9 episodes

A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives.

To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries and heated speeches in Parliament, no one has ever bothered to answer a basic question: Who wrote the letter? And why? The night before Hamza is to start journalism school, he has a chance meeting in Birmingham with the reporter Brian Reed, the host of the hit podcast S-Town. Together they team up to investigate: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter? They quickly discover that it’s a question people in power do not want them asking.

From Serial Productions and The New York Times comes The Trojan Horse Affair: a mystery in eight parts.

The Trojan Horse Affair Serial

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 5.3K Ratings

A strange letter appears on a city councillor’s desk in Birmingham, England, laying out an elaborate plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate the city’s schools. The plot has a code name: Operation Trojan Horse. The story soon explodes in the news and kicks off a national panic. By the time it all dies down, the government has launched multiple investigations, beefed up the country’s counterterrorism policy, revamped schools and banned people from education for the rest of their lives.

To Hamza Syed, who is watching the scandal unfold in his city, the whole thing seemed … off. Because through all the official inquiries and heated speeches in Parliament, no one has ever bothered to answer a basic question: Who wrote the letter? And why? The night before Hamza is to start journalism school, he has a chance meeting in Birmingham with the reporter Brian Reed, the host of the hit podcast S-Town. Together they team up to investigate: Who wrote the Trojan Horse letter? They quickly discover that it’s a question people in power do not want them asking.

From Serial Productions and The New York Times comes The Trojan Horse Affair: a mystery in eight parts.

    Part 1: The Letter in the Brown Paper Envelope

    Part 1: The Letter in the Brown Paper Envelope

    A strange letter appears outlining a plot by Islamic extremists to infiltrate Birmingham schools. Hamza and Brian visit the supposed mastermind of the plot, and he tells them he did take over a bunch of schools – just not for the reasons in the letter.

    • 59 min
    Part 2: The Case of the Four Resignations

    Part 2: The Case of the Four Resignations

    Hamza and Brian think the source of the Trojan Horse letter might be hiding in plain sight. After learning about the petty personnel dispute that probably gave rise to the letter, they’re even more bewildered about how it ever could have been taken seriously.

    • 53 min
    Part 3: Sir Albert and the Missing “H”

    Part 3: Sir Albert and the Missing “H”

    In a state of surprise, Hamza and Brian leave a meeting with the man the Trojan Horse letter was first sent to. And they learn about an internal investigation report that local officials have kept hidden, but which they think could contain a bombshell.

    • 38 min
    Part 4: The Meeting and the Mole

    Part 4: The Meeting and the Mole

    A series of frustrating interviews with Birmingham politicians leaves Brian and Hamza wondering if crucial information about the Trojan Horse letter was kept from officials in London. Then one rainy Friday afternoon, Brian hears back from a government source who wants to meet right away.

    • 45 min
    Part 5: A Study in Scarlett

    Part 5: A Study in Scarlett

    Hamza and Brian learn that the Trojan Horse letter wasn’t the only unsigned letter alleging an extremist operation was afoot in Birmingham. An interview with a couple who lodged complaints against their school starts out cordially, but six hours later, the atmosphere is so tense that not even an offer of tea can smooth things over. And Hamza stops pretending he’s not angry about what he’s hearing.

    • 1 hr
    Part 6: Cucumbers and Cooker Bombs

    Part 6: Cucumbers and Cooker Bombs

    Hamza takes a long, hard look at what the government found when it investigated more than 20 majority-Muslim schools in Birmingham. And our two reporters have a confrontation – with each other.

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
5.3K Ratings

5.3K Ratings

Starfishtex ,

Amazing- now can we get an update?

Throughly enjoyed this podcast and am so impressed by the amount of effort, time, distance traveled and persistence shown by these two journalists. I must say, listening to Hamza talk in episode 6 about his ability to be both

1. A human who has feelings and opinions and can see/feel the impact of the Trojan Horse letter

&

2. A journalist who has a hunch but is open to the idea that if facts proving the reality of events are different from his hunch, he can remain open minded to that information.

I could t agree more.

PodFan032021 ,

Well done

No spoilers - but this podcast did a great job of telling a complicated story and keeping it compelling.

Caisulli ,

Masterful and Honest

This is a beautiful story within a story. The investigation is the focus, but it is also very clearly about two journalists dealing with internal conflict about what it means to be a journalist and if they should continue on as they once thought they should. Should a journalist have an opinion about a story or is it their job simply to allow the story to tell itself? Are the lengths they go to worth it for what they are able to reveal? The only thing biased about it in my opinion is that they DO expect the listener to reconsider their beliefs - about Muslims, our governing bodies, and journalism. Come to whatever conclusions you want about the “affair,” but to me, their efforts and honesty are most definitely “worth it.”

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