This Week In Israel - Dec 8, 2009
 A conservative Commentary on events in israel
KKK; TIP and El Agha Comspiracy All Today!

Hello Everybody,

Since East Jerusalem is so much in the news, what with many Europeans seeming to believe that they control a sovereign Israel, and can just declare the eastern part of Israel’s capitol city a part of some nebulous, sometime in the future-maybe Palestinian State, we thought perhaps you might like to see some real facts about the eastern part of Jerusalem. The following is from The Israel Project folks, who do tremendous work.

Next, we offer you a bit of stupidity by Senator Harry Reid:

December 7, 2009

Republicans rip Reid for slavery remarks

Washington (CNN) – Republicans on Monday were quick to pounce on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, for comparing the battle over health care to the battle over the legacy of slavery.


12/8/2009 - Scroll down to Read El Agha Chapters

The National Republican Senatorial Committee purchased a Web ad on the popular Drudge Report asking readers: "Do you agree with Harry Reid?"

Those who click on the ad are taken to an NRSC Web site called "Health Care Task Force," which asks readers to sign a petition and "stand up to Harry Reid and his insulting remarks."

Reid, who is in danger of losing his re-election bid next year, made the remarks Monday morning on the floor of the Senate.

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is this: slow down, stop everything, let's start over," Reid said.

"If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough."

 

NO DOUBT HE SHOULD HAVE CHECKED THIS NONSENSE WITH SENATOR BYRD FROM WEST VIRGINIA. BYRD WAS A KKK MEMBER IN EARLIER YEARS! (I JUST LOVE IT WHEN THE LEFT GOES BERZERK AND EXPOSES THEMSELVES FOR WHAT THEY REALLLY ARE!)

 

FOLLOWING THIS PIECE FROM TIP, WE ARE PROVIDING TWO CHAPTERS OF OUR NEWEST NOVEL, THE EL AGHA CONSPIRACY. We hope you like it, and will order your own copy by clicking on the book cover on the home page. Thanks.

 

CORRECTION: A Dec. 2, 2009 Israel Project press release, “Jerusalem: An Undivided Capital for All Religions,” incorrectly stated who was allowed access to East Jerusalem from 1948-1967 when the area was under Jordanian control. The release should have stated that access to the holy sites in East Jerusalem and the Old City was denied to Israeli Jews while only limited access was granted to Israeli Christians. After taking control of all of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel opened it up to people of all faiths. For more information, please see below.

EU Ministers Seek to Split Jerusalem for Palestinian State

A Voice and a Home: Arab Rights in Israel

European Union ministers, forging a high-profile role in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, are scheduled to meet in Brussels Monday (Dec. 7) to endorse a plan that would divide Jerusalem and make the eastern portion the capital of a future Palestinian state. In addition to potentially closing off part of the city to non-Muslims, the proposal undermines the future of the peace process by circumventing future negotiations.[1]

The resolution, put forth by rotating EU President and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, pushes aside the EU’s existing foreign policy on Jerusalem, which calls for a two-state solution that “should take into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide.”[2]

The EU proposal also implies recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.[3] That mirrors recent statements by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called for pushing aside negotiations and unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.[4]

Israel has been clear that it wants to move ahead on talks on the peace process. In one such gesture, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Nov. 25 called for a 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank to encourage the Palestinian Authority to rejoin talks on the peace process.
I want to say clearly to the Palestinians: Now is the time to begin negotiations,” Netanyahu said. “Now is the time to move forward towards peace. There is no more time to waste. Israel today has taken a far reaching step towards peace. It’s time for the Palestinians to do the same.[5]

Regarding Jerusalem, our sovereign capital, our position is well known. We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital. As always, we are committed to protect the freedom of worship for all faiths and to ensure equal and fair treatment for all the city’s residents, Jews and Arabs alike.”[6]

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response to the Swedish proposal, encouraging the Europeans to instead focus on getting the Palestinians to take steps to demonstrate they are interested in pursuing peace: “After the important steps taken by the government of Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, the European Union must now exert pressure on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Steps like those being led by Sweden only contribute to the opposite effect.”[7]

Freedom of Religion in Jerusalem

• Since Israel took control of east Jerusalem in 1967, the government has allowed the Islamic wakf to administer the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic). Muslim worshippers have open and free access to the site, although Israeli police can restrict entry when violent incidents take place or when there is intelligence of impending unrest. Jews are banned from praying at the site. Israel has provided access to holy sites to people of all faiths in Jerusalem and the rest of the country.[8]

• Concerns remain about Palestinian commitment to protect religious sites. In October 2000, for example, Palestinians destroyed the compound of Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus. In the same month, Palestinians attacked and desecrated an ancient synagogue in Jericho. Another Jewish site, Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem, has been attacked on numerous occasions.[9]

• Between 1948 and 1967, 58 synagogues in the Jewish quarter of the Old City were demolished and 38,000 Jewish tombstones on the Mount of Olives were destroyed. Some of the tombstones were used to build fences and floor latrines for the Jordanian army as well as to pave roads. Gravestones that were more than 1,000 years old were destroyed. Access to the Western Wall and other places of worship was denied to all Israelis by the government of Jordan.[10]

• Israel allows people of all faiths access to the country’s many holy sites. Israeli law mandates that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, has the right to visit all holy places within Israel.[11]

