At 0400 we were in the mess in line, today with better food that was more appealing and a dozen chefs working to keep up. They must have used Google because eggs, sausage, bacon, and stacks of pancakes were coming off the griddle.
The grumblings from the French OPS drivers only increased as they saw the food we were getting. They walked past the pastries and asked if they could get in line with my men.
”Sure, you are working with us for the next day or so,” I said.
Andy, Louis and I fell in line behind them.
”Aren’t you worried that all this food is going to make the men lazy and slow?” Louis asked.
”In full gear in today’s heat and the adrenalin rush plus the 14 hour day they will put in, they will burn three thousand calories or more,” I said. ”Just wait until you see what they eat for dinner.”
At 0600 all the men were in the conference room and the details of the raids began for everyone.
Louis passed out the routes to the French drivers. Then the video was played of the tactics the cell had and were using against the police attempts to make arrests and restore French law. Those tactics involved blocking the roads then crowds rushing the police in an organized fashion.
Then I explained everything we knew about the cell and the plans for mass attacks against all Europe in three days with suicide bombers, vest explosives and shootouts with automatic weapons. I emphasized the importance that this had to be a successful mission.
The drivers were told they were to not to stop and let nothing get in way of getting their vehicle to the assigned position. They were to push blocking automobiles out of the way and run over anyone trying to block the way. Collateral damage today would be nothing compared to the mass casualties we were expecting if we failed.
”I know these are difficult orders to follow and if you cannot follow these orders, you need to stand and asked to be replaced. Our hope is that the size of the force and speed at which it will be moving will surprise and confuse them and these blocking tactics will be minor. I will allow you ten minutes to discuss the issue,” I said.
Ten minutes later I asked if anyone wanted to leave. No one stood up.
”OK, final instructions, pick up a face mask from the box. They are to prevent your identity from being plastered on the net, prevent facial scans and being photographed. French drivers, pick up a JBG security vest to identify you as part of the raid. Friendly fire incidents are un-acceptable for any reason of stupidity.”
”Everyone is to pick up a couple black hoods with the draw string and flex cuffs – all prisoners are to be hooded and cuffed. No, the draw string is not to choke them with though I know you would like to.”
”There are two video news units imbedded – one in each battalion – they have strict instructions not to film your faces, the faces of anyone captured or of any dead. They have been instructed they are to stop filming when directed to do so by an officer. See to it they follow those instructions in a nice way. They have worked with us before,” I said.
I passed out the pictures to the majors and captains of the four terrorist leaders, ”Look at these faces – we believe they are the leaders. I want these four people alive for advanced interrogation at Fort Smith.”
‘‘Let’s gear up the works, full body armor. Red battalion 1 – you know who you are – we have the last 14 armored vehicles. Each of you are to get six thirty round clips, do not ride with one in the chamber.”
We headed back to the barracks to gear up. I pulled my duffle bag off the storage rack. As I opened it, I instantly became mad.
My helmet had five stars on it. My shirt I was to wear had five stars on the upper arm sown permanently to the Velcro rank line. On the right front were five stars over my name ‘General Jones’. Andy had made me a freaking primary target.
With the helmet and shirt in hand I started towards Andy, this was his doing! No wonder I had not seen the gear until now, it was already packed for me in the duffle bag.
He put his hands up and started backing up. ”Wait a minute, I was following instructions. Your mates told me to have five stars put on your gear. They said the big boss at the top always had five stars and that was you,” Andy said.
”And I suppose you didn’t argue with them?” I said.
”I was outnumbered and the tone said it was not a debate,” Andy replied.
”I have three stars on mine for snipers to home in on so don’t feel too bad about it,” Andy added.
”What happened to four stars?” I asked.
”I have no comment, you will have to take that up with them. I refuse to incriminate myself,” Andy said.
”OK, I get the picture, double wet noodle treatment when I get home,” I said.
I pulled on the light vest, shirt, pants and boots then the military grade body armor with five stars painted on it and a Red horizontal patch.
I went over the instructions with Melinda and Hanna and the camera men one more time. I gave them a general idea for a news breaking story as soon as we the stopped at the sites and the operation began.
I received a text from Max Grover, he and Toby Nash were at the Bagnolet Air Force base in my G5. I wanted it there to spirit away any important prisoners before the French lawyers and courts could get involved.
At 0830 Andy with Blue battalion 1 was the first to pull out with the twenty four armored reinforced personnel carriers and the two hundred and five men. Louis was ordering the various intersections closed to allow us to make a fast approach to the training center and mosque.
The drivers sped through the intersections. We turned off at the mosque and Andy’s group continued on to the training center a block away.
The first four vehicles turned to block the east and south streets that bordered the mosque, the next four north and west streets. Once stopped the men exited the vehicles and some faced the mosque and others the opposing streets.
The next five vehicles crashed through the gate onto the court yard, the men crashing through the doors. I was in the last vehicle and the last group to enter the building. Ziva, Farah, Abra, Sanaz – the four former Mossad – and Jack Winslow were with me, with Melinda and Nick Cote following.
I heard a muffled explosion in the distance and gunfire.
The men that went in ahead of us were separating into smaller groups checking rooms. Abra and Sanaz had just started into a side room when a door flew open from a room straight ahead, then six Arab men ran out firing.
