Chapter 476

It was nearly two hours later when the group called back. The first thing I was told was that the C5 was being loaded as we speak. I was given a quick overview of the plan and orders from Vicky

“You need to get with Eric. He needs to order the border patrol agents not to bother a group of vehicles coming across the border at the Highway 1 Laredo crossing to reduce the chance of collateral damage. I will send the approximate time,” Vicky said.

Collateral damage; what had Vicky ordered them to do that I was not briefed about? Vicky was assuming more and more control of the SOPs team, RRS and Embassy security division. I knew she had been spending a lot of money for equipment and gear for the teams.

We talked a few more minutes and then closed the conversation. I would be home when the operation hit the ground at 0100 Texas time.

A look at Google earth again – in its largest size – showed the villa consisted of four buildings. A main house, a stable and two smaller bunk houses; not a luxurious place for a drug dealer. But then maybe that was public for his business and he had a palace in a town not far away to keep his family away from it.

My thoughts were interrupted by my phone again, “Hello Bradberry, I hope you have good news for me,” I said.

“Yes, the factory will have all 120 units completed by noon Sunday and will ship them out Monday morning,” he replied.

“I will do you one better than that; give me the address of the factory and I will have trucks there to pick them up at noon on Sunday,” I replied.

“29 North Century Street, Rapid City South Dakota,” he replied.

“Send me all the contact information. Thanks Bradberry! I owe you one,” I replied.

I sent a text to Lorrie to get 2 C130 to the Rapid City airport in time to get rental trucks to the factory and make all the connections.

The rest of the afternoon was spent planning for the delivery and distribution of the scanners. I wanted them at the sites Monday morning to allow adequate setup, testing time and training.

The C130s were to split up on departure; one was to stop first at West Lafayette Indiana, then to Lexington Kentucky with the last stop at Baltimore.

The other was to stop first at Gainesville Florida, then Columbia South Carolina and the final stop at Raleigh North Carolina.

Ching Lee sent instructions and ticket information for six of the scanner operators from each of the three college sites who had been training operators. Three were going direct from KCC to Baltimore.

The real issues would start Monday when the six colleges would be told by an assistant director of the DHS the changes that they would make and would be made or else. The meetings between the directors and colleges officials were to happen at 8.

I left Section 12 a few minutes early and made great time. I was home in plenty of time to sit in on the meeting. When I walked in I noticed that Vicky was gone and Cindy was sitting in her place with Stacy James and Lynn Smart, her administrators.

“Where is Vicky?” I asked.

You could have heard a pin drop with eyes casting glances.

“She is on the C5; she went with one of Roberts men to operate the new big communication drone. She has been busy upgrading the RRT and OPS team gear while you have been with the task force. All new military grade body armor, helmets with night vision and helmet mounted mini cameras, laser sights, the latest boots for comfort and high end silencers for the Glocks and m16s.”

“The drone will allow us to watch the action first hand, and have instant communications; it will act as a receiver transmitter to an internet satellite. Vicky was pushing hard to get everything loaded and checked out. I guess she is so busy she forgot to call you,” Ching Lee said.

“OK, she is a big girl; I know she did what had to be done,” I replied.

What I did not know now but would in a few hours was that Vicky had ordered the complete gear for all of us. We each had our own SWAT style M16 with laser, night vision and lighted sights.

I didn’t even know what the final plan was but I had trusted Ed and Bill with my life more than once. I knew they would do the right thing and whatever was necessary.

The meeting was busy. We had a lot of things to talk about; one was money. Marcy had submitted several large bills to the DHS for the work Robert’s group did on Diya’s phone and the phone surveillance. We paid for it, why give it away.

The update on the tarmac was good news, the weather was still holding. A total of 12 pours had been made in the three weeks and there was a solid pad now curing. It would be a month before it could be used. It would take 2 more months to get the rest down.

On more good news, there was close to a plane load of goods for the refuge camp. The ads in Elmo’s paper paid off even if it was 500 dollars a week. Local churches were having fund and clothing drives.

Rachael, Phil and Robin had been speakers at some of those events. One of Ching Lee’s PR clerks had helped them put together their programs.

Vicky and one of my other mates would have the honor of going with the freight this time.

Robert’s group was manning the EIT room 24 hours a day and would until things were over with.

I finally received a long text from Vicky with a time line of planned events for the villa. It still did not make me feel any more comfortable and the itchy feeling on the back of my neck just would not go away.

Another waiting game that I was not liking! Supper and then early to bed I wanted to be in the command center when things started, so did the rest of the girls.

It was midnight when the texts started. I transferred my text to a computer terminal and screen so it would be easier to do in the darkened room. “We have arrived and are unloading at Laredo general aviation. We should be crossing the border in 30 minutes. As soon as we get across the border and set up, the video should go live.”

My phone rang; it was 0100, “Where are you?” It was Eric.

“Command center,” I replied.

“I will step in the elevator, bring me down,” he replied.

Not only did Eric step off the elevator but so did Frank and Marty Coeburn.

“None of you should be here,” I said.

“Since you’re the one with your neck stretched, we might be able to provide some cover,” Frank replied.

There was another text from Vicky, “Martin broke his ankle on the tarmac. I am replacing him on the attack team; he can run the drone.”

“OK,” I replied with four very concerned faces looking at me.

Thirty minutes more and the night vision drone went active on the big monitor. That meant that the communication drone was on station tending somewhere near the villa at less than 500 feet so radar would not pick it up.

All the helmet cams and audio went live next; Robert and Abigale were scrambling to divide the big screen into boxes for each cam. He was assigning names of the individual to each box – including one for Vicky – from a chart.

The night vision drone did sweep after sweep looking for any posted sentries or anyone outside.

We listened as Martin informed Ed there was no one outside of the villa. They were so confident in the cartel mystique that they did not post sentries. The drone went high and did a 360 to be sure. I could see the men closing in on the villa

The group had split into two separate assault teams; the 360 showed they were less than 150 yards away from the villa. There were eight to ten trucks and cars parked outside.

I was getting ready to send a text to have the drone do a close up on the cars to make sure there was no one sleeping in them, when the drone began to do that on its own.

Each of the six trucks with materials in the back had someone sleeping in it; I guess they were afraid of the cartel members stealing the trucks.

Ed got the word that there were people in the trucks; men were sent to dispatch them to the hereafter when the group got close enough and set.

Then the drone flew low to do close in 360 views of the buildings. By then all the men and Vicky had taken assignments by the buildings getting ready to assault them.

By needing six to handle the truck terrorists, the teams were light to enter the buildings. I was watching Vicky’s camera when man came out of the villa and walked towards her end of the adjacent building that I thought was a stable.

They were warning Vicky he was coming, “OK I got him,” she replied.

When he opened the door that was near the end corner where she standing, she was there. From the actions on the screen I could only imagine what was going on.

