Precisely at noon, Jack heard a tap on the hotel room door. Verifying it was Frank by looking through the peephole, he opened the door.
Frank looked around the suite, saw the table set for lunch with his sandwich under a warmer and said, “It is really very nice to have assets that can afford to pay for their own safe meeting place, not to mention the Reuben under glass, oops, silver.”
“My father taught me that, every once in a while, you have to cater to the proletariat. Please be sure to sign the guest book for the record.”
“If you remove the silver cover from my Reuben before it freezes, I can eat and pass on words of wisdom.”
As they sat down at the table, Frank said, “Has Kathy arrived yet?”
“Not yet. I expect her today.”
“She was very good when she worked for me. I’m amazed at how much better she is after 18 months with you. She is by far the best investigative asset I can call on. She has the ability to put herself into the mind of her target and pick up the trail. Once on the trail, she is like a pit bull. Nothing deters her. She just runs over anyone who gets in her way.
“The Professor would be more careful, if he knew how easily Kathy is able to back-track his movements. It’s almost as if she can visualize his every action. I can’t explain it. She just moves ahead where my other people would report the trail was too cold. You can’t teach what she does. That old story, you either have it or you don’t. What happened to her the last year and a half?”
“I can’t give you a good answer, but the change I’ve seen is in her confidence level. None of her movements, actions or thoughts are tentative. I thought she was always holding back and leery of committing herself. Not anymore! She has also taken on the mentoring of our new member, Anita’s daughter, Kelly. Kelly worships her and is rapidly becoming another Kathy Grayson. During the attack on our Charleston house, she killed two of the attackers face-to-face while she was totally naked. Afterwards she said, ‘I just did what Kathy taught me.’ I think taking Kelly under her wing has made Kathy even more positive. She no longer has any fear for herself. Anita’s death in some ways has strengthened her. You know Anita was her big sister and her mentor.”
“That helps. Thank God she’s on our side. We’re going to need her, if my thoughts about the Professor are correct. Tell me in more detail about the Hankins’ story and the shootout at Walmart.”
Jack recited the entire story, including the fight Kelly had with the killer, and the water boarding interrogation. Jack asked Frank about the CIA surveillance and capture of the one shooter who ran from the parking lot.
Frank said, “He was captured at a rented condo in Conway, SC. It was all done very quietly. His interrogation took too long for the intel to be actionable. You know, we have certain ‘law and order’ rules we must follow to ensure these dedicated terrorists are given their full rights. In this case the terrorist was an American citizen but had knowingly engaged in an active war against his country. Anyway, he told us very little. I don’t think he knew much. The Professor is a believer in ‘need to know.’ He compartmentalizes even the most trivial of information. He loses efficiency and initiative, but gains a strong security shield. According to this home grown terrorist, the Professor is going to carry his war to the Nation’s Capital, and he has a Jihadist hero to lead his campaign, but most of his soldiers are American-born citizens.
“We know the Professor likes to use sniper teams, and he is quite good about deploying them. We know his best sniper, Al Hasini, came into the country through the Minneapolis Airport last year. We don’t know where he went from there. Our facts end there. The rest is analysis from my shop and from my personal knowledge of the Professor and his work. I believe that Hasani was sent here early to get established. Primarily to put together a team of snipers. I guess the number to be less than ten. I also believe they are Americans who have been trained in the terrorist camps. A few of my analysts believe some of them got their training in survivalist camps in the US. A few of these camps have an ‘advanced’ shooting training. They are hard to monitor and we don’t have good information on what they do or who went there.
“I’ve two areas I want you to cover for me. The first is applying your knowledge of sniper operations and Hasani, in particular. I want you to think like Hasani would in attacking the Washington, DC area. The Professor will pick the targets, but Hasani will select the shooting sites.
“Assume you have 5 to 10 shooters on your team, and your assignment is to severely impact the life and functioning of the city and its people. Also assume the sniper operations will go on for several days. First, select the target or targets and then, the shooting sites for the targets. Use the capabilities of all your people. I can supply you with target information and any technical gear you may need, including ground and air transport. Oh, and I want you to begin now. What do you think?”
“Are you sure this job is hard enough for us? God, Frank, of course we’ll do our best, but this is an immense undertaking for five people.”
“Yes. I know, but your capabilities are special. You won’t waste time taking on the universe. My hope is that you will uncover our city’s weakness to sniper attacks and be able to focus on real targets. The professor is pragmatic and has only limited resources and a limited time to damage the well-being of our people. He will spend the lives of his team, including his own. He needs success and world media attention. I’ve put together an internal Counter Terror Center team to help. They can provide logistics, analytic support, research, satellite photography and whatever information the Government uncovers once the party begins. The Administration, for all its shortcomings on supporting the war on terror, has one clear goal and that is to reelect the President. Letting terrorists cause the population to lose faith in the Administration’s ability to keep them safe is not in their play book. You will get my total support.”
“Okay. We’ll need a helicopter on standby in some easily accessed place that will fly us around the metro area whenever we need it. If funds are a problem, just tell me and I’ll pay for the ride. Two pilots should be enough. Can you make that happen?”
“Yes. I’ll arrange for the helicopter and two pilots. What else?”
“Two Heckler & Koch PSG1 rifles and 500 7.62 x 51 NATO rounds, 6 x 42 telescope sights, 20-round magazines, sound suppression and the best night vision gear for two two-man teams. Detailed military tactical topographical maps starting from two klicks outside the Beltway and recent satellite photographs of the same area. To start, the resolution does not have to be the best. Add a couple of good imagery analysts to your team.”
“You got it. Call me and tell me where to deliver the gear. The chopper will be at the Leesburg Airport in two days. I’ll brief the pilots on getting approval for their flight plans and give them a phone number to call in any conflict with the authorities.”
“My team should all be at my father’s house by now. I’ll develop an approach to this operation and keep you informed.”
As Jack walked Frank to the door, Frank said, “You know your father would be very proud and impressed with your record. He was outstanding on espionage problems, but I think he would say that your skills in the counter-terrorist arena are better than his. If you weren’t so effective as an operator, I’d try to get you to do some training. This meeting place worked well. If you see no problems, we can do this again. Good luck.”