Treason By Douglas Ewan Cameron

The package wasn’t anything special. A box wrapped in brown paper with an address label printed using a computer, most likely a laser printer. It had been mailed through the USPS (United States Postal Service) from Washington, D.C., if you believed the post office stamp. It was ground rate so there wasn’t any rush on it. It wouldn’t have received so much as a second glance at a sorting facility.
Treason By Douglas Ewan Cameron

A scan would have revealed that in it were two cellphones. The cheap kind you can buy anywhere with prepaid minutes. You can add more minutes, but they are known in the ‘hood as “throwaways”. It wouldn’t have raised a Homeland security eyebrow.

When the package was opened, Naji Suleiman knew what the contents meant. He had been preparing for this for some time. Even before that she-whore Chyrise Elliot was elected president. Suleiman was Syrian by birth, although most people who knew him believed him to be Lebanese and he never corrected them. When he introduced himself, he would say, “Hi, I’m Nigel” eschewing his last name. He saw that one of the phones had a button that had been painted red with fingernail polish. The other didn’t have any such marking. He would make one call with the marked one, get his assignment, dispose of the phone, and keep the other handy – always charged, never used to make a call, only used to receive a call. Just one call and it would also be history.

Even understanding what he was to do with the phone, he just sat and looked at it. Pushing the button would activate him, start him on the road for which he had been trained, a road that would take him away from the relative peace and tranquility of his life. He would leave his wife Falzia, son Abdullah (three years old), and daughter Roashna (sixteen months old). He knew that this was a venture from which he might never return – he had known that when he had been trained, known that when he had come to the United States, known that when he had gotten married, and known that when his children had been born. He also knew that if he didn’t use the phone to get his instructions, he and his family would seem to disappear leaving behind questions and, very likely, their dead and possibly ravaged bodies. To save his family, he had only one option. Picking up the packaged phone with the marked button, he opened the plastic cover easily since it has previously been opened and removed the phone. Issuing a prayer to Allah, he pressed the button. When the phone was answered, he said, “Alllah hu alddare baladi (Allah is my shield).”

A voice that had been changed by an electronic convertor, said “Select three or four good men like yourself. No more than four. Find a place in which a prisoner may be kept without anyone knowing but in accordance with the instructions on the paper in the box with the phones. Then on a date we will give you, you will go to a prearranged spot at a prearranged time and receive your prisoner. The prisoner is not to be harmed – that is imperative. Do not harm the prisoner. Treat him as a prisoner but with kindness. You might have to keep this prisoner for several days or several weeks. He has no information of value. The only value he has is himself and if he is harmed, he might be of no value. Do not be concerned with any newscasts about him. Wait until the phone rings and follow those instructions without fail. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Suleiman answered, “but...”

“There is no other option except to follow these instructions. Do you understand them?”


The connection was broken.

This episode was repeated almost verbatim three other times that day in other cities with other people. None of them knew who their prisoner would be. If they had they might have questioned what was happening and therefore it was good that they didn’t. The names of the prisoners-to-be were the adult children of the first female president of the United States: Nathan Elliot who lived in an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was attending Harvard Law School; Natalie Elliot who was a senior at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan; James Elliot who was a freshman at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan; and Jennifer Elliot, twin sister of James, who was a freshman at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Chapter 2

Suleiman read the instructions about the place he was to find.

Your location is to be at least ten miles beyond the I-95 beltway around Boston.

It is to be as isolated as possible with no other buildings within a quarter mile if possible.

It must have a room at least thirty feet long and twenty feet wide.

There must be a holding room in the building with bathroom facilities. If the rental space is one large room, a holding room would have to be made in one corner but must be no more than ten feet square.

One thirty-foot wall will be made into a green screen. The following Internet source gives you options on its construction:

Your green screen wall must be the best quality possible.

When you have your facility ready, send an email to You will receive instructions on where to obtain the camera equipment and how it is to be used. If possible, one of your team should have television or camera experience. You will make a test of your green screen following the directions included with the equipment.

When you have accomplished this, you and your team will make this building your home for the duration of this project.


Team acquisition 1 week

Site acquisition 1 week

Site preparation 2 weeks

Site confirmation 1 week

Included in the box was a credit card with the name Ishmael Nagi, a South Carolina driver’s license in that name with his picture and an address in Charlotte, South Carolina. Instructions were to use the credit card only to rent the facility and a van in which to carry supplies for the facility and to bring the prisoner back to the facility. Also included was a key to a locker in the local airport. In the locker was a box containing $300,000 in fifteen packets of one hundred dollar bills. Each packet contained $20,000. A note in the package stated these were to be used for preparing the facility to meet the requirements and the rest to be used

“if necessary to secure loyalty of your recruits. Anything that is not spent on a completely successful project is yours.”

Although Suleiman didn’t know it, the plan to kidnap the four Elliot children was in two parts. One was the construction of the four holding areas. The other was four separate groups to plan and execute the actual kidnappings. None of the eight groups (four holding and four kidnapping) knew any of the others. Each kidnapping group was itself composed of three separate groups referred to by The Overseer as Steps.

Step 1 was to ascertain information about one Elliot child by monitoring her/his movements on a twenty-four hour basis. Each group in this step had a leader and four members. Each was known to the others by an alias first name. In addition to monitoring the target and looking for an opportune time to kidnap her/him, the group members were also to gather information about the Secret Service protection. While they were looking for “an opportune time to kidnap her/him”, they did not know that they were doing this – they were simply reporting any time when target was basically out of the reach of her/his protection even if only for a short period.

Step 2 was to take the information obtained in Step 1 and plan the kidnapping and obtain kidnappers. Weapons would be provided. The obtaining of weapons and personnel was underway while Step 1 was in progress. Unknown to the teams in this step was that the weapons were all coming from one source and the basics were the same: Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols modified for slings and Tasers (if required). Because of the nature of this step, money was available to pay for kidnapping personnel if it was felt that mercenary types were required. After securing the hostage, the kidnapping team was to take her/him to a predetermined spot given to the Step 2 leader.

Step 3 was the easiest of all the steps because it required just one or two additional people depending on how the step leader felt. This step was to acquire a vehicle to transport the hostage from the exchange spot with Step 2 to the exchange spot with the holding team who would then bring the hostage to their facility. While the easiest to set up it was the key to security – they didn’t know who the hostage would be, where she or he came from, and where she or he was going. If one of the vehicles was stopped they knew nothing to incriminate any other person. And that was the key to the entire setup. One member could identify up to four other people but nobody could go beyond that. All phones were burner phones.

If each step team did its job and if each was successful, there was little risk to being caught. Step 2 was the most vulnerable because they were doing the kidnapping, Step 3 was next in vulnerability, Step 1 was vulnerable because they were the most likely be identified by the Secret Service agents and Step 4 was deemed to the safest although in existence the longest. Once – according to the plan – the ransom demands were met, the hostage would be released and all Step 4 teams could disappear. Since the plan was to keep the hostages only a couple of days, the Overseer had reasoned that it would take all that time to determine where the hostages were to be held, much less attempt a rescue.

Chapter 3

Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan


About halfway through the time schedule for the four teams to build their holding cell and green screen, the kidnapping plan was entering Step 1.

Ferdinand (Freddie) Guerrero was standing in front of Mason Hall, waiting for the start of his 9:00 class. Well, that wasn’t what he was waiting for and that wasn’t his actual name. He was waiting for Jennifer Elliot, who was in the same Freshman English class as he was. To be precise, he was in the same Freshman English class as she was. He would pick up her trail today as they had – by no coincidence – three classes together. Freddie’s real name was Farouk Charpentier and he was born in Benzú, a small settlement in the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta. His father André Charpentier had been on the staff of the French Embassy in Rabat, Morocco, and Ibtihaj Samarahis (his mother and a Moroccan citizen) had fallen in love with him but not at all in the usual fashion.

This was a time when adult Moroccan women were veiled and all that could be seen of their faces were the eyes and her eyes were sexual as they first glanced at André Charpentier as he walked through the market for a noontime meeting. He had been stunned at the beauty of her eyes and she had been taken with his looks and physique. Knowing the Muslim Laws and not wanting to get her in trouble, he had passed by with only a slight hitch in his step, a hesitation that she had easily noticed. It was she who had basically broken the rules and followed him until he entered a public office building and she dared go no further. In fact she couldn’t have gone any further because the building had a guard outside who looked at each person’s identification to see whether or not to admit him or her. But Ibtihaj Samarahis was so smitten that she was bolder than she had a right to be and had asked the guard who the man was. The guard laughed and said, “Be gone. Mr. Charpentier wouldn’t be interested in the likes of you.” Now armed with a surname and being a young woman looking for love and knew that she had found it, she continued her search until after several weeks of “stalking” him and asking question where he had stopped, she finally learned his first name “André” and that he worked in the French Embassy. Finally knowing all about him that she could without actually talking to him, she had frequented the bazaar until she had spotted him again. As he started to pass she had adroitly stepped in front of him and he had collided with her and knocked her down – in reality she fell more than was pushed. Of course she knew that traditionally it was her fault and that the man – Muslim or otherwise – would not stop to help her up and only offer some verbal expletive like “Eahirat alkhuraqa (clumsy whore).” For that reason, she had slipped a folded piece of paper into his pocket as she fell, grasping clumsily at him in an apparent attempt to stop her fall. It was an hour later when André Charpentier reached into his pocket for something else entirely and discovered that piece of paper folded in fourths. Opening it he discovered a note bearing tomorrow’s date, a time, and an address. It was poorly penned, but at that time women were not educated, or at least most of them weren’t. It took just a minute for André to realize who had put the note in his pocket and, at least to him, it had meant only one thing. He thought briefly about it, looked at his schedule for the morrow and shrugged. Certainly he could make time for a brief afternoon liaison.

The following afternoon when he knocked on the door in a slightly rundown apartment house, Ibtihaj was ready with delicious tea cakes purchased in the bazaar and hot water ready for Morocco’s famous mint tea. She was looking forward to a pleasant hour or two getting to know the man with whom she had quickly become infatuated. She had convinced a young couple she knew to lend her their one bedroom – actually one room – apartment for the afternoon. When she heard the rapping on the door she took a deep breath and quickly answered it. She was happy to see that her message had been understood and invitation accepted. She had quickly realized that this meeting had several non-anticipated barriers: first, they had no common language as Ibtihaj knew no French (or any language other than Arabic) and André’s Arabic was strictly limited. Had there been a common language the second and much more crucial problem would have been eliminated – the reason for the rendezvous. For Ibtihaj it was a strictly social tea, exchanging pleasantries and getting to know each other. For André it was purely pleasure – his pleasure – for he had assumed, as one often did in Morocco, that Ibtihaj was a prostitute. Muslim tradition forbade Ibtihaj from not wearing her veil and so André couldn’t see the smile on her face as she opened the door wide and let him enter, closing the door behind him. As she turned to face him, she immediately grew apprehensive. When she had expected a smile, what she saw instead was a leer and he was looking her over from head to foot.

She was about to introduce herself when he stepped forward and put his hands on her breasts, squeezing them to feel the size and fullness, till now hidden by her kaftan. The suddenness surprised her and she was trapped by her submissive training. Upon entering, André had seen the sparseness of the room, what he expected from a common prostitute, and the bed against the far wall made a definite imprint on his mind. Satisfied that the girl’s fullness was going to be satisfactory he reached down to her crotch groping to assume himself he was not going to find any unpleasantries. This affront was more than she could tolerate and she broke from his grasp seeking some refuge along the far wall. André took it for her understanding his wishes and turned to follow her only to see her cowering against the wall. With his sexual urge further aroused by the chase, he reached her and grabbing her, threw her on the bed. He motioned that she should remove her clothes and then he started to remove his, unbuckling his belt, opening his fly and letting his trousers fall to the floor. This revealed his erection protruding from his underwear and brought a gasp of semi horror from Ibtihaj. She had never seen a man’s penis let alone an erection and the size of it frightened her. She knew what was going to happen and suddenly realized that she was powerless to prevent it.

