There was silence; a long silence, then smiles, and then an outburst.
“THAT SETTLES IT! I am resigning too. I want to stay home with the boys and do my part here,” Jenny said.
The discussion lasted another hour and it was a happy discussion. JBG would be whole for the first time since we had started the business with all of us in the office every day.
I was still behind on my favorite dishes so tonight we went to the big Italian restaurant in Annapolis – just us girls – and the boys who always were great whenever we went out. Tonight I played it smart and reserved one of the rooms. We were recognized but left alone, until we were nearly ready to leave.
A girl – maybe 14 – cautiously came in and made her way to me at the table; she was holding a pen and a piece of paper.
“My name is Rachel McBride and I am attending the summer school for advanced academics. We have been following your trip to Kampala as part of our international events class. We are collecting donations to the Doctors without Borders to put in your collection box. I don’t want to intrude but may I please have your autograph?” as she extended her hand with the paper and a pen.
“I think I have a better piece of paper to use.”
I opened my portable office that was always by my side and took out one of my official State Department embossed and stamped correspondence sheets that I had left. Actually I had several hundred left at home.
(To: Rachel McBride. Be brave; stand by your convictions, hold your head high. We are all equal, no one is better than you. Study hard and learn all that you can for in tomorrow’s world; Knowledge is Power. Ambassador Roberta Jones. August 2’ 2016)
“Do you have a phone?”
She handed me her phone that I handed to Ching Lee – along with mine – who was beaming, watching the event unfold. Ching Lee took several pictures of us with both phones.
I noticed her parents with a younger daughter standing and looking through the door. I waved them in and more pictures were taken.
After the pictures, I picked up the piece of paper Rachael had initially handed me, “May I have your name and address, email and phone number?”
“When you get home you may want to put that in a frame. It won’t be worth any money but it may have sentimental value when you get older,” I said.
At home it was the hot tub, beer, wine coolers and babies. Tonight I was sleeping with Marcy for the first time in six weeks and we were both looking forward to it. It was good to be back to our normal routine.
I woke up Thursday refreshed and full of energy, even though Marcy and I had made up for the long weeks apart. I had the coffee percolating and breakfast finished as my mates arrived at the table.
At seven I was at my desk with VCATS on one screen and SVOL on the other. My first was to Victor to verify the placement of my 40 people next week.
On Monday, twenty were leaving for Bamako Mali and twenty to Rabat Morocco bring the JBG staffs there to 40 persons each.
Marcy would be happy because on Monday the State Department would be paying the salaries of those additional men.
I paged both Ambassador Howard Rambo at Rabat Morocco and Ambassador Steven Crow at Bamako to verify that the accommodation upgrades were complete. The calls lasted an hour each.
I was now one of them, with invitations to come visit and stay a couple of days. The invitations were genuine, not just being courteous.
I had just finished the conversation when Ching Lee came in.
“We have a problem developing in Rochester. It started three weeks ago but Kelly straightened it out, or we thought he had.”
“The group from the development across from the college started getting sloppy, leaving trash and posters on the fence Sunday evenings.”
“He told the artist that they were in violation of the agreement and that they would be arrested for littering and the agreement canceled. That worked until last night.”
“Yesterday late afternoon they covered the fence with posters and this morning the place is trashed and the posters are still on the fence. As you know, the posters were not to be put up until Saturday morning,” Ching Lee said.
“Let me make a call,” I replied.
I tried to call Aadam Mohamed on the cell number I had; the call went directly to the mail box that was full. The phone was turned off or the battery was dead.
I called Frank to see if his group knew anything, there were still several of them working within Kelly’s group.
“Aadam left for Afghanistan 10 weeks ago. We tracked him to Kabul where he stayed for a few days and then onto Karachi Pakistan.” Frank answered and then continued.
“He only stayed there two days then he flew to Riyadh Saudi Arabia where he stayed four days before going to Jima Ethiopia. We lost him there but he was still calling back to his group in Rochester.”
“The calls back were pep talks and prayers kind of things and organizational control. The last real information was that he was going with a group of freedom fighters to the Sudan when the calls stopped a week or so later. The last call was from called Kapoeta Sudan saying he would be back in three weeks.”
“They are still trying to find Aadam but Kareem Rashid seems to be the new leader there. He arrived two weeks ago from Afghanistan. We gather he cannot speak any English and wants things to be done by the radical version of the Koran,” Frank added.
“They haven’t given him total control yet but it could happen any day. Aadam’s number two Abdul Wakil is putting up a fight and most of the clan is behind him. Some of them have already had enough of Kareem,” Frank replied.
“Apparently Kareem has won out; this morning the fence agreement is over. It is covered with posters and the grounds in front of the fence trashed. Abdul was in on the making of the agreement so I would say he has lost,” I replied.
“Let me check on what has been captured the last day or two. I will get back to you,” Frank replied.
I took the phone number and what information I had to Robert, “Do your thing and see what you come up with.”
I had just settled back at my desk when the call I was expecting came in. “Hello Captain Peters, I have been expecting your call.”
While I was talking with the Captain I sent Lorrie a text, “Check the restaurant and aviation shop, see if there are any RRT in there. I need them and a plane to go to Rochester NOW.”
After I finished the call with Captain Peters, “Ching Lee lets go to Rochester, make sure to put on your vest and pack hardware.”
Marcy, Jenny and Vicky wanted to go, “No, we can’t take those kinds of risks anymore; the last thing we want is for the boys to end up orphans because of some incident and the corporation to lose a lot of its leadership. I have some of the RRT coming with us.”
At the airport all the G5 were gone; one of the leased Cessna business jets was in front of the terminal with turbines idling. In the restaurant ten of my RSS guys were waiting.
They were the group of guys that were staying local; going fishing or golfing everyday when they were not hanging around the airport or office.
Like most professionals, they had their personal gear in the trunk of their cars.
An hour and a half later we were stepping off the Cessna at the Rochester airport. I had not called ahead; the MAAR site was getting a surprise inspection as was the college security office.
Ching Lee did the audit while I checked out the three SUVs that we needed to carry us to the college and the men loaded up their things. I know taking all the extra men was probably overkill but I did not know how many Kareem brought with him or had radicalized. I wanted to have the situation covered.
We drove straight to the security building, turning into the entrance to the college grounds and I was disgusted. They had trashed the entire fence from one end to the other. It was completely filled with cardboard with all kinds of Arabic writing on it. The 30 foot of grass between the fence and sidewalk was littered with paper, cans, bottles and cardboard.
We unloaded in front of the security building. I sent Bill Townsend and Ed Dean to ride the street in front of the fence to interpret the Arabic writing. Bill had been a translator at both language and writing in the sand box – even if the dialect was slightly different – he should be able to make it out.
The rest of us went inside with Ching Lee and I to Kelly’s office.
“I was just coming out to meet you no one messaged me that you were coming. We could have met you at the airport,” Kelly said.
“How many of the campus police are working today?” I asked.
“Pull up the fence cameras and back it up three or four days. I want to look at it in fast motion.”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.