Anyone who attempts to hinder this right is subject to criminal prosecution and imprisonment for as many as five years as stated in the Protection of Holy Places law, passed by the Knesset (Israeli parliament) on June 27, 1967: “The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”[12]

Political and Demographic Aspects

• The UN Partition Plan of 1947, which the Zionist movement accepted, stated that Jerusalem would be a corpus separatum. Transjordan, along with other Arab countries, rejected the partition plan, attacked Israel and captured east Jerusalem. When Jordan attacked Israel at the beginning of the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel staged a counter-attack and took control of the eastern half of the city.[13]

• Some Jewish neighborhoods were established across what is now known as the Green Line before 1947. Neve Yaakov, situated in what is now considered East Jerusalem, was founded in 1924 by Zionists who purchased the land from a nearby Arab village.[14]

Parts of the neighborhood known as Sheikh Jarrah, or Shimon Hatzaddik in Hebrew, were bought by Jews in 1876 where they established homes. When Jordan took control of east Jerusalem in 1948, hundreds of Jews were expelled from the neighborhood.[15]

• According to 2005 figures, the population of Jerusalem is 719,000, of which 464,000 are Jewish, 232,000 are Muslim, and 15,000 are Christian.[16]

• The Jewish population of Jerusalem has comprised a plurality in the city since 1844 and a majority since 1896. In 1844, there were 7,120 Jewish residents of the city, 5,000 Muslim residents and 3,390 Christians. By 1896, the Jewish population climbed to 28,112, Muslim residents numbered 8,560 and the Christian population was 8,748. By 1945, the total population of the city was 164,330. The number of Jewish residents was 99,320, Muslims numbered 33,680 and there were 31,330 Christians.[17]

• Illegal construction in East Jerusalem by Palestinians is funded by the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, in what has been seen as a deliberate policy to influence the status of the city. Hatem Abed El-Khader Eid, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated that between 1998 and 2002, 6,000 housing units were illegally constructed in East Jerusalem; the Jerusalem Municipality demolished just 198 of them.[18]

Under Jordanian rule, the population of East Jerusalem increased by 860 people from 1948-1967.[19] By contrast, under Israeli rule, the Muslim population of East Jerusalem has increased from 66,000 to 229,000 from 1967-2006.[20]

Recent Palestinian and Clerical Incitement over the Temple Mount

• Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad said “the Palestinians' popular response stems from the Israeli aggression, and we are liable to lose control over events.”[21]

• The head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah said, “We will liberate al-Aksa (mosque) with blood and fire” and that he was ready to become a “martyr” to protect Al-Aqsa.[22]

• On Oct. 9, 2009 the Fatah Central Council called for a general strike in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to protest “measures against al-Aksa Mosque” and said Israel was “besieging” the mosque.[23]


Footnotes:

[1] Ravid, Barak, “Haaretz Exclusive: EU draft document on division of Jerusalem,” Haaretz, Dec. 2, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131988.html

[2] European Commission Technical Assistance Office for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, “Frequently asked questions: Jerusalem,” European Union, http://www.delwbg.ec.europa.eu/en/faq/index.htm#Jerusalem. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2009.

[3] Ravid, Barak, “Livni to Sweden: Ditch EU plan on dividing Jerusalem,” Haaretz, Dec. 1, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131926.html

[4] Mozgovaya, Natasha, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies, “Palestinians under world pressure not to declare state unilaterally,” Haaretz, Nov. 17, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1128496.html

[5] “Statement by PM Netanyahu on the Cabinet Decision to Suspend New Construction in Judea and Samaria,” Prime Minister’s Office, Nov. 25, 2009, http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/EventsDiary/eventfreeze251109.htm

[6] “Statement by PM Netanyahu on the Cabinet Decision to Suspend New Construction in Judea and Samaria,” Prime Minister’s Office, Nov. 25, 2009, http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/EventsDiary/eventfreeze251109.htm

[7] Ravid, Barak, “Livni to Sweden: Ditch EU plan on dividing Jerusalem,” Haaretz, Dec. 1, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131926.html

[8] Shragai, Nadav, “No moving Jewish lips in prayer on Temple Mount, says Dichter,” Haaretz, Jan. 3, 2008, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/940710.html; Ami-El, Mark “The Destruction Of The Temple Mount Antiquities,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Aug. 1, 2002, http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp483.htm; “Protection of Holy Places Law, 1967,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site, June 30, 1998, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Protection%20of%20Holy%20Places%20Law

[9] Shragai, Nadav, “The Palestinian Authority and the Jewish Holy Sites in the West Bank: Rachel's Tomb as a Test Case,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 2, 2007, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=443&PID=0&IID=1923

[10] Shragai, Nadav“The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Viewpoints (JCPA), July-August 2009, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=443&PID=0&IID=3052; Jordanian Annexation of West Bank, Resolution Adopted by the House of Deputies, Amman, 24 April, 1950,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/10+Jordanian+Annexation+of+West+Bank-+Resolution+A.htm

[11] Protection of Holy Places Law, 1967, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 27 1967, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/14+Protection+of+Holy+Places+Law.htm [12] Protection of Holy Places Law, 1967, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 27 1967, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/14+Protection+of+Holy+Places+Law.htm

[13] “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181,” MidEastWeb, http://www.mideastweb.org/181.htm. Accessed Oct. 13, 2009

