Returning, Jack and Lou found the rest of the team busy planning a mission. They had seen the news, including the report of a man killed by gunfire after being hit by an SUV. Jack called Frank, who came on the line after a couple of minutes. He said, “Jack, the guy killed on the Parkway was one of the shooters. He was carrying a handgun and a spotter scope. No identity documents. We have several 911 reports of this man being shot after being hit by a car. He was hit twice in the head from very close range. Obviously, a case of making sure he didn’t talk. The same reports said the killer jumped into a white pickup truck on the westbound lane. We have an APB out. I suspect they’ve already dumped the truck, probably in some big parking area. That’s part of the Professor’s M.O. Police are now searching all the parking areas between McLean and the Beltway. We should have the truck in an hour or so. Do you have anything?”
“Not much. Ten shots and ten hits from four to five hundred yards. Nearly exactly 10 seconds apart. Some of the targets were moving, maybe 20 mph. First shot was a head shot. Only a sniper with Hasani’s skills would take a head shot from that distance when he didn’t have to. The shooter was definitely Hasani. He never left any wounded behind. He always had them killed or he did it himself. He made a mistake, not realizing it is suicidal to cross the Parkway on foot when the traffic is moving fast and close. On the day or days he did his casing, the traffic could have been less dangerous. I have two suggestions. Circulate the Professor and Hasani’s pictures. Second, they will need to replace the truck. Canvass for anyone buying a used pickup, panel truck or van and paying cash. Unless they steal a vehicle, they have to pay cash. Oh, one more. I know you have people checking all the relevant cameras, but please tell us if anyone gets a hit.
“They’ll attack somewhere tomorrow. The same target should not be ruled out. If I provide some coordinates, can you have police or military counter-sniper teams in place? Tell them to set up only in the designated area and not to change positions. We don’t want to lose people to friendly fire.”
“Okay. I’ll take care of it.”
Jack rejoined the group. TV monitors covering major news channels were back to back with talking heads discussing who could be responsible, what could the motives be and what could the authorities do to make the roads and bridges safe for commuters.
Jack said, “I’m sure we’ll have another attack tomorrow. We need a list of probable targets now. Let’s cut the search area down with some common sense factors. I’ll start. The sniper’s target has to be worthwhile. Assume the target is the transportation infrastructure. Heavy predictable traffic, potential to cause major tie ups and spread terror. There must be an escape route the authorities cannot shut off with a quick road block. Drop offs and pickups require coordination and luck. Hasani would sooner have a place to park his transportation. Transportation could be one or two motorcycles. Okay. Give me some help.”
Lou said, “The targets will be random. He doesn’t have to search or wait for a designated target. Rush hour in this area is several hours long. He is not forced to meet a time schedule, so the sniper has an advantage. He can pick any few minutes to attack any of dozens if not hundreds of targets, while we have to cover targets 24/7.”
Storm said, “Keep it coming, this is good stuff and I’m getting it all down. I think the coordination link with this sniper has to be a cell phone. Therefore, all the areas we pick should be monitored for cell calls that match any intercepts from today’s attack. I suspect the cells they use are buy-and-throw units. Did they buy them all in advance or as they need them? Jack, your friends might check into their data banks.”
Kathy said, “There are too many targets to protect. Even with a lot of help, they cannot all be covered. My suggestion is that we cover a few, say three or four with on-ground teams and the rest we cover from the air. Two helicopters with counter-sniper teams in the air during time of greatest threat. As soon as we get the first report of an attack in progress, the nearest bird heads to the attacked scene and drops the team astride the most probable escape route. Other assets swarm to the same area to set up roadblocks and deploy more search teams.”
As Kathy finished explaining her approach, a news alert showed up on the monitors. Clear pictures of the Professor and Hasani were shown as persons wanted for the sniper attacks. The men were described as committed Jihadists and were armed and dangerous. Do not attempt to apprehend. Call the authorities on the following hotline number.
Jack said, “Great, that should help smoke them out. Kathy, I like your idea. Storm, you and Lou pick an area for our helicopter to cover. Lou, you and I and Kathy will make up one team. I’ll see if I can arrange for a few more. I’ll need to tell them what area we are covering. Also we will need call signs and a cell or radio link to Storm and Kelly who will man this room. Kelly, don’t look so disappointed. You need some long-gun training first. I’ll try to work it in next week. Okay, everybody, you know what to do. Let’s move.”