGoohan, “he’s immaculate.”

How long have you been watching him?

Replies McGoohan: “Ever since he became immaculate.”

UPDATE: “Impeccable.” See comment 4.

19 comments to Immaculate

  • GCooper

    Brian Micklethwait writes:

    “…you must wear a bear and robes…”

    Damnit, I’ve always wanted to wear a bear. I mean, fashion be damned, it’s just so euphonious.


  • S. Weasel

    Does a beard shit in the woods?

  • Corrected.

    You people should get lives.

  • rps

    The full quote is: (‘Daivd Jones’: Patrick McGoohan & Cmrd Ferraday: Rock Hudson)

    David Jones: Ten days ago, a Dr. R.A. Goodwin appeared and applied for permission to do some research up here. A university professor with impeccable qualifications, he was immediately accepted and flown up on the supply plane the next day.

    Cmdr. Ferraday: You knew he was their agent?

    David Jones: Oh, ever since he became impeccable. Now we knew exactly where they were going to drop the satellite.

    Cmdr. Ferraday: And then three of your men with impeccable qualifications came up the next day.

    David Jones: No, same day, same flight.

    Cmdr. Ferraday: What, Goodwin didn’t suspect?

    David Jones: He did or he didn’t, what difference does it make? What could he do, send for reinforcements? We’d send for reinforcements, he’d escalate, we’d escalate, and all of a sudden somebody is pushing a button. You know, we have a very strict code of ethics in our game, Captain. We nearly always know what cards the other man holds, but we always keep our aces up both sleeves.

  • Is it more halal to wear a polar bear or a brown bear? How about a panda?

  • A panda is not a bear.

    How about a bear with a beard that does not consume alcohol? Get a life you say?

  • GCooper

    Alisa writes:

    “Get a life you say?”

    I had one. Then I discovered Samizdata.

  • zmollusc

    I think that the giant panda IS a bear, according to the latest bruinological research.

  • gox

    pandas are giant chinese racoons.

  • Mary Contrary

    Brian, I liked the story better the way you misremembered it.

  • Hmm…

    Bear -> panda -> terrorist?


  • zmollusc

    I liked Ricky Gervais’ idea that pandas regard themselves as goths.

  • The GREATER panda – the black-and-white one – is more closely related to the bears. It is the LESSER panda, the red stripey one, that is more closely related to the raccoons.

  • James

    Look out for dodgy names like Adbul Alhashishami Charmin Abdullah.

    I wonder, what’s the bear necessities a terrorist needs in his day-to-day work?

  • James

    Sorry, that should have been “What are”.

    Can’t bear bad grammar. Not one of my better Kodiak moments, I’ll admit.

  • Verity

    Don’t mention Kodiak around here or you’ll invite pandamonium. A terrorist’s bear necessities would include a bear with a nice smile that reminds him of his camel back home.

  • Stuart

    Here in America we are proud of our second amendment Right to Keep and Arm Bears…..

  • guy herbert

    Which is the more plausible: that “sophisticated international terrorists” are that stupid? that BBC TV journalists are? or that the whole thing is a mutual wannabe fantasy?

  • Ed

    It is clear that when people start in on bear jokes that things are getting pretty grizzly. Some have even postulated that rational discussion and bear jokes are polar opposites.