[14] “Shragai, Nadav, “The U.S.-Israeli Dispute over Building in Jerusalem: The Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik Neighborhood,” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, July 27, 2009, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=442&PID=0&IID=3056&TTL=The_U.S.-Israeli_Dispute_over_Building_in_Jerusalem:_The_Sheikh_Jarrah-Shimon_HaTzadik_Neighbo

[15] “Shragai, Nadav, “The U.S.-Israeli Dispute over Building in Jerusalem: The Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik Neighborhood,” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, July 27, 2009, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=442&PID=0&IID=3056&TTL=The_U.S.-Israeli_Dispute_over_Building_in_Jerusalem:_The_Sheikh_Jarrah-Shimon_HaTzadik_Neighbo

[16] “Population of Jerusalem, By age, Population Group and Geographical Spreading, 2005,” The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, http://www.jiis.org.il/imageBank/File/shnaton_2006/shnaton_C1005_2005.pdf. Accessed Oct. 13, 2009

[17] “The Population of Palestine Prior to 1948,” MidEast Web, http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm. Accessed Dec. 2, 2009

[18] Weiner, Justus Reid, “Illegal Construction in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2003, p.88. Abstract available here http://www.jcpa.org/jlmbldg.htm

[19] Efrat, Elisha, “Changes in the Settlement Pattern in Judea and Samaria under Jordanian Rule,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 1977, p. 107. Details available here http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a762966273

[20] “Population of Jerusalem, By age, Population Group and Geographical Spreading, 2005,” The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, http://www.jiis.org.il/imageBank/File/shnaton_2006/shnaton_C1005_2005.pdf. Accessed Oct. 13, 2009

[21] “High Tension Over Al-Aqsa Aggressions,” Islam Online, Oct. 5, 2009, http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1254573335909&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout

[22] Abu Toameh, Khaled “Palestinians urged to defend al-Aksa,” The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9, 2009, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1254861905996&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull; Issacharoff, Avi, “Third intifada unlikely, despite Jerusalem tensions,” Haaretz, Oct. 9, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1119817.html; Lappin, Yaakov, “The lethal al-Aqsa plot hoax,” YnetNews, Feb. 6, 2007, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3361820,00.html; “PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting,” Prime Minister’s Office, Oct. 12, 2009, http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/Spokesman/2009/10/spokestart121009.htm; Oster, Mary, “Violent clashes in Jerusalem, rhetoric ratchet up tensions,” JTA, Oct. 6, 2009, http://jta.org/news/article/2009/10/06/1008339/temple-mount-is-front-line-in-this-weeks-jerusalem-violence

[23] Ibid.

-----------------------------

THE EL AGHA CONSPIRACY:

Copyright, Ernest Moore, 2009

CHAPTER ONE

Three Years Ago

The gray Toyota SUV rocked slowly over the rocks near the rolling field. The driver was doing the best he could but with the headlights off and the moon less than full, it was rough going for the four men in the back. Their gear was silent having already been taped for stealth. They braced themselves as best they could and thought of what was to come.

Finally the car stopped. The first man out popped the rear door and two men in the rear unwound themselves and moved a few yards away, facing outward. The other four, including the driver, all charged their weapons, adjusted their clothes and mounted their back packs. Without a word the six moved off at a quick walk as soon as the terrain would allow without the danger of twisted ankles or too much racket.

They were just a mile from the little kfar, or village, of Aba.

A twenty year old who led a few ragtag so-called terrorists had finally done the deed. He’d moved west to the town of Iron, near the terminus of Route 6, Israel’s turnpike. There he shot a businessman as he drove from the intersection east on Route 65. That the man was an Israeli-Arab had mattered little. The bullet cared not who was shattered. Apparently the shooter agreed.

There had been the choppers in the air, including the two from Channels 2 and 10 making a nuisance of themselves and generally getting in the way. A covey of blue shirted policemen had milled around listening to their radios and a platoon of fast response boys had combed the area searching for the killer.

Zaka showed up with their meat wagon, loaded the body and drove off. A slide-bed tow truck rolled the bloody Ford Focus up and left. After two hours it was all over. No shooter was seen.

But as Eli Drecher, Shin Bet’s politically appointed head, says, “Israel has not one track to a terrorist or criminal. We have ten. One tells his best friend what he did. That friend tells his other best friend, and he tells his, until there are lots of talkers. We only need to know one of them and we have our lead.”

And that’s how it went. The young terrorist leader who had finally proven to his gang just how tough and dedicated he was told all twenty of his group. By Drecher’s math that meant almost two hundred potential squealers. Which brings us back to the six men in dark civilian clothing.

The house of the shooter – actually his father’s house – was a little grouping of buildings on a patch of dirt salted with white limestone rocks. There was a barn for the worn out Kubota tractor, a few milk goats and some storage. A beat up white Mazda 323 was parked beside the barn.

It was now 4 AM. The time that psychologists tell us man’s alertness is at its lowest, and so the best time to hit some crazy with a gun and maybe explosives.

The six men spread out as they neared the backside of the barn. Listening, they could hear the goats snoring and little else. These men, all under twenty-three years of age except for the thirty-five year old major with them, knew the drill. Move around the house. The practice was to have four facing inwards with two men on opposite sides of the building facing outward for perimeter guards. The major would then call out for the shooter to come out with his hands up.

It happened occasionally. Some did surrender peacefully. Besides, procedure demanded they do it. This time they expected a fire fight. The young ones thought they were indestructible.