I took a round in the armor but kept shooting. It hurt like hell and I knew I would be bruised, but it was not the first time. I heard the thud of a round hitting another vest behind me.
”Oh god I’m hit,” and then – “Keep filming, I’ll be OK,” it was Melinda.
I wondered how she knew she would be OK.
I was firing my MP5 hitting the first two on the left. Ziva shot the first two on the right. The last two were firing as the bodies were falling. Farah and I each took another one.
When the firing stopped there was yelling from inside the room in Persian, ”We surrender – stop shooting, we surrender.”
I yelled at Nick to kill the camera.
”Come out with your hands in the air,” I ordered.
Six men came out, ”Turn, face the wall, hands against the wall,” I said.
Ziva and Abra searched them, recovering documents and anything else while Jack checked the room out for more. They quickly put the bags over their heads. Then they turned them and installed flex cuffs.
I turned to Melinda, her face described the pain she was in.
”Let’s get this gear off you and see how bad it is,” I said.
”Film it Nick – the two of you will get a Pulitzer for her taking the hit,” I said.
With the gear, her shirt and bra off Melinda had an ugly bruise on the sternum; I was sure it was broken. The shooters had been trained for heart shots.
Nick was filming as we talked and evaluated.
”Put the gear back on, you won’t be wearing a bra anytime soon but you will live. We can get the bullet out of the gear and have someone make a necklace out of it for a keepsake. I will try find you an ice pack and will get you to a doc for an x-ray as soon as I can,” I said.
”You have the brother of the supreme leader of Iran, Aman Awad and his son Fawzi. You have son of the supreme leader Bahri Awad and the son of the President of Iran, Karem Marwan. The other one is Fatin Bashir, brother of the General and Abdul Jamil, the other Iranian operative you were looking for,” Ziva said.
Andy called on my radio, ”we have Butros Tayfur, Omar Alhalmi and Maged Alsabahi. The others are dead.”
”What was the explosion?” I asked.
”Suicide vest, a dozen are dead. There are more than a hundred vests here – possibly two hundred – and more than a hundred AK47s and thousands of rounds of ammo,” Andy replied.
”Do you have the three prisoners bagged and cuffed?” I asked.
“Get them in a vehicle and send them back to the air field, the G5 is there. We have six prisoners here I will send to the field – the pilots will have orders to leave for Morton as soon as we get them there,” I said.
”How many other prisoners are there?”I asked.
”Two hundred by the first count,” Andy said.
”Cover the bodies where they are – they are Louis’s problem as are any other prisoners. Safely get all the weapons displayed on the floor and have Hanna film them. We will do the same here. I will call Louis and tell him to bring the media for show and tell and vans for the prisoners,” I said.
“Any count on collateral damage?” I asked.
”Ten cars were destroyed, several dead,” Andy replied.
”Bad but not as bad as we thought,” I said.
Louis was shocked at the information I gave him on the counts. By the time I had finished talking to him my inside men had collected all the weapons and had them in the hall. There were only twenty vests here and fifty rifles plus the six machine guns from the dead.
I looked at all the film that Nick had recorded and gave the OK for it to be sent after he had filmed the captured weapons found here. He had done as I instructed and instantly stopped recording. There was no evidence of the prisoners we had taken. He did have excellent film of the firefight with some good audio.
I did get to look at the first piece that Melinda had sent, ”This is Melinda Shaffer imbedded with JBG Red Battalion 1 on the first JBG Pact anti-terrorist raid in Europe. Hanna Page is imbedded with ‘Blue Battalion 1’, I will see if I can get a report from her later. Gun fire and explosions are going off all around us. More to come in a few minutes when it is safe.”
The film showed my hooded men and me as we were getting out of the armored vehicle, entering the building and the sounds of battle with the firefight where the six had died. Oh joy was about to start and it was only 1100.
Melinda even sent the recording of her evaluation to the ZNN office.
”Tell them they can blur out my parts and run it,” Melinda said to Nick.
Louis showed up with an army of French media and the French President along with dozens of police to take the prisoners and their wounded. A media tour of the mosque and all the captured weapons was live for the European community to see.
Then there was the big impromptu news conference that I nor anyone else was prepared for, carried live for the world via ZNN and channel 34 on unaffiliated media links. Hanna was making grand-dad lots of money with the normal linking fees and she was the free lance star of the European media, helmet and body armor included.
There were hundreds of questions in a several languages about the raid, the intel, how did we know. I was still trying to preserve our intelligence link but I was sure that it was gone.
”JBG has had operatives in this cell for months; in fact one of our operatives was to wear a suicide vest in an attack in the next few days. JBG has some of the most dedicated people of any organization – military or civilian – in the world in the fight against terrorism. Anyone who will agree to wear a suicide vest to gain information is a hero. A hero who will never be recognized outside of our organization,” I said.
“Ambassador Jones, when did you become a general? Is that a new job for you?” a reporter asked in German.
”A little over four hours ago is when I found out about it. Certain individuals in my organization planned it behind my back, they know who they are. I know I am going to get ribbed badly for it,” I said.
”How many men participated in the raid?” Melinda was asked.
”We came over in a 400 passenger 747 jumbo jet and it was full. There were at least two more aircraft involved. I don’t know how many men are in two JBG battalions,” was her reply.
It was 0500 in Washington and Washington was alive and screaming. My phones had been ringing through the news conference. I looked at the missed calls. Let the fun begin!
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.