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__Prologue________________________________

 

 

January 8th 2012

La Pesca, Tamaulipas Mexico

 

 

Darkness had fallen but the temperature still hovered at ninety-eight degrees in the Chihuahuan desert. The oppressive heat invaded the back seat of the small Volkswagen Beetle barreling across the desert. The air-cooled engine mounted behind Ali’s back radiated waves of heat into the small confines of the car. Perspiration trickled down his neck into his sweat soaked T-Shirt. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to him how hot it could be in Mexico during the winter months. With his limited Spanish, he listened intently to the car radio blaring over the road noise. The weather forecaster was predicting unseasonably hot weather for the state of Tamaulipas. Ali had spent so much time in Germany as a student, he had lost much of his indifference to heat.

“¿Cuánto aún más a la ciudad?” How much further, Ali asked impatiently because he couldn’t yet see the lights of the village only the inky blackness of the desert night. After traveling more than twelve hours, he knew they had to be closing in on the small fishing village by now; if not, something was terribly wrong.

Dos millas,” The driver said as he wrestled over the small steering wheel jumping from pothole to pothole as dust bellowed from behind the wheels.

It wouldn’t be long now, he thought. Ali would meet his fellow freedom fighter in the small out-of-the-way fishing village of La Pesca, a perfect jumping off point to the United States. It would offer them a clandestine starting point where they could slip into the country unnoticed by the authorities.

“No será largo ahora, hay las luces de la ciudad,” The driver said, as lights began to twinkle in the distance. The man in the back seat welcomed the news as he strained to see his first glimpse of civilization in more than twelve hours of crashing about in the back seat.

Ali didn’t respond to the driver; there was no need. Just the day before he had been secretly flown to the foot of the Sierra Madres from Columbia. The small twin-engine plane had flown mostly over water, no more than fifty feet above the white caps, to stay under the probing radar beams that reached far out over the waters of the Mexican Coast. The plane had landed on a gravel airstrip in the desert laden with a load of cocaine destined for the streets of the United States. The landing was rough with the desert airstrip barely illuminated with the flickering lights of smudge pots. The plane had slammed down hard on the gravel with rocks hitting the aluminum fuselage and making a frightening noise that seemed more like a crash than a successful landing.

Ali Al Rubaie would fit the general description of most of the Arab terrorists listed on the FBI’s most wanted list. He had dark thick wiry hair closely cropped and a distinct Arab nose. His black eyes were set far back into his head with heavy, thick eyebrows. At just under five-feet, five-inches tall he wasn’t a particularly imposing figure, but there was a deadness in his dark eyes, like most men who kill for a living. Even though Ali wasn’t Pakistani, he had trained in one of Pakistan’s most elite commando forces, the Sindh Rangers. In the years before Pakistan was an ally of the United States, he had been jailed and tortured because of his harsh criticisms of Pakistan’s political leaders. After escaping from prison, he joined Al-Qaida and fought in Afghanistan as the United States invaded the country. Then to avoid being captured he crossed Iraq into Syria and linked up with Al-Qaida operatives there. This invasion and unsuccessful war against the Americans had led him to seek new ways to inflict serious blows directly against the United States at home, where it would hurt the most.

Like many Al-Qaida cell members, he took part and planned assassinations, bombings, and recruitment. His real name had never been known to anyone, not even to Al-Qaida operatives. He had lived most of his life with names no one could recognize or compare to a photograph and that was how he had stayed alive. At the moment, the only weapon he was carrying was an Israeli boot knife. This was a special weapon to Ali; he had taken it off a dead Marine in Afghanistan years before. Ali speculated that it had been a souvenir to the young Marine, too, probably taken from a Taliban freedom fighter. The double-edged black carbon steel blade was his favorite weapon. Besides, if he were to be caught with any kind of firearm in Mexico it would land him in a filthy Mexican jail for years. But knives were different down here; everyone carried one and the authorities didn’t seem to mind.

The mission was much too important to jeopardize by being caught with a gun in a country where firearms were strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment. At the same time, he couldn’t allow himself to be captured by any government, and he carried cyanide capsules to ensure that didn’t happen. He never thought of himself as particularly heroic for being unwilling to be captured alive. He felt giving his life for Allah, even before the attack, would still result in his martyrdom, and Ali would easily choose martyrdom before giving his enemies the satisfaction of capturing him. He had vowed to his handlers never to be captured alive!

This mission was to be his last. A last glorious attack where he would heroically die to ensure his mission would be successful. He would personally detonate the device, then wake up almost immediately afterwards in the splendor of paradise. Infiltrating the land of the great Satan and setting off the most lethal blast in the history of the war would be well worth dying for and would make him the most important martyr in history. The misery to the American people would be unparalleled, Allah willing.

            “¿Adónde vamos?” the driver asked, as the car passed the first dilapidated building of many that lined the dusty main street running east to west through town.

Al Puerto,” Ali said to the driver. He would meet up with his partner, Tan Gaddam, at the local harbor. Together they would be smuggled into a small coastal town in Texas where a car would be waiting for them.

The Volkswagen slowly drove up the main street, which ended at a crumbling concrete wall that served as the harbor dock for the local fisherman. As Ali unfolded out of the back seat, the soft warm breeze of the Gulf of Mexico covered his face with a blanket of moisture. It seemed twice as humid standing next to the water’s edge, and he instantly felt even more sticky and uncomfortable. The driver popped the hood of the small Volkswagen and struggled with the Ali’s large bag.

