Chapter 6. “Super communist spies” who are they?
Episode 22. An – Perfect Spy with 4 “courier” had careless relationship without …being uncovered! And 4 “courier of An” also gave the untruthful stories.
- An’s original courier.
- 1. An visited house Tam Thao to court the beautiful Chin Chi.
“Tam Thao, Chin Chi, and An were in the same political cell. He taught the girls English and visited their house to court the beautiful Chin Chi. They waved good-bye at the airport when he flew to America, and they welcomed him back to Saigon on his return. After An had lain low for several months, Tam Thao took him to the tunnels northwest of Saigon and reintroduced him to the intelligence network, which had been rebuilt after Muoi Huong was captured.” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 129)
Reviews: “Tam Thao, Chin Chi, and An were in the same political cell. He taught the girls English and visited their house to court the beautiful Chin Chi. They waved good-bye at the airport when he flew to America, and they welcomed him back to Saigon on his return.”
2.Tam Thao was An’s original courier.
“She was An’s original courier. She had a false wall built in her apartment for evading the police, and this hiding place was used by the head of their intelligence cell during his visits to Saigon. Tam Thao had her own career as a spy, working as secretary and confidante to a number of U.S. military officers. Chin Chi did similar work until she was summoned into the jungle in 1965. Four years later Tam Thao was also moved to the jungle, where she found a husband approved by the Party and was allowed to marry. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 129)
- Chin Chi (was 1 times) went into the jungle for a year of revolutionary training.
“Born a year apart, the girls were teenagers studying English and French at Gia Long lycée in Saigon when they met An, who was four years older than Tam Thao. He tutored both girls in English and fell in love with Chin Chi. After the girls joined the Tran Van On student protest movement in 1951, Chin Chi went into the jungle for a year of revolutionary training. When she returned to finish high school, she was hired as a translator by the U.S. operations mission, which directed Vietnam’s strategic hamlet program. She traveled around the country by helicopter, accompanying doctors and nurses into the field. “I talked to An and told him everything I saw,” she says. “I was a spy.”
After resisting An’s advances, Chin Chi worked as a spy until she slipped out of the city in 1965 to take up the life of a jungle soldier. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 130)
- An and “original courier” want to marry.
“She remained single until 1968, when she married a North Vietnamese colonel and gave birth to a daughter. When I ask Chin Chi if Pham Xuan An was ever in love with her and wanted to marry her, Tam Thao chuckles and Chin Chi smiles.
“He wanted to marry me after he came back from the United States,” she says. “This was in 1959. My family agreed, but I said no. I turned him down. I wanted to travel abroad. I wanted to go to England to study, but Mr. Muoi Huong, our chief, did not approve of my leaving the country. I went into the jungle instead.
“His wife won’t want to hear me say this,” she adds. “It’s an old love story. Mr. Muoi Huong supported the marriage, but I was too young. I wasn’t thinking about love at the time.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 131)
- Super Spy go philandering.
“Later in the afternoon, after many more cups of tea, Chin Chi offers another explanation for why she resisted An’s advances. “There was a curfew, and everyone had to go home except for An, because he had a press card and could come and go whenever he wanted. So he would stay late into the night, talking, talking. There was no way to shut him up.”
“Seven months after I turned him down, An married Thu Nhan,” she says. “A spy must have what appears to be a normal family life and a wife to manage the family, in case he is captured. There was a problem, though, since Thu Nhan was not a member of the organization. If An was captured, the secret documents in his house were to be given to Tam Thao. She was the one who knew where they were hidden.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 131)
Reviews: “Super communist spies” or a lustful man?
- Ba worked as An’s sole intelligence courier.31
- Who is right?
“…From 1961 to 1975 Ba worked as An’s sole intelligence courier.31 “Each month I would meet with An three or four times to receive documents from him,” recalled Ba, whose code was Female Spy B3. “However, when the situation was urgent we might have to meet five or six times a month.
…31. Military Encyclopedia of Vietnam [Tu Dien Bach Khoa Quan Su Viet Nam]. Compiled by the Military Encyclopedia Center of the Ministry of Defense; Chief Editor: Senior Colonel Tran Do (Hanoi: People’s Army Publishing House, 1996), 567.“(Perfect Spy, Chapter 1, Page 12/19)
“She had been handpicked by the ever-cautious An, who believed that only a woman courier could protect a Virgo from evil tidings. Twelve years older than An and always chewing a betel nut, Ba was not likely to draw attention to herself. An had already rejected nine previous couriers before evaluating Ba.30 “Before meeting An for the first time, I was told ‘He likes no one,’ so be prepared for rejection,” Ba told me. “He was very particular and demanding.” Recalling their very first meeting, Ba explained that she pretended to bring flowers to a temple. By a prearranged code, An greeted her as “sister Ba, number seven,” and she responded with “Hello brother An, number three.” If the two numbers in the reciprocal greeting equaled ten, they would both know the other was with the revolution.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 1, Page 12/19)
Reviews: Who is right? Thomas A. Bass or Larry Berman?