André found himself driven by a strong desire that only a rape can bring about in a man. Without taking his eyes off his intended victim, as she had become, he stripped off his shoes lifting one foot at a time and ripping the shoe from his foot. Then he dropped his pants, followed by his underwear, and climbed onto the bed his eyes never leaving his victim’s eyes. For her gaze was riveting, and she couldn’t close or turn them from her attacker’s face. André pushed her kaftan up above her waist and started to pull down her panties. It was then that she offered her first and only resistance, trying to sit up and push him away. This action brought forth a sharp slap on her face, knocking her face to one side and bringing tears into her eyes. From that point on she did not look at André and lost all memory of what happened. With her clothing impediments removed, André spread her legs and with practiced certainty entered her slightly. It was a game of his with his conquests or prostitutes. Get that first initial insertion and then ram it in as hard as he could. And that is what he did, ripping her virginity and a scream of pain from her. It wasn’t fast, but he certainly was not slow or gentle in his rape, collapsing briefly as a huge orgasm engulfed him. But his sensuality being aroused, he was far from finished. He rolled her over and with the same rough invasion as before, raped her sodomitically, and then repeated the rapes. Finally drained of sexual energy, he used the limited bathing facilities in the small room to cleanse himself and then left without a backward glance but picking up a couple of tea cakes on the way out and using them to help satisfy a raging hunger for food, his hunger for sex already being satisfied. At least for the time being.

For some time after André had left, Ibtihaj lay there unmoving not thinking about what had happened because she could do nothing about that. She was thinking about her future and what she visualized was not good. At worst she would be dead, possibly stoned by her own parents because, even though it was wrong, the implication that she sexually invited the man to have intercourse with her could not be discounted. Such is strictly forbidden in the Muslim religion and is part of the reason for the clothing with which Muslim women cover themselves except for their eyes. At best, she would be shunned by her family and friends, again for the same reason that she could have been stoned. Naturally, the thought of the first abhorred her as did the second. The best thing that she could do was to disappear and that meant leaving Morocco. The easiest choice she could make would be to go to Ceuta (Spanish Morocco). She cleaned up the small room as best she could but unable to clean the bedding so she was forced to leave the blood and semen smears that would be telltale but more than that she was certain that the sexual odors from the encountered would still remain when her friends came home. She looked around the room and, deciding that she had done was she could, was faced with only one option: To run. And run she did.

Chapter 4

Nine months later in the small Spanish town of Benzú, Ibtihaj Samarahis gave birth to Farouk Charpentier. He was named after her father and his father, the latter chosen so that he might never forget it. She had forsaken, at least publicly, her Muslim religion and professed to being a Spanish Christian and raised her son in that religion, again at least publicly. But privately, they were both Muslim and as regularly as they could, prayed five times each day facing Mecca and honored all Muslim religious holidays. She was a good religious teacher, but the thing she taught best was jihad. For her, jihad didn’t concern any Christian countries. Her jihad, and therefore Farouk’s, was strictly for André Charpentier. When he was young she had told him that Andrè had wronged her and left them alone. When he was older, about eight, she had told him that André had beaten her and left. Finally when he was sixteen and she believed him to be man enough to understand, she had told him the truth, or a sanitized version of the truth. She said that she had met Andrè when she had bumped into him in the bazaar spilling her packages and, after picking them up, they had talked and agreed to share tea the next afternoon in the apartment of her friends who would serve as chaperones. Apparently her friends had been running late when Andrè arrived and he had taken advantage of the situation and beaten and raped her – sodomy was never mentioned but Farouk sensed that something was left out. Then André Charpentier had left and refused to give her any support for their future child and she had been forced to leave Morocco for the friendlier Ceuta.

Her story, unquestioned by Farouk, gave strength to his purpose and he redoubled his efforts and found aid with some Muslim friends who, together with a couple of older men, were planning jihad in the manner of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. One day after training, Farouk was unusually quiet and Baqir Samara, one of the older men, had asked him what was wrong. Farouk had hesitantly explained to him about Andrè. “And what do you want to do to him,” Baqir had asked although half suspecting the answer. Farouk had sat there shaking his head as though uncertain and then, raising it, had snarled, “Kill him.” Baqir had smiled because he knew then that he had a worthwhile recruit. “And how will you kill him?” was his next question and Farouk had answered, “With a gun.” “Where will you get the gun?” Farouk had pointed at some weapons lying on a mat after they had been cleaned. “Where is this man?” Farouk was quiet for a moment and then said, “New York.” “In the United States!” Baqir had replied laughingly. “You cannot take guns from here into the United States.” Farouk’s bold posture crumpled and he looked defeated. “However,” Baqir had said and Farouk lifted his head, “I believe I can help. I have been asked to get a couple of men into the United States to work on an important jihad. It will take about nine months. When it is over, I will get you to New York and get you a gun and you can avenge your mother.”

So the next year Farouk was in Ann Arbor, a week before fall classes were to begin. His first semester passed uneventfully and he spent his time studying and improving his English. The second semester began without incident, but that all changed the day after classes resumed after spring break. He received an email telling him when and where to meet with his cell. The leader said his name was Adam and pointing at each of them, gave them their names – Charles, Richard, Gary and Frank, the last of which was Farouk’s alias. Each of them was given a burner phone and told how to text. When it was time for Farouk to take over tailing Jennifer Elliot, Richard would send him a text telling him where to meet and when Farouk was done with his stint, he would text Gary on where to pick Jennifer up. Other than that meeting they never again saw or talked to each other. Their jobs were simple: look for any time when Jennifer was without Secret Service cover on a regular basis or when the cover was lax. When one of the them found such an incident, they were to text the information to a number they were to memorize. The one requirement that Baqir had imposed upon Farouk with regard to his classes was that Baqir would do the scheduling. When Farouk had realized he was tailing Jennifer and that she was in three of his classes he understood that requirement.

Six weeks into the surveillance and Farouk had discovered nothing of interest. And one morning he received a text from Richard saying “Salute to Mohammad.” That meant the tailing was over and they had been relieved of duties. Farouk did not know what to do because his directions had been to attend classes and tail Jennifer. He would be contacted by Baqir when he could go to New York. So Farouk started a new life without tailing and the first morning did not see Jennifer in any of her classes. The next morning the announcement was made. During this entire time, he never heard from Baqir.

Chapter 5

East Lansing, Michigan


Halim Said (known to his Step 1 cell as Harry) had been reading The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam when his tablet chimed telling him that one of his cell members had posted something on social media. The members had been told, warned, threatened that any mention of what they were doing on social media could – and most likely would – have dire consequences not only for them but for the entire project. He clicked on the link to Tim’s Facebook account and saw the post:

Farag Id: Started a new job today.

And under it the following:

Mary T: Oh, good. What is it?

Tyler L: Hope it pays well.

Hasan: Does it interfere with classes?

Farag Id: It involves observation and is at night.

Mary T: Good. Can you study while you observe?

Farag Id: No.

What he read meant trouble, but it was not something that he had to correct. That was up to his Step 2 cell leader. He sent him the following message. “Timothy has a problem with acne. Please correct.”

Farag Karimi (cell name Timothy or Tim) had been in the United States two years with a legal Green Card and had been in East Lansing for the past year. He was registered as a graduate student in Computer Science and although he was “officially” pursuing courses to the completion of the degree requirements that was not the reason he was there. Currently, his main concern was James Elliot between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Basically this meant “tucking” him into bed and “waking” him up in the morning. It would have been difficult to hang around during the entire time and that was fine with him. He found it satisfactory with his “supervisor” Harry to spend half the time at home and for the most part he used that for study, catching up on his sleep during the day. He had no interest in girls or boys for that matter – his only real interest was in his computer science courses. The job – this obvious jihad was not of his liking or interest – was because his family had been threatened if he did not comply with their wishes. He had watched outside the dorm for James until 1:00 a.m. and then had gone home until 5:00 a.m. when he would finish his shift. The knock on the door at 3:12 a.m. surprised him.

“Who is it?” he asked somewhat trepidatiously.

“A message from Harry,” came the answer.

A message from Harry wasn’t good and having it delivered in person certainly did not bode well. His mind whirled through the events of the previous day trying to figure out where he had screwed up. There was another rapping on the door – this time sounding a bit more frustrated and insistent.

Farag sighed and got up and opened the door to his small room in a semi-rundown apartment building, but it was all he could afford. No sooner did he have the door unlatched then it was shoved open and he was thrown back halfway across the room barely managing to retain his feet by grabbing at the chair he had been sitting in. Looking up at the door he saw two men entering the room. Both were big – bigger than he anyway and he stood only five-foot-eight and weighed sixty-three and a half kilograms (one hundred forty pounds, he reminded himself). Both men were at least six feet and weighed at least ninety kilograms or two hundred pounds. One was clean-shaven and the other had a neatly trimmed short beard around his mouth. The men were dressed in western clothes, but he knew they weren’t from here – they had come from the Middle East somewhere. And being here was not good – at least for him.

As the Bearded Man closed the door behind him, Farag said, “What do you want?”

Clean-Shaven man covered the distance between the door and Farag in two steps and slammed his right hand into Farag’s abdomen doubling him over and taking his breath away.

“We want you to do your job,” Clean-Shaven Man said. He grabbed Farag’s chin with his left hand and pulled him up, almost vertical. Squeezing it to the point of intense pain, Clean-Shaven Man leaned forward to within inches of Farag’s face and continued, “Unless you want your mother to service all the members of ISIS. Oh, yes. and your little sister and brother too. Before we kill them.”

“But ... I ... I ... am ... doing ... my ...job,” Farag managed to stammer despite the firm grip Clean-Shaven Man had on his chin.

“Really,” Clean-Shaven intoned almost melodically. “And what part of your job description says that you should report your activities on Facebook?”

Facebook! It was true, he had mentioned his “job” on Facebook, but he had been bored and lonely and was looking for some contact with someone. His friends were few because many people were shunning anyone of Arabic descent and/or the Muslim religion.

“I ... it was a mistake,” he said as he realized that his indiscretion had put his Syrian family in extreme jeopardy.

“Cancel your account. Stay away from social media. Stay away from the infidels. Pray at the mosque. Live your religion,” Clean-Shaven Man said while shaking Farag’s chin side-to-side vigorously. Then Clean-Shaven Man let go and turned toward the door. Farag knew that this wasn’t the end when Clean-Shaven Man turned back to him. “We will leave you with a little reminder.”

He passed the Bearded Man, who stepped forward and Farag realized for the first time that he held a two foot long piece of iron rod in his left hand. Without a word and before Farag could say anything, he swung the rod and smashed into Farag’s right forearm crushing bones. Farag screamed, but at this time of the morning there was no one awake to hear him and, if they had, in this type of place people mainly stayed to themselves.

“You have a job to finish tonight,” Clean-Shaven said as the Bearded Man exited the room through the doorway. “Don’t forget it,” and he exited the room and closed the door behind him.

At 5:00 a.m. when Farag arrived at James’ dormitory to finish his night’s surveillance, he saw the Bearded Man sitting in a car alone. He didn’t know whether he should say anything or not but really didn’t care. He just wanted 7:00 a.m. to come so he could go to an emergency room and get his arm set and get some pain pills because the Ibuprofen weren’t doing any good. For the rest of the period of his obligation, he stayed to himself and did his job, his broken right arm a constant reminder that he should tend to his business and obey his orders.

Chapter 6

Overseer Headquarters

One Day Before The Kidnappings

The film clip was the most difficult part of the operation because each cell had to have a location that could basically be outfitted as a film set. The requirements were lighting, a camera attached to a computer with email capabilities, and space for a green screen such as used in television weather forecasts. What was also needed was an empty three-car garage or small warehouse. Storage lockers were out of the question because the team would be living there for approximately a week. One of the requirements was a soundproof and escape-proof room in which to house the prisoner. Construction noise was needed to be kept at a minimum and so battery-powered tools were used with some prefabrication done elsewhere. Materials were often brought in at night. All the facilities chosen by the cell leaders had been approved and construction was completed. All that was needed was the cell’s occupant.

