Memorial Day, p.34Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
Rapp studied him intensely. He reached out and put his arm around the Saudi immigrant. Al-Adel closed his eyes tightly as Rapp whispered in his ear. "Yes, I really hope they succeed. Do you know why?"
Al-Adel shook his head.
"Because if they do, the United States of America will end this war in one fell swoop. We will nuke your beloved kingdom all the way back to the stone age. Mecca, Medina, all the holy sites gone just like that, and it will all be on your shoulders, Ahmed. You will go down in history as the man who destroyed a religion. The man who buried the Wahhabi scourge once and for all."
All al-Adel could do was shake his head in disagreement.
"Ahmed," Rapp laughed, "that puny twenty-kiloton bomb you tried to pick up down in Charleston is nothing. We have a single submarine sitting in the Arabian Sea right now that has enough nuclear missiles on board to destroy all of Saudi Arabia, and that's only a tiny fraction of our nuclear arsenal."
Al-Adel tried to show some confidence by smiling, but he was less than convincing. "Your president is too weak. He will never authorize such an attack. And even if he wanted to, the United Nations and Europe would never let him do it. And what about the oil?" he said in a taunting tone. "You will never bomb our country. You would be slitting your own throat."
"Oh, Ahmed, you really are stupid. The U.N. and Europe will have absolutely no say in the president's decision. France and Germany will publicly plead for restraint, but only because they have to. This will be a history-changing event. They will privately agree that a precedent must be set, that those who trade in terrorism will be dealt with in the most extreme way possible. And as far as the oil is concerned, we would never be so foolish as to nuke your oil fields. More than eighty percent of your population is along the Red Sea and in Riyadh. The oil fields will remain unscathed, and the crown prince knows this. That is why he is having your family tortured as we speak. He knows if you fools succeed, his kingdom will be taken from him."
"My father is a respected man. The crown prince would never torture him."
"For starters the crown prince will do whatever it takes to save his own ass, and that includes torturing your little pissant father. Fortunately, though, your father is cooperating. He says you are an embarrassment to your family."
"You are a liar." Al-Adel refused to look at Rapp.
"We'll see." Everything Rapp had said was a bluff, but not an outright lie. He did know the crown prince, and he knew if the president called him and laid all his cards on the table, the crown prince would gladly round up al-Adel's family and begin torturing them. He also knew that if these guys actually set off a nuclear weapon on American soil the president would be under immense pressure to nuke somebody and something, and Saudi Arabia would be at the top of that list.
The driveway to the facility was blocked by a twelve-foot steel gate with an all-weather camera mounted off to the side. After only a second the gate opened and they made their way down the long, winding tree-lined drive. The main house was a two-story redbrick federal style with matching wings on either end. When they pulled up to the front door Dr. Akram was waiting on the front step looking dapper in his dark suit and red tie.
Rapp, McMahon, and al-Adel got out of the car. Rapp did not bother to make any introductions. Dr. Akram politely greeted al-Adel in Arabic, but said nothing to McMahon. He then turned and entered the house, expecting the others to follow. They continued through the house and out the back door to a slightly elevated terrace that looked down on a long rectangular pool. Akram walked over to a table where a tray of food and a pitcher were waiting.
He pointed to a chair and said, "Mr. al-Adel, if you will kindly sit." Akram looked to Rapp and McMahon, "I would like to have a moment alone with Mr. al-Adel."
Rapp and McMahon walked to the far end of the patio, where McMahon asked, "What in the hell is this all about, and who's the guy in the fancy suit?"
"Don't ask. Just observe. He's going to get him talking and if he doesn't learn anything of value he'll turn him back over to us and we'll get to play bad cop for a while."
"Good. I can't wait."
Rapp wasn't sure if McMahon was serious or not. "Skip, you don't have to participate in this. In fact, I'd prefer it if you didn't."