The combat knife she carried and trained with was like mine. Vicky had shoved the knife into his lung under his raised arm and she was strong enough to shove it through the lung and into the heart from that angle.

As he stumbled forward she pulled the knife out and secured his death by a slash of the neck that was clearly visible in the night vision. She shoved him forward into the floor and did a head sweep looking for anyone else.

There were gasps and groans in the command center.

“He is dead; it’s an outhouse and it’s clear,” she replied as she stepped out and closed the door.

Ed gave the command, ‘Go, now, now, now.’ Six terrorists sleeping in trucks instantly died. Gunfire erupted as the teams burst through the doors.

Someone screaming in Spanish jumped out the window followed by another near Vicky, two three shot burst from her M16 ended the screams.

Gunfire was everywhere, the images on the screen showed druggies pulling handguns from under pillows and lunging for automatic weapons leaning against the wall before dying.

A minute later, “All clear” came from all the men in the bunk houses and main house.

“Vicky can you come in here, you need to make a command decision,” it was Ed in the main house.

On the floor in the center of the main house was a huge stack of cocaine in bricks.

“Send someone after our trucks, also pull the bodies out of the terrorist trucks. See if there are any keys in them and if they will run. Check the bodies for cell phones; do the same in here. If there are any, we need to take them. Let’s load the cocaine and carry it with us. The DEA can use it as part of the press conference after all this is over,” Vicky ordered.

“What about this?” Ed asked as he pulled 5 duffle bags out from under the table. The night vision showed the bags were American money.

“We take it. That will pay for this trip without going through channels, keeping it off the record,” Vicky replied.

30 minutes later they were ready to leave. The last thing to happen was Howie placing several charges and incendiaries in each building; the cartel would use these buildings no more.

When they were done loading up the drones and operators, and about two miles from the border, the sky lit up with fire and explosions.

When they were a short distance from the border crossing, Eric made the call to get them through. An hour later the C5 was airborne and headed north east.

The next text from Vicky, “Have an ambulance standing by to take Martin to the med center. I am tired, I am taking a nap on the flight back.”

“The first whimper on ZNN about the explosions; you need to do a travel notice for the La Jarita area of Mexico because of a cartel turf war,” I said to Eric.

“Good idea,” Frank replied.

“Do you guys want to take possession of the guns and drugs or wait until after the news conference after Thanksgiving – good or bad?” I asked.

“You can lock it up until then,” Eric replied.

As I walked them out Eric asked, “Are all your mates that capable and ruthless?”

“We all train together. They decide how and when to use it,” I replied.

“I will give Ben the warning; he was only wary of you. His expression should be priceless,” Eric said with a laugh.

Frank looked at me and smiled one of those smiles that said, “If he only knew.”

Vicky had done well and I would tell her so when I met the plane in a couple hours. I wondered if I had created a monster when she helped feed the chipper the other night.

The team had done extremely well carrying this off on such short notice. Bonuses for all were certainly called for.

I wondered how long it would be before Saif and Rafi Quastri realized there were no heavy weapons to use and they were down six fighters. I would bet the phone link would go crazy sometime Monday or before.

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Chapter 475

Supper was on the stove, needing another hour to simmer. That was fine with me. A quick decision put us in the hot tub for 30 minutes. It took two of my favorite brews and 20 minutes in the churning water before I relaxed.

Today had been the most stressful so far; even my team was giving me a little more room after we returned to section 12.

There was some good news today; the Coast Guard had stopped the Exxon Val Diageo off the Delaware coast and had given the ship a thorough inspection.

In the engine room they found a fake wall. Behind that wall were six bunks and today they captured six terrorists who were headed for the New Jersey and New York learning centers.

The Captain and the first officer were both arrested and suddenly lost the ability to speak English. They were able to demand to see the Liberian Ambassador.

Frank let it slip that the ship and its cargo had been seized. The CIA was the only US government agency that could seize foreign assets under international criminal and terror laws.

I wondered what they were going to do with a million barrels of crude oil, let alone a super tanker that was over a thousand feet long.

Jenny, Vicky, Dad, Robin, Bob Jackson and Jason were going deer hunting tomorrow at the new hunting property. This was the first deer hunting on that property this year and the dear hunting season ended Thanksgiving Day. Goose season was starting the day after Thanksgiving.

They had high hopes for a good hunt tomorrow; Jason had been scouting before coming to the office. There were bucks, big bucks and because there had been no hunting since last year, they were not flighty. I told them to send pictures to my email after the hunt.

When I woke up at 5 Jenny and Vicky were already gone. It was their night to be together and it worked out so they would not wake anybody getting ready for the hunt. Lorrie was sleeping with me and the boys were in the crib. They would sleep another hour.

I quietly showered and dressed to the smell of coffee, I wondered who was up and made that. Today’s dress was the same as every day, another expensive pant suit, jacket and comfortable shoes.

When I went into the kitchen Lisa was sitting at the table with two cups, “I know you like yours black,” she said as she slid the cup towards me. We had a nice talk while I made Cheerios and toast, something light, quick and quiet.

It was cold out this morning. Lisa was going to sit with the boys here instead of bundling them up and carrying them out in the cold.

With no wind the hunters should have a good day, I thought as I walked to the Suburban. A look over to the gym and I saw a TV truck from one of western shore stations in front of the building. I was surprised it was not blocking our driveway, forcing me to get out and talk to them.

I called the Command Center phone, “Anything new?”

“All quiet so far,” Otto replied.

The ride was fast and good. Things went to hell at 8 when all the assembled players settled into section 12. My agency had priority; first was the power play of each person.

I finally had to shut everyone down; it was time to change the direction of the thought process. At the white board across the top I wrote each game that was to be a target. Down the left side was each agency.

“How many undercover agents can your agency put on the street at each of these cities today for scouting? I mean undercover agents who do not telegraph ‘I am a cop’?” I asked.

I wrote the numbers in each column. For agencies that had thousands of employees I was disappointed at the numbers; were there really that many desk jockeys needed?

The next step was to cross section the cell towers – that the phones used in the calls yesterday – over a map to start the scouting process.

The good thing about yesterday’s calls; they were all made from the same geographical location in each city, meaning the tower’s pings did not change with all five calls over the two hour time frame.

They were in a house, apartment or some other location. It narrowed the search area at least temporarily. In each city it was almost a square mile area to scout looking for anything unusual.

I gave orders through the agency directors to pool all the agents together to search the area as best they could, without sending out alarms.

My phone went off, announcing a series of texts.

“I don’t like it when your phone does that anymore,” Ben replied.

It was pictures from the deer hunters; they had struck pay dirt. All bucks with nice racks. I put the pictures on the big screen because they were so much easier to look at.

I was sure all of the heads would be mounted. It was strange seeing Vicky and Jenny holding up the head for pictures, the blood on their hunting gear and their ear to ear grins. The Cole love of the outdoors bug in Jenny had been awakened and was spreading in the brood.