While he waited for the groups to get their captives, so that they might start practicing for their parts, The Terrorist was rehearsing for the filming which would actually not be done until the following afternoon. Then there would be time for the editing and distribution. He stood in front of the green screen on a spot marked precisely in front of the camera and waited for the director/cameraman/film editor to indicate that filming had started. The cameraman (always a card) said, “Lights.” Nothing happened. “Camera.” The red light came on indicating that the camera was taking pictures. “Action.” And he pointed at The Terrorist who stood still for about thirty seconds until the cameraman waved at him again. Then he took one step forward and began...

“In case you have not already heard about it, I am sorry that you have to learn of the kidnapping of the president’s children in this manner.

“To secure their well-being and freedom there are demands. The freedom of all Muslim fighters in Guantanamo – or Gitmo as you Americans say – and all other imprisonment camps in your and other countries.

“But, more importantly we require your she-whore president to resign from her office.

“The announcement is to be made by the president on national television.”

As he said this he motioned and from screen (or camera) right came two men bearing a chair sedan style except that the chair was facing screen front rather than the direction of travel. On the chair was a person dressed completely in black, as was The Terrorist. And like him there was no part of the person’s skin showing. His or her (it was difficult to tell) legs were held to the chair’s legs with cable ties and hands were behind the chair, undoubtedly also held with cable ties. When the chair reached the center of the screen, which was directly in front of The Terrorist, it was set down and the two bearers exited on the side of the chair respectively.

“If any attempt is made to rescue our four visitors...”

As the word “visitors” was uttered, in one swift motion The Terrorist pulled a sword from a scabbard hitherto unseen on the back of the chair and in one continuous motion swung it and sharply – and daresay efficiently – detached the head of the person in the chair. The head flew screen right and hit the floor about four feet from its former residence and rolled around three feet and ended with the neck pointing at the camera – even Hollywood couldn’t have planned it better. There was no blood because it was a mannequin.

“Never fear,” The Terrorist said, “it wasn’t real but ... it could have been if any rescue attempt is made and if our demands are not met. We are reasonable people and will give you forty-eight hours to accomplish our demands. Let’s say beginning at 2:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time today.”

The Terrorist motioned and the sedan chair bearers reappeared and carried the chair off screen left.

“And just to prove this is not a hoax...” The Terrorist waved to screen right nothing happened, but The Terrorist watched as though someone or something was walking to stand in front of him.

The Terrorist said, “If you have any doubts, this is Nathan.”

There was a brief pause and then The Terrorist waved again and again watched as though someone or something was moving from screen right and stopped in front of him.

“This is Natalie,” intoned The Terrorist.

Again The Terrorist waited a moment and then waved to screen right again and waited. This time he said, “and this is James.” Another pause and a wave and a pause.

“Of course, this must be Jennifer,” The Terrorist explained. “And she will be the first to go.”

“The countdown has begun,” exclaimed The Terrorist who then threw a Nazi style salute and exclaimed “Tahiat 'iilaa muhammad (salute to muhammad).”

There was a momentary pause and then the director/cameraman/film editor yelled “Cut.” The Terrorist tore the keffiyeh off revealing an oriental face.

“Do I have to wear this?” he said holding up in front of the camera. “It’s hot under these lights.”

“Orders,” the director/cameraman/film editor said. “And you’re lucky the camera was off. I don’t think he likes being criticized or questioned.”

The Overseer watched the dress rehearsal video with great satisfaction. The Terrorist had his role down to the letter and the four captive coordinators had their teams working efficiently and all the spots were hit dead on. Now all that had to be done was to obtain the hostages. This of course was the most difficult of all the tasks because the invasions had to be timed simultaneously in order to get the hostages to their temporary domiciles. It wouldn’t take much for a slip up that could cause one or possibly all of them to go awry, but the plans were all workable and practices had gone well and the people were all ready.

Part II

The Kidnappings

Chapter 7

Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan

Thirty Hours before the Announcement

The plan to take Jennifer was straightforward although not without potential dangers, but then all such plans were fraught with “ifs, ands or buts”. Getting people into the dorm without suspicion was relatively easy, but weapons were another issue. A call was made to the local pizza company that did a big business with UM (University of Michigan) students: Go Blue Pizza. When the order arrived, the delivery boy (a UM student) was greeted at the door with an automatic pistol and waved inside. He was gagged and bound with flexi-cuffs and replaced with Jalal, one of the invaders who went by the name of Rick within the group of invaders, but Jelly when he was delivering pizzas, which he had been doing for the entire semester. The plan was that he was to deliver three large pizzas to Jennifer’s floor. The boxes had been made to fit as one although each was slightly askew to allay suspicion and inside were three loaded Glock 17s modified for straps leaving one’s hands free but the weapon handy. Also inside were nine extra magazines and three suppressors. When the delivery van left for Jennifer’s dorm, the other invader left the apartment – neither of them would return to it.

It was 2:19 a.m. when the delivery vehicle van parked in the designated delivery spot in front of the dorm. They were running a few minutes behind schedule, but it couldn’t be helped because the delivery boy was late arriving. Jalal exited the vehicle and retrieved the “three” pizzas topped with a fourth from the back seat and headed for the dorm. As expected, Ralph Warren, the Secret Service agent outside the door, stopped him. “Hey, Jelly (his delivery nickname), thought you were off tonight.”

“I was, but Bob got sick and they called me in.”

Then Ralph Warren said, “What’s the special tonight?” and he lifted the lid of the top pizza and inhaled. “Pepperoni,” he said, “My favorite”.

“Have a piece,” Jalal offered smiling. “It’s a free one so if they get mad it’s no big deal.”

“Thanks but no thanks. I’m on duty,” said Ralph Warren and waved Jelly toward the door.

And so, the first part of the plan went awry. The pizza had been laden with a fast-acting drug that would have put the agent to sleep within minutes. So, at least for the agent, Plan A moved to Plan B. Inside the dorm, Jalal stuffed the pizza into a trash can so as not to be burdened and took to the stairway in which waited two of his fellow invaders who had been in the dorm for half an hour and were getting anxious. They had gotten in posing as students by using fake IDs. Once in the stairwell they had put on black nylon warm-up pants and shirts and latex gloves.

“Where have you been?” Ghassen (known to the others as George) said as he opened the top box in the “stack” and retrieved one of the Glock 17s and a suppressor, which he screwed on.

“The delivery was late,” Jalal (known to the other two as Rick) replied.

“Should have ordered it earlier,” Jameel (known to the others as Gerry) said as he took another Glock 17 and suppressor.

“That was John’s job. He’s the one who screwed up,” Jalal said as he put a suppressor on the last Glock 17 having set the box down. He didn’t know if John was really the name of the other guy in the apartment, but it was what he had been told. “Any problems?”

“No,” Ghassen replied. “Only one person used the stairs and that was two stories up.”

The other two put straps on their Glocks, but Jalal stuck his in his pocket because it would interfere with what he had to do. Each of them took three extra magazines. Ghassen and Jameel pulled black balaclavas over their heads.

The three headed up the stairs to the third floor with Jalal carrying the pizza box. At the third floor landing, Ghassen stood to one side of the doorway and Jameel on the other. Jalal nodded at Jameel who pulled the door partially open and Jalal shouldered it, “burdened” by the pizza box under which was the Glock. Just entering the lobby, which doubled as a TV room, was George Simpson, the Secret Service agent who was on inside duty for two hours. His hand was on his pistol not certain who was coming through the door. When he saw Jameel and the pizza boxes he relaxed because, even at 2:24 a.m., pizzas were delivered. His momentary drop in alertness was his downfall as Jalal shot the Glock from beneath the boxes. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! All four shots striking George Simpson who dropped to the floor, his weapon landing beside him. Blood pooling under his body told Jalal that he was definitely out of commission. Ghassen and Jameel stepped through the doorway and with Jameel covering right and Jalal left, Ghassen dragged the Secret Service agent’s body into the stairwell and then moved a chair to cover the stain. He picked up the agent’s pistol, stuck it in his belt, pulled a balaclava from the pizza boxes and pulled it over his head.

Leaving Jameel by the stairwell door, Jalal and Ghassen hurried down the hall to the left to Jennifer’s room. The suite consisted of four bedrooms: two on each side of a common area with a small but efficiently designed kitchenette. The two kidnappers had never been in the suite and had not worked in a mockup as the military often does but had practiced on a chalk drawn grid. Using a master keycard, Jalal opened the door, Glock at the ready, but the common area was empty. Entering, Ghassen closed the door quietly behind them. No lights were showing from under any of the four bedroom doors. Each girl had a private bathroom so there was no reason for any of them to come out of their rooms this time of night. Working from memory of their practice sessions with furniture placement based on a photograph taken by a member of the university’s service staff, they moved past and around furniture toward Jennifer’s room at the rear right corner.

“Oomph,” Ghassen uttered as he hit a chair that was “out of place”. Both men stopped and listened, but there was no sound from any of the bedrooms.

At Jennifer’s door, they paused while Ghassen put the sling of his Glock over his head to free his hands and removed a zip lock plastic bag from his pocket. After he opened it, he nudged Jamal who tried Jennifer’s door and found it unlocked. Smiling to himself at the easy time they were having, Jalal opened the door and the two slid stealthily into the room. Only when the door was closed did Jalal turned on a small LED flashlight dimly illuminating the room. They could see Jennifer asleep in the bed, lying on her left side, her face away from the door and the light.

Stepping to the side of the bed, Ghassen removed a chloroformed cloth from the plastic bag, which he dropped, and leaning forward clamped the cloth over Jennifer’s mouth and nose. Her reactions expected, he laid his body on top of hers while Jalal, held her feet. In a matter of seconds her fighting stopped, but Ghassen held the cloth in place for a few seconds more. Dropping the cloth, he pulled the covers off Jennifer revealing that she slept in a large UM tee shirt. Rolling Jennifer onto her back, he tied her hands with flexi-cuffs and “gagged her” with piece of duct tape across her mouth. He then picked her up in the proverbial fireman’s carry. Following Jalal who lit the way with the small flashlight, the two made their way through the common area to the door. There they paused while Jalal opened the door and ascertained that the hallway was clear except for Jameel who was anxiously awaiting their return. It was just a few minutes to get down to the main floor. Having explained the problem with the guard, after removing his balaclava and giving it to Ghassen, Jalal went to the front door, the Glock held behind his back. He stepped out of the doorway and Ralph Warren turned, hand moving to his weapon, but Jalal was ready and his aim was as accurate as before and the agent dropped to the ground, weapon undrawn. Jalal waved and Ghassen hurried out with Jennifer across his shoulders, Jameel close behind. At the delivery vehicle, Jalal got in the driver’s seat and Ghassen dumped Jennifer on the back seat and got in with her. With his part in the kidnapping completed, Jameel dropped his Glock into the delivery vehicle and took off running and disappeared into the darkness. A five-minute drive got the vehicle out of the university’s grounds to a small strip mall with a parking lot deserted except for a non-descript delivery van. Jalal pulled up beside the van as its sliding door opened. Inside was blackness as all interior lights had been disconnected. Ghassen pulled Jennifer’s body from the delivery vehicle and dumped it onto the floor of the van. The van’s door slid shut and the van, whose engine had been idling, moved away, lights off, and would remain so until out of the parking lot. Not a word had been spoken and, although Jalal and Ghassen might have been identifiable to whoever was in the van, they had not seen anyone inside. Five minutes later, Jalal and Ghassen left the pizza delivery vehicle parked on a side street and went their separate ways after wiping any of the vehicle’s surfaces they might have touched. They didn’t know each other except for practice and had used code names – no true names had been spoken. There was nothing they could have told anyone that would identify any of the three of them.

Chapter 8

It was 2:20 a.m. when the three kidnappers reached the fourth floor of Natalie’s dorm. They were a group composed differently than the others because two of them were from North African countries: Dirar (known in the group as Don) was from Morocco; Zakaria (Winston or Win was how the group knew him) was from Libya; and Zaid (Jim as he was known to the others) was from Iraq. Their climb up the stairs had been quick but silent. They had been delayed because Secret Service Agent Tom Jackson was talking to a student who was just coming in. The agent had the student’s identification card and was checking the dorm’s resident list on his smart phone. Satisfied, he had given the ID back to the student who hurried into the dorm, using his card to gain entrance. Then Dirar had walked up to the building and the agent had waited for him.

“I’m going to study with a friend,” Dirar said laughing. “He likes the last minute cramming.”

“I understand that,” the agent said looking at the ID that Dirar had given him.

Then he saw movement to his left – it was Zaid walking across the grass. With his attention drawn to Zaid and Dirar talking about studying for the calculus final, he didn’t see or sense Zakaria coming from the other side until it was too late because Zakaria was close enough not to miss and didn’t. Zakaria opened the dorm door with a counterfeit keycard and Dirar and Zaid carried the body into the dorm and into the stairwell, dumping it into a corner. Zaid gave Dirar the Glock and extra magazines he had been carrying for him, Zaid and Zakaria put on black full-head masks with eye holes, and then they raced up the stairs making as little noise as possible, eschewing the elevator because of the warning it would give the agent on Natalie’s floor.

Dinar took up a position to the left of the door, Zakaria to the right and Zaid ready to take out the agent who should be in the area in front of the elevator and stairwell entrance. Zaid nodded to Zakaria who opened the door and Zaid stepped out looking first straight ahead and seeing nothing, to the right where Natalie’s room was. The hallway was empty!

“Something’s wrong,” Dinar said as he stepped out and saw the empty hallway. “There is no guard. We need to hurry and find her.”

The three kidnappers hurried down the hallway to the door of Natalie’s suite, Zaid pulling on his mask as they went. Zaid swiped the keycard unlocking the door and pushed it open revealing a dark room. The three hustled inside, Zakaria remaining by the door, Zaid and Dinar moving to the right where Natalie’s bedroom was. Opening the door and stepping inside, Zaid used a key-fob LED light and saw that Natalie’s bed was empty and still made. They had been assured that she was in the dorm and not spending the night with her boyfriend as she often did on weekends.

Zaid led the way out of her bedroom and to the bedroom next to it. According to their intel, that room belonged to Jackie Watts. Zaid opened the door and stepped inside followed quickly by Dinar, who shut the door behind them. Jackie was asleep on her stomach, head to the right facing them. Stepping to the bed, Zaid put his hand over Jackie’s mouth and using his other hand turned her on her back. As he did, Dinar turned the light on. Jackie’s eyes flashed open and when she saw Zaid’s face grinning above her, she screamed, but Zaid’s hand muffled the scream.

“Where is Natalie?” Zaid whispered.

Jackie knew that something was wrong and that this man, these men she realized as her eyes took in the entire room, meant no good for Natalie.

Keeping his left hand on Jackie’s mouth, Zaid pulled a curved dagger called a janbiya from its sheath in the small of his back and held it for Jackie to see.

“You will tell me where she is or your death will be very painful. Not slow but painful.” As he talked he ran the edge of the janbiya down her arm making small incision from which blood seeped. Not a lot of blood but the pain from the incision told Jackie all she needed to know. She and Natalie were not good friends, simply roommates because she was friends with Shelia Kowalski, who was Natalie’s friend and they needed someone to take the extra bedroom in the suite. Mel Connor occupied the fourth.

Jackie tried to talk, but Zaid’s hand prevented it.

“Are you going to tell me?” Zaid queried.

Jackie nodded her head vigorously.

“If you scream or if you are lying, you will die. Do you understand?”

Jackie nodded her head again and Zaid removed her hand.

“She’s studying for a test with a friend,” Jackie whispered knowing that talking loudly might bring repercussions.

“Where?” Zaid asked.

“The eighth floor, Room 822.”

No sooner had she uttered this then Dinar put a chloroformed cloth over her nose and mouth and he and Zaid held her down until she succumbed to the anesthetic. After gagging her with a piece of duct tape and fastening her wrists and ankles together with flexi-cuffs, Dinar turned the light off and followed Zaid out of the room, closing the door behind him. They hurried across the common room illuminated by the opened door where Zakaria stood awaiting them.

“Quickly!” Zaid said. “To the elevator.”

Zakaria closed the suite’s door and the three raced down the hall to the elevator.

“Sorry, Agent Shepherd,” Natalie said as the two of them walked down the eighth floor hallway toward the elevator. “We were studying and all of us fell asleep.”

“Nothing to worry about, Miss Nata...” Agent Jeremy Shepherd’s statement was interrupted by three men carrying Glocks with suppressors stepping out of the elevator and looking in their direction. “Get down,” Shepherd said sweeping Natalie behind him with his left arm, and was reaching for his weapon when he was hit with a well-placed shot fired by Zaid, the marksmen of the three. It had been agreed upon in all their practice sessions that if such a circumstance faced him he would fire the first shots because he had the best chance of hitting a bodyguard rather than Natalie. United States forces in Iraq had trained him before he had decided to ally himself with ISIS.

Natalie screamed as she dropped to the floor behind Shepherd and his body followed quickly. Zaid and Dinar raced toward her while Zakaria kept the elevator door open and covered the hall in the other direction. Alerted by Natalie’s scream, several doors opened and students peered out into the hallway.

“Get back inside if you don’t want to be shot,” Zaid screamed. Their instructions had been succinct: Anyone with a gun is fair game, but students, especially women, are to be unharmed unless it can’t be helped. When asked why, the answer was “The more we harm the non-combatants, the less we will be able to draw people to our side. It’s the American way.”

Except for two, the heads were withdrawn and doors closed. One door about four from the action remained open with a girl lying on the floor and taking a movie of the hallway action with her smart phone. Two doors further, a husky man wearing boxers and a UM lacrosse tee shirt stepped out holding a lacrosse stick and advancing toward Natalie where she lay.

“Leave her alone,” the man said as Zaid reached her and, with his Glock 17 on a sling around his neck and right arm, was pulling her to her feet. Natalie was too shocked by the death of Agent Shepherd to offer any resistance.

“Get back or we’ll shoot,” Dinar said.

The man began waving the lacrosse stick as though it were a scythe cutting grass as he continued his advance-ment. “Leave her alone, you vermin,” the man said.

Once Natalie was on her feet, Zaid was pulling her toward the elevator with Dinar backing down the hall behind him, Glock pointing at the advancing lacrosse player. As they neared the elevator, the man made a lunge sweeping the lacrosse stick in an effort to hit Dinar’s Glock. Pop! Pop! Pop! Three bullets hit him, the third catching him in the left eye and dropping him lifeless to the hallway floor.

The girl with the smart phone screamed and Dinar loosed a hail of bullets wildly down the hall as the elevator door closed and the car started to descend. Dinar got out a plastic bag with another chloroformed cloth to anesthetize Natalie when Zaid stopped him. “There are going to be people waiting downstairs and it will be better for them to see that she is okay.”

They exited the front door of the dormitory just as the first University of Michigan Police Department (UMPD) car, siren screaming and lights flashing, slid to a stop in front of the dorm. Zaid had hold of Natalie’s blouse at the collar and, with his Glock in her back, was prodding her forward.

The university policeman got out of his cruiser and started to pull his gun when Zakaria fired a full magazine at him and his vehicle. The police officer was hit by four bullets and was dead before he hit the pavement. As the three kidnappers neared the street, a van that had been parked down the street, came roaring up and slid to a stop near the end of the sidewalk. The sliding door opened and Zaid thrust Natalie through it. A pair of hands reached out of the inside darkness, grasped her and pulled her inside and before the door closed, the van zoomed away. The three kidnappers broke into a run for their car across the street as another UMPD cruiser turned into the drive in front of the dorm.

“I’ll get them,” Zakaria shouted and waved Zaid and Dinar to continue. Zakaria had already replaced the empty magazine with a full one and stuck another in his belt where he could reach it easily. As he watched the cruiser approach, Zaid and Dinar reached their escape vehicle, got in with Dinar driving and sped away. Zakaria unscrewed the suppressor and let it fall to the pavement where it bounced three times and then rolled to the far side of the road.

As the cruiser neared him, Zakaria let loose a wild fuselage of bullets none of which hit the cruiser that began accelerating toward him. Zakaria removed the empty magazine and put a new one in and was bringing his weapon to bear when the cruiser struck him and flung his body twenty feet down the street where it hit the pavement with such force that if he hadn’t been killed when the cruiser hit him he was now.

As Zaid and Dinar neared the first intersection, a black sedan slid to a stop across it, doors opened and four Secret Service agents got out, automatic weapons at the ready. Having rolled down the window, Zaid stuck his Glock out and fired, never relaxing pressure on the trigger. The four agents immediately returned fire. The windshield was blown out and Zaid and Dinar were killed instantly, each hit by several bullets. The car swerved right, hit the curb, jumped several feet into the air and smashed into a huge white oak with such force that the engine block was shoved back into the front seat.

Chapter 9

Cambridge, Massachusetts

The toilet flushed, water ran in the sink, and then the door to the bathroom opened and light filled the living area. Turning off the light, Rose Mary exited the bathroom, which was between the two bedrooms at the back of the living area. Immediately a photoelectric cell turned a LED nightlight on in the bathroom. Rose Mary knew that closing the door when she went to the bathroom to pee was old fashioned, but it was the manner in which she had been raised and, as of yet, she had not overcome that training.

The bedroom she shared with her fiancée Nathan Elliot was to the right, the bedroom to the left was the study. The living area running the length of the two bedrooms and bathroom also contained their small kitchen where, despite the size, some fabulous meals had been prepared. Both she and Nathan were excellent cooks and enjoyed a competition on who could prepare the best meal. The door to the apartment was in the middle of the wall opposite the bathroom.

Outside was a hallway with five apartments on their side and four on the other. In front of the middle apartment on their side was a stairwell and a laundry shared by the residents of that floor. The stairs led up to the second floor with a landing halfway up. Going down there was a landing with mailboxes in one wall and a door leading outside. Continuing on down, was another set of apartments basically half below ground. Rose Mary’s and Nathan’s apartment was the next to last on the left side as one stood in their doorway.

As she turned toward the bedroom, the front door opened and the room was filled with light from the hallway. Surprised, Rose Mary looked at the doorway and saw three figures starting to come in. She screamed, “Nathan – danger” and ran for the bedroom. As she darted inside and closed the door, she could see Nathan kneeling beside the bed with his thumb on the optical lock to the gun safe where they kept a loaded revolver.

“Get behind the bed,” Nathan shouted at her as opened the gun safe. She quickly crawled across the bed and lay on the floor next to the outside wall.

As Nathan stood up, revolver in hand, the door flew open slamming against the wall and a bright light illuminated the room.

“Drop the gun,” said a voice behind the light, but Nathan didn’t.

He fired a shot at the light and then moved the aim of the revolver to the right side of the door. Before he could fire a second shot, he was hit in the chest by a Taser barb that sent 50,000 volts into his body. From her hiding place on the floor beside the bed, Rose Marie heard the electric pulse of the Taser barbs, and then the revolver hit the carpeted floor followed quickly by Nathan’s unconscious body.

“Get the woman, Mike” she heard someone say and tried to squeeze her way under the bed. Almost immediately Rose Marie felt the bed shake as someone came to her side and then there was a weight on her back, pressing her into the floor. A hand grabbed her right arm and she felt a prick and then ... blackness.