McMahon looked past Rapp at their prisoner and the man in the suit. "No. I'm not going to ask you to do anything I'm not willing to do myself."
"You're not asking me to do anything."
"You know what I mean."
Rapp nodded. "It might get ugly."
"I'm no boy scout, Mitch."
Rapp's phone rang and he snatched it from his hip. Before opening it, he looked at the tiny display. He hesitated for a second and then decided reluctantly to answer. "Yeah."
He held the phone to his ear and listened. After about five seconds he said, "I'm the middle of something right now. I'm going to have to call you back." Not waiting for the other person to respond he closed the phone, and said to McMahon, "We're going to have to work fast."
"Who was that?"
"Irene." Rapp winced. "Somehow the word's out that I pulled al-Adel out of the Fairfax jail."
"We've only had him for a half hour!"
Rapp shrugged. "Irene says that Justice Department is furious. She started to say something about Valerie Jones, and I just hung up."
Rapp's phone rang again. It was Kennedy trying to call back. He stared at the phone for a moment and then silenced the ringer and put it away. "We'll have to hurry. We don't have a lot of time."
* * *
Rapp walked across the terrace, and placed a hand on Akram's shoulder. "We need to talk."
They left McMahon to watch over al-Adel and walked far enough away so that they couldn't be heard. Rapp said, "I'm out of time. Has he said anything to you?"
"I've barely had a chance to get started. The only thing he's said is that he's an American and he wants his lawyer."
"Yeah he's like a parrot that way. Here's the deal. The word's already out that I have him, so we've got to get him talking quickly and as you said earlier, it would be best if he left here without any marks on him. What do you suggest?"
Akram thought about it for a brief moment. "The lemonade he's drinking has a stimulant in it. It will help heighten his sense of fear when you throw him in the pool."
Rapp looked at the lit pool and then back at Akram, a questioning expression on his face.
Akram explained, "Swimming isn't real popular in Saudi Arabia."
The thought had never occurred to Rapp.
"If by chance he does know how to swim, you'll just have to get in with him and force him under." Akram looked at his watch and said, "I'll be back in ten minutes to see how you're doing."
Akram turned and went back to the table. "Mr. al-Adel, I'm afraid we've run out of time. I'm going to ask you one question. If you refuse to answer, or lie to me, I'm going to have to turn you over to these two gentlemen. And I can promise you it will not be a pleasant experience." Akram had been thinking of this moment for sometime. It was important that he didn't reach too far right away, so he started with something simple. Something they already knew. "The bomb that you picked up in Charleston where were you to bring it? What city?"
Al-Adel shook his head defiantly. "I am an American citizen. I know my rights. I don't have to talk to any of you. I want to see my lawyer."
Akram gave him his most sympathetic expression. "I am very sorry for what is about to happen, but it must be done." He then turned to Rapp and whispered in his ear, "The key with this one will be to get him talking. Start out small. Get him talking about anything other than his lawyer, and then you can go for the gold." Akram walked away and went back in the house.
Rapp walked over to the prisoner and said, "Get up."
Al-Adel didn't move. Rapp reached down to grab his wrist, but al-Adel clamped down on the chair's armrests, refusing to budge.
"I'm not going to ask again. Get up."
Al-Adel remained st
Rapp delivered a lighting-fast blow to the man's solar plexus. Al-Adel doubled over instantaneously, releasing his grip on the chair. It would have been far more gratifying to break the man's nose, but this would have to do for now. Rapp grabbed a fistful of hair and yanked him from the chair. Al-Adel remained bent over, clutching his stomach, as Rapp dragged him along the terrace toward the steps that led to the pool.
"Do you like to swim, Ahmed?" Rapp marched him down four steps to the lower terrace and the pool. Al-Adel began to fight fiercely at the sight of the water.
"What's the matter?" asked Rapp. "You're not afraid of the water are you?"