– Thomas A. Bass: “Tam Thao …She was An’s original courier.“, “They waved good-bye at the airport when he flew to America, and they welcomed him back to Saigon on his return.“…
– Larry Berman: “From 1961 to 1975 Ba worked as An’s sole intelligence courier.31 “
Who is right? Mrs.Ba or “Tam Thao, Chin Chi”, Nguyen Van Thuong, Nguyen Thi Se…?
“Military Encyclopedia of Vietnam ” – Truth or lie?
- “”twenty-seven/forty-five” couriers – were captured and killed.” but An and “sole intelligence courier” remained unscathed!
“Throughout his career, An worked with Nguyen Thi Ba, a female courier who wore her hair pulled into a bun. From 1961 to 1975, she picked up his secret correspondence and film canisters. Eking out a living as an itinerant vendor of toys and knickknacks, she lived away from her children and was often sick with malarial fevers. “An, too, often suffered from diseases . . . I felt great compassion for him,” Ba told Tan Tu, who coauthored one of the three Vietnamese biographies written about An. For years, Ba and An were the only people who fully understood the reality of each other’s existence.
Using live drops, dead drops, couriers, and radio transmitters hidden in the jungle that linked him through the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) to military headquarters in North Vietnam, An was supported by dozens of intelligence agents detailed to work on his behalf. Of the forty-five couriers devoted to picking up his messages from Ba and running them out of Saigon, twenty-seven were captured and killed. “There were times before my departure on a mission when my wife and I agreed, if I were arrested, it would be best if I were killed,”
An told the writer Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hai. “It would be more horrible if they tortured me for information that put other people’s lives at risk. Sometimes it got so dangerous that, while my hands were steady, my legs were shaking uncontrollably. De-spite my efforts to keep calm, the automatic reflexes of my body made me shiver with fear.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 170)
III. Super Nguyen Van Thuong – An’s third courier.
- Running messages for various spy networks.
“On a steamy day in January 2006 my translator and I ride our motorbikes out toward the airport to interview Nguyen Van Thuong, one of An’s former couriers. In the scrub land surrounding the approach to the main runway, we find a new housing development full of three-story brick and stucco homes.
…We enter a living room with shiny wood floors, big upholstered sofas, and a wide-screen TV, to find Thuong sitting in his chair. He is a sturdy man with a large, square face and broad chest. But he is only half a man—his lower half has been chopped off. They began with his right foot and moved in successive amputations up from there. Thuong’s left leg is completely gone. The right leg is cut to a knob that ends at the knee. After each cut, he was given a chance to sell out, but he maintained to the end that he was an illiterate farm boy who had been roaming the countryside trying to dodge the draft. Thuong sits ramrod straight as he describes how he became a Hero of the People’s Armed Forces.
He was born in 1938 in the Mekong delta near the Cambodian border. His mother was arrested by the French in 1947 and died on Poulo Condore. His father, a courier for the Viet Minh, was arrested and died in prison under the Diem regime. Continuing in his father’s line of work, Thuong joined the intelligence services and started running messages for various spy networks, including those of Vu Ngoc Nha and Ba Quoc— two high-level spies in the South Vietnamese government—and Pham Xuan An. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 171)
- In 1961, Mr. An was sent to the forest for two weeks of study,
““I was the best person,” says Thuong matter-of-factly. “They counted on me to run all the important messages from the city to the countryside.”
In November 1962, he was put in charge of transmitting An’s messages. For security reasons, he had limited knowledge of who he was working for, and he still refers to Pham Xuan An by his nom de guerre, Hai Trung. He had actually met An the preceding year, when An was summoned into the jungle for one of his debriefings. “In 1961, Mr. An was sent to the forest for two weeks of study,” says Thuong. “I cooked his food and took care of him while he was there.”
“What was he studying?” I ask. “The policy of the Central Committee,” says Thuong. “This was expected of everyone in the Party.”
Thuong presided over a network of men and women who met three times a week in the park in front of the Catholic cathedral next to the statue of the Virgin Mary. After picking up messages concealed under a bench, he traveled north on National Route 13 into the forest. He carried an array of fake IDs. One said he was a captain in the Republican army. Another said he was a farmer. In special cases, as a last resort, he brought out an ID which identified him as a police intelligence agent.
“Sometimes I carried An’s messages directly from Saigon to Cu Chi. Other times, they passed through many hands,” he tells me. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 172)
Reviews: Knew An: ““In 1961, Mr. An was sent to the forest for two weeks of study,” says Thuong. “I cooked his food and took care of him while he was there.””.
- Thuong shot off the rotor with his pistol. The helicopter crashed.
