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.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.