All the men were ready to go hunting. I wondered if it was for deer or the girls in hunting gear that was the turn on; there were comments on both. It’s funny the emotions and hormones girls with guns will stir up.

I also wondered when the girls would realize that the creek that came up behind our house could be dredged for a big fishing boat of our own, with our own pier for it.

The rest of the day and the next day were spent in research and campfire sessions. We went through blow-ups of the stadiums, access to the stadiums and everything else about them we could find.

Friday morning another little break came our way; there was another group call with the Prince, Rafi Quastri and Saif. The guns were coming across the border Saturday night.

They were going to spend Friday night and Saturday at the villa between La Jarita and the US border and border between Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon sections of Mexico. The villa was owned by a middle level drug lord – Diego Juan Fernando. A drug transportation deal was also in the works.

The plan was for a mule to guide them across the border north of Laredo and get them onto highway 1472 Saturday night. They would split up and go to San Antonio and then go the college cities and meet the other terrorists.

The agency, the FBI, the DHS, border patrol and the Generals refused to cross into Mexico and do anything in La Jarita. They said they had to wait until they crossed the border; a very bad choice in my opinion.

Once they crossed the border, the gig was up. At the first sign of cops, calls would be made to Rafi Quastri and they would lawyer up and make more calls.

I left the group to evaluate more on the stadiums and closed the door to my office behind me.

I did not want even one chance that they could get the heavy machine guns across the border and I did not want to cause them to change plans. A heavy machine gun bullet was so powerful they could penetrate a car engine block. The Coast Guard used them to disable engines on drug runner boats trying to flee. It could take down a dozen people before it ran out of energy. Body armor was useless against them.

I called Ed Dean and Bill Townsend; in Andy’s absence they were in charge of the two teams. I sent them to the command center so I could have a good planning session with them. Then I sent a text to both Vicky and Lorrie to be in on the same conversation.

Every piece of information was given to them including satellite photos, ground imagining and the timeline that it needed to happen in, along with the resources they could use or buy.

“When you are finished planning, I want to hear the complete plan,” I said and closed the screen.

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Chapter 474

We were airborne with Marine 1 in sight a couple miles ahead of us. We were flying at a slower speed to allow the media to catch up and land first at the White House.

We had been airborne 15 minutes when my phone went crazy with text tones. Robert was blasting them.

“We got the break this morning.”

“You need to see and this means NOW! It is going to be bad.”

“This could be worse than 9-11 for causalities.”

“My federal team will be there in a few minutes; we are coming up on the island now. You can run all this in the command center, correct?” I sent.

“Yes. Of course,” Robert replied.

I tapped pilot Kale Hopper on the shoulder, “Divert course, land in the grass field behind the gym.”

The next was a call, “Mr. President, I have had my JBG intelligence team working on Diya’s telephone information. They made a breakthrough this morning. Robert is telling me it could be worse than 9-11 in causalities. He has the data. We are diverting to my main office. There is room for your chopper to land there if you and your staff want the briefing first hand,” I said.

The chopper had made the turn towards the gym when Troy called to hear what I had told the President for him self. I heard Troy tell the President, “I agree, let’s go hear it.”

I called Marcy to have her send all the Suburban’s to the choppers after the rotors stopped turning. The next call was to the State Police barracks to send officers to guard the choppers while we were out of sight of them, with a word of advice, “Do not broadcast what their assignment is or who they are protecting. Just send them here quickly and no sirens.”

Five minutes later we were on the ground; ten minutes later Marine 1 was in sight setting up to touch down.

The engine from the Island Fire Company was standing by just in case there was a problem. I had called the Chief direct with the request and the no sirens and no public broadcast of the assignment. The four state police officers were there as well as 4 sheriff’s cars.

Marcy, Jenny, Ching Lee, and Jason all drove Suburban’s up to the choppers.

“BJ, you may want to go through the house entrance. There are a lot of customers in the gym today; it has really been busy,” Marcy said.

“Frank and Eric and a couple more are coming; they were at a meeting at the agency hangar. They should be here in 10 to 15 minutes. Bring them down when they get here, please. I told them to ask for you,” I said.

With everyone in the 4 car garage, I keyed the code to open the steel roll-up overhead door that hid the elevator and the stairs to the tunnel. A swipe of my card and a retina scan opened the elevator door, and the same procedure opened the door to the stairs.

Down in the tunnel, the next door closed the new tunnel at the 8×8 box – a swipe and a scan opened that one. Then there was the one on that closed off the original tunnel at the box. Those were the two doors that Marcy wanted – for security reasons – to lock out portions of the tunnel.

When we walked out into the brightly lit basement, the talking changed to complete silence as the group followed me to the command center. I held the door, “Take a seat gentlemen.”

I walked in behind them staring at the front wall. Robert and his group of spooks built it just like I had envisioned the command center should be.

In the center of the wall was one big flat screen; judging by the 10 foot high ceiling it was six feet high and was at least 10 feet wide. To the right of it were 16 smaller flat screens in a crescent for easy viewing from the theater seating. One each for each the colleges, Morton Field and the gym above; all were flipping through the cameras at the sites.

To the left of the big screen were 20 more small flat screens for the embassy sites; each of them were flipping through the cameras, then all 20 would switch to 20 more embassies. It took four series to get through all 80 embassies.

“I guess the government is not the only one that has secrets,” Ben said.

“Looks like the NSA might be falling into second place. All this and you knew nothing about it,” the CIA guy said trying to get a dig in at Ben.

“I would not be saying that too loud, you were in the dark as much as they were.” Frank, Eric and Marcy, Ching Lee and Vicky had walked in and were standing behind the pair, and then they made their way to me.

“You know there are more surprises with you than a case of Cracker Jacks and more secrets than a soap opera plot,” Frank replied.

“A girl always has a few secrets! It is the nature of the gender and everybody loves a surprise; I’m glad you approve,” I replied.

Robert called me off to the side, “They made four different groups of calls today. There is one number that was called; it was an international call to an active satellite phone belonging to Crown Prince Sultan al-Zahab. It was not from the phone that we though was Saif’s. There was a 7th phone today”

“The money man; can you black out the Prince’s number?”

“I can put a black box on it. Do you want anything in the box?” Robert asked.

“Classified top secret; JBG/BJ,” I replied.

“Only take a moment then we can start. It will still show as a Saudi Arabia call,” Robert replied.

“You have the floor; just the facts, don’t give away any of your secrets,” I replied.

A few minutes later with Burt, Jay Rudd, and Christina Peete operating the control consoles, Robert began.

“When the numbers were removed from Diya’s phone, BJ tasked our department with breaking down those numbers, the same as the task force. We chose to concentrate on the inactive numbers and let the task force experts concentrate on whatever.”

“It has been our experience in law enforcement that serious criminals, pedophiles, and terrorist use burn phones exclusively for their activities. In our opinion tracking active numbers is a waste of time.”

