By Jack MacLean
September 19, 2014; $10.38 paperback; $2.51 Kindle
NEW POLITICAL-THRILLER FROM THE
PRIZE-WINNING FOREIGN NEWS CORRESPONDENT
High above the mountains surrounding the beautiful Swat Valley in Pakistan a Global Predator drone circles, waiting to unleash its Hellfire missiles. In GLOBAL PREDATOR by Jack MacLean (Legend Publishing; $10.38 paperback; $2.51 Kindle), the National Security Agency pursues the trail of Osama Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. When a recording reveals new clues about al-Zawahiri’s plans, the NSA’s hunt for the international criminal escalates. A special intelligence team, led by Faiza Azhad an agent on a personal vendetta, plots to catch him at a meeting of high-ranking al Qaeda leaders.
Meanwhile, the local Taliban have been stepping up their attacks on anyone who dares to educate women. The situation is growing desperate; foreign aid organizations have closed their doors to the Pakistanis. All except English aid worker Sally Hodges. Despite the constant threat of the Taliban, Sally remains in Pakistan determined to build schools to help young women achieve an education. All she lacks is capital, which is why she’s agreed to a gift from her old flame Wilkins—a man hiding his own dark reason for being in Pakistan. When Sally is taken hostage at her school, Wilkins has an opportunity to redeem himself—if only he can escape from his own Taliban captors.
As Faiza continues to hunt al-Zawahiri, the clock is counting down to the terrorist rocket attack. Can the Taliban be stopped? GLOBAL PREDATOR is an adrenaline-fueled race through the mountains of Pakistan to a shattering conclusion.
JACK MACLEAN is the pen name of a prize-winning former foreign correspondent for a British newspaper with firsthand experience of Asia. He is the author of eight non-fiction works.
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By Jack MacLean
A convoy of three dented and mud-spattered SUVs roared up the forest track and jerked to a halt at a clearing overlooking the valley they had just left. A thickset, clumsy man in his late fifties climbed out of the middle vehicle breathing heavily. He peered through the thick pebble glasses perched on a large bulbous nose, scouring the track along which they had just travelled. He grunted in approval. No one was following. Meanwhile, the three vehicles edged forward until they were hidden from sight under a clump of pine trees. One of the drivers emerged with a pair of large army binoculars and handed them deferentially to the older man. He held them in front of his glasses before awkwardly removing them and then adjusted both lenses of the binoculars. First, he raised them to search the clear blue skies above and then lowered the binoculars to examine a village set in the valley below among a patchwork of irrigated fields. Families were out in the fields scything the autumn wheat harvest and bundling the stalks ready for threshing. Then he turned the binoculars to examine a large compound dominated by a domed white mosque. It lay a few miles to the west of the village and was surrounded by a high wall which formed a rough rectangle. At the corners were small guard platforms.
It was still mid-morning and a stiff breeze was pushing a bank of clouds from the west. The group of watchers waited in expectant silence. After twenty minutes, the wind brought the wailing sound of a call to prayers. Then almost a minute later, they heard a faint sound of a small motor engine and the watchers tilted their heads upwards, searching the sky for the source of the sound. There was nothing visible. Then, as the call to prayers ended, they saw streaks from two small silver missiles targeting the compound. Seconds later, the sound of two blasts echoed across the valley. The explosions created a cloud of dust and debris as the mud brick buildings shattered. The cloud swiftly rose into the air and then the debris fell as quickly. The mosque seemed to have survived intact. Then they could hear a new sound, a steady whop-whop from helicopters. A group of six Cobra attack helicopters appeared and within minutes they could hear the intermittent sound of the machine-gun fire.
‘Pakistani soldiers,’ whispered one of the men watching. The older man nodded.
‘Allah has shown his mercy to you. Blessed is the name of the Prophet,’ the younger man said sounding excited. ‘They were coming for you but they failed again.’
Al-Zawahiri shook his head slowly. He did not share his followers’ enthusiasm. Instead he felt a familiar intense anger begin to burn inside. The Americans had somehow been tracking him and only a messenger carrying an urgent warning to flee had saved them. He had no known whether to trust the Pakistani or not. The Pakistanis had helped him escape their own attack but next time he might not escape in time. Another hour and the messenger would have arrived too late.
From the compound there was a hesitant and sporadic return of fire. Three of the helicopters lying low over the fields began strafing the walls of the compound. In the fields the farmers and their families stood and stared. A few figures began running back to their houses, while out of the compound, youths dressed in white robes and skull caps ran out and fled towards the village. In the seminary, another scattered group of men armed with a collection of guns and old rifles began firing wildly.
Within minutes, soldiers in dark olive and khaki combat gear were climbing down ladders and dropped from the three helicopters as they hovered above the fields outside the seminary. Soon the troops began running towards the mosque. A pick-up truck and a minibus which tore out of the gates on to the road leading to the village were strafed by gunfire from other helicopters hovering just above the compound. Men piled out of the jeep moments before it exploded. The watchers could see more soldiers rappelling down from the helicopters into the compound. Three minutes later, the rhythmic bursts of gunfire suddenly stopped. The helicopter’s wings stopped rotating. It seemed that resistance within the compound had ceased.
Al-Zawahiri slowly lifted the binoculars away from his eyes. Tears blinded his eyes and he let them trickle into his thick white beard. He murmured some instructions to the driver beside him. He went to the SUV hidden under the trees and returned carrying carpets which he laid down. The other members of the convoy joined the older man and the driver in kneeling down on the carpets prostrating themselves towards Mecca. The elderly Egyptian then sat up and began addressing the group. They listened in reverential silence awaiting his guidance. He spoke clearly and slowly. First he offered thanks for their deliverance and then he spoke of revenge.
‘If we get martyrdom, so we achieve that we were looking for, for the flag of Jihad will never fall down until the Day of Judgment as we were informed by the prophet of Allah (peach and blessings be upon him). Oh brothers, if we die, we meet with our beloved ones, because the gardens of my Lord are prepared for us, and its birds flap their wings around us. So they await us in the eternal residence. Verily, Allah has chosen us for his call. Brothers, go ahead and don’t look back, your path has been covered in blood. By the divine mercy of Allah, I call on the prophet thrice blessed be his name, to recognize the sacrifice of these martyrs. They are enjoying their reward in paradise but we here who have been saved must now prepare their revenge. By this hand, I swear that Satan’s attack against a school, a place of holy learning will be avenged. These invaders will regret what they have done and will curse themselves for the use of these drones. We will turn them against our enemies and see them weep over the destruction wrought on the children they claim to be protecting. Before the next Eid we will see them weep tears of blood at their folly. We will find a school and turn the sword of our enemies against their own bodies.’ Then he stopped and raised his hand and brought it down in a savage chop.
Excerpted from the book GLOBAL PREDATOR by Jack MacLean. Copyright © 2014 by Jack MacLean. Reprinted with permission of Legend Publishing. All rights reserved.