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The operation was designed as a direct hit to one of the most vulnerable institutions in the United States: the public school systems. In the age of terrorism, the thunderous clap of explosives, scenes of airplanes crashing into buildings, and suicide bombers were epidemic, but such events had become increasingly hard to bring to the North American continent. Explosives could be traced. Commercial aircraft were well guarded. Lone gunmen or car bombers simply couldn't cause enough casualties at one time to make a major impact on the psyche of the United States of America as 9/11 had achieved. Something better and easier to deliver was needed. Something that would make an even bigger impact.
Jamail Akmuhd thought he had the answer. He had studied the history of the precursor to the weapon he planned to use. It was developed a hundred years before in World War I when mustard gas and chlorine gas were first used on the battlefield-chemical warfare. Such weapons were refined further and became much more lethal during the long cold war between communism and democracy in the latter part of the previous century. Hideous biological and chemical weapons such as mutated smallpox, lethal viruses, and nerve gases so deadly a small amount might suffice to kill millions were developed but never used.
Jamail was well aware that the problem with most of those agents was in the delivery. Gases dissipate. Viruses mutate and die out, and vaccines may be created to negate their effect. Nerve agents were nice, Jamail had found, if only they didn't have to vaporize and be inhaled, or skin contact wasn't necessary. Fortunately, for his purposes, there was arenegade Muslim chemist from Russia on the loose who had previously worked in the development of the nerve agents for the defunct USSR. He had managed to make his way to the Middle East where his path had fortuitously crossed with Jamail's.
Jamail had more than adequate financing and the means to get into the United States. Boris Androvsky had a burning hatred of the West and was in desperate need of money in his old age. He also had knowledge of a perfect agent for terrorist warfare, one which would strike fear into the very soul of The Great Satan. The two men seemed to be made for each other.
Boris had developed a formula for a pernicious nerve agent that, when added to food or drink, became effective upon ingestion. Its tiny individual molecules were able to resist digestion long enough to reach the bloodstream and could, therefore, be carried to the brain. The molecules had a special affinity for the neurons of brain tissue. There it caused symptoms mimicking those of viral diseases such as Saint Louis Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and the like, but this agent carried a much higher morbidity rate than the viruses. It worked by an entirely different physiological process. Andovsky had never produced more of the agent than what was necessary for his experiments while working in the USSR, nor had he brought any notes on manufacturing methods of the nerve agent out of the country with him. However, Andovsky had something just as good as a whole book of notes: a near eidetic memory. He didn't have to commit the information to paper or digital format. Or so he thought.
When the treaty that banned biological and chemical warfare was signed into law by the new Russian government, Boris Andovsky was suddenly without a job and with no means of support. His whole career had been focused on nerve agents. When the terrorists began to redouble their efforts after 9/11, he began to make cautious inquiries into several of the most prominent terrorist organizations in the Muslim world.
What Jamail really liked about Boris' nerve agent was that it was so incredibly effective that it could be efficiently concentrated for the couriers and later diluted back up to aliquots still easy to handle and transport. It was almost perfect in that it could be easily smuggled across the porous borders between Canada or Mexico by human mules. They didn't even have to know what it was, only where to leave it once across the border. One small vial could be diluted and disguised as cologne or mouthwash and still retain sufficient strength to be again diluted to parts per tens of thousands in food or drink.
Boris and Jamail came to a meeting of minds. For the moment, they both were unknown to authorities and were able to travel without difficulty. With Jamail's money, they set up shop in a corner of a small pharmaceutical factory in Mexico that manufactured legal cough suppressant, aspirin, and other generic medicines. The company also produced some illegal non-generic drugs, which it had no license for, but underpaid inspectors and policemen were very cooperative. All the products were sloppily produced and of varying degrees of effectiveness, but the packaging was very professional and almost impossible to distinguish from the legitimate variety. Jamail simply provided enough money for space in the factory and the use of a few of their technicians. While this was going on, Jamail set up his sleeper agents in the United States. Kitchen workers were always in demand because of the turnover was so high in the low paying jobs. Within a few months, he and Boris were finished at the pharmaceutical company, the sleeper agents were ready, and the plan moved on.
Boris flew to England, quite legitimately, while Jamail made his way across the border into the United States by less approved methods; however, he arrived there nevertheless, along with his covey of mules who transported the supply of nerve agent. A few were caught, but their cargo was adequately disguised and so innocuous that it would never be analyzed even if confiscated. The very few mules who were caught dropped their cargo to the ground and left it to mingle with the rest of the detritus littering both sides of the border.
The last stage of Jamail's journey took him to Houston, Texas where he quickly became lost among its multiethnic population and met with his mules. He collected the concentrated nerve agent from them and cautiously began his travels, contacting his sleeper agents. He passed out his supplies of the nerve agent along with instructions on how and where to use it on the target date. Jamail wanted it all to happen as near to that date as possible. Boris had suggested that it be insinuated into milk supplies of schools, but that proved too difficult; Jamail settled on pudding. That would work just as well, and it was almost always served once a week. He passed that bit of information on to his agents and went on his way, happy in the knowledge that the strike couldn't be halted now. Soon , he thought. Soon, and the Great Satan will know the pain I felt when my children died under the bombs of the cursed Americans in Iraq. The pain will be repaid a hundred, a thousand times, and if I remain free, I can do the whole thing over and over again. It was such a wonderful feeling that he even went to a mosque and prayed for the first time since he lost his family. Perhaps Allah was merciful after all!
After that, Jamail waited. Even after the first few schools were seeded and the poison ingested, it would be days before symptoms began to appear. That was what was so wonderful about it! By then, other schools would have been struck. After all, who ever inspected the pudding in schools? Just thinking about the havoc and death and the idea that he could inflict the tears and pain he had suffered upon others, caused him to hug himself in the delicious agony of anticipation. All in all, the pudding in four high schools, three middle schools, and one primary school were laced with the chemical. They were located in different cities in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Jamail could hardly wait to see how many deaths he caused.
When the first children began falling ill, he was almost beside himself. After a while, his enthusiasm waned and then vanished altogether.
The children weren't dying! In the name of Allah, why weren't they dying? They weren't even becoming seriously ill; they just became sickened enough to merit outpatient medical attention. Only some of the youngest primary school students required hospitalization. The older ones were treated by doctors in their offices and were back in school a day or two later. If it hadn't been for the fact that the same symptoms were evident at so many different locations, terrorism wouldn't have been suspected at all; it would have been passed off as an unidentified case of mild food poisoning.
Jamail became so sleep deprived and deranged because of the failure of his great plan that he loaded his machine pistol and went on a suicidal shooting rampage at a primary school parking lot just as classes were letting out. He slaughtered a dozen children and several adults before he was gunned down by the lone policeman on duty.
Had Jamail Akmuhd stuck around to see the ultimate result of his great plan he would probably have remained alive long enough to look up Boris Androvsky and personally torture him to death. As it was, Jamail's cohorts did the job for him despite the Russian's pleas for mercy. Even though it was the old chemist's memory of the chemical formula that went slightly wrong, failure on that large a scale, which resulted in the eventual arrest of many of Jamail's cohorts, was not tolerated. He was shot five times in the belly and left in a locked room to die in agony.
Copyright © 2005 Darrell Bain