“That said we began tracking those numbers two weeks ago. Ten days ago six of those phones went active within one minute and 4 minutes later went back inactive; the batteries were pulled to make them go that way. Four minutes was not long enough to establish location tracking but the computers saved all the data they collected.”

“Three days later they went active again and in the same fashion dead after 4 minutes. The computers and programs were within 30 seconds of completing the location process. We added a new piece to the program that would possibly record the conversations.”

“Today they made a four minute call again; we have the locations and voice recordings. To our surprise they waited ten minutes and called again a total of four times.”

Burt started with the 1st call; they were speaking in Pashto with a mix of Arabic. Then he played the next three.

When the four calls were over the plan was somewhat clear. They were going to do terror strikes on six Thanksgiving Day college football games. Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Indiana, South Carolina were to be attacked simultaneously. The games over-lapped and all would be playing at the same time on national TV.

The fifth call was the call that the number was blacked out. It was between Saif, Rafi Quastri and the Prince. It reveled more of the plan. The Prince was questioning his investment and the call lasted 10 minutes, even with prodding from Saif to end it.

They were going to send ten suicide bombers into each game to detonate at the same time. When the crowd fled the stadium they were going to be mowed down by gunfire. Saif made the entire vest while he was in Minnesota. The group leaders already had them.

The call also confirmed that the farm was indeed heavily booby trapped.

The heavy automatic weapons had made the trip from Venezuela and were crossing the border from Mexico this week in six different SUV.

Rafi Quastri was the US mastermind, organizer and spiritual leader for the groups and reported directly to the Prince. Rafi Quastri had a compound in New Jersey.

There were now four on my list.

At the end the questions started – with the technical ones first – from both the CIA and NSA guys almost at the same time.

“Just how in the hell did you manage to do this? We want that program. Every bit of it,” they directed at Robert and his team.

I answered for him, “That’s classified and no you will not get that program. Not one bit of it.”

“What was in the black classified box?”

“Classified speaks for itself,” I replied.

“We have the highest classified clearance,” the assistant Director of the CIA responded getting louder with every word.

“That is a US government classification you have and holds no water in this building or command center; it is not worth squat,” I replied.

“Just why not?” he shot back.

It did not help his cause that Eric, Frank and Ben did not say a word in his defense, they just did eye rolls and slowly shaking their heads. They knew when I made a decision, it was set in stone.

“Let’s see; first there was Snowden, then WIKI leaks, then hacks of the IRS, NSA and the Defense department. If we give you access, we just as well publish it on the front page of the New York Post and the Moscow daily news,” I replied.

“Point well made,” the President replied.

“If any piece of this leaks out and they radically change plans, you will have 60 suicide vests walking the malls on Black Friday; that is not a very enticing picture.”

“It seems Washington is a leaky bucket. The only ones that know anything about this are standing in this room. If there are leaks, my team will find you and I will personally have a bullet put in the back of your head along with everyone else connected to the leak,” I replied.

“Mr. President, you promised me unrestricted authority and resources to find and get Saif. Are there any changes that we need to discuss?” I asked.

“None what-so-ever! I want him and his associates in body bags more than ever,” the President replied.

“I may need some Presidential pardons,” I replied.

“Just say the word,” he replied.

“Christina, open a VCATS, Ambassador Reddick please.”

“Vicky, how many of the people from Namibia are ready to return?” I asked.

“Fifteen of the twenty,” she replied.

“Tell them to pack their bags; they will be leaving today,” I said.

Andy was on. “Ambassador, are you comfortable with releasing the special ops team and five others? I have fifteen of the regular crew that can go back today,” I said.

“Sure that is fine. I take it that things are progressing. That is good news. Call me when the plane leaves; I will get them packed. Send me a list of any hardware you want back,” he replied.

“Will do,” I replied.

“Vicky; have Mischief and Mayhem made any progress on that list of twenty four?” I asked.

“Yes, all have been confirmed,” Vicky replied.

“Call the ones across the water; find out how soon they can start. I have a special mission for them to participate in. Send tickets or a jet if you have to,” I instructed.

“Ching Lee, call Sherman at Minneapolis, Kelly at Rochester and Patti at KCC; tell them to cross-train all the full time people on the scanners and thermal equipment this week. Tell them to have those people pack go bags and be ready to leave on thirty minutes notice starting Friday morning. Also tell them we may have to borrow the equipment for a few days.”

I called Dad, “Make me two more of the suicide belts for training. Don’t bother with the wiring, battery or phone – just the pipes – as soon as possible please.”

Next was a call to Robert Bradberry of East Coast Security, “Bradberry, I need sixty thermal units and sixty scanners. I need them in seven days.”

“I don’t know if that can happen,” he replied.

“Tell them to work overtime and Saturday and Sunday if they have to. If they need more convincing, I will send someone over with a badge and a baseball bat to work on knee caps and knuckles, this is a national emergency,” I said.

“Knee caps and knuckles with a baseball bat, I feel sorry for them just thinking about that. Surely you would not do that to anyone,” Troy replied.

“The hell she won’t and more!” It was Ben that replied; he had finally come to the conclusion that I was not a kind and gentle person at times.

“Eric, the border patrol has to stop those heavy weapons no matter what it takes. If you need more resources, now is the time to ask.”

“My thinking says they are driving in a convoy of six to ten vehicles, possibly with cartel escorts to avoid the gang and cartel infighting. They will split up just before coming across the border or shortly thereafter,” I said.

“It would be nice to stop them in some little hell hole Mexican town making it look like a gang fight. That would put a chink in the planning and might spur more phone calls. I’m betting they will make the crossing after dark, led by a drug mule through some little Texas border town,” I added.

“Can we get a satellite on station, U2 or drones to look for a convoy or anything suspicious or similar to that?” I asked.

“Make it happen,” the President ordered.

“Robert, have someone from your team stay all night. Wake me if there are any calls,” I said.

“Tomorrow we will brainstorm plans and methods with all of your agencies to stop this. Everyone needs to be in section 12 at 0800 with your A game on; we have a lot to do.”

“We have general locations and that is all; the games are ten days away and we will not waste one of them. It will take a lot of resources on the ground,” I said.

After thanking the all the police, sheriff’s deputies and fire fighters who responded, the President and my group finished the thirty minute flight back to Washington.

The White House press corps were livid and hostile that they were left out of the loop; with the President’s chopper hours late, they began questioning the White House. They began speculating mechanical problems or a crash.

Hanna had video of the President with the police and firefighters and the liftoff to Washington. Somehow she had received a tip with limits attached; it could not be aired until the 5 PM report. Hmm, I wonder who that was.

Then I endured the hour drive back from Washington; I was late. I knew the nightly update was over so I drove to the four car garage. When I pulled up to the house, Frank and Eric drove in behind me.

“I assume the blacked out name was one of the Princes?” Frank asked.

“That is an accurate guess,” I replied.

“Rafi Quastri has been under surveillance for a while,” Eric replied, “We planned to arrest him as soon as enough evidence was collected.”