“Thuong reaches into a tin box, an old Lipton tea container, and hands me a picture of himself. It shows a handsome young man wearing a sweater vest over a white shirt and black trousers.
His eyes hidden behind lightly tinted sunglasses, he looks like a young professional on his way to work. In 1969, after fifteen years on the job, he was unmasked by a Communist agent who had gone over to the other side. “Many years later, after I was released from prison, someone told me that the documents I was carrying concerned plans to attack Cambodia. There was another document with the names of thirty-six spies who had been inserted into the Communist network.”
One leg of Thuong’s brown-checked pajamas dangles to the floor. The other is tucked under him, but the material is so thin that I can see the stumps of what used to be his legs moving under the fabric. I try to focus my gaze on Thuong’s eyes as a fan blows hot air over us and he continues his story. Thuong was riding a motorbike down the road to Cu Chi when a helicopter swooped overhead. The “open arms” informer was on-board, pointing at him. A voice boomed out from a loudspeaker, calling him by his secret name, while soldiers used a rope ladder to drop to the ground. Thuong shot off the rotor with his pistol. The helicopter crashed into a field and exploded. Thuong hid his documents and a thousand dollars in cash in a ditch and began running across the rice paddies.
A battalion of paratroopers came for him. He was surrounded by four hundred American soldiers and three hundred South Vietnamese soldiers. With twenty-one bullets remaining, he killed twenty-one enemy soldiers. He jumped in a bunker to hide but was smoked out with gas and roughed up before being put on a helicopter and flown to an American military base.
Here he confronted temptation. “A beautiful girl came to serve me. She invited me into the ‘open arms’ program. More beautiful girls came, singing songs, trying to persuade me to confess my identity. An American colonel began interrogating me in Vietnamese. I told him that I was a farmer, but they examined my feet to see if I had been wearing rubber sandals. They saw that I had been wearing shoes. They looked at my hands. I didn’t have the calluses of someone who worked in the field.”
The colonel promised Thuong a hundred thousand dollars and a sumptuous villa if he informed on his colleagues and came over to the American side. They would make him a lieutenant colonel. They would give him a Mercedes and lots of girls. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 173)
Reviews: “With twenty-one bullets remaining, he killed twenty-one enemy soldiers….“
- Some versions.
““I could have saved myself, but I chose to save my network,” Thuong says. “Actually I knew the names of many people involved in several networks. This was against our general rules, where I was supposed to know only about one network, but I knew many of them. I could have led them up to the top, giving them the names of the most important spies who worked for us. They knew I was the key to cracking our intelligence network in the south.”
Thuy Duong, the most beautiful of the temptresses, visited him one last time, pleading with him to join the American side. On refusing, he was whisked into another room, where the beating started. Eventually his captors crushed his feet and began amputating his limbs. Here the story gets a bit vague, for understandable reasons, but I suspect that it also takes on whatever coloration is required by the nature of Thuong’s audience.
In some versions, a Korean cuts off his legs. In others, a South Vietnamese and in others, an American. When I press for details, he tells me that Korean and American surgeons took turns.” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 174)
- The two men recognized each other but neither revealed the other’s identity.
“They cut off my right foot. I passed out. They cut off my left foot. Two months later they cut more. Every two months they cut off more of my body. Altogether, they put me on the table and cut my legs six times. The American colonel told them,
‘You can cut away his entire body. Just be sure to leave his tongue in his mouth.’”
I feel lightheaded as the fan continues blowing hot air in my face and the house fills with the smell of rice and frying meat.
Thuong was sent to a prison where Ba Quoc worked. This was the nom de guerre of Dang Tran Duc, a Communist intelligence agent who was employed by Dr. Tuyen and the secret police. The two men recognized each other but neither revealed the other’s identity. Thuong was finally sent to Phu Quoc, an island prison camp like Poulo Condore. In 1973, following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, after “four years and four days in enemy hands,” he was released.
“Many years later I met Pham Xuan An, and he thanked me,” Thuong says. “‘Surely, you saved my life by hiding those documents,’ he said.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 174)
- Nguyen Thi Se – An’s fourth couriers.
“After passing a former police checkpoint, Tu Cang tells the driver to pull over. We stop at a little white house with a brick patio. The front yard is filled with bamboo frames that are covered with drying rice paper used for wrapping spring rolls. A silver-haired woman dressed in flower-print trousers and blouse greets us. She smiles up at him as Tu Cang wraps his arm around her. It is the embrace of old soldiers, bonded through their memory of death and surprised to find themselves still alive.
Nguyen Thi Se was one of Pham Xuan An’s couriers. She hid Tu Cang in her house and fed him. After she was caught bringing him a radio, she was sent to prison and tortured for three years. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 208)
Reviews: “Nguyen Thi Se was one of Pham Xuan An’s couriers” and also “was sent to prison”
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