Al-Adel leaned back at first, locking his knees in an attempt to stop his progress toward the water. Rapp yanked harder on the man's hair and stood him up. With only a few steps to go al-Adel let his legs go limp, and collapsed to the ground. McMahon showed up just in time and grabbed him by the feet. Rapp grabbed one hand and then the other, and after two swings they launched the terrorist into the middle of the deep end, orange prison jumpsuit and all.
Rapp watched him flounder as he walked around to the other side of the pool to grab the skimming pole. Al-Adel definitely did not know how to swim. He was thrashing about, flailing his arms in every direction, gasping for air and getting mostly water instead. Rapp took off his suit coat and grabbed the long aluminum pole. He swung the basket out over the pool and put it right in front of al-Adel's face. For a second he thought the idiot wouldn't realize it was there, and that he'd actually have to jump in the pool and save him. Fortunately, one of his flailing arms hit the basket and he grabbed on.
Rapp leaned back on the pole with his right hand and used his left hand like a fulcrum to lift al-Adel's head and shoulders out of the water. The terrorist hung onto the basket like rat clutching a piece of flotsam from a shipwreck.
"Ahmed," Rapp said in a loud voice. "If you say you want your lawyer even once, I'm going to rip this away from you and let you sink to the bottom. Alright?"
He didn't answer right away so Rapp shook the pole.
"Yes! Yes! I understand!"
"Now, Ahmed, listen to me very carefully. Where were you taking the bomb that you picked up in Charleston?"
Al-Adel clutched the basket at the end of the pole, his eyes shut tight, his entire body shaking with fear.
Rapp repeated the question even more forcefully and then started counting. When he got to five and al-Adel hadn't answered he released all tension on the pole and drove the basket and the clutching terrorist down under the surface of the water. Rapp held him under for only two seconds, but he knew it was an eternity to a man who didn't know how to swim. He leaned back hard on the pole, and a sputtering al-Adel popped to the surface. Rapp shouted the question again, but this time didn't even bother to wait for an answer. He saw al-Adel open his mouth wide, gasping for air, and drove him right back under.
Rapp pulled him back up a split second later, and this time he was rewarded with an answer. Al-Adel screamed the two words, spit out a mouthful of water, and sucked in a gulp of air for his starving lungs. Rapp couldn't believe what he'd just heard. He looked across the pool at McMahon and then repeated his question yet again.
Al-Adel gave the same answer again, and when Rapp threatened to send him back under he began blabbing in earnest, spewing out detail after detail as he clutched for dear life to the aluminum pole.
* * *
Rapp and McMahon had a plan. They'd had thirty minutes to discuss it and to try to poke holes in it. They had spoken briefly to their bosses; Rapp to CIA Director Kennedy, and McMahon to FBI Director Roach. They would discuss nothing over the phone. No, they would not tell them where the missing prisoner was. They were on their way to the White House where they would meet them in the Situation Room at midnight. Neither boss was happy about this, but neither Rapp nor McMahon cared. They would face all their accusers in one room, and truth be told, it wasn't their bosses who had them worried. They would do the right thing. It was the others, the president included, who they were wary of.
The president needed to see firsthand that there were people in his administration, people who had been chirping in his ear, whom he should not be listening to on issues of counterterrorism and national security. Once Rapp told the president what they had found out, these very people would inundate him with bad advice, bad advice that could lead to the premature detonation of the second weapon.
It was for that reason alone that Rapp and McMahon had decided to keep everything from their bosses until everybody was in the same room. To do this right they needed to give their detractors the chance to go berserk and lose their cool, to promise to take away their jobs and pensions, and to threaten them with prosecution, and they needed them do it all right in front of the president. Because when the other shoe dropped, they would be left looking like utter fools.
Secret Service Agent Jack Warch was waiting for Rapp and McMahon under the awning on West Executive Drive. Rapp had called Warch and asked him to meet them. He was wearing his tuxedo from the state dinner, and he looked worried. As Rapp and McMahon stepped onto the curb he said, "Just what in the hell is going on?"