So they split up, three on each side of the ramshackle barn, and started toward the house.

Suddenly a flash of movement from the barn door. A runner sprinting away into the dark! The Major shouted, “Regha!” Wait! The runner turned and lifted his right hand toward the Major. Two shots rang out so close together they literally sounded like one loud “Bang.”

The runner had a good pace going and pitched forward and a bit to the side, sliding five or six feet across the yard. Then he didn’t move at all.

Lights came on in the house and a gun barked from a window facing the team all of whom dropped to the ground, still out in the open. The Major shouted for Yoni, the man who shot the runner to keep his attention on the downed man. Then he ordered his team to hold their fire and he called out to the house, identifying themselves as Israeli Special Unit members. Two of the men circled the house to the rear.

There was yelling inside the house. Then the major ordered the occupants outside. After a while, the door opened slowly and an older man whose face looked like it had endured two hard lifetimes stepped out. A heavyset woman with a skinny adolescent holding her hand came next.

Finally a tall young man who was skinny as an Ethiopian stepped out the door with his hands up. “It’s me you want. Leave them alone,” he called out. His mother started bawling loudly and his father cursed bitterly in Arabic.

Two men moved up quickly, one moving the family around the side of the house away from the door, the other throwing the shooter to the ground and jamming a knee between his shoulder blades. The woman could be heard weeping with a keening wail around the house.

The older man said there was no one else inside. The team searched the house while the major called for a chopper to remove the shooter. The one who ran from the barn was dead with a round in the chest and another in the side of the neck. No weapons were found on him. His body bag rode with the terrorist.

 

A squad of IDF troops poured into the area, developed a secure zone, and then the investigation began. The place quickly became the focus of two young and very different men. Inside the house was a wanna-be terrorist. The other – the runner – had been a sixteen year old kid from nearby Jenin hiding out in the barn to smoke his dope only to be caught up in a terrible circumstance.

The shooter’s Chinese made SKS was discovered under the sofa, along with a shoulder bag of nearly one hundred rounds of ammunition loaded in magazines. Also there were six grenades, some knives and two shirts with Magic-marker insignia for their fledgling terrorist group.

In the dead kid’s jean pockets was a bag with about six ounces of marijuana, papers for rolling it, a cheap cigarette lighter, and twenty Israel shekels. Inside the door to the barn was a pile of ashes; cold, silent testimony that the kid had used the place to smoke his dope, panicked when he’d heard the soldiers moving and talking at the back and tried to run for it.

Apparently he had jerked his right hand up in a “stop” motion to ward off the soldiers. The movement had been misinterpreted as the raising of a gun hand and the inevitable had followed.

A cheap wallet in his back pocket contained his ID card and a cracked photo of a man and woman and another of a smiling man beside an expensive BMW. It was a sad, stupid way to end his young life.

 

The Palestinian Security officers walked away from the house, climbed into their little blue car and drove away. They had just delivered the horrible news to the parents of Jamal El Agha. The crying and screaming out of their agony rang along the street. Neighbors were cautiously walking out on the street and looking to see if it was safe yet to approach the house of the bereaved.

Days later the funeral was over. The mourning tent was struck. Life was back to normal for most of the neighborhood on the east side of Jenin. Jamal had been murdered by the despised Israeli soldiers just a short distance away.

His mother and father sat at home with their next oldest son, Salim El Agha. They were discussing a family secret amidst all their pain.

“We were right to keep it from him, my son,” the old man spoke while looking at his shoes. There was a glass of strong coffee on the table before him. Untouched. Unnoticed.

“For sixteen years only our family knew that Jamal was your son and not your brother. It was decided, and we loved him as our own. You were so young. It was the correct choice,” spoke Salim’s mother, actually Jamal’s grandmother. Eyes that were red with blood vessels swollen from crying every day of the last ten days looked at her son with compassion and pain.

“You were a good brother to him. Never forgetting his birthday or special days. Seeing to his financial needs. You were good…”

She slowly leaned forward in her chair and before Salim or her husband could respond, she toppled onto the tile floor like a sack of flour dropped off the back of a truck. Her head hit the tile floor with a thud, her tongue protruded from her lips and her eyes remained open.

Both men were with her in an instant, Salim was dialing his cell phone for an ambulance. His father had lifted her head and was stroking her head, calling her name and moaning. When Salim closed the phone, he checked for a pulse. His mother was as dead as his first son.

The primal scream that tore from Salim’s throat was heard a block away. Not one listener failed to cringe when it tore at their ears. His affluence could not insulate him from this emotional agony.

Omar El Agha had buried a son/grandson and a wife all in the same month. His eldest son and daughter were rich as oil sheiks and far too busy and self-important to visit their father in Jenin. His other son, also wealthy, never failed to see to his parents’ needs, and was generous, but for Omar the sun never rose again after he left the cemetery the day of his wife’s interment.

 

 

Now another second month had passed. The visits had ceased. Friends and neighbors talked of Allah’s will and moved on. His opulent house was cold in spite of the dry, hot sun beaming down on it. He ate bits of stale bread, drank simple hot water instead of the strong coffee he was used to. The effort to go to the store and replenish the supply was beyond him.

He knocked timidly on the door of a house not a mile from his own. A brutish armed man answered it and required him to state his business.

