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Think you could be a spy? Try solving this puzzle

Can you find the hidden message?

Can you find the hidden message? Photo: TND/LinkedIn/GCHQ/Pexels

When watching protagonists in action-thrillers struggling to decode a message with just 60 seconds to save the world, do you find yourself thinking, “Pffft, I could do that”?

Well, now you can prove it.

UK intelligence and security agency GCHQ celebrated creating its first official LinkedIn account post by producing a special visual puzzle for punters to try and solve.

Created in collaboration with Manchester-based artist Justin Eagleton, the colourful puzzle featured a seemingly random compilation of images, including a sheep, a cartoon investigator, a helicopter and even a ‘Top Secret’ stamp.

“Problem solving is at the heart of what we do. Our people tackle the most complex of challenges every day to help keep the country safe,” GCHQ captioned the image.

“It’s only possible by bringing together a mix of minds – people who can see things differently or think outside the box.”

Reposting the challenge, Eagleton said he was proud to have worked with the “ultimate puzzle-solving organisation” GCHQ to create something that would “make people think and question”.

Aspiring ‘intelligence analysts’ were given one day to identify 13 elements within the image that represented letters of the alphabet, and assemble them to reveal a hidden message.

If you’d like to have a crack, here’s the puzzle:

Before we reveal the answer, here’s a little background on GCHQ itself.

In the aftermath of World War I, a peacetime cryptanalytical unit was formed in 1919 to protect British government communications and decrypt messages sent by foreign countries.

Originally called the Government Code & Cypher School, the organisation played a large role in World War II, notably aided by cryptanalyst Alan Turing.

In 2016, GCHQ apologised for the “horrifying” treatment of Turing and others like him.

The difference between GCHQ and the more well-known MI5 and MI6 is that the former specialises in gaining intelligence from communications, while the latter two deal with human intelligence within the UK and internationally, respectively.

The puzzle is part of a recruitment drive by the organisation, which GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said was aiming to bring in a diverse mix of people with different backgrounds, experiences and insights.

“For us, it’s clear that diversity is mission critical,” she said in a promotional video posted to LinkedIn.

“So we’re on a journey to make sure that we reach out and connect to people who’ve never thought of working with us.”

Ok, ready for the answer?

The hidden message was ‘JOURNEY TO GCHQ’.

Here’s how you could find the 13 letters:

J – Juliet (from the phonetic alphabet) in the window
O – The bottle of water with the French flag (eau)
U – The ewe in the road
R – Romeo (from the phonetic alphabet) looking up at Juliet
N – The calendar represents the month of November (from the phonetic alphabet)
E – The pair of hands emerging from the building is displaying E in British Sign Language
Y – The red drums on the bombe machine in the TV represent Y in Braille

T – The cup of tea in the café window
O – The highlighted dashes in the road represent O in Morse code

G – The golfer (from the phonetic alphabet)
C – The sea
H – The hotel (from the phonetic alphabet)
Q – The queue of cars

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