With the truce between the Roman Catholic Church and Gabriel's family still in place, Gabriel, Laura, and Belle begin to settle into a normal routine. As Belle resumes her modeling career in Rome and Gabriel and Laura live a quiet life in Argentina, a terrorist call begins to unleash its fury onto the world.
A man with the code name Torquemada has been chosen by Al Queda to spearhead a Jihad against the world's religious, starting with the Holy Roman Catholic Church in Italy. To the Italian security forces, he is anonymous. To Gabriel, he is trouble. When Gabriel is asked to aid the Sword of Solomon in their battle against the terrorist, he is reluctant to help, he has such both a previous history with the terrorist organization ETS and a similar connection with the Catholic Church. Gabriel has no choice but to help take down the cell before more innocent people die, including his daughter.
In this fantasy thriller, Gabriel, Laura, and Belle are once again propelled into a life and death battle with evil forces who desire nothing more than to see them destroyed. Now only time will tell if their wish will be granted.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
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A LONG WAY TO DIE
THE FOURTH BOOK OF GABRIEL
By Ernest Oglesby
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Ernest Oglesby
All rights reserved.
Spring was slow coming to this part of northern Pakistan, and the cold March winds coming down off the mountains still stung with the biting cold of winter, bitter and harsh to anyone unprepared for the vagaries of weather in this part of the world.
The two Mossad agents struggled head-on onto the wind, wrapped up in their thick sheepskins. Their eyes stung as they trudged wearily onwards. The village could be seen in the distance, and a young boy tended a herd of goats in one of the nearby fields, but he paid the men little heed. A village like many others in this region, but one in which they finally hoped to find their prey. If it had a name, it wasn't on any map they knew of, situated on the northern bank of the Indus River valley. To the south, the peaks of Nanga Parbat could be seen, still covered in snow. It was a bleak and inhospitable place.
Mullah Ali Bin Wazir was one of the last surviving Taliban who had sought sanctuary in northern Pakistan, where many of the people openly supported his former regime, still declaring their allegiance for Bin Laden. This was a volatile part of the world, as Bin Laden's followers frequently crossed into Kashmir, engaging Indian forces and generally fomenting unrest in a region inhabited by two religions, where both nuclear powers claimed sovereignty. It was now a very dangerous part of the world.
Bin Wazir had fled here from Afghanistan, seeking to consolidate a new power-base, whilst avoiding the long arms of the American President in his self-declared 'War on Terror'. Like most Americans he talked big, but delivered very little, and the Mullah thought himself safe here, for he knew that President Musharraf would not dare allow any American operation within Pakistan's own borders, for fear of an uprising against his regime by the more extreme religious elements, all followers or supporters of Al Qaeda.
Israel did not respect international borders when it came to anti-terrorist operations, and a quiet word from the American CIA was all they needed to mount an operation of their own within Pakistan. President Musharraf was indeed aware of it, but would never publicly admit it. He was playing a delicate political game, only too aware of the extremists within his own country who were trying to undermine his rule. Should the mission become public knowledge, he would publicly condemn the Israelis, who knew they walked a thin line across international opinion. They had been walking such a thin line ever since the foundation of the modern nation of Israel, and they weren't afraid to cross it if the need arose.
Ali Bin Wazir was one of Osama Bin Laden's Military Commanders, responsible for planning a number of atrocities. Lots of different nationalities had died when those two mighty towers fell. A lot of them had been Jews.
* * *
For all the unrest and claims of persecution from the Muslim world, 95% of the world's terrorists were Muslim. That was a fact that couldn't be argued. Religion was ever an excuse for acts which its own faith forbade, yet one man's martyr was another's terrorist.
Al Qaeda was worldwide these days, as the world emasculated itself by allowing the terrorist organisation to proliferate, hiding behind supposedly 'legal' front-organisations. Much of the funding came from the rich Saudi families that Bin Laden was connected to, who looked upon Israel's very existence as an affront.
Too many countries opened their borders too freely, and both legal and illegal, immigrants or refugees were allowed free access. Not many even pretended allegiance to their new homelands, but continued to live their lives the way they had always done, knowing they were free from persecution under many countries' laws. Muslims now spread over the earth much further and more freely than they had ever done under the Ottoman Empire.
Many Western countries gave too much weight to ethnic and minority groups, and politicians were too afraid of losing votes to be seen to do anything against any of these groups, yet in places like America and even England, whites were now considered ethnic minorities in some towns and cities.
Islam was slowly being allowed to spread across the face of the globe almost unhindered, and it's followers were intent on spreading it's doctrine by any means necessary, for it was a very unforgiving religion and would suffer no others.
For sheer fanaticism, Islam couldn't be beaten, because children were made to learn the Koran before being given any other education. Indeed, some never got any further education, as the Koran was supposed to contain all the knowledge its followers needed. Islam looked on the rest of the world's religions with scorn, particularly the Christian faith, often ridiculing the New Testament as a prophet's versions of the Word of God, whilst their own Koran itself was looked upon as the Actual Word of God, though Muslims conveniently forgot to mention that it is "as told by the Prophet Mohammed" so no more reliable, really.
All Muslims were devout, at least in public, and most sincerely believed in its doctrines, sure that their reward for carrying out Allah's Will would be a place in Paradise. Allah's Will, unfortunately, was not usually dictated by Allah himself, but by a variety of Mullahs, who were more practical than devout. Allah's Will was more hearsay, if truth be told, but none dare disagree openly with a Mullah's interpretation, for fear of reprisals by the rest of the Faithful. Blind faith was never blinder.
Anyone critical of Islam could be condemned by a Fatwah, for the Koran told that it was a Muslim's duty to slay any and all followers of any other religion, if they couldn't be converted to Islam, and thus save their souls. Conversely, anyone converting from or denouncing Islam, automatically sentenced himself to death in the eyes of the Mullahs.
* * *
The two Mossad agents knew what their fate would be if they were caught on such a clandestine operation deep in a Muslim country. Yet, knowing that, they had volunteered for the mission, and had been dropped into Northern Pakistan at night by one of the American Black Hawk helicopters flying covertly. Three other teams were operating across the area, but their whereabouts were unknown, and the single-burst one time radio they carried was to be used only for extraction.
They had followed the trail diligently for the last four days, listening and observing, fluent in the northern dialects. Bin Wazir and one of his three wives had been staying in this village, stationary finally, to attend a meeting of some kind. They would observe this meeting, and then make a decision on whether to take out their target or not.
* * *
Inside the house, Bin Wazir and his followers enjoyed the warmth of a fire, whilst listening to the wind outside. The old man felt the cold more in his bones these days, and he sat close to the flames. He still had plenty of fat on those bones, though a couple of old wounds ached unless he kept well wrapped up against the elements, and he needed a stick to walk, these days. Of average height, he was still dwarfed by his guest, who looked taller, even sitting down.
The house had windows of glass, keeping out the elements, unlike most of the dwellings in the town, which put up shutters in the colder months. Bin Wazir had a good view out across the valley and surrounding hills. So did his bodyguards.
The Mullah took the first small cup of coffee from his wife and sipped, nodding to the only other man in the room, who sat on the broad sofa across from him. Masoud Al Asmi took up his own cup, and drank also, though he now had a taste for western coffee in preference to this strong bitter brew. Al Asmi dressed in western clothes, and he could pass for a Westerner with ease, which was one of the reasons he had been put forward for this assignment. Trim the beard, tidy the hair, and he could pass for any number of different nationalities.
The woman offered him fruits, dates and nuts, which Masoud respectfully sampled. She left them on the low table when Bin Wazir dismissed her from the room to talk in private with his guest.
"The West thinks itself strong, secure even, now that it has broken our power base in Afghanistan," Bin Wazir began. "If they know of our reach across the world, they will certainly not publicise it," he chuckled to himself. Al Asmi nodded. "But the world weakens itself from within. It is corrupt, and has not our strength. Islam is the word of the one true God, and this 'War on Terror' will not silence us. Islam is the one true religion, and as the rest of the world wages war on us, we in turn will wage war on them!" Bin Wazir's eyes blazed, reflecting the inner fury he felt. "Islam is about to wage war on the very religions of the world," he told Al Asmi. "Centuries ago, the Christian Pope authorised a Holy Crusade to control trade across the Mediterranean, and the Moors and Turks were expelled from their conquests in Northern Europe. Our religion suffered serious setbacks at the hands of these heathens," he went on, fervently. "It is time we embarked on a Jihad of our own, and showed the nations of the world that our time is coming." His voice, well used to oratory, was having the right effect on Al Asmi, reaching deep inside him. "I want you to spearhead that Jihad, Masoud Al Asmi. I want you to take the fight to the Infidel!"
* * *
The two Mossad agents befriended the boy with the goats, talking to him fluently, with not a trace of any accent. It wasn't long before he had revealed to them the location of the house used by the Mullah. In their backpacks and within their clothing, as well as the radio, they carried some explosive charges, two machine-pistols, and one broken-down sniper's rifle. The lie of the land would determine how they planned their assault.
* * *
"Imagine if you will, the religions of the world brought down by the power of Islam." Bin Wazir went on. "Not just the religions of the West but those of the East too, all of them falling in turn, as we strike against them, one by one." He had vision, and no mistake, thought Al Asmi, a part of him reacting to the Mullah's fervour, and yet his western upbringing dredged up doubts from his subconscious.
His parents, Arab father, Pakistani mother, had raised him in the English town of Keighley, in North Yorkshire, where there had been much racial tension, as his own race soon grew to outnumber the native white community. Answering the call of the Taliban, he had made his way to Afghanistan to fight for Bin Laden against the Americans. After the rout, Bin Wazir, on hearing of his bravery and his background, had arranged this meeting, deeming him highly suitable for the mission he was about to bestow upon him.
