Monday, 18 October 2010

St. John Philby

St. John Philby, also known as Sheikh Abdullah, father of Kim Philby, the renowned MI6 double agent who also worked for Stalin. Kim Philby was a life long communist and friend of Graham Greene, it was he who extended the invitation to Greene to become an agent himself.

St. John Philby spent most of his life in the middle east, working for the British first in Baghdad, then Mecca, Palestine and what was to become Saudi Arabia. He then converted to Islam and worked for the new king of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud. He was officially no longer working for the Secret Service in Palestine, both due to his working for Saud and a differing of opinion on his allowance of Jewish immigration to Palestine. However he still worked for the British Secret Service and received a salary for a further 5 years.

In 1939 he proposed the Philby Plan to Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, the head of the Zionist movement. It offered substantial Jewish immigration to Palestine in exchange for their support for Ibn Saud's son Faisal as King of Palestine. It was also proposed that they pay Saud £20 million to re-settle Palestinian Arabs. It was accepted but not acted upon. When questioned by President Roosevelt, Saud was offended at the suggestion he could be bribed.

Meanwhile, Philby had briefly returned to London to stand for parliament for the far-right British People's Party, headed by ex-British Union of Fascists member John Beckett. He lost, and was arrested for being a suspected Nazi-sympathiser. His friend John Maynard Keynes intervened and he was released seven months after his arrest.

After the war he returned to Arabia and at the age of sixty he purchased his second wife, a 16-year-old girl, from the slave market at Taif, about forty miles south of Mecca.

In 1960, on a visit to his son Kim in Beirut, while in bed at his side, he said "God, I'm bored" and died.

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