“Yeah and you will have fifty-seven states – I mean nations – breathing down the State Department’s neck for locking up one of the pillars of their peaceful nonviolent religion. There will be demonstrations in the streets; when that doesn’t work, the lone wolf attacks will start,” I said.

“Besides, you know the Doc and I will learn everything he knows. Who knows, the Prince may be willing to trade billions of petro dollars for Rafi or may be we can use him to lure the Prince to someplace that is fatally dangerous,” I said.

“I will let you know a day ahead of time when to remove the surveillance,” I said then I added, “I would not want any of your people to become collateral damage. You can sit in on the Doc’s work when it comes to that, if you are up to it.”

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Chapter 473

One of the ground controllers from Morton Field was on the College lawn to direct the landing of the choppers. He had painted red, blue and white paint marks for the choppers to land on and to maintain a safe separation as they touched down.

The College grounds crew may have heartburn after everyone left, trying to get that utility marking paint off the grass and dirt before Thanksgiving.

This was the lawn where all the big tents were put up for graduation and the Mayday celebrations for all the exhibitionist students to play naked sports games. They said it was a tradition that went back over a hundred years. Somehow I doubted that, but never challenge tradition at a liberal arts college; they always seemed to find a new one whenever the student council wanted one, like the toga party.

We were guided onto the spot the most distant away from the buildings; the media and Marine 1 would land closer. The media chopper was going to land first so all the reporters could get video of the President stepping off the chopper.

Marine 1 and the media chopper were 10 minutes behind. That gave me time to introduce the people with me to the assembled dignitaries. I asked one of my task force members to be in charge of a box that was on the Blackhawk that I would need later.

The media chopper touched down next and all the press corps scrambled to get set up. A few minutes later Marine 1 touched down; not knowing what the protocol was, I walked to the chopper and when the rotors stopped turning, walked to the door and waited.

A marine in dress blues came down the stairs as the door touched the ground, stood at attention and waited for the passengers to unload.

After all the introductions and photo ops, we headed to the big meeting room. Ching Lee and Patti had a presentation that showed all the before and after changes to the college grounds with access, parking and a variety of other things. Bradberry was standing by to answer any technical questions should they be asked.

Then they got into the technical part with cameras, scanners, alert systems, the ID card, how it worked and all the things that could be done with it, imagining systems and other things. With all that done, next was show and tell.

We went over to the security building that had been remodeled; the big meeting room was gone, the wall was partially removed and in its place was the new security control room with all the whistles and bells. It had desks for two attendants to monitor the array of screens.

The number of entrances had been reduced and all were monitored by thermal imagining, facial imaging that compared the face to the student ID on file. There were scales in the mat at the doors and imagining that compared the student’s height and weight to the file.

For visitors, the height and weight was compared against the norms. If you were wearing 20 pounds of explosives then you should be flagged by weight. At least that was the theory. All visitors had to enter the college from one entrance and the maze of scanners, infrared and thermal.

Where the students once had to stand on the sidewalk to cross the street over to G dorm and wait on the traffic light, there was now a wall to stand behind. Anyone watching could not see the sex or number of students who were waiting. More cameras were also at that crossover.

A new kind of automated metal detection linked to the equipment that could estimate the size and weight of a metal object on a person and determine if it was keys or a handgun or other object was at all entrances. The computer had thousands of objects on file for comparison. If the computer was in doubt an alarm sounded.

I tapped four of the agents who I knew were carrying and gave each of them one of the test ID cards and a portable radio, told them “Separate and go wander around the campus. I will call you on the radio when we are finished.”

One of those agents was Greg Archer; I stopped him and handed him my Glock, “When I call you, I want you to put three rounds straight into the ground somewhere in the grass. Pick up the casings, please.”

“I can use my weapon,” he replied.

“You shoot yours and you have a hundred forms to fill out. You shoot mine and I simply refill the clip, no paperwork,” I replied.

“Point taken, I like your line of thinking” Greg said with a laugh.

I gave them the test ID cards so I could demonstrate the tracking available on the card system.

The scanners and thermals picked up the agents’ weapons multiple times as they went around the college. The multiple displays allowed as many different programs as the controllers needed at any given time.

“Troy, today I am going to let you be a bad guy one more time. Take off your trench coat and jacket”,” I said.

I opened the box Greg had brought in. It contained a suicide belt Dad had made for me using the pictures that Ching Lee had taken. Wiring, pipes, battery and phone were identical. It looked like the real thing.

The only difference was the pipes were filled with kitty litter. I helped him put it on and fed the kill button down the right sleeve of the trench coat as he put it on. For good measure, I snapped the battery into the phone.

“Wait a minute, this thing is not real. Is it?” Troy asked.

“Ben, what do you think?”

“If BJ made it, it’s as real as it can get,” he replied with a poker face.

“You will only hear the first couple seconds when I dial the phone,” I said, and then added, “Go wander around so we can check the equipment.”

Everywhere he went by equipment, it flagged Troy and the belt.

I watched Greg’s card and when he was in a safe area, keyed the radio, said “Go ahead.”

The new sensor array placed around the college grounds activated with the first shot. The sensor array wasn’t anything really new, several major cities with high gun violence had been experimenting with it. This was the first on a college grounds.

The console sounded, “Shots fired,” the computers determined the location and the cameras closest to the area were directed to that area within seconds. Greg was bending to pick up the shell casings.

“Today this is some of the best equipment there is; the sad part is that a few months from now it will be outdated and need upgrading. The cost has been great; this is a small college and the equipment cost to JBG was over 2 million dollars. The college spent another 1 million changing sidewalks, building access, fences and walls,” I said.

“Does anyone have any questions, suggestions, insights? What do you think about what you have seen?”

Ching Lee, Patti and Bradberry spent an hour answering questions and fielding observations.

At the end, the President and I gave a departing statement to the press corps. They had plenty of material for the stations even though they were not allowed to record the demos. They had interviews with the College Board and the agencies that had come with me. Then we were off heading towards Washington.

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Chapter 472

Section 12 was busy when we got back. The questions I had asked about Saif and his entry were yielding results. When the Exxon Val Diageo left the New Jersey oil terminals, the records showed the tanker was carrying three fewer crewmen.

That prompted a search of all the Exxon Val Diageo trips in the last two years. Each time it left port to return to the Middle East oil terminals, it left with fewer crewmen; sometimes three, sometimes four or more.

That prompted a search of all tankers that came into the East coast. It was a search process that was going to take days, let alone the other questions; who were they and where are they now.

It was easy to understand why a tanker would not wait in port for a missing crewman. Daily lease rates for a supertanker were $95,000 a day. Not only that, when a departure time was posted, as many as four tugs were contracted to get the ship away from the terminal and the river pilot was already on board.

The vessel to pick up the river pilot was also contracted and enroute to take him off the ship. Departing and arriving was an expensive exercise. The captain was given strict orders to get underway at the appointed time or else.

