After talking to Kathy, Frank made the decision to put out an immediate APB notice through the FBI to locate the Professor’s green Passat, license South Carolina SIT 301, last seen on SC Route 17 headed North in Myrtle Beach at 7 AM. He made it clear the requirement was not to apprehend only to locate and immediately inform the FBI, who would take over the surveillance, under strict instructions to follow discreetly, using air assets when possible.
The Professor crossed into North Carolina and was making his way to I-95 and Richmond. He knew his training protocol said he should change cars now. Changing cars always carried some risk. He decided he would abandon the car in Richmond, breaking the chain of ownership and renting or buying another one somewhere in the area. Using his iPhone, he sent an innocuous text message that gave the final go for the Charleston attack. He and his followers knew few, if any, of them would be alive tomorrow. They were Soldiers of Allah who were proud to die in his name.
Jack Brandon had just finished a long call to Kathy when the first reports of gunfire were reported as a news flash. Within the next 45 minutes, there were reports of attacks in nearly all Charleston areas. A car bomb had been exploded in the Medical Center of South Carolina University. More reports of gunfire and fire bombs were flooding the news services. The Emergency Rooms of the major hospitals were jammed with the injured. Every fire company in the city was out in full force. The airport was closed. The State Police were blocking airport access roads to trap the attackers who smashed through the gates and used gunfire and gasoline bombs on aircraft loading or unloading passengers at the gates. Casualties were climbing. The Mayor called for police and firefighters from the outlying areas. The Governor asked for federal help and issued orders to call up units from the South Carolina Guard. Homeland Security promised swift help. Shelter announcements were constant. Anchors and officials were struggling to keep panic from their voices. Charleston was in chaos.
Jack knew the action was beyond anything they could help with, but decided to bring Kathy, Lou and Storm back to Charleston tomorrow afternoon. Kelly had to stay in Georgetown to watch their serial killer. Kathy was certain that Hankins was not interested in getting in touch with the Professor. The little snake just did not have what it takes to be part of the Professor’s team. Kathy told Kelly to keep a very loose watch on Hankins. Drive-bys to check on the activity level at the garage would be enough. If Kelly saw him leaving Georgetown to follow, but very discreetly. And no static stakeouts to watch his apartment and garage. Too much risk without any backup. Kathy had emphasized her concerns, but on the drive back to Charleston she had the feeling that Kelly didn’t think Hankins presented much of a threat to her.
The following afternoon, when Lou, Storm and Kathy arrived and gathered in the Brandon condo, the news was full of the extent of the attacks. People killed numbered 37, injured 115. Property damage estimates were not all in, yet calm was returning to the city. The immediate attack was over. By early morning the last of the attacker holdouts had been wiped out. Southern resolve was reasserting itself. The people’s view of Muslims had shifted from one of tolerance to a hardened watchfulness.
Most of the attackers traveled in pickup trucks. The number of attackers was not known yet, but 22 had been killed in gunfights with the police. Several of those were killed at roadblocks set up by the State Police. There were no reports of any captured attackers. Pamphlets carried by the attack teams stated they were Soldiers of Allah and the war was just beginning. Before it was over, Charleston would be Cordoba of the South, named after the Muslim cultural city in Spain that was the high water mark of the Muslim invasion of Europe.
Late in the day Frank called Jack and said, “You have now seen the Professor’s work. His fingerprints are all over this attack. With 20 odd fighters, he brought a major American city to a momentary standstill. His weakness is that he cannot sustain an effort like the attack on Charleston. He just doesn’t have the manpower and cannot get it. Although we won’t get any credit, we won this engagement. Just as we won the Vietnam battle of Tet in 1968 in military terms. I’m not sure what the long-term political effect will be of this miniature engagement. I hope and suspect that the American people are much smarter and tougher than the Muslim strategists believe. If the intent of the KKK symbolism and attacks by the Soldiers of Allah in American cities is to terrorize the population and to turn faction against faction, it will fail. But, this is not over yet. It won’t be until we capture or kill the Professor.”
“Do you have any instructions for us? It seems to me this has escalated beyond our capabilities.”
“I may need your group when we locate the Professor. In the meantime you could deal with your serial killer. National security issues no longer protect him. Justice can take its course.”