“I must see Mohammed. We must talk. We were in school together. Friends.” The man nodded, apparently satisfied with the non-answer and told Omar to be seated in the salon.

Eventually a short, squat man with a bulbous nose and brutish face with the bushy “Saddam” moustache, wearing an expensive open necked silk dress shirt and cotton trousers that must have cost almost what most of Jenin’s citizens earned in a year entered the room. Surprising Omar, he greeted him by name, then embraced and bussed him on each cheek before gesturing for them both to be seated. The guard brought glasses of sweet tea with sprigs of mint swimming in them.

“Tell me, Brother. What is it that I can do for you at this time of pain?” he asked.

“I want to carry a bomb into Israel and make them pay for the loss of my son and my wife,” Omar stated flatly still keeping the secret of Jamal.

The man who was head of Fatah’s Jenin military unit looked into Omar’s watery eyes for such a long time that it was as if he was plumbing his very soul. Finally he reached over and placed a large meaty hand on his knee.

“Brother your sentiment is just, and your heart pure. I too, would feel as you do if our lives were reversed.”

“Then you will enable me to act?”

“Unfortunately no. There are events underway that would be hindered by a bombing. Events I cannot speak of today, but which are such that our cause would not be advanced by a bombing. I can tell you without further questioning that it will not be permitted. I am sorry.

“My advice is to return home, go about your life and wait word from me regarding that which you can do for the cause. Sometime soon it will be right. You can serve the Cause. I swear it. We will see what Allah wills.” With that he stood, indicating that the meeting was at an end.

Omar reluctantly stood too, and shuffled toward the door.

 

A week later, as an IDF patrol stopped in the center of Jenin, an obviously deranged man stepped from the edge of the road where he led a burro. He raised an old sword and with a long backswing, directed its path at a soldier who had just exited the passenger seat of a jeep. An observant soldier with lightening reflexes in the open Humvee behind the jeep shot Omar in the chest. He was dead before he hit the ground.

 

These events, all inside of two months, set in motion others that would affect more lives than anyone could have predicted. As is often the case in the Middle East, a small rolling stone can develop into a tremendous rock slide.

 

CHAPTER TWO

FIVE YEARS AGO

He was easy to recruit.

His penchant for gambling and losing made him a bit nervous one morning when the man with the expensive tan sat beside him at the diner counter. Sipping from steaming cups of coffee, they discussed the hopes for a professional baseball team’s return to Washington.

“Da Mayor, he gonna get it for us,” the waiter assured his new friend.

“Be lots of betting, they get to town,” the man assured him in return.

“Maybe my luck change, den,” the waiter chanted the gambler’s creed.

“Maybe it already changed,” said the man quietly, looking straight ahead.

“How dat be?” the waiter set the hook in his own jaw.

“You work at the Willard, right?”

“You know me?!” the waiter looked around, scared he was being arrested for some yet undeclared crime.

“A friend mentioned you need some cash, time to time. I might help you.”

“Ah don’ sell no drugs. Nosir!” the waiter denied a bit too quickly.

“Nothing like that. Sell what you got.”

“Man, I got nothin’! Tons of nothin’! Started wid dat, still got mose of it,” he grinned at his own joke.

“You got information. You’re in the Willard. You see and hear lots of things. When something comes up, you get in touch. I’ll get back to you with some Jacksons and some Franklins.”

The waiter knew he wasn’t talking history, but rather the faces on large denomination bills.

“I’ll be seein’ you,” said the man rising and leaving a ten dollar bill to cover their coffee.

“Wait a minute! What ‘bout da money?” the waiter nearly shouted, catching himself only in time, with the wild eyes of a stallion in a barn fire.

“I’ll be in touch. You keep your eyes and ears open,” spoke the man as he smiled and walked away into the morning rush.

It was three days before he again slid onto the stool next to the waiter.

“Hey, ma man! I was hopin’ you be back!” the waiter smiled widely. He’d dropped the last of his pay on Denver over the weekend. The bums!

“You take this,” the man said, laying a one inch thick piece of sidewalk chalk on the counter by the waiter’s coffee cup. Make a mark on the north side of the street light pole outside the front door of the Willard, about shoulder high, after you finish your shift. But only when you have something worth telling me.”

“I sure can do it, but how dat gonna hep?” the waiter was lost.

“Can you spell correctly? Can you write where I can read it?” the man was asking what he thought was a great question.

“Course I can write! Cause I don’ talk so hot, you tink I be stupid? Graduated, my man!”

“Graduating means nothing. Can you put sentences down where they make sense?” the man persisted.

And so it went. The waiter would write out a message. He would leave it in a zip lock bag placed inside a specific evergreen bush alongside a building on the National Mall. When he had something to report, the chalk mark would notify the man. When the mark was erased, there would be money left for the waiter in a different location. Simple.

 

A test was run unbeknownst to the waiter. He heard two men discussing who would be nominated for an open judgeship just a few days later.

With excitement making his penmanship almost illegible, he wrote his message, chalked the light pole and almost ran for the drop spot.

The next night when he looked, the chalk was rubbed away; the money was where it had been promised – good money! The waiter was ecstatic.

It never occurred to him to wonder who got the information or what they did with it. He had some cash! Of course, there was no open judgeship, but the system was up and running.