The simple numbers said that these were not crewman missing the ship; these were people paying to be carried into the US illegally. The Exxon Val Diageo had dropped off 90 in the last two years.

The question was where were they now? This had been going on a year before Saif made the trip. That meant that Saif was not the leader but a middle man. Was he recruited and paid to build vests and bombs? Had he muscled his way to be the leader?

The next question was, were they all part of the same terrorist group? If they were, we had a much bigger problem than anyone imagined.

The men were poring over Coast Guard records, looking for other tankers and other freighters that may have been doing the same thing.

The Friday traffic home was miserable. Thanksgiving weekend was just two weekends away and the weather was still Indian summer, chilly nights and warm days.

One pour had been done on the new tarmac, 50 feet deep by 400 feet wide. Another one would be done tomorrow. Twenty – four left after tomorrow, twelve weeks’ worth and add in the holidays – it was not looking good to be finished by bad weather.

Saturday started off with a big home cooked breakfast for my mates and the boys. My first since last Sunday, it was a pleasure to watch the boys in the highchairs eating little bits of eggs, bacon and scrapple. They loved Sugar Smacks.

After breakfast we went to Morton Field to see the second pour that Jake’s crew was doing. I expected to see the new pour next to the one done Thursday; it was not. It was on the far end. Other crews were digging for the next pours and welders were putting rebar together; two more trenches scattered along the new tarmac pad.

I did not understand this process. I would have to get Jake to explain it to me sometime.

Back at the office, the girls and I had a relaxing conversation. The basement was done as Bob promised, including the command center that I wanted with the theater seating. Marcy and the girls were going to plan what and who to put down there next week.

Robert had all the screens for the command center room installed and checked out by the manufacturer’s representatives. Marcy did jokingly ask if we could put a popcorn machine in the kitchen, “Robert says we can have movie night in there with the sound system that came with it.”

The new equipment Robert had ordered was already down there and hooked up. Whatever he ordered must have been big. All the data on the mainframes had been transferred to one new computer and he had ordered several. They moved the existing computers down there Sunday morning.

Marcy commented on how fast all the computers were working, like a bullet. Even the remote MAAR sites noticed the difference in speed.

All Bob’s men had finished their passport applications and visited the doc for the shots. Four weeks was pushing the minimum limit on the shots, but it had to be done.

Bob thought he would have trouble finding 75 men to go over the holidays. When they found out the pay, some had to be turned down even though they would be gone from mid December to the end of January.

Bob had ordered all the materials on the list and they would start being delivered in the coming weeks. They were to be stored in one of the hangars. Marcy had already confirmed all the rooms for the men.

The men going through the simulator at Dover had finished on Friday and were flying to Tucson on Monday; the second C5 was ready.

A couple of quick calls verified things for Monday’s 9 AM trip to KCC with all the task force. The fire department was confirmed; an engine, rescue and one ambulance needed to be close to the landing site.

The College Board wanted to be there for the PR, Hanna and Sylvester were going to be there (another scoop for her), and Elaine Summers from the Kent County Gazette for the local paper. Everything was as ready as it could be unless the President or his staff decided to come.

We finished working out Saturday in the gym. I damn near got my ass whipped on the mats and with the pogo sticks. No matter what, I needed to spend more time in the gym and less at the free donut table.

Sunday was a downsized family breakfast. Then, off to the gym; we went to the gym via the elevator and the tunnel. I immediately fell in love with it. No waiting on traffic to cross the road and we could go straight to the office without everyone wanting to stop you us the gym level.

The extra fresh air venting from the elevator room at the house and the tunnel junction improved the quality of air in the basement.

We worked a couple hours in the office and then back in the gym. I was bound and determined not to lose any more of my physical edge. Damn the soft easy jobs – they made me fat and lazy.

Sunday we went to KCC. Ching Lee ran me through all the things that had been changed and how to work the equipment for Monday.

Monday I stopped by the Oval Office before I went to Section 12 to extend again the invitation to the President and his staff to join us. Before I got in the door I was met by several agents and a couple staff members, and then ushered into a side office.

“We assume the trip to KCC is still on, the President has decided he wants join you and take his staff. Have you made any arrangement at the site?”

“I have the local fire department scheduled to be at the landing site with an engine, rescue and an ambulance. Hanna Page from the local channel 34 TV station and Elaine Summers from the Kent County Gazette will be there for media coverage,” I replied’ than added, “The College Board, the town police chief, county sheriff and the state police are to be there. KCC has made a major commitment and investment to be the pilot college for this equipment and so have the local police agencies,” I said.

“The barracks Commander there is Charles Ashley, one of the good guys, I have been through some training with him in the past,” the senior agent Charles Brewer replied.

“Yes I know, he is taking early retirement and goes to work for JBG on January 1 in our Human Relations department,” I responded then added, “His replacement is Major Brandon Zigler, another good one. He and Ashley will both be there,” I said.

“Both Marine 1 for the President and the media chopper that carries the Press Corps will be flying, including the normal fighter cover. The President told us on Saturday he wanted to go, so we do have some resources in place around the perimeter of the college grounds.”

I explained the timeline to the agents with my group’s departure time from Reagan National and arrival time at KCC. I also showed them where we were going to land the choppers on the College lawn. I suggested that my chopper be on the ground first to confirm everything was ready.

“I have one extra seat if you want an agent to accompany us for an early arrival, Agent Brewer,” I said.

“That would be great! Agent Damien Carter will go with you,” Brewer replied.

I went into the Oval Office to speak to the President about the trip and what to expect, and then to Section 12.

I had just settled into my seat when Graham Tull called from the chopper, “I will be on the ground in 15 minutes,” he said.

The 14 of us were at National in 20 minutes, it was an 80 mile flight as the crow flies, 30 minutes in the Blackhawk.

I called Patti, “Make sure the coffee pots are fresh and full.” It was code to tell her we were airborne and on the way.

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Chapter 471

It was 1300 on the nose when Ben Smith, Lesley Holtman, Bobby Canterberry and I went through the Pentagon security station. We were directed to meeting room 4.

I knew where room 4 was; that was the room where I met General Walton when we were discussing the initial C5 contract.

The people we were to meet were not in the room waiting and we were only a few minutes early. Ten minutes after the scheduled time, they were still not in the room; clearly an example of rank and authority that had been demonstrated at most high level meetings I had ever been to. It was an unwritten rule that high ranking officers always made the peons wait a show of power and its perks.

In the hall outside the meeting room was a desk similar to the ones used by high school students years ago. They must have been Government Issue forever. The chairs never fit and the desks were too small for adults.

I sent Ben and Lesley to bring both in and placed them opposite the big table. We waited another half hour before the members arrived. I moved all the water pitchers and glasses off the table.

Army chief of staff General Fillmore, Marine Lt. General David Wright, Air Force General Marvin Houlihan and Army General Alfred Drake finally came in and took seats at the table.

