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Seals the Warrior Breed: Enduring Freedom
By H. Riker
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 H. Riker
All right reserved.
Thursday, September 20, 2001
Asian Star Hotel
1545 hours, local time
At the moment, Lieutenant Kenneth Mariacher didn't look the part of a U.S. Navy officer. He wore his sandy hair medium long, and affected a mustache that curled down around the corners of his mouth. The bright yellow sport shirt, featuring silhouettes of palm trees and surfers, wasn't exactly Navy issue either.
But he did look the part of an American tourist visiting the capital of Malaysia, and that, after all, was the idea. Both the powerful binoculars he was holding to his eyes and the compact headset with its needle mike positioned before his lips were, if not Navy issue, then government issue, and tools of his trade.
Beside him, on the floor in front of the window, MM1 Philip Lehman remained motionless behind the massive length of his Barrett .50 rifle, his eye inches behind the weapon's oversized sniper scope. Behind them, on the bed, an aluminum suitcase was open to expose the AN/PRC-117F satellite communications unit, while the cruciform antenna on its spindly folding tripod rested nearby on the floor. The sixteen-pound unit was powerful enough to acquire a satellite in geosynch even from inside a hotel room in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Although the prick, as field operators called the PRC unit, had its own encryption capabilities, a smaller unit, a KY-99 crypto device, was attached for additional signal security.
The joke within the Teams was that the Agency always insisted on using KY with the prick when they were going to screw someone.
Their Agency contact had gotten them this room, though Mariacher would have been happier with a sniper's nest on the roof. Hotel rooms were closed-in places with only a single door. It was too easy to get trapped inside one when things went sour. But the third-story room did give them an excellent view down onto the shabby-looking two-story flat across the street. The Asian Star was a hotel catering to foreign businessmen and tourists in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown district, close under the loom of the skyscrapers marking the heart of the city. The place was surprisingly clean, and even had amenities like in-room bathrooms and a hotel staff. The Kelang bus terminal sprawled just across the busy Jalan Sultan to the south, a broad avenue crowded with autos, motor scooters, buses, taxis, and even a few trishaws. The apartment was squeezed in between the terminal and the opening of an alley directly opposite the Asian Star.
A black Mercedes limo nosed its way through the rush-hour traffic, stopping in front of the apartment. Doors opened and several men got out.
"Wheel," Lehman said, his voice soft. "Got the son of a bitch!"
"I see him," Mariacher replied, shifting the binoculars slightly. Their target, a tall, bearded man in a conservative business suit, the traditional Saudi ghutra and igaal on his head, and carrying a leather brief case, was standing on the sidewalk beside the limo, apparently speaking with the driver. He was flanked by a pair of bodyguards made almost laughably obvious by their sunglasses, black suits, and the way they watched everybody on the street but the man between them.
"Red Dog, Red Dog," Mariacher said. "Forward Blue. Tag on the Green Tiger, plus two tangos. Clear sky. Over."
In the code-rich, guarded terminology of covert ops, tag was their assigned target. Tango was slang for terrorist. Clear sky meant they had a clear view of the target and could drop him at a word. Green Tiger was the code name for the mission, and was also the Agency code for the target.
A set of photographs of the man on the sidewalk lay on the bedside table. Mariacher didn't need to check them, though. He had memorized Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's face in long hours of study and preparation for this mission.
Mohammed's ties to international terrorism -- and especially to al-Qaeda -- ran deep indeed. He had been charged in a failed 1995 plot to blow up eleven passenger aircraft on their way from Asia to the U.S., and as a result he was on the most-wanted lists of the CIA, the FBI, Interpol, Mossad, and half a dozen other agencies. He was the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, one of the key conspirators in the 1993 plot to blow up the World Trade Center in New York City. A younger brother had been killed in Pakistan when the bomb he was making exploded, and an older brother was a card-carrying member of al-Qaeda. It was also rumored that he was close to Saad bin Laden, the son of Osama.
And while he hadn't been charged yet with complicity in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, it was believed that he'd had a key role in the attack. Green Tiger . . .
Mariacher lowered the binoculars and glanced at a small black-and-white TV monitor set up beside the window. It showed the sniper's eye view through Lehman's scope, recorded for later analyses or for use as evidence. Mohammed's turbaned head and shoulders all but filled the screen as he leaned forward beside the limo's open passenger-side front window. The scope's calibrated crosshairs centered just in front of his left ear.
Three pounds of pressure on the trigger and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be dead. The round chambered in the Barrett contained enough high explosive to turn a man's head into a thin red spray. Hell, a .50 caliber bullet fired at this range would do that even without explosives.
A dry voice came back over his headset. "Blue Forward, Red Dog. Copy your tag. Wait one. Over."
"Not yet," he told Lehman.
"I heard, sir," the sniper replied. He had his own com headset. "Shit. He's moving."
Mohammed had just turned and was going up the steps of the apartment, followed by his bodyguards. The crosshairs locked onto the center of his back, following him up and through the wooden door.
Excerpted from Seals the Warrior Breed: Enduring Freedom by H. Riker Copyright © 2005 by H. Riker. Excerpted by permission.
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