 

Multiply the waiter by three hundred or even five hundred insignificant people in a city and their trickle of verbal flotsam and jetsam add up to a virtual flood of information to be sifted, filtered, weighed and measured. From it all kinds of facts are garnered, and leads developed for future investigation. It is the way humint (human intelligence) is collected at the lowest levels of spy craft. It is not the collectors who are important. What is important is the fact that these invisible people – waiters, taxi drivers, barbers, hairdressers, bell boys and others – lint collectors – are around important people who are so familiar with them that they disappear. The big people talk on telephones, in cabs, to one another, and the invisible lint collectors listen, report and profit.

 

Months passed, then came the night that hit paydirt. The waiter saw the preparations for Yossi Cumi’s dinner. The table isolated just so. Francisco’s virtually dancing on his toes as he strove to make everything perfect for a favorite patron. The order to stay away at a certain point in the evening; an order that the waiter abused as much as possible, including a gaffe with the ice water which nearly got him fired.[1]

He used the small camera the man had left in a bag of money and took photos from the door. He wrote the name Yossi Cumi down on a napkin. And he heard one bit of conversational information about being able to kill someone. Whoa! These boys didn’t look like the stone killers in his neighborhood, and that’s a fact.

Still, it went into the baggie, the chalk was struck on the post and the waiter dragged himself home for some much needed sleep.

 

In Istanbul, the telephone began its irritating jangle. Finally a hand reached for the receiver in the dark.

“Da.”

A soft voice spoke for five minutes with the purr of a satisfied cat on a sunny window box.

“How good is the identification?” asked the once sleepy man who was now going to be unable to return to his rest. The purring voice resumed, so self-satisfied with his ability to deliver a choice mouse at his master’s feet.

“You have done well. It will be noted,” and the man replaced the receiver softly, then rose from his bed already wondering about this new information.

Later that day, Mikhail placed three telephone calls; two to the United States and one to Moscow. An hour later he read the emails as they came in.

One of those elegant men in cashmere coats, Seville Row suits and Italian shoes, Mikhail once had entrance to the highest offices in Dzerzhinsky Square in Moscow. He was less than a shadow in places both romantic and terrifying, and it had been so for fifty years. His story, vacuumed of names and dates, was taught in the KGB schools now renamed the Ministry of Security in Moscow. His exploits were just as famous at the CIA and London’s MI6 training schools. The names and dates were given here. The only thing missing was a clear photograph and a current address.

The USSR was a footnote in history. Most of the important men in the KGB were now independent operators or Russian Mafia Czars – or in the case of the current Prime Minister, a former KGB head and the de facto dictator of Russia.

Today the “retirees” competed against one another in the service of people who sold arms to a variety of buyers, tin pot dictators in third world nations, foreign intelligence organizations, and most lucrative of all, to gigantic multinational corporations and the billionaires of the world.

Now there was a new group of hungry young men who served another generation of Russians in the Ministry of Security. Vladimir Putin was still the power in Russia. And once KGB forever KGB. He had retired the old bears and recruited, trained and fed red meat to a whole new cadre of men and women who serve not for the USSR and the Communist dream. These people – just as godless and just as ruthless as their predecessors – worked for wealth; their own and that of their masters. They wanted the dachas and luxurious villas around the world. Their gangster bosses provided the best for them in weaponry, automobiles and even airplanes. Drugs, women, clothes from Paris and Milan, coupled with endless opportunities to maim and murder to their heart’s content kept them motivated.

These young wolves disgusted Mikhail. They were nothing more or less than gangster thugs. Lacking professionalism they used a bomb where an ice pick would have sufficed. It was sad to a man who prided himself on the light touch – the lick of a butterfly – as a sign of creativity and panache. Russian mafia ruled in too many places around the world today.

Mikhail was unsure about where to market his new product. For a while perhaps, he would keep it for future use.

He looked at the photograph attached to one of the emails. Yossi Cumi’s profile was there, a bit shadowed, but recognizable. The man directly facing the camera was very familiar. Once protagonists, they were now friends. At least after a fashion.

Wheels within wheels began to mesh inside Mikhail’s hyper-genius mind. His was not the drawer-bound filing cabinet of some. Rather, his brain was like those crystal balls one sees with the lightening that traces a hand when touched. Ever flashing, and instantly responding. The answer would come. Of that there was no doubt.

Humming the theme from Dr. Zhivago, he began packing a bag.

 

CHAPTER THREE

Moving

Constantine “Connie” Morgan was unanimously voted in as the Gulfstream V chief pilot. All the weapons were cleaned, oiled and racked in the arms room after time at the range. It had been a good day and they were enjoying their grilled porterhouse steaks and salads on the flagstone deck. The farm outside of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania had proven to be a wonderful home for the owners of Solutions.com.

“So when do we bring him aboard?” Larry asked, dipping a chunk of pumpernickel bread into the bloody steak juice on his plate..

“When do we get the G-V?” Jake asked a question in answer to a question. Before anyone could answer, his cell phone rang. Yossi.

“Don’t you ever sleep?” Jake asked, doing the math quickly and knowing it was 2:30 AM in Israel.

“Actually I find six PM a bit early to retire, Jake. I’m in D.C. Meetings with your new DCI, Secretary Johnson [War Department], the disgusting Mr. Parsons [National Security] and the wonderful lady who now heads Homeland Security. He said the word “wonderful” leaving no margin for error that he was being facetious. They have taken all my day and I am only now preparing for a short trip up to International (the location of the Israeli Embassy) for dinner with our Ambassador and a few others.