I recognized Lt. General Wright immediately; the last time I had seen him it was Major Wright. I wondered if he remembered me? He soon would. I walked over to the mismatched desk and chair and sat in the chair.

“My, my how things seem to go around if you wait long enough. Five years ago on July 1, 2012 at Kandahar Afghanistan. It was a fact finding investigation, preliminary to a court marshal for the ambush of convoy 12630. I sat at a table identical to this one for four hours being interrogated on the first day without counsel or being offered even a drink of water or a bathroom break,” I said then added.

“Do you remember the investigation? You were Major Wright back then.”

The General’s eyes went to the ceiling then down to the table, before looking at me.

“I knew I recognized you from somewhere, those were not good times; the war was going badly. The pressure was on change that, find out why and put a stop it. Some things were just not handled very well, especially when the emphasis was on putting the blame on people who were following orders,” he said.

“Just about the way the war on terror is going,” I replied.

“Enough of ancient history, let’s deal with some current events. I just received the reports with redactions an hour ago, that I should have had days ago without redaction,” I said.

“Let’s start with the targeting information. How many sources do you use before you determine you have a valid target?” I asked.

“That’s classified,” General Houlihan replied.

“Who makes the target selections?”

“Classified,” General Houlihan replied.

“What is the time lapse from determining you have a valid target of opportunity and delivery of the munitions on the target?” I asked.

“Classified,” General Houlihan said again.

Ben was sitting at the table, slowly shaking his head at every answer.

“General Fillmore, the verification processes itself; do you get boots on the ground to do a visual on the body and collect DNA?”

“Classified.”

“General Wright, do the Marines put boots on the ground to verify, or use third party verification?” I asked.

General Wright – taking a page from the others – replied, “Classified.”

The agreement with the administration was set up that all reports that I required were to be void of redaction, I was to have full access and cooperation when I accepted the task force job. Obviously that was not the case where this group within the Pentagon was concerned.

“Excuse me for just a minute while I make a phone call,” I said as I stepped out of the room.

“You do not know who you are dealing with, do you?” Ben said after the door closed.

“She is just a short term political appointee,” General Drake replied.

“Then you didn’t do any research on Ambassador Jones at all. She has a broader top secret clearance than either of you. Your top secret clearance is Pentagon and service specific,” Ben said then continued.

“Her top secret clearance covers DHS, NSA, CIA, FBI and the State Department. Why, because her security group has undercover OPS ongoing with all of those agencies; some are national and many others are international,” Ben said and continued.

“Her embassy security teams are all ex-military, most of them Special Forces or special operations; they are investigated and cleared by NSA and CIA before they are hired and sent to their locations. The work they are doing can be that sensitive.”

“They are assigned intelligence gathering, trained in hostage extraction, and in some cases mission ready. She has a Special OPS and a Rapid Response team that HER planes can deliver worldwide in 24 hours. Those teams have drones capable of dropping antipersonnel and dumb bombs as well as delivering covering gunfire.”

“She has been a team member on some of those secret operations. I have seen pictures and videos of her viciousness and brutality on those missions,” he said. “The JBG intelligence group INFORMED the agencies of the pending attacks on Kampala, Windhoek and the Minneapolis University; they knew and confirmed it before we knew anything.”

“It was not by accident that Jones was at Kampala; she volunteered with her OPS team to be Ambassador for what everyone thought was a suicide mission.”

“The JBG team at Kampala and Minnesota collected intelligence and surrendered individuals who are yielding a trove of information even today.”

“I guess you have not heard that three days ago she punched the assistant Chief of Staff in the face, knocking him over a chair, busting his lip and nose because of his mouth in the Oval office with all the staff there.”

“I’m willing to bet she is reading the President the riot act because you are not living up the agreement the President made with her. You do not lie to her, and believe me, you do not want to be on the wrong side of that lady – even on your best day,” Ben said.

I open the door just as Ben was finishing his speech, “Mr. President, I am back in the room and you are on speaker.”

“General Fillmore, your instructions – in writing – were detailed in that the Pentagon was to supply all reports requested without redaction and that all questions the Ambassador asked were to be answered in full detail. Ambassador Jones has the highest level of clearance. Are there issues that I do not know about?”

“No Sir, an aide read me highlights of your instructions and not the details. I will address that mistake with him. We will start over with the questions and I will have the reports in the expected format delivered immediately,” General Fillmore said.

“Thank you Mr. President, I hate to bother you with this kind of thing,” I said.

Three hours later I had all the answers I needed. The confirmation process – as it was being done – was unreliable, almost useless in some cases. In some instances the only confirmation was the video that the target had been blown up; there was no way to know for sure who was in it.

In other instances it was terrorist radio traffic that only confirmed that there had been a strike and possibly certain individuals were in the area. Excitement, haste and the fog of war made random radio traffic unreliable. In some cases there had been DNA collected by friendly forces; those that fought for who-ever promised the most and paid the best for today.

That is what the DOD had received to confirm that Saif had been killed: a tiny piece of an earlobe and a fingertip that showed no sign of burns from a missile attack. An earlobe or fingertip was an easy thing to lose for a terrorist to gain months in life.

Saif had escaped by playing the system; the terrorist were getting smarter. I wondered how much he had paid the friendlies and how much the DOD had paid the same people.

It was strictly forbidden in Islam for true followers to desecrate the body of another Muslim. That was one of the reasons the ISIS was so hated; they placed more emphasis on fear from gruesome atrocities of Muslims to keep people in line and afraid of them.

That was why there were no autopsies performed and the religion wanted the bodies buried as soon as possible. That was why there were no large body pieces for DNA; no hands, arms, feet or legs.

All said and done, the error rate was 20%. It was kept hush hushed; the opinion was they would get the target another day as soon as they slipped up and became visible.

Saif was the exception; the attempt on his life filled him with rage and determination to hit back at US soft targets and drove his exodus to the US. The question was, how big was his group that came with him and how entrenched? Were they recent arrivals or did Saif take over a sleeper cell that had been recruiting and planning for years?

General Fillmore, Army General Drake and I discussed the raid on the farmhouse then made out the orders. The Explosive Ordnance Teams and soldiers would come out Fort Riley Kansas. They would pre-stage at the Minnesota National Guard training facility at St. Cloud on 95 East.

The guard site was less than 50 miles from the farm. The planned deployment was two Cobras, four Blackhawks, 4 MRAPS, half a dozen armored Humvees and a total of 50 soldiers with live ammo, full battle gear along with full gear for the ordinance experts, including dogs and robots.

“Better be prepared for the worst and not need them than lose men because they were understaffed and unprepared,” General Drake replied.

“My sentiment exactly, I am a believer big guns, big bombs, plenty of ammo and men to make it work.”

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Chapter 470

I asked for a meeting with the President as soon as he was free, as I went into the White House. There was always someone from the administration at the security desk.