Mike and his group were former U.S. military now freelancing mercenaries. Ordinarily they wouldn’t have taken a job in the U.S., but the money they were promised here was difficult to turn down. Also the requirement not to hurt non-combatants was a good one. This was the one group where the three knew each other, spurned cover names, and worked together as well-trained team, which they were. Mike Harding had been a Ranger Medic in the 75th Infantry, one of the best known of the U.S. army’s units if not by number then by its name. It was originally known as Merrill's Marauders, then the 475th Infantry and later as the 75th Infantry. Merrill’s Marauders, commanded by Frank Merrill, was an army unit operating in Southeast Asia in World War II and was famous for deep penetration behind Japanese lines, often fighting against superior numbers. It had been in Iraq where he met Willard (Willie) Jennings who at the time was lying in a ditch bleeding out from wounds received from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detonated under the truck in which he was riding. Mike’s actions saved his life and his left leg. When he was finally released from the hospital back in the U.S.A. he tracked Mike down and they became best friends. Richard (Rich) Compton was a friend of Willie’s and that made the threesome. They had worked overseas as freelance mercenaries and made a good team. When this offer came, it took some discussion but they liked the challenge it posed – then there was the money. When they had accepted the job, they hadn’t know who the target was, but in the end that had made no difference. They were basically honest men and a contract was a contract. They had been well aware of the consequences if they were caught.

On the other side of the bed, Willie fastened Nathan’s hands behind him with duct tape and put a piece across his mouth. Then Rich helped him get Nathan to his feet. He was barely conscious and had to be held up by Rich.

“I have her bound,” Mike said.

“Then let’s get out of here,” Willie said. “Help Rich with Martin (Nathan’s Secret Service Code Name).”

Mike crawled across the bed and stood up, grabbing Nathan’s left arm. With Rich holding Nathan’s right arm, they carried, half dragging Nathan through the bedroom doorway and toward the hallway doorway.

“Don’t move, assholes. Let them go,” came a voice from the hall doorway when they were about halfway across the room. Willie shot half a magazine of his Glock 17 at the doorway and there was an oomph and then quiet. Dragging Nathan, the trio neared the door and Willie motioned them to stop and he moved to the doorway and peered both ways before waving them forward. There was no concern of being recognized because they had donned balaclavas upon entering the building. At the stairway Mike, who was the biggest, took Nathan in a fireman’s carry and the three went down the stairs. Willie went first to the doorway landing, bypassing the body of a Secret Service agent they had killed on the way in. While he watched the lower level for any incursions, Mike brought Nathan down while Rich waited near the top watching the hallway. None of the other residents stuck their heads out. Willie opened the door and Mike, adrenalin coursing through his veins, ran as well as he could bearing Nathan to the street where a dark SUV sat with its engine idling. The back door opened as he neared and he practically threw Nathan in and then stood sucking in huge amounts of air as the door closed and the SUV roared off. Willie and Rich came running by and Mike followed them, throwing himself into the bed of the pickup truck they had come in. Several residents of the apartment building came out bearing pistols and fired at the pickup as Rich backed it out and roared out of the parking lot and around the nearest corner just seconds before a Cambridge police car came speeding into the parking lot, closely followed by a black sedan and a black SUV both bearing Secret Service Agents. None of the shots fired at the pickup hit it or anything else of value.

Getting into the apartment building was relatively easy but not without blood being spilled. Willie had sent a special delivery package to one of the apartments on the floor above Nathan’s. With the help of a tracking device in the package, they had intercepted the courier whom they put to sleep and Mike dressed in his clothes. When he got to the apartment building, he was stopped outside by Agent Roger Dirksen. While he checked Mike out, Willie had come up behind him and killed him with a knife. The body was rolled under a car. Mike then walked to the door and buzzed the apartment via the intercom. It took a minute, but someone answered. “Special delivery package,” Mike said. “At this time of night?” came the answer. “I just deliver,” Mike replied, “I don’t pick the time.” Whoever it was hit the buzzer and Mike went in with Rich, who had waited in the shadows by the door, right behind him. They moved so fast that Secret Service agent Bob Stevenson had no time to think before his life ended. Mike opened the door for Willie and the three of them had gone up to Nathan’s apartment.

Chapter 10

East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University

Secret Service agent Tommy John Watkins watched as two vehicles were parked in the designated university vehicle spots in front of the dormitory in which James Elliot was living. One man dressed in a sport coat and tie got out of the Honda Civic and two men dressed like workmen got out of the panel truck bearing the logo of Michigan State University. One of the workmen got a workbox out of the back and the other strapped on a tool belt and the three walked up the walk.

“Good evening, Agent...” said the man in the sport coat, “I’m Raul Sanchez from The Michigan State University Maintenance Department.” He held out an ID card for Tommy John to see. “We had a call that there is a faulty outlet in the basement and need to get it fixed before we have a fire.”

There was a noise behind Tommy John and he stepped back from the three, pulling his weapon out and looked to see what was happening. It was one of the students in the dorm leaving for work. “Hi, Agent Watkins,” the student said and Tommy John relaxed and put his revolver away. However, this put him on edge and he kept his hand on his weapon.

“Yes, sir,” Tommy John said. “Can I see ID for the workmen, please.”

Each of the workmen produced a card that Tommy John inspected. Like Raul, they were of Hispanic origin: Amando De La Cruz and Pirro Gutierrez.

“I need to inspect the tool boxes,” he said indicating them. The workmen put the tool boxes on the ground and opened them. In one were a variety of electronic instruments.

“What are these?”

“Voltage meters, and other stuff for testing circuits.”

In the other box were a number of tools (screwdrivers, wire cutters, etc.) as well as a propane-soldering torch and an extra tank.

“I thought you used electric soldering guns,” Tommy John said indicating the torch.

“If we have power, we could,” said Amando. “But often times we don’t.”

“I hadn’t been notified of the problem,” Tommy John said to Raul Sanchez.

“My fault,” replied Sanchez. “I got the call in my car and called the on-duty workmen,” indicating the two who had closed the toolboxes and were holding them once again. “I am sorry that I forgot. I won’t let it happen again.”

“Thank you,” Tommy John said stepping aside as the three walked inside.

Tommy John watched them as they entered the stairwell. Then he called his partner Ralph Tompkins who was inside with James Elliot. “We have a reported electric problem in the basement. Something about a sparking wire in an outlet.”

“Are you certain it’s not sparkling water? I am certain we could find some bourbon around here and I could certainly use a nip.”

“I’ll keep my eyes open.”

When the three men entered the stairwell, they had started down the stairs until the door was fully closed and then they stopped and returned to the landing. The toolboxes were opened. From the one with electronics, Sanchez took a meter about the size of a tablet computer but thicker. He pried open the seam and took a Taser from the inside. Amando, who had been carrying the toolbox, removed the rest of the electronic stuff and pulled up a fake bottom. Underneath were three loaded Glock 17s fitted for slings and three slings. Pirro used a knife to cut around the base of one of the propane tanks about two inches from the bottom. Working the knife into a now visible seam he pried the bottom of the tank off. Inside were a suppressor and three magazines. Opening the other similarly, he pulled out two suppressors. Each man took a Glock, fitted a suppressor, attached a sling just in case, and put magazines in easily reached pockets. Then they raced up the steps to the eighth floor, barely winded when they got there because they had been training for this.

Raul Sanchez, born in Miami of parents who had emigrated from Cuba, had converted to Islam and supported ISIS and its jihad. The other two were also of Latino origin, both Cuban refugees who were in the country with green cards. They were not Muslims and were in the operation more for the money then jihad.

Raul looked through the window in the door but could see nothing. He turned the handle and pulled the door open, its well-oiled hinges not squeaking. Raul smiled and silently thank the dormitory maintenance man who had followed his instructions. He looked both ways and saw empty hallways. Motioning to his followers, he moved out and quickly reached the door of James Elliot’s suite. Using his real master key card, he unlocked the door and opened it a crack. Light spilled out of the room into the corridor. Raul nodded to his followers and threw open the door, all three rushing into the room, weapons at the ready. The common room was empty and the bedroom doors were wide-open, lights on in one of them. A quick search revealed that none of the occupants were in the room.

Unknown to them, a friend of Tommy Sinclair, one of the suite-mates, had knocked on the door fifteen minutes before. James had answered the door after first asking who it was. “It’s Buddy. Agent Tompkins okayed me coming here.” James opened the door.

“What’s up,” he said sleepily having only gotten to bed an hour before.

“Chris just checked on the computer and he passed his German final.”

Chris Roberts was a good friend of Tommy Sinclair who had trouble with languages and had not passed a test all semester. If you passed the final you passed the course although, at least in Chris’ case, with a D.

“It’s party time in our room,” Buddy said.

Agent Tompkins appeared behind Buddy.

“Is it okay?” James asked.

“I’ll be out in the hall and the door will be unlocked,” was Agent Tompkins tacit permission.

It took James and his suitemates less than five minutes to throw on clothes and leave the suite, clambering down the stairs to the fourth floor just a few minutes before Raul and his companions Amador and Pirro entered the stairwell.

“Where is he?” Raul said.

“No idea,” Amador said. “They were supposed to be here asleep at this time of night.”

“It’s a trap,” Pirro said turning and starting out the door.

“Stop,” Raul said and Pirro stopped. “Shut the door.”

With the door closed, Raul said, “We need to find him. If we don’t, we might as well be dead and probably will be.”

“How are you going to find him in a building as big as this. He could be anywhere,” Amador said. “Our information says that he has lots of friends.”

“Well, his guard must be with him.”

Pirro said, “Then let’s ask his partner. It would be faster.”

Raul thought for a moment. There really was no other choice. “Let’s go.”

Tommy John watched the three disappear. Something was strange. “Wire sparking.” That made no sense. He called headquarters. “We have three maintenance men here to find an electric problem.”

“Nothing here about that,” the dispatcher said. “They should have called, but they’ve screwed up before.”

“Check with the university for employees Raul Sanchez, Amando De La Cruz and Pirro Gutierrez. I’m calling a Situation Orange and am notifying Tompkins to go undercover.”

“Roger that, we’ll notify the University Police and East Lansing.”

“Send some backup,” Tommy John said. “Tell them to be ready but not to come into the building unless shots are fired or I call.”

Ending the call, Tommy John called Tompkins. “There are three questionables in the building. Situation Orange.”

On the fourth floor, Tompkins entered the room from which raucous noise spilled out into the hallway until the door was closed behind him. Suddenly quiet reigned and he saw eight pairs of young eyes gazing expectantly at him.

“We have a possible situation with unknown people,” Tompkins said. “I want all of you to get into that bedroom,” pointing at the one furthest from the door, “be quiet, don’t use electronics, and stay there until I or another agent says you can leave.”

Surprisingly there was no hesitation and the eight freshmen headed for the room, pop bottles in hand. One of them stopped and started back for a bag of chips, but one glance at Tompkins and he changed his mind. As soon as all eight were in the room with the door shut, Tompkins turned the lights off and only then did he pull his weapon.

When Tommy John entered the building, he headed straight for the stairwell. On the landing he saw the two toolboxes and that’s all it took. “Situation Red,” he said to the dispatcher as he was already heading up the stairs, weapon in hand. He was halfway between the sixth and seventh floors when he heard noise above, Latino voices and clumping on the stairs. He went back to the sixth floor landing and out into the hallway where he flattened himself against the wall so that if the door was opened, he couldn’t be seen. It wasn’t long before he heard voices and hurried steps that quickly past the landing. He opened the door and started down the stairway behind the three terrorists as he now thought them to be. “They’re headed for the first floor,” he whispered into his phone to the dispatcher. “Wait until they’re outside before you try to apprehend them.”

When he reached the first floor, he opened the door carefully and then looked out into the foyer. He could see the three men about twenty feet from the building when the entire outside area was bathed in light and he could hear someone using a bullhorn. The situation now called for him to remain in place.

The three terrorists exited the dormitory guns at the ready and looked around for the agent who had been there.

“Where is he?” Pirro said.

“Let’s get out of here,” Amando said and started for their utility van. Suddenly the entire area was illuminated with spotlights from the parking lot.

They suddenly heard “This is the United States Secret Service. Stay where you are.”

“I knew it was a trap,” Pirro said and let loose a volley from his Glock 17 at the lights. Amador followed suit, but Raul chose to get back into the cover of the dormitory. The Secret Service, University Police and East Lansing police replied to the volley with one of their own but much deadlier. Amador and Pirro were each hit with over ten bullets and died instantly. Raul’s choice to run saved his life, at least temporarily, although he did receive one bullet in his left shoulder just before he made it inside the dormitory. No sooner had he reached what he had thought would be relative safety then he heard, “Stop where you are and drop your weapon.” He did stop, but he didn’t drop his weapon and was bringing it to bear on Tommy John when the agent fired a well-aimed shot hitting Raul in the right shoulder and dropping him to the floor of the foyer. In a few quick steps, Tommy John reached him and put his left foot on the Glock that Raul was trying to raise. “Don’t move, mother fucker, or you’ll never move again.” This time Raul obeyed completely mainly because at that moment he passed out.

Chapter 11

“That’s a good one,” James said laughing at Tommy Sinclair’s story about passing the German final. He had told James and the other eight friends gathered in the common room of his suite that he had gotten drunk before the test because he had never passed one sober. “Aber wo hast du das Bier? (But where did you get the beer?)” inquired James.

Tommy looked at James for a moment and then said, “Keine Bier. (No Bier.)”

“Keine Bier. Was war es dann? (What was it then?)”

Tommy looked perturbed at James’ constant use of the language he could barely understand, let alone speak. But for this question he had an answer. He got up and went to his room and came back with an empty bottle and handed it to James.

“Schnapps!” exclaimed James. “Cherry Schnapps!”

“It’s the only thing I could get,” Tommy said. “It’s powerful stuff and tastes good. I tried scotch once and almost gagged.”

“Where did you get it?” Kevin Schmidt asked.

“Meine Lippen sind versiegelt (My lips are sealed)” Tommy said making the zipper sign across his lips. “Let’s just say ‘It worked’. Oh, James...”

James looked up at Tommy expectantly.

“You failed.”

James mouth dropped opened. “Ich kann es nicht glauben! (I cannot believe it!)”

“Neither can I,” Tommy said and when everyone realized how he had gotten James, they burst out laughing.

It was at the precise moment that the door opened and Agent Bryce Tompkins came in. The sight of the look on his face brought a sudden quiet to the room.

“We have a possible situation with unknown people,” Tompkins said. “I want all of you to get into that bedroom,” pointing at the one furthest from the door, “be quiet, don’t use electronics, and stay there until I or another agent says you can leave.”

Surprisingly there was no hesitation and the eight freshmen led by James headed for the room, pop bottles in hand. Buddy stopped and started back for a bag of chips but one glance at Tompkins and he changed his mind. When all eight were in the room, James shut the door and turned the lights off.

“What are we going to do?” Buddy asked.

“Sit here and be quiet like he said,” James replied. “He is not joking.”

For a few minutes there was relative quiet except for the sipping of pop. And an occasional burp. Then a glow illuminated the room dimly.

“Who’s got their phone out,” James asked standing up from where he was sitting by the door.

“I do,” Karl Jenkins said.

“Put it away. Tompkins said no electronics.”

“I’m putting this up on Facebook,” Karl said. “This is exciting. More exciting than celebrating Tommy passing a stupid language course.”

James had moved silently across the room guided by the glow from the smartphone’s screen. He grabbed Karl’s phone.

“HEY,” Karl shouted. “GIVE ME MY PHONE.”

“No,” James said. “Nothing is going on social media until this is all over.”

“I’ll do what I want to,” Karl said standing up and grabbing for the phone. James took a step back and tripped over someone’s foot and landed on the floor, the smartphone skidding across the floor until it hit the wall.

“What’s the problem in here,” Agent Tompkins said as he opened the door to the bedroom, stepped inside, closed the door and illuminated the room using an LED flashlight.

At first nobody said anything and Agent Tompkins continued, “To clarify what is known, there are three armed men in the building and we judge they are looking for James because, as you know, his mother is the president. Whether or not they want to kill him or just kidnap him, they most likely do not want witnesses. Therefore quiet is essential. Also let me ask you to remove the batteries in your smartphones because all of them have GPS’s and the technology is such that a phone can be located on this floor and in this suite. If they use that...”

At that point a fuselage of gunshots could be heard, albeit faintly, and several of the boys hit the deck seeking cover. Agent Tompkins turned the light off. “Keep quiet,” he said, opened the door, exited the room and closed the door behind him. Each of the boys quickly removed the battery in his smartphone, Karl having retrieved his. Quiet then reigned in the room for about five minutes before Agent Tompkins returned.

“We have the three invaders in our control. Just to be certain that there aren’t more, a sweep of the building is being made. When that is completed, we are going to take James away.”

“Where?” Buddy asked.

“TMI,” replied Agent Tompkins. “Also when it is safe to restore your phones, I or another agent will advise you. Until you’re told you may, you are not to tell anyone about this. If your parents call, you may tell them you are safe and explain the situation. Please obey these instructions. I understand the status of social media, but it would not be advisable to broadcast this information at this time.”

He paused for questions and hearing none, once again left the room closing the door behind him. It was half an hour before the boys were informed that they could restore their batteries to their phones and return to their rooms. Then James left the room with Agent Tompkins and with three other agents left the building. James was taken to the East Lansing airport in an agent’s car with a police escort where a Michigan State University jet awaited him. From there he was taken to Andrews Air Force base and then by car to The White House. The one part of the trip that would haunt James for a while were the two full body bags waiting to be removed and the blood on the ground outside the dormitory. Thankfully for him, the blood in the foyer had been removed. Because of the turmoil, the students in the dorm were given a respite for their test scheduled that day if they so wished.

Chapter 12

Kidnapping Headquarters Earlier that Evening

The Overseer watched the dress rehearsal video with great satisfaction. His Jihadi John had his role down to the letter and the four captive coordinators had their teams working efficiently and all the spots were hit dead on. Now all that had to be done was to get the hostages. This of course was the most difficult of all the tasks because the invasions had to be timed simultaneously in order to get the hostages to their temporary domiciles. It wouldn’t take much for a slipup that could cause one or possibly all of them to go awry, but the plans were all workable and practices had gone well and the people were all ready.

At one o’clock in the morning, the Overseer was seated at a computer with an array of throwaway phones sitting in a rack within easy reach. The Overseer knew that when each step of the kidnapping was begun, one of the throwaways would ring and be answered by the computer. The caller would give a coded statement that the step was underway and call again when the step was completed. At the end of the process, the Overseer estimated a half hour at most from beginning to end of the first and second steps; the third step would have a call for the beginning and when the kidnapped victim was safely within the confines of the holding facility.

There would be a wait, but just in case something happened, The Overseer needed to be available. The first call came in at 2:10 – “pizza hot” which meant that the Jennifer Cell had the delivery vehicle in hand and were en route. A little late but not earthshaking. The second call came at 2:15 – “Minutemen” and that meant that the three mercenaries had arrived at Nathan’s apartment complex. Two minutes later the call was “Repair call” and the securing of James was underway. Almost simultaneously came the call – “Senior invited” and soon Natalie would be a hostage. Things were progressing well.

There was silence for eleven minutes and then the calls came rapidly. First was “Pizza delivered” – Jennifer was in the delivery vehicle. One down. Just a minute later “Missile launched” – Nathan was on the way. But there was gunfire in the background. Then “Senior graduated” – Natalie was moving. Three down and then disaster – “Repair impossible” this followed immediately by the sound of many gunshots. The seizure of James had failed.

What now? The Overseer asked himself. His beautifully orchestrated movie-to-be has been destroyed. With no James in custody, cutting off the head of the dummy lost its import … or did it? His mind raced as he thought about the reports he had from his Cell 1 leaders and then it struck him: Farag Karimi (cell name Timothy or Tim). The Overseer grabbed his phone and called the taxi team for James. “We’re doing things differently. Stay in your spot and wait for me to call with a pickup spot. Then you will take him to…” he gave him the location, “… and do it quickly. We need him.” Then he called his backup delivery team and gave them the location where they would wait for Tim and bring him to the Overseer. Then he called Halim Said (Harry) to give him the updated information so that he could call the two who had visited Tim before with the message about social media.

Farag Karimi (cell name Timothy or Tim) was asleep after putting in a full day on his final computer science project. He had wrapped it up just after midnight and fallen into bed. Faintly, slowly he became aware of a pounding which seemed to increase with volume. His eyes flickered open, his brain struggled to function.

“Hey, Tim,” he heard. “I need help.”

Farag sat up, shaking his head to get the cobwebs of sleep out of his brain.

The knocking resumed.

“Alright, alright,” he said.

Only four people called him Tim and he was done with them. Or at least so he thought. He got out of bed and felt his way to the door, his brain still not functioning well.

“Who is it?” he asked, wishing that his door had one of those security peepholes.

“Harry,” was the answer. “I need your help. Some-thing has gone wrong.”

Harry, the cell leader. But that was over.

“What’s wrong?” Farag asked.

“I cannot tell you where people can hear,” Harry said. “Please let me in.”

Farag was uncertain, but he knew that he could easily be sent back home. Harry had told him that if he didn’t cooperate his green card would be cancelled. That left no choice and he removed the security chain he had installed and unlocked the deadbolt. Before he could even turn the door handle, the door opened violently and sent him spinning across to room, ending up at his desk.

He blinked and looked at the light streaming into his room from the hallway blocked by a huge body he immediately recognized even in the shadows: Bearded Man. He started to yell for help when there was an electronic sound and fifty thousand volts shook his body. His mind scrambled, he slumped to the floor. His mind struggled for clarity, trying to reason what was going on. Then he felt himself being picked up and put over somebody’s shoulder. He was being carried; he was slammed into a wall or doorjamb. It hurt, but the pain was muted because of the electric shock. The next sensation that made its way into his brain was that he was outside. There was a metallic sound and the he was being thrown like a sack of potatoes. He hit a floor hard and that was the last thing he remembered for quite a while.

Chapter 13

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Environs

The first thing that Nathan remembered accurately after being tased was being carried somewhere. It was dark. His sight was hazy, blurred and bright spots flashed before his eyes. His ears were ringing as though he had tinnitus, which he didn’t. He tried to struggle, but his hands were fastened together. He tried to scream, but his mouth was taped shut. He tried to kick, but his legs were being strongly held together. Suddenly he felt himself flying or being thrown, heaved was more like it, and he landed on a hard surface which initially felt carpeted. He heard a door slam shut – a car door he realized. Then he realized that he heard an automobile engine being revved quickly. He was jerked and slid. Backwards, he suddenly deduced because whatever vehicle he was in was moving and backwards didn’t make any sense. He tried to sit up but was roughly pushed back down.

“Don’t try, sonny,” a gruff voice said. “Just relax and enjoy the ride.”

Nathan felt someone start to lift his legs and kicked. His legs were dropped and he heard Gruff Voice say, “You’ve already been tased once this night. I have a stun gun,” Nathan felt the two points of the stun gun pressed against his right thigh, “if you don’t want another dose, just relax.”

Nathan obeyed and in just a few seconds his ankles were held together by duct tape.

“There is cop car a block back coming up fast,” said a female voice from what Nathan had judged to be the front of the vehicle.

“Take a turn and check it out,” Gruff Voice said. Almost immediately Nathan felt the vehicle make a right hand turn. The driver picked up speed exiting the turn.

“I’m strapping in,” Gruff Voice said followed by several clicks, which were followed almost immediately by the sound of a slide on a weapon. “Locked and loaded,” Gruff Voice said.

“It’s making the turn,” Female Voice said. “Flashers on.”

“Someone must have made the plate as we got away,” Gruff Voice said.

“It’s closing,” Female Voice said.

“They only ride one to a car, don’t they?” Gruff Voice said.

“That’s what we were told.”

“Make another turn and stop clear of the intersection. Pop the hatch when you stop.”

It was a left hand turn this time and Nathan slide against the front seat when the driver slammed on the brakes. Simultaneously Nathan felt a gust of cool night air. Almost simultaneously a brightness illuminated the interior of the vehicle and Nathan could see the flash of colored lights and heard the squeal of brakes from the police car.

Suddenly there was a burst of gunfire almost in his ears and the sounds of bullets hitting metal and glass. The bright lights went out; the flashing lights continued.

“Go,” said Gruff Voice and immediately the vehicle accelerated. Nathan began to slide toward the rear and felt a hand grab the tape on the ankles.

“Not so fast, me bucko,” Gruff Voice said. “It’s not a long ride but this ain’t your stop.

The acceleration must have lowered the lift gate at the rear because the noise quieted somewhat and Nathan realized that he was in an SUV of some type. Gruff Voice pushed him against the back of the front seat and a few moments later, Nathan heard the lift gate slam shut.

In the next several minutes the vehicle made a variety of turns before straightening out for about five minutes.

“Dump site in two minutes,” Female Voice said.

Nathan heard metallic clicks and then felt Gruff Voice grab his ankles and pull him to the back of the SUV. Then Gruff Voice sat Nathan up.

“I’ll be carrying you a short distance so don’t fight me.”

Nathan nodded his head in understanding. He just wanted this nightmare to end. The SUV braked to a stop and Nathan heard the lift gate unlock. He felt and heard Gruff Voice get out of the SUV and simultaneously heard what he assumed was the driver’s door opening. Gruff Voice grabbed him and threw him across his shoulder. After a short walk accompanied by the driver Nathan thought judging by the sound of light footsteps, Gruff Voice stopped and said, “Hit him.”

The next thing Nathan knew, he was in another vehicle. Again he had the bright lights and ringing ears and he didn’t think that had ever stopped. Nothing was said as the vehicle moved on but Nathan thought – he was certain – that he smelled garbage. He wasn’t wrong because he had been stungunned by Female Voice, dumped in a trash bin behind a restaurant by Gruff Voice and then pulled out three minutes later by his new “hosts”. This time it was a long ride at what Nathan judged to be normal speed. By the time the vehicle slowed, made a left turn followed by a right turn, and braked to a stop, Nathan was fairly much back in a normal state. He heard doors being opened and was pulled toward where that sound had been. He felt a sawing near his ankles and in a minute the duct tape holding them together was pulled off. He heard what he thought – and later knew to be true – was an overhead door being closed just in front of him. Shortly after the door closed, the area was illuminated by overhead lights. Nathan’s first sight, other than of the van in which he sat with legs dangling over the rear bumper and the closed overhead door, was of three men dressed in black Arabic looking dishdashas, their heads covered by black keffiyehs with only their eyes visible. Each of them held a sinister looking weapon that Nathan took to be an automatic pistol of some type, but then he knew little to nothing about guns other than his own. One of the men motioned Nathan to follow him and led him around the van, the other two trailing behind, and one on either side. On his right was a straight wall about twenty feet tall with windows in the top five feet. The bottom ten feet of the wall was a lime green. When he reached the front of the van, he and His Host turned left and walked past the front of the van. Nathan could see that on the other side of the van there appeared to be a room whose outside wall was pink Styrofoam-looking insulation. The walls were about twelve feet high. In the left side of the wall perpendicular to the van was a heavy looking metal door. His Host opened the door and directed Nathan to enter. The eight-foot by twelve-foot room was well lit by florescent lights on the twelve-foot ceiling. There was a ratty looking lounge chair, a bed with a folding metal frame, and on the back wall, a sink in the left corner, a toilet in the middle and a metal shower stall with no curtain in the right corner. On the bed were two packages of underwear, one tightie whities and the other boxers both of which came from a dollar store, four pair of white socks to fit sizes 10 to 12, three non-descript extra large tee shirts and sweatshirts. Also on the bed was a plastic box, no lid, which Nathan figured was to be where he kept his clothes. On the floor was a pair of slippers. There was a dark end table beside the bed and chair with plastic glasses and two bottles of water, both still sealed. His Host motioned for him to sit in the chair and handed his pistol to one of the other guards who had entered the room with him, the third stopped just inside the door, pistol at the ready. No. It wasn’t a pistol. It was a Taser, Nathan realized. It was then that Nathan got the feeling that although he was a prisoner, they meant him no harm. At least as long as he obeyed their rules. When he was seated in the chair, His Host cut the duct tape binding his hands and motioned for Nathan to remove the duct tape covering his mouth. Then he motioned for Nathan to give him the duct tape.

“Where am I? Who are you? What do you want?” Nathan asked.

His Host held his finger to his lips (hidden by the keffiyeh) in the universal sign for “silence”. Then after giving the duct tape to the other guard in the room, His Host pointed to the lights and showed Nathan ten fingers. Then he and the guard backed out of the room and Nathan heard the door lock and what he thought to be a bar put across the door. Nathan looked around the room and, before he started organizing his new clothes, wondered how long this was going to be his home.

Part III

The First Day After the


Chapter 14

Cambridge, Massachusetts

The first public knowledge about the kidnappings came from a video posted to YouTube by Christine Jenkins within three minutes of Natalie’s disappearance. She had lain in the doorway of her room with her smart phone aimed down the hallway and captured the shooting of Byron Weams, the captain of the lacrosse team, and as well as the actions of the three invaders seizing Natalie and taking her away. Several of the boys on the floor had taken to the stairwell to try to stop the kidnapping, but by the time they reached the first floor and were outside, Natalie was in the van that was speeding away. All they could do was to watch Zakaria flying through the air and, although distant, the crash of the car containing the bodies of the late Zaid and Dinar. There was at least one video of Zakaria’s fatal attempt at flying and one of the distant crash posted on YouTube. Based on the number of viewers before they were pulled, all would have gone viral within hours except that the Secret Service confiscated the cellphones and all copies and had them removed from YouTube within half of hour of their postings.

Quite possibly there were other movies taken, but when word spread throughout social media that they would be pulled, no more appeared. There were photographs taken. Some of the most valuable to the Secret Service in their coming investigation were shot by another law student who lived across the hall from Nathan. He was a camera buff and walked around campus toting one of his many digital cameras. When it came to serious stuff he would switch to 35 mm film. The incident had been serious, but he would have lost the shots if he had taken the few minutes to get his 35 mm stuff together. The digital camera he had used was an SLR and he immediately slapped on an Opteka 420-1600mm f/8.3 HD Telephoto Zoom Lens and began shooting as the three kidnappers exited the apartment building. He got some great pictures he was later able to sell to the media but were vastly more important to law enforcement, and that was his initial thought. He had to do something to help save his friend Nathan.

As the photographic experience continued he was glad he wasn’t using his 35 mm camera because he would have run out of film and not had nearly as many pictures. Many of them were blurry because of the camera’s movement but what turned out to be one of the greatest help were two license plate numbers. First was that plate of the SUV carrying Nathan as the vehicle passed through the light from a light post and the other was the license plate of the pickup truck the three kidnappers had used to escape. He had called 911 and given them the numbers and that had enabled Cambridge police officer Timothy Haggen to identify the fleeing SUV and give chase. Haggan had called for backup and help was coming, but it was too late. As he turned that fateful corner and slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the stopped SUV, his windshield, grill and radiator and left front tire were riddled with bullets from Gruff Voice’s Glock 17. Timothy had been quick enough to duck down and be sheltered by the engine. He realized that the shooting had stopped when he heard the screech of tires laying rubber. Then he had gotten out of the cruiser and could only watch the disappearing taillights of the SUV. A backup cruiser arrived thirty seconds later and gave chase, but nothing was seen of the SUV until another cruiser saw it two hours later and two miles away. Female Voice and Gruff Voice were long gone, Gruff Voice having departed from the SUV four blocks from the dumpster where they had left the unconscious Nathan. Gruff Voice had taken the bag containing their duct tape, stun gun and Glock 17 with attached strap with him. Those he disposed of individually and piece by piece as much as he could. None of them were ever found. At least none were ever reported to the police. Female Voice had driven the SUV down three streets before finding a parking spot. She had then walked half a mile to a subway stop and taken the MBTA to a stop near where she had left her car. The latex gloves she had worn were dropped individually into two trashcans several miles apart.

Chapter 15

Washington, D.C.

Immediately after the kidnappings

In the eventual aftermath of this tragedy, Lucille Wright was reported to have told members of her weekly bridge party that she had “... never seen Charles dress so quickly. I was used to the phone ringing in the middle of the night and that night Charles seemed to have been teleported from prone in the bed to upright and walking toward the bathroom. He always kept his clothes for the next day on a clothes butler in the bathroom. I swear the phone was never away from his ear even when he was in the shower. I couldn’t tell for certain what had happened, but knew that it was bad and concerned the president’s children. I got up and made him a cup of coffee and a thermos with a second cup to hold him on the way to the office. It was barely ready when he came downstairs and was out the door with the coffee mug in one hand and his briefcase and the thermos in the other. It was the first time in thirty-four years of marriage that he hadn’t kissed me if I was up when he went to work. Right then I knew that there was trouble in Washington and that it would make a powerful impact on the country and the world. He had been at the curb pacing back and forth a good ten minutes before his car arrived. I think the driver had expected to wait for him to get dressed. Must have been some land-speed record for getting dressed. And you know how fastidious he is. Even dressing in a hurry, he was immaculate, which didn’t surprise me.”

His maternal grandmother had raised Charles Wright – his mother had died giving birth to him and his father by his own hand six months later when the burden of job and taking care of a child alone became oppressive. Charles’ grandmother did everything by a set time each day – the time was kept by an old key wound clock that Charles kept on his desk even now. His grandmother was also strict about clothes – they had to be clean and pressed and, of course, they had to coordinate. Her teachings controlled his life – mostly his professional life because he tended to relax a little when he was away from the office. Some things with his clothes he let his wife take care of, but his shirts were always sent out to be washed, starched just right, and pressed. His suits were all dry-cleaned. Charles Wright was head of the Secret Service and the problem he was facing would be daunting.

On the way to Washington that morning his phone never left his ear as he was brought up to date on the kidnappings. His destination this morning was not his office but the White House. There was news that the president needed to hear from him and no one else. He was upset because his men, his command, had been compromised in the performance of their duties. Six were dead, killed trying to protect the president’s children. They had failed. No, not them – he. He had failed.

When Charles Wright was admitted to the Oval Office, President Elliot’s choice for the meeting, her husband Dexter was sitting on one of the divans. Despite the hour, both were dressed for the day ahead knowing that whatever news Charles Wright was bringing, they would not be able to go back to bed and sleep. Dexter looked up as Charles Wright crossed the room, and started to say, “This had better be good, Charles, I was in a convertible with a blonde...”, but he only got out “This had...” when he recognized the look of concern and distress on Charles’ face. Chyrise Elliot looked up from the papers in front of her and started to say, “I needed to get some work done anyway” but said nothing.

“Madam President,” Charles Wright said, “I think it might be better if you sat with your husband.”

Immediately a look of worry and anxiety came over the faces of the president and her husband and Chyrise hurried to take a seat next to her husband on the divan. As she approached him, Dexter stood and they grasped hands and sat down together. Charles Wright sat down opposite them.

“Mr. and Mrs. Elliot,” Charles started, “if I may be so informal, this morning between 2:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., there were four separate invasions at the residences of your children. Nathan, Natalie and Jennifer were taken hostage, but James was not, spared only by the fortunes of a late night celebratory party. At this point we have no knowledge of the condition or location of your three missing children. James is being flown to Andrews on a private jet owned by Michigan State University and will be flown to the White House on Marine One. We feel that we can better protect him here and he and you would be best to weather this storm together.”

“Were any of them injured?” the Elliots asked almost simultaneously.

“Not to our knowledge. People saw both Nathan and Natalie being carried away...”

“Carried?” said Chyrise.

“According to witnesses, Nathan appeared to have been unconscious because he was being carried and thrust into an SUV which then drove away. According to Mary Anne, who was left bound and gagged with duct tape, Nathan was most likely unconscious after being hit with a Taser. Natalie was conscious and put into a van, which drove away.”

Chyrise gasped.

“What about Jennifer?” Dexter asked.

“Her abduction was the only one that went unnoticed. There was a cloth with chloroform left behind so we are assuming it was used on her.”

“What do you know about the attackers?” Dexter asked.

“Not much,” Charles Wright admitted. “Since the attacks were conducted simultaneously, we assumed that all were part of a very well-planned united effort. In all cases, they had good information with the attacks starting between 2:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Each team of agents had called their base between 2:05 a.m. and 2:10 a.m. Then each pair had checked in with each other about 2:15 a.m. They wouldn’t have called base until after 3:00 a.m. and would have been in contact with each other at 2:30 a.m. and then fifteen minute intervals. That gives a maximum of fifteen minutes to take care of the two agents or an alarm would have been raised. The three men who kidnapped Natalie were all killed attempting to escape after handing her off to the people in the van. The three who kidnapped Nathan got away cleanly. Two of the men who tried to kidnap James were killed. The third was seriously wounded and is currently undergoing surgery.”

“What about the agents?” Chyrise inquired.

Charles Wright was silent for minute. “I am sorry to report that six of them are dead, all by gun shots. The two guarding James were uninjured.”

“What about bystanders?” Dexter asked.

Charles Wilson sighed. “Only one. A man in Natalie’s dorm tried to stop the abduction using a lacrosse stick and he was killed.”

“How awful,” Chyrise murmured.

“So nothing else is known,” Dexter stated rather than asked.

“Almost,” Charles Wright said. “A female student used her smart phone to take a movie of Natalie’s abduction. It, and another, showed on YouTube briefly, but they have been pulled. Of course the social pages have been bombarded with statements about the four of them, most just statements that one of them has been abducted, some say one of them is dead. James is said to be both safe and missing. There is no way to stop the proliferation of these rumors. By morning everyone in the country will know something is going on.”

“I want to see the videos,” Chyrise stated emphatically.

“Yes, Madam President,” Charles Wright said. “I will arrange that. In all instances where we have witnesses, the intruders were wearing black hoods with eyeholes – like balaclavas and wearing latex gloves to leave no fingerprints. The three who abducted Natalie were dark skinned, not Negroid or black or African American if you prefer. I find it difficult to be politically correct with that ethnicity. They are possibly Middle Eastern. Witnesses say that the three who took Nathan were too heavy and tall to be Middle Eastern and they seemed to have no accents. This is borne out by Mary Anne who said that one of them was called ‘Mike’ by one of the others.

“Now when it came to James, we were lucky. As I said, neither of our agents was hurt and we have one of the kidnappers in custody although he is seriously wounded. All three of the kidnappers were of Latino origin and worked for Michigan State. The two who are dead had green cards and the one we have in custody is an American Citizen born in Miami of Cuban parents. At this time he is keeping his mouth shut.”

Chapter 16

Washington, D.C.: White House

Since 2000 The White House room in which the press received briefings has been known as the "James S. Brady Press Briefing Room". In 1981 John Hinckley, Jr., failed in his attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan but shot and permanently disabled James Brady, who was Reagan’s press secretary at the time. There is one door permitting entry into the room and it is easy to keep tabs on who comes and goes. To make things easier for the press secretary to at least know which media group wants to ask a question, there is a seating chart.

Elizabeth Duncan, Press Secretary for President Chyrise Elliot, walked into the White House Press Conference Room and the murmur of the assembled press corps quieted. Normally they wouldn’t have quieted until she had gotten to the podium, but with all the buzz on social media they knew something serious was up and they acquiesced. As she ascended the two steps to the podium where the lectern seemed to sit expectantly, a man followed her into the room and then up on to the podium. He was about six foot three, salt and pepper hair immaculately in place. His dark suit showed a bit of rumpledness but not so you would notice although he would and did. His white shirt was impeccably starched and ironed and his dark blue tie properly tied and the knot set right in the middle of the collar opening. His presence brought a slight murmur from the press corps because seeing the head of the Secret Service at a White House Press Conference was unusual. The rumblings that could be heard among the murmurs were “It must be true”, “That’s not a good sign” and an occasional “He’s going to blow it off”. Several White House aides and two Secret Service agents, one male and one female, followed the pair into the room but remained off the podium.

Elizabeth Duncan stepped to the podium and the slight murmur hushed expectantly.

“Good morning,” she said. “Actually, and you realize this based on the rumors running rampant through the world’s social media, it is not a good morning.”

She paused, took a deep breath and continued, “Last night, or early this morning if you prefer, between approximately 2:15 a.m. and 2:35 a.m. as close as the Secret Service can pinpoint at this time, four separate invasions were made in the dormitories and apartment complex where President Elliot’s four children were living. These invasions seemed to have the common purpose of kidnapping the children and, based upon the timing and other evidence, we believe that they were directed by the same source, which at this time remains anonymous. For the safety of and, to be quite factual, the welfare of these young people, and because we do not yet know what the reason is for these attacks. we will not make any comments about them.

“What happened, again at least as far as can be determined at this time, is that four teams of three invaded each residence. Each of the children had an on-site Secret Service security team of two members. In three of the instances, both members of the Secret Service security team were killed protecting their client. While the families of the agents have been notified, at this time we will not make a public announcement of their names. In addition to the agents, one student at The University of Michigan was killed trying to rescue Natalie. While his family has been notified, the university has requested that his name not be released at this time.

“On the other hand, five of the kidnappers were killed during the process.”

Here she paused, taking a deep breath as though to gather herself and then continued.

“To sum things up as far as is known, we believe that four separate but coordinated attempts were made to kidnap the president’s children. We do not know where the children are, what their condition is nor the reason for the kidnappings. You can see that at this early hour not much is known. However, Agent Wright and I will attempt to answer any questions.”

Immediately hands shot up.

Elizabeth Duncan pointed and said, “Roger Johnson, CBS.”

“Has there been a ransom note?”

Elizabeth Duncan looked at Charles Wright who smiled and shrugged and she turned back to the press corps.

“As we said: we believe that four separate but coordinated attempts were made to kidnap the president’s children. We do not know where the children are, what their condition is nor the reason for the kidnappings.”

Hands shot up with a voice clearly hear over the tumult of shouting reporters – “Burt Simons, Washington Post. Mr. Wright, is it true that one of the invaders was captured?”

Elizabeth Duncan turned to Charles Wright who stepped forward to the podium. “You have to understand that this investigation is quite young and, as I hope you understand, took place in four different locations. Three in the state of Michigan – two in Ann Arbor on the campus of The University of Michigan and one in East Lansing on the campus of Michigan State University – and one in the state of Massachusetts in an apartment complex where Nathan Elliot lived. Information is sketchy and in fact there does not appear that there is very much to go on. We are trying to learn as much as we can from what little we know. More than that we cannot say both for the security of the investigation and the welfare of the hostages.”

He stepped back, nodded at Elizabeth Duncan, turned and walked off the podium leaving the shouting members of the Press Corps behind him. He passed by a good looking black woman wearing a blue blazer, pink blouse and grey slacks and shook his head at her then nodded back at the reporters. Naomi Richards, head of Chyrise Elliot’s Secret Service Security team, smiled and nodded in agreement, and followed him out the door along with the other agent.

On the podium, Elizabeth Duncan stepped to the microphone and said, “Obviously you don’t understand that we know very little and have told you what we do know. When we have more information, we will let you know.” Then she left the podium and exited the room followed by the other White House staff members.

Members of the Press Corps seemed not to understand that they had been given all the information that was available to give them. They wanted answers to the same questions that the Secret Service did. Answers that were not to begin to be offered until the following day.

Chapter 17

East Lansing, Michigan

As soon as it was known that one of the invaders was captured, Ron Carpenter and Thomas Schwarz had been assigned to question Raul Sanchez. The two agents had a combined 23 years of experience in the Secret Service and had spent most of it (the last ten years) as an interrogation team. They worked the Good Cop – Bad Cop routine whenever they thought it would work. Sometimes, as in this case, Good Cop didn’t appear, but two Bad Cops did. Based in Washington, D.C., they caught a ride to East Lansing on the return flight of Michigan State University jet that had brought James Elliot to sanctuary in D.C.

In truth, Raul Sanchez was fortunate to be alive and wouldn’t have been if not for the actions of agent Tommy John Watkins who had fired the second of the two bullets in him and captured him. After Raul gave up, Tommy John had called for help and used his jacket to help stop the bleeding. Fortunately when the call for backup had gone out, an EMT squad had been dispatched just in case. It arrived just minutes after the firefight ended and the EMTs were informed of the wounded man and had rushed to his aid.

He was in surgery two hours and had been out of recovery only half an hour when the two agents checked at the desk. They showed their badges and said that they wanted to see him.

“Sorry, sir,” the nurse responded. “Close family only. Doctor’s orders.”

“Who’s the doctor?” Ron Carpenter asked as he looked at her badge.

“Yeah, who’s the doctor, Nurse Ratched?” Thomas Schwarz asked immediately swinging into the Bad Cop routine.

Nurse Jane Kelly glared at Thomas Schwarz just as she was supposed to and turned her head to smile at Ron Carpenter.

“It’s Doctor Ledbetter,” she said. “I’ll page him.”

“Doctor 37, please call Emergency Admittance,” came over the hospital’s paging system and somewhere Doctor Ledbetter’s page vibrated. It didn’t take long for the phone to ring and Nurse Kelly picked it up and talked softly so that no one could hear but her. She hung up the phone and turned to Ron Carpenter.

“Dr. Ledbetter will meet you at the I.C.U.,” she said smiling and pointing down the hall. “Take Elevator No. 2 to the second floor, turn right and followed the blue line to the I.C.U. nurses station.”

“Thank you so much,” Ron Carpenter said turning and starting for the elevator. Thomas Schwarz followed tipping an imaginary hat at Nurse Kelly and receiving an if-looks-could-kill glare in return.

Dr. Ledbetter was about five foot ten inches and weighed approximately two hundred pounds. He wore horn-rimmed eyeglasses with thick lenses. His white “lab coat” was impeccably clean but slightly rumpled. Under it he had a Honolulu Blue golf shirt that Ron Carpenter knew had a Detroit Lions logo stitched on the pocket. His pants appeared to be jeans and his shoes showed a Nike swoosh and were Honolulu Blue and gray.

“Agent Carpenter,” he said, extending his hand and turning so that the nametag on his left breast above the heart could be read.

The two shook hands, and Thomas Schwarz extended his hand, which Dr. Ledbetter took, shook and quickly dropped but looked at Ron Carpenter.

“This is about Raul Sanchez?” Dr. Ledbetter stated. “I am sorry but his condition…”

“We understand,” Ron Carpenter said. “But this is a case of National Security and lives are at risk.”

“National Security? A Michigan State employee? We checked – or the nurses did before surgery for insurance coverage,” Dr. Lebetter sounded unbelieving.

Thomas Schwarz smiled cynically.

“Well,” Ledbetter said, catching a glimpse of that smile out of the corner of his eye, “He would have received the same care regardless of coverage or not.”

“Yes, National Security,” replied Ron Carpenter, his voice lowering an octave or so and sounding slightly threatening as his persona started changing from Good Cop to Bad Cop. “Lives are at risk here.”

“You mean other than Mr. Sanchez’s?” Ledbetter said.

“His life doesn’t matter,” Carpenter snarled. “There are lives at risk infinitely more important than his and he is, at present, the only person who can help save them.” As he was saying this Carpenter grabbed the doctor’s right wrist and started squeezing. The realization of pain showed on Ledbetter’s face and he said to Thomas Schwarz who stood quietly with a calm friendly smile on his face, “Okay, you can see him but not for very long.”

* * *


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