"Too much to explain, Jack. You're just going to have to trust me on this one."
"You know I'm not supposed to get involved in stuff like this, but you've got some really pissed-off people in there. Jones wants your balls on a platter, and so does that other broad from the Justice Department. Even your bosses don't sound too supportive, and the president well, let's just say I haven't seen him this mad in a long time."
"Good," Rapp said and he meant it. "Is the president in the Situation Room?"
"He's on his way over."
Rapp checked his watch. "I need you to do me one other favor, Jack. Irene told me Marine One is here."
"How long before it's ready to take off?"
"And how late does the president usually stay at this type of event?"
"Normally about midnight is his limit, but this one's a pretty big deal. Where the hell are you going with all of this, Mitch?"
"In about five to ten minutes, the president is going to come out of this meeting and he's going to tell you he wants to go up to Camp David tonight, because he wants to get up early and play a round of golf with the British prime minister and the Russian president."
"The Russian president doesn't play golf."
"Then he's going to ride in the cart. I don't give a shit. All I'm telling you is that I want all three of them and their wives on Marine One in fifteen minutes. I want them safely out of the city, and I don't want the press to get the slightest whiff as to the real reason why they're leaving. Do you get my drift?"
The head of the president's detail slowly nodded. "I think so."
"Good, and, Jack, you never heard this from me. This was the president's idea. He thought it would be a good idea to spend some time alone with his fellow leaders in a more low-key environment. Spread that around to your agents. That way if they get hit up by the press they'll be none the wiser."
Rapp could tell Warch was thinking of something else. Taking a stab at it he said, "Relax, you live up by Rockville, right?"
"Your family's fine. Just make sure they don't try to come downtown tomorrow."
Rapp's phone rang. He checked the number and answered it. "What's up?" He listened for about twenty seconds and then said, "Thanks," and hung up.
Rapp looked at McMahon. "They just finished the polygraph. Everything checked out."
"Any chance he beat it?" McMahon asked.
"No way. I don't think even I could fool these guys."
Warch put his hand up and touched his flesh-colored earpiece. Both McMahon and Rapp knew someone from his detail was talking in his ear. Warch turned and said, "Let's go. The president is in the Situation Room."
They followed him through the door, past the uniformed Secret Service officer sta
* * *
As they had planned, both McMahon and Rapp stood in silence and took the abuse. In the room were both their bosses, National Security Advisor Haik, Attorney General Stokes, the president, Chief of Staff Jones, and Peggy Stealey. Everyone was sitting with the exception of Rapp, McMahon, and the two people doing most of the talking, or more accurately, the yelling.
National Security Advisor Haik didn't say a word, and their bosses were also silent, but by the looks on their faces they'd just gone through one hell of a tongue-lashing. Attorney General Stokes sat next to the president, and although he wasn't talking, he looked extremely disappointed that two men who should clearly know better would be so reckless. The president for his part was clearly angry. His tense jaw and the fact that he made absolutely no effort to rein in the two screaming women on the other side of the table told the whole story.
Rapp actually enjoyed it. Knowing what was coming next allowed him to do that. To make matters even more interesting, he was beginning to get the impression that both Jones and Stealey were not quite sober. The Situation Room wasn't that big, and from across the table he could smell the alcohol on their breath. In addition they'd each slurred a few words and their eyes had that semiglassy look that people get when they're either tired or have had one too many cocktails.
Rapp waited for a pause and then asked in a confident, nonemotional tone, "Are you done?"
The manner in which he asked the question sent the two women to new heights of indignation. Jones thrust a ringed finger at him from across the table and yelled. "That's it!" She turned her attention to the president. "I have been warning you for two years that he is a loose cannon! I told you that he was going to do something that would embarrass you and this administration, and now he's done it!" She looked back at Rapp. "Do you have any concept of the law? Do you have any idea the position you have put the president in?"
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes