Wednesday morning early, we were at Morton eating breakfast. We had just finished when the crew moved the helicopter to the apron and were waiting for me and the few security going with me.
At 0730 the helicopter landed at Reagan International where Eric, Ben, Anne, Andrew and couple secret service agents joined me and two of my JBG security.
A few minutes after we had taken off Ben and I both got the same call, “Jared picked up the truck; it is now parked at the farm.” My call came from Robert. Ben’s had come from the CIA, generated by video from the drone.
Thirty minutes later I picked up the David Clarke headset so I could talk to Josh Martin the pilot, “Fly to the coordinates I gave you and see if it is safe to land there.”
Fifteen minutes later, as we were circling the dealership Josh said, “Nice clear area – no poles, no wires – I can put you down there.”
Ten minutes later – with the exception of the pilots – we walked into the showroom and to a cluster of people.
With my badge open and in my hand I said, “I want the boss, the service manager and the truck rental manager front and center NOW.”
Several minutes later they were all three in front of me.
We followed them into a private office, “What can we do for you that is so important that all the big shots are here?”
“You rented a box truck to Jaed Tayfur yesterday and it was picked up this morning. Vehicle identification number 1HTMNAAM95H693599, is that correct?” I asked as I slid a copy of the rental agreement Robert had hacked from the cloud.
“Yes that is a copy of the lease agreement. Why are you so interested in that truck,” lease manager Louis Redman asked.
I ignored his question and asked one of my own.
“That is an International MV series truck with On-command connection diagnostics and monitoring link. Can that truck be disabled – shutdown by a computer command sent to it?” I asked.
“I don’t think so. That’s not something we have ever been asked to do,” the service manager replied.
“Call the factory and find out if it can be done; we are working with a deadline,” I said.
Ten minutes later there was still no answer from the factory tech department.
“Apparently they are unable to answer that question or unwilling. We have several meetings we need to attend. If you get an answer, call this phone,” I gave him one of my cards.
We flew on to Harrisburg to the pre-raid meeting with the various SWAT teams.
The second helicopter that I asked Lorrie to send to Harrisburg was sitting on the tarmac in front of the general aviation terminal. When the rotors stopped turning I stepped out and walked to the Blackhawk with Eric, Ben, Andrew and Anne following. The fuel truck had just left.
I gave the crew their assignment, the terrain map and coordinates. I checked the handheld aviation radio I had to make sure we could communicate.
“Your call letters for today are Firebird 1. Load the tubes; we may need them, the other option is not looking so good,” I said.
As I finished multiple police vehicles approached to carry us to the meetings. It was 1100 when we finished.
The Harrisburg FBI and DHS directors presented the overall plan that the SWAT teams were going to use in the three-prong raid. I stayed out of the planning; I did know that the machine shop raids carried risk because they were located in a mix of residential and light commercial areas. These people should know and have planned how to deal with the local problems.
The Harrisburg SWAT teams were going to raid the machine shops on a cue from Eric’s DHS group. Eric was in over-all charge with his Harrisburg director of the FBI and DHS leading the raid at Avon Heights.
One decision Ben had made that I supported was that the local cell blockers were to be activated on all the raid vehicles to prevent calls. Those blockers had a range of several hundred yards. It also meant that the teams could only communicate by 800 Meg radios.
Federal teams from the DHS and FBI along with Hershey, Hummelstown, Palmyra, and Annville PD SWAT team were going to raid Avon Heights. Every single house – all twenty of them including the mosque – were going to be searched, with the DHS and FBI taking on the barn.
We had reason to believe all the men in the community were involved in Jaed’s little plot in one way or another.
According to shipping records large amounts of ammunition had been delivered in the last few months to every house in Avon Heights, all of it the same caliber – 7.63 x 39 – ammo for AK47 from a couple different suppliers.
The general thought was that they were preparing for a big fight or were removing the powder from the rounds to make more explosive devices. That was certainly possible since Tiam had told him there were no more ingredients available to him.
There was that waiting game I hated so much but finally at 1200, video showed better than two dozen men from the houses – including the Imam from the mosque – converging on the barn.
Microphones placed by miniature drones the night before – disguised as old cow dung – began to transmit conversations and prayers, including the joy that after weeks and months of preparations they were finally going to kill thousands of infidels for the glory of Allah.
Jaed and another helper were activating the timers and securing the seats on the bikes. Other men were loading them in the truck as they were completed.
Ben ordered the raids to begin at 1300; police were in place to close the roads seconds after the order was given.
I called Firebird 1 on my cell phone, “Be in position to supply backup as necessary at 1300.”
The SWAT teams descended on the two machine shops without any problems. After some scuffles the eight known terrorists were in cuffs and demanding their call that they were not going to get for several hours. The rest were being questioned while the place was searched with a fine-tooth comb and dogs; the kind that specialized in drugs and explosives.
Even with all the planning, Avon Heights was going to be a cluster fuck – to put it mildly.
The way the community was positioned there was no way that Jaed was not going to know something big was afoot. The plan was to rush through the winding dirt and gravel streets straight to the barn with the rear units dropping off at the individual houses.
Any alternative required fences to be taken down or simply driven through. Some of them were traditional field stones simply stacked up in neat rows around trees for support – nature’s fence post.
However, PA had no MRAPS or heavily armored vehicles in its police force. The last liberal governor – caving to the ACLU – had forbidden any police departments from possessing any former military equipment. In fact, they were forced to give back equipment they already had.
The larger cities with big budgets had bought some aggressive equipment but none could handle the stone and hedgerows. Those fences would have been a piece cake for an MRAP to climb over and push through. So ,taking the dirt and gravel lanes; it was taking the long way and giving plenty of warning.
The Washington group – including me – was following up the longest line of SWAT vehicles.
The truck was pulling away from the barn as the SWAT team drove towards them. Jaed and others were walking towards the truck he normally drove. Jaed directed the box truck to make a run away from the barn and towards the back of the field.
Two DHS units followed the truck as Jaed ran into the barn closing the big doors. By then the barn was surrounded with agents and a bull horn to get them to come out peaceably.
I immediately began to wonder about the training of the Harrisburg DHS and FBI. But that thought was interrupted by the radio.
The two units following the box truck had been disabled by gunfire from the back of the truck. During the chase the rear door was raised and four men in the back opened fire on the two SUVs with AK47s using Russian military surplus full metal jacketed ammo.
The plane jane SUVs were no match; engines and radiators were quickly destroyed. Six of the eight men in them would prove to be critically wounded.
“Firebird 1 destroy the box truck – rake it with gunfire – there should be four men in the back. Make sure you get them, they have auto weapons. Then get up here to cover the barn,” I said.
“You better get more EMTs on the way to take care of your men,” I said to Eric. I heard the mini guns give a burp and knew the box truck was finished.
I returned my thoughts to the barn, who in the hell trained the Harrisburg DHS and FBI? It surely wasn’t JBG; we trained far better than this.
They had pulled all the police vehicles – like wagons forming a circle around the barn – with the cabs facing the barn. It was the dumbest maneuver I had ever seen by professionals.
Every single one of the men knew we thought shooting holes had been cut into the barn. By pulling up like that they had signed their death certificates with their own blood.
By pulling the vehicles in like that they were sitting ducks; they could not exit the vehicles from either side without being the turkey in a turkey shoot. To sit in them carried an even bigger risk, all of them dead in a instant from taking rounds through the windshield; a five foot wide target, like shooting chickens in a coop.
Those vehicles were not tanks with reactive armor nor did they have a 120mm cannon pointing forward.
The proper way – if there is one in this kind of situation – Andy taught to the seven plus thousand JBG security employees and every agency that trained at Fort Smith was to pull in at a forty-five degree angle.
That angle allowed everyone to exit the vehicle away from the potential hideout. It also allowed them to hide behind the engine and front wheels (a lot of metal there) even if it were not armored. It also meant the hood could be used as a steady rest for rapid defensive fire.
I screamed into the radio, “PULL BACK, RETREAT, WITHDRAW, GET AWAY FROM THE BARN, NOW.”
My entire group was looking at me like I was crazy.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.