"I want you to wage war, Al Asmi," Bin Wazir exclaimed. "Your first target will be the Holy Catholic Church, as revenge for the Crusades which drove us out of Europe those many years ago. You will take a small squad of hand-picked men and women, and infiltrate the Italian sub-continent. Once there, you will bring that country to its knees by a series of well-coordinated strikes against the very heart of its religion," he revealed. "Your code-name will be Torquemada, and I want you to test the faith of the Infidel like never before. Let him feel the fires of our Inquisition."
* * *
The town-house was on the very outskirts of the sprawling village, halfway down the slope of a low range of hills. It had a commanding look across the valley beneath it. Three cars were parked up outside the house. Vegetation was scarce, and there was no way the two Mossad agents could approach the house in daylight without being seen. They could only observe from a distance until nightfall, and even that was dangerous, lest their attentions be noted by the villagers.
There was an abandoned car, long since burnt out, by the side of the road, but it would not give either of them sufficient cover in the light of day, for there wasn't much of the bodywork left, and it was far too obvious.
They went back into the town, and managed to find a small bar-cum-coffee shop on the road that led back out to the Mullah's house. It was the best they could do till dark. At least in here their presence would be disguised, and they could watch the traffic to see if any of those cars came back along the road. It also helped shelter them from the bitter wind, and so was a welcome relief.
* * *
Back inside the house, Bin Wazir and Al Asmi were deep in conversation whilst the bodyguards did their rounds, alternating their positions every hour, lest they became too complacent watching the same piece of terrain for too long.
"I'll need a list of operatives," Al Asmi insisted. "People who can pass themselves as Italians, or foreign exchange students. They all must be able to speak Italian. Fluent would be best, but not essential. Italy is a cosmopolitan country which sees a lot of tourists. It should be easy enough to move around. Two cells of four. I'll need cars buying. No rentals. They're too easy to trace. Forged documents. Good ones. Cell-phones to communicate. Pay as you go. They can't be traced or located unless they know who's got them. We keep it as simple as we can," he advised Bin Wazir, who was pleased to see the reports about the man's tactical strategies lived up to expectations. "Co-ordinated attacks in different parts of the country, which we publicise to force them to accept their own helplessness." He indicated towns and road-systems on the map, making notations here and there as Bin Wazir looked on, nodding in agreement.
Bin Wazir smiled. "I will look forward to hearing of your exploits on CNN," he chuckled.
"What about weapons and munitions? How will they be arranged?"
"Many of the Arab nations are sympathetic to our cause, and one in particular hates Italy with a vengeance. They will assist your efforts," he grinned. "I have already spoken to contacts in the Balkans to arrange delivery of the more important items," Bin Wazir assured him.
"I am ready to give my life for Allah," Al Asmi assured the Mullah, who smiled knowingly.
"The home of Catholicism will be destroyed, and if it is necessary, your martyrdom will assure you of a place in Paradise," he promised the devout younger man.
* * *
Dusk was coming, and the three cars all passed the coffee shop within seconds of each other, as the two Israelis shook their heads in frustration. So near and so close, but Fate was cruel. There was only a slim chance that anyone was left in the house, but they had to check it out.
Back out into the cold wind and dying light, they retraced their steps along the pitted road, seeing no lights in the house in the distance. Cautious, they approached carefully, taking their time and using what cover there was. Finally, satisfied that if they hadn't drawn any fire by now, they never would, they ran the last hundred yards to the house, alert as ever for anyone inside.
Controlling their breathing, they waited for nearly sixty seconds outside the door, but could near nothing inside. One of them put his shoulder to the door, and it fell in over, splintering the frame, and breaking the poorly made lock.
One covered the other as they conducted a quick search of the place, but their suspicions had proved correct. There was no one left in the house, no clothing. Only foodstuffs had been left behind. They searched for information now, and any documents that the Mullah had left behind to reveal his plans of movements.
The upstairs rooms proved that the house was normally occupied, though the occupants had moved out to allow the place to be used by Bin Wazir. Clothes still hung in the wardrobes, though westernized, and nothing like the traditional robes worn by the Mullah, so they wasted little time searching through these.
The kitchen was fully stocked, and the dishes had been left piled up in the sink for someone else to wash, as Bin Wazir and his bodyguards had vacated the place.
The main living area was sparsely furnished. Thick carpets were richly woven, in bright colours with some sort of hunting scene. Matching large scatter cushions were sprinkled about the room, for those who preferred more traditional seating methods than the westernized sofa, of cheap plastic imitation leather, and the coffee table looked like a flat-pack from the likes of IKEA. Functional furniture, but not that expensive. Even the bulb that hung from the ceiling bore no shade, just a bare bulb.
Excerpted from A LONG WAY TO DIE by Ernest Oglesby. Copyright © 2013 Ernest Oglesby. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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