The first coffee pot had just signaled it was finished and the men were going over yesterday’s finds in the pictures of the dead. They were running Interpol searches and anything else they could think of when the President called that he could meet.

I carried Bob’s prospective bid with me; it was one of the topics I wanted to discuss. He and I went through it page by page. We were sitting on the Presidential couch at a coffee table as we looked. He looked at the numbers, then called the Secretary of State and Elmer Hobart on a conference call as an aide faxed copies to both of them.

“How long will it before reconstruction and repairs can start?” Elmer asked.

“Four weeks after getting approval. It would take that long to secure everything on the complete materials list. The men would need a round of vaccinations for the area and a rush on the passports for those that do not have them,” I replied.

“Just so you know, JBG cargo planes would fly men and materials there,” I added.

“It says in the labor part 75 men, 10 hour days, seven days a week and 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Does this guy always work that kind of schedule for you?” the President asked.

“Bob is in the process of finishing a job for me that has been 24/7 for the last three weeks, with as many as 70 men on a shift. Like I said the other day, he does what I ask and I pay the bill as soon as I get it. That is our business arrangement,” I replied.

“It looks good to me; you will have an official answer by noon,” Elmer said.

The next topic related to completion of the KCC security upgrades. I wanted to take the task force there as a group to review and see first hand everything that was put into play from lessons learned at Minneapolis.

“Mr. President, the upgrades to KCC are nearly complete. I would like to take the task force to review the site on Monday. One of my Blackhawks will pick us up at National. You and your staff are invited to meet us at KCC if you want to see for yourself and offer suggestions. I know the Service will not allow you to fly on anything but Marine One,” I said.

“I have one more topic for discussion and I will let you be. The seven days are up on the drone flights over the Minnesota farm. There has been no activity but I would like to extend the flights for up to another two weeks. The consensus is that we need to do a raid when the flights stop. There are some things in the works and a raid at this time may end several critical intel sources,” I said.

“Consider your request authorized. Do you still want military personnel to conduct the raid?” he asked.

“Yes, with backup by the Minnesota State police. Where and how do I get that process started?” I asked.

“I will send the authorization to the Army Chief of Staff General Fillmore; you can fill him in on the particulars this afternoon when you meet to discuss the breakdown in Saif’s death confirmation,” the President replied.

I thanked the President for seeing me so quickly before I left for Section 12. I had several things I needed to do. One of them was to call the doc to get him on the stick about the vaccinations we were going to need in the next couple months and that there may be the need for 75 immediately.

I made notes and wrote questions on two different legal pads as I did research for my meeting this afternoon. The deeply buried State Department files that I had access to had multiple pages on the international rules for confirming deaths in conflicts and other mishaps.

Those rules looked good on paper, but in reality were worthless in contested war zones. I wondered if those were rules and procedures that the military was being forced it use in Iraq. One could only assume that it was, until evidence proved otherwise.

I was still waiting on the official report of the mission to kill Saif Alawai al-Jawfi and all the follow up reports. They were delivered by a Pentagon clerk at 1100; all of them were heavily redacted, almost useless. I read through them again making notes on them. I was missing several pieces.

I had been promised by the President that I would receive reports that were not redacted.

“Emmett, did you get the reports from the Coast Guard on the East coast entry audits? I am still waiting for something concrete on how Saif made the trip to the US,” I asked.

“Yes, I have only one possibility. It is not a total match in the facial recognition program – only 30 % of the points match – not enough for a confirmation. That is the only one that is even remotely close,” Emmet replied.

“The ship was the Exxon Val Diageo; a Libyan flagged tanker. It loaded out of a Kuwait oil terminal,” he said.

“Put the current picture on the screen alongside the Coast Guard ID,” I said.

I walked close to the screens to examine both images; the face on the screens was different, yet had definite similarities. I knew why the 30 point identification process did not make the identification.

“There are tribes in Iraq and Afghanistan that practice an aggressive form of devotion to Allah. The men – to prove they are worthy to defend the word and teachings of Allah – undergo a ritual of pain and transition,” I said

“The members of the tribe lie the man down on the Imam’s prayer mat. They take sheepskins, fold them into layers and wrap it around the believer’s face. Then each tribe member takes a staff and hits the face 10 times in the direction of the body; they cannot hit directly on the nose or mouth,” I said, and then continued.

“The result is that the face swells without bruising, creating a balloon face. The pain part is the victim can barely move the jaw because of the swelling for several days and is only able to consume liquids. There are very few acceptable liquids to Islam,” I said.

“This is Saif Alawai al-Jawfi; here is why. In both pictures, there is a mole at the hairline, also notice the small scar on the right side just above the lip. The real giveaway is the acne pock marks or burn marks on the right cheek.”

“I would bet they are from a rifle that the bolt dogs broke off from the wrong cartridge or the trigger and safety was broke or removed and it fired before the bolt was latched; the swelling cannot cover those things up,” I said to my team.

“Now here are some questions you need to answer,” I said.

“1 Was he listed as a passenger on the crew manifest?”

“2 If not how was he listed; as an experienced seaman?”

“3 Did they kill one of the crew or bribe him not to show up at departure, creating a manpower shortage that had to be filled from the local seaman standing on the dock, and Saif was conveniently there?”

“4 Was the captain or first officer working with ISIS to get him on board? Were they bribed?”

“5 Is there a duplicate ID card on file with Exxon that has the picture of the missing man on it? And do they possibly have a list of family members or contacts in case of an emergency?”

“6 How many accomplices were on board when the ship left Kuwait? Where are they now? Did they stay on board and return to Kuwait or depart the ship too? Someone on board experienced in the process had to beat his face a couple days before entering port to match the ID picture that was shown to the Coast Guard team.”

“7 Did Kuwait officials find any bodies in the days surrounding the Exxon Val Diageo’s departure from port?”

“8 What is the normal crew complement on an ocean voyage, was this voyage different, or any voyages since?”

“9 Investigate the complete crew, including the captain. If the captain or first mate took a bribe, it will not be the first time and was not the last. Check every trip the tanker or the captain made to the US.”

“10 When a ship comes into the US waters to enter a port, they must take on a certified Pilot to navigate the channels. When the pilot was put aboard, did anyone depart on the transfer vessel?”

“11 The bigger question is: have we found a terrorist railroad into the US?”

“I’m taking Smith and Holtman with me to meet the Generals after lunch,” I said.

Amy called while I was eating lunch, “You have authorization for your contractor to do the embassy repairs ASAP. I have sent in the request for 75% payment up front; the check will be in the mail tomorrow. A courier is taking 75 applications for passports to you, get then in as soon as possible.”

“Bob, you have the contract for the embassy. Pick the 75 men you want to go; if they do not have passports, send them to get a notarized birth certificate today and have them at the office tonight.”

“I have the passport applications and my HR department can help with the applications and pictures,” I said and then I explained the motel room, food allotment, pay arrangement and the shots they needed to get. Everybody was going to be busy tonight.

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