“This new administration is taxing me. Such novices and so “grabby.”

“They do not particularly care for our new regime in Jerusalem either. For a change my familiar face seems to comfort them, though I suppose given time that will fade.” He chuckled that raspy-throated near cough Jake had become familiar with.

 

The former President was out of office and enjoying being back in Texas. There was a new man at the helm who preened and prided himself in being the answer to all things. Not having the answer, being the answer.

Washing over the political establishment like a perfect storm, this Chicago liberal had overwhelmed the tepid opposition during the run up to the election and promised nothing less than “hope and change.” After only a while in office he had many in America hoping for another change in regimes – and fast. No doubt FDR was somewhere green with envy at the socialist conspiracy taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This new President had failed throughout the campaign to identify specifics, had fed voters a constant diet of what was wrong with the old President, which they had gulped down and surged to the polls in record numbers.

After he was elected, he had surprised his black brothers by installing not new, darker, eager faces, but warmed-overs from the last liberal administration, two terms ago, including the wife of that president as the new Secretary of State.

All of this, coupled with the mega trillions in spending and Fed dollar presses running overtime had served to destroy Wall Street’s hopes, infuriated the so-called civil rights leaders who had initially slammed the newcomer because he lacked “slave blood,” and then as he held his own in the polls fawned over him as a near-messiah. They were on the outside looking in and they were restless. The rest of America was either scared to death of their nation becoming Communist or lining up at the Federal trough.

Yossi was in the States along with Israel’s new conservative Prime Minister – himself a retread – testing the waters. An American president with an Arab middle name, socialist convictions and a need for more and more Russian and Middle Eastern oil did not bode well for Israel.

 

“Can you all go back with me on Thursday, Jake? I realize it gives you only three days notice, but it’s unavoidable. There are a number of issues to deal with, not to mention that your G-V will be ready for delivery when we arrive back home.” (Jake noted that Yossi had referred to Israel as “home” and not “my home” apparently including Jake as a part of the land his mother was born in and which he loved like he did America.)

“I can fly up and get you in the new Falcon. We’ll have our discussions on the return flight.

“That works for me, Yossi. Is Ehud with you?”

“Ehud has been very busy. He has more stamps in his new Swiss passport than Henry Kissinger. Zurich, D.C., Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, even Beijing. Most of those have been circles repeated about many times. I think he’s ready for the comfort of my new 7X but it will have to be another trip.” Another deep bronchial rumble that was recognized as an expression of humor by Yossi’s intimates.

“You’ll be able to spend some time looking over our new location?” Jake asked, proud of the progress made, both at the farm and the hangar-headquarters. Truthfully, the large four story building at the airport was more office space than aircraft space, but everyone had begun to refer to it as the hangar, and the name stuck.

Yossi responded quickly, “A bit of time perhaps. Do not forget to pack your U.S. passports. I will have the new Swiss ones with me, but bring your others. Also your pilots should bring all licensing and rating information with them, plus their – I think it’s called ‘brain bags.’ They won’t need it with the new computers aboard, but I think they would agree it will be good to have them aboard.” He was referring to their piloting tools, charts, computers, etc. which were carried traditionally in large “catalog cases.”

They discussed schedules further, then disconnected. Tuesday and Wednesday would see Yossi visiting more U.S. intel types and a few people Jake’s team knew nothing about.

Since the Gaza loss to Fatah, and the more recent incursion by the IDF, elections in both the US and Israel, and Russia’s new militant resurgence, Cumi’s people had been awhirl with reports of intrigue plus masterful – and at times clumsy – efforts by all the Arab players. Iran was smirking and building a nuclear program as fast as Russia could get it supplied.

Syria was bowing and nodding, talking about peace talks with Israel all the while knowing that Saddam’s WMDs in the form of gas and bacteria were stashed in the Bekaa Valley and tons of his loot was in Damascus’ treasure houses. Their North Korean nuclear facility had been blown to bits thanks to Yossi’s agents in Syria, but there were reports on his desk testifying to the Syrian’s renewed efforts to convince the Koreans into returning. With the attack costing North Korea nearly two dozen top scientists, the “dear leader” and Chief Pervert was troubled by a bad heart and a hesitant spirit. Assad was cajoling and pressuring simultaneously.

Al Qaeda, once hunkered down, was now smoothly planning attacks and leader movements from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia into Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt’s Sinai, and Gaza. A few were also already established in the West Bank.

As that was occurring, Iran’s proxy, Hamas, was shouldering Fatah, Jihad, and Al Aqsa thugs aside in the West Bank. Their evil twin, Hezbollah was back to full strength in southern Lebanon, thanks to the see-no-evil United Nations.

Hamas’s most rabid leadership had effectively neutered Haniya and was in charge of Gaza. Abbas’s forces were smiling for the cameras but they could hear the gallows ropes swishing over the crossbeam as the Islamists did their work in the West Bank and among the most rabid Israeli-Arabs. The latest polling numbers showed Hamas winning in the next “elections” which were slated for January next.

While Shin Bet, Israel’s excellent answer to the FBI, was tasked with internal intelligence, Yossi’s Mossad did more coordination with them than ever before. He shared what was national, but on the international scene, intel was kept in house except for that which was required.

Israel now experienced upwards of seventy terrorist plots a day. Almost daily terrorists were arrested or killed by the IDF special ops units or civilian intel units. For Yossi’s part, killing them was far superior. This idea of releasing known killers – and they were that – murderers, not patriots – was utter foolishness.

