With a screech of rubber and a wisp of smoke, the big airliner touched down. On board the 223 passengers looked forward to stretching their limbs after the long flight. Apart from some turbulence and a brief break in the in-flight movie, the flight had being uneventful.
The passengers were the usual collection of families, businessmen, and tourists. The passenger in seat 23A finished his prayer and ran his hand through his dark hair. Despite his plans, he was calm and focused. While his olive complexion hinted at exotic his sneakers, t-shirt, and baseball cap screamed all American. Later people would describe him as “unremarkable,” “quiet,” “polite,” and “kind of forgettable.”
The passenger checked his paper work again. It would be a shame to have his plans ruined by a bureaucratic mix up. Everything was in order. His passport described him as Azzam Hussam, a student. Two days earlier, in a crowded restaurant, a man with a missing finger had passed a brown envelop across the table. The envelop contained the passport he now held.
The plane eventually rolled up to the exit ramp and the bing-bong announcement told them it was safe to leave their seats. The passenger pulled a backpack from the overhead bin. It did not contain much, just some toiletries, a change of clothes and a Koran. It would contain something different and far more lethal on their final journey.
The bureaucracy was no problem. The person behind the counter asked the usual bland and boring questions in a sullen manner. The passenger gave his planned bland and boring answers in a friendly manner. He was easily through, and on his way.
On the taxi ride from the airport he considered how easy it had been to infiltrate them. By adopting some of their customs and mouthing some of their fondest beliefs they soon accepted him as one of their own.
He checked in at the hotel using the name on his passport and went to his room. On the bed, instead of a chocolate, was a cheap cell phone with battery removed. He inserted the battery and dialed a number from memory. He said simply: “I am here.” The voice on the other end gave him an address. The passenger removed the battery and tossed the phone on the bed. He grabbed his bag and left. He would not be staying here, he would sleep his last night in a less salubrious location that took cash and asked no questions.
Two taxi rides and a circuitous walk later he arrived at the address the voice had given him. The men exchanged curt pleasantries and the other man handed over the device. The passenger looked at the device, it seemed rather crude, but the other man assured him it would be very effective. The passenger felt a small shudder as he checked the red switch that he would use the next day. He calmed himself with thoughts of the greater glory he would achieve when he used the device.
With the device in his backpack, he returned to his hotel. Despite the poor accommodations and nervousness, he slept well.
Noise from the street and the sunlight breaking through the window awoke him next day. Although he did not feel hungry he ate breakfast, he would need his energy and wits today. The device, already in his backpack, was wrapped in cloth on top of that he placed his Koran. He fastened his backpack and headed towards his destination.
The crowds were even thicker then he had expected. He slowly made his way to where he would detonate. The crowds were crushing against him, he felt hot. He arrived. This was it, the moment. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He could hear the rush of blood through his veins. He felt a dribble of sweat run down his forehead, was able to trace its path down his face towards his chin. He reached into his backpack. He located the button. He took one last deep breath. He paused to consider his life past and the result of this act for the future. His finger slid along the red switch. He pressed the switch.
21 minutes later
AP Wire: For immediate release.
At least 27 people were killed and several more injured by a bomb blast in Mecca. The blast appears to be the work of a suicide bomber. As yet, no group has claimed responsibility.
47 Minutes later
… Suicide attack. Some witnesses claim the attacker called out “For nine eleven, an eye for an eye.” Little is know about the attacker but authorities have described it as a professional operation. That is all we have now, but there will be more later…
In Boulder, Colorado Geoff Wilson snapped the TV off and smiled. Yes, it had been a professional operation, and yes, there would be more to come. If they want Jihad, we will give it to them.