“¿Necesitas ayudar?” Ali said wanting to help the driver with the bag. He didn’t want the driver to talk about the trip later, so he tried to be helpful to win the driver’s trust. Ali wanted to be nice but knew Pesos would be more effective at convincing the driver to remain silent about his trip to La Pesca.

“¡No, No, yo lo tengo!” The driver said as he pulled the bag out by himself with a toothy smile.

Ali pulled out a wad of Pesos and counted out to the Mexican driver 2,200 in various denominations. Ali then asked the driver if he would just forget all about his trip to La Pesca and offered him another 1,500 pesos tip.

¡Si, yo nunca he estado en La Pesca!” The driver said eagerly as he grabbed the rest of the money from Ali’s hand. “I’ve never been to La Pesca,” he said in Spanish, smiling broadly and displaying a single gold front tooth.

The driver hurried back to his car, jumped in, and sped off quickly down the dark street before the strange Arab man could change his mind about the sizable tip he now had safely folded in his grimy shirt pocket.

After the car was gone, Ali picked up his bag and walked down the filthy dock past some old fishing boats rocking in the darks swells. The whole area reeked of decaying fish as the humid breeze churned the smells into a reeking odor that nauseated Ali. The smell was so bad that he tried to breathe through his mouth and not his nose, to save his olfactory glands from sending the message of how bad it was to his brain.

A man approached him from the opposite direction. “Señor Valachi?”

Si,” Ali answered. He was traveling on a forged Italian passport, and Italian was a language he spoke fluently.

Do you speak English?” The man asked with distinct western drawl, like a cowboy from an old western movie.

“Yes, I do,” Ali answered. The man was now within a few feet of him. Ali could see him clearly. He was of Mexican decent but dressed like an American with a white button-down collar shirt, blue jeans, and deck shoes. He was a big man probably weighing ninety kilos, and the shirt was soaked under the arms with perspiration.

“Great, my Spanish isn’t that good, sir. My name is Dave. My folks never spoke a lot of Spanish to us kids, wanting us to be English speaking Americans not Mexicans,” He said, as he stuck out his rather large mallet-like hand to shake. The two men shared a clammy handshake as they met face to face.

“Where’s your boat?”

“Right down here out of the lights,” the man said, as he turned and started walking back down the concrete wall, which doubled as the sidewalk, towards a darker area of the harbor.

Ali felt uncomfortable about following the man into the darkness, because it could be a trap, but as long as he kept the man in front of him, he knew he would be able to control things. Ali felt confident he could quickly reach his commando knife that was tucked away in his right boot. This wouldn’t be the first man he had killed with it and he would do it again, quickly and efficiently, if he had to.

“Your friend is already here!” The man said as he walked along in the darkness not sensing the real danger behind him.

Ali relaxed a little knowing Tan had made it safely to La Pesca. That meant they could leave immediately. It would be dangerous to hang around the Mexican town until morning, too many prying eyes and too many questions.

“How soon can we put to sea?”

“We need to get the hell out of here tonight, I told the locals I was just here for fuel and I didn’t check in with the authorities or anything. Things could get a little sticky if anyone traces me back to this sort of thing, I could lose my boat, you know?”

Out of the dark, a sleek white fishing boat appeared tied along the wall. As they walked up to the stern of the boat, Ali could make out the name lettered in gold “Adios Amigo” Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Let me help you there, sir,” the man said as he reached for Ali’s bag.

“No, thanks I can take care of it.”

“Suit yourself,” the man said as he hopped on board and quickly went up a teak ladder that led to the Fly Bridge.

Ali jumped into the cockpit after him and slid open the door to the salon as one of the powerful diesel engines smoked to life, coughing at first, and then settling into a low rumble vibrating the entire boat.

As he entered the salon, he saw Tan sitting on the settee. Suddenly, the second engine coughed to life. Black smoke billowed from under the stern lacing the boat with diesel fumes.

Al Ham dulilah,” Tan said, praising Allah, then jumping up relieved that his fellow Holy Warrior had finally arrived.

“Yes, Allah has truly blessed us, but this will be the most treacherous part of our journey, my brother.”

In Sha’allah,” Tan answered softly, knowing Allah must will their actions.

“Yes, Allah has truly blessed us and he will help us now.”

“We will make it, God willing,” Tan answered softly.

Tan was a thin Asian man in his mid thirties. He was Malaysian and a Muslim. He had been handpicked for this mission because of his technical skills. He would be responsible for assembling the weapon that even now was being smuggled into the United States in separate components. A nuclear weapon so compact and dangerous that they would be able to drive it to ground zero and destroy buildings within a three mile radius leaving a deadly radioactive plume that would kill thousands more. This unprecedented attack would weaken and possibly break the will of the American people, hopefully for good.

Captain Dave, after releasing the dock lines, eased both Caterpillar engines into gear and the Sport fishing boat lurched forward, then began slowly idling out into the darkness of the harbor. Within a few minutes, the boat had cleared the small port and was speeding Northward in the Gulf of Mexico plowing through dark seas with no running lights.

Across the Gulf of Mexico, Americans slept comfortably, unaware of the imminent danger that was speeding its way through the porous south Texas border.

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