Yet released they were, as politicians repeatedly made “good will gestures.” That was what the media called it. The Arabs just smiled for the cameras and treated Israel’s politicos like shuq merchants treated the fools who bought without bargaining.

Oh, the terrorists signed pledges to never involve themselves in any more terrorism, but their signatures may have well as been on toilet tissue. Like many of those released from Guantanamo, they were later recaptured during terrorist raids.

One American journalist living in Israel had written an article for Israel’s largest newspaper suggesting all prisoners be bused to Gaza and released with the understanding that if they were recaptured in any kind of terrorist activity they would be killed outright and instantly.

He offered as his reasoning the savings Israel would immediately recognize with no more medical care, housing, guards or food. It had been written tongue-in-cheek, but the readers sent in “feedbacks” virtually all agreeing with the idea.

For his part, Yossi wanted to shake his hand and ask what other bright ideas he might have.

Cumi was a warrior. He loved warriors. Yet he hated war. He’d been in Aqaba for the Road Map charade years ago of course. During those days he’d quietly sat in on some of the sessions, with the Arab intel officers eyeing him – some with hatred, others with overt curiosity; all with respect. He’d smoked his Cuban cigarillos, drank his Turkish coffee and kept quiet. And he’d watched to see who controlled whom by a nod, a look or a word spoken behind a hand. There was much to learn by just being a Sphinx.

 

The dinner table erupted when Jake hung up the phone and recounted his conversation. Jake was excited to get the G-V. He’d loved his time at Savannah’s Flight Systems with Tex getting familiar with flying jets, and was thrilled to know they would soon have one of the tremendous machines for themselves.

They worked out a plan, which Harold committed to paper, with notes for George. Jake called Tex to tell him to pack a bag, along with the items Yossi had mentioned. Time away? Probably not more than two weeks. Tex’s wife “Mama” would not be thrilled with that, but she knew it went with the territory.

Next, Jake called Connie.

“Saddle up! We leave Thursday. We need you here tomorrow.” Jake was trying to be cool, calm and collected, but his excitement came though to Connie.

“Hi Jake. How are you? Yes, I’m fine, thanks for asking. And your family? Are they well?” Connie asked laughing. He had told his boss just today that he felt his departure was getting close.

“Okay. You’re right. How are you? Blah. Blah. Blah. Now can you be here?” Jake asked and laughed.

Connie smiled, “Yes, I’ll be there tomorrow. Thanks for the long lead time. Actually, there’s a training flight at FS that can be reworked and they’ll drop me at KMDT. I’ll call you with the arrival time. Do I need a motel room?”

“No, you can bunk here. The house is large, and we have a spare room. We’re headed overseas. More detail when you get here. Just bring your brain bag, U.S. passport and all your license info.”

“See you tomorrow, Jake. And thanks for the opportunity,” Connie said seriously.

“Glad to have you aboard.” Jake disconnected, sat back and nodded when Larry held up the coffee pot.

Harold was writing on his ever-present legal pad. Larry had been offering ideas as Jake was on the phone. They had a page almost filled with “to-do” items. The enthusiasm level had moved into the red-zone.

“Be great to get back to Israel,” Jake offered quietly as Larry filled his cup, then Harold’s and his own.

“Yeah, we can load up on Krakatoa from the Coffee Mill!” Larry teased, semi-seriously. The blended coffee was a favorite of all the team.

Harold looked up from his notes, “This will be the first time for me since your mother and I visited there just before you were born, Jake.” A hurt look filled his eyes, and his nose seemed to redden a bit as he thought back to that trip when they’d believed they had a full life time of love and adventure – he a new college professor and she talking about taking rugs back to the U.S. for her new home.

Now she was gone and he was making this trip as a sort of re-tread warrior. The old Jewish proverb was right. If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans. Harold cleared his throat, and Jake reached out to touch his father’s hand. He too, felt the instant stab of pain at the mention of his mother.

For his part, Larry pretended to miss the exchange. This open tenderness between men – even family or friends – was not something he grew up with. He appreciated it, but still, he was uncomfortable.

“We can bring the coffee back, Larry,” Harold said in a voice trying to sound normal. “With our passports, we can smuggle coffee in. Of course, I seem to remember that you and Jake always brought me some back in your checked luggage every return trip on regular flights, too.” He laughed then got very serious.

“Fellows, I have to tell you, this flying in private jets, diplomatic passports, and having real money is still like some kind of dream to me.” Harold sat back from the table a bit and looked at the two young men.

“It’s like when you’re dreaming but know you’re asleep and waiting for the alarm. I still expect to hear the buzzer, snap it off and get up, wishing I could have stayed asleep and enjoyed it longer.”

“You know, Dad, I was thinking that same kind of thought the other day when Connie and I were flying. I looked around the cockpit and remembered the flight we took from Boise in the King Air a couple of lifetimes ago. It was like my conscious mind was saying ‘Well, Jake would you look at this!’ and my sense of reality was saying, “Don’t get used to it. You have to wake up at 6 o’clock.’ Surreal? Is that the word?”

Jake was serious. His life was busy now with meetings, relocations and such. This was not what he was trained for. He felt that he was changing, but not necessarily improving. It concerned him that he would be taken away from operations. On the other hand, he also knew that as