KAMPALA – An American intelligence agent worked in Uganda disguised as an artiste which helped him access the country’s classified information, a report has revealed.
Mr Darrell Blocker, who was working for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), came to Uganda in 2003.
However, in bizarre circumstances, Mr Blocker joined Kampala Jazz All-Stars owned by Jim Logan and started holding shows around the country. Logan was also an American and a spouse of a US embassy employee.
According to the reported published by ABC News, Mr Blocker was able to gain the trust and confidence of his important “targets” as a result of his new-found artiste status.
The intelligence agent knew how to connect with the audience in line with how the CIA trains all of its clandestine agents who work undercover to gather intelligence.
“My clandestine activities were enhanced by being viewed as a singer, because who would ever think that one could be both? That is a leap too far for most and I honestly feel that it kept me safer by being in plain sight,” Mr Blocker is quoted as saying by ABC News.
The report adds that Mr Blocker, during some of their performances at the city’s Bubbles O’Leary’s club and Soroti District, often avoided some of his ‘contacts’ he spotted in the crowds.
In this period, most of the band members, that also included two Ugandans and two Congolese, had no idea that Mr Blocker, was an undercover intelligence officer. His official cover was an employee with the State Department assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.
“I remember asking him what he did for work, and he had a canned response. Something-something at the embassy. And you just kind of go, come on,” Logan is quoted as saying. “He was super smart, you could tell he was very intelligent,” she adds.
Mr Blocker claims that his status as a local celebrity served the United States’ national security interests. Blocker said performing on stage “exposed me to a whole lot more people than I would have only met at the diplomatic receptions.”
“So in that sense,” he said, “my singing expanded my circle of potential contacts to pursue.”
Mr Blocker eventually left the country without being detected before he was posted to other countries. His career at CIA ended in 2018. In August 2019, the CIA honored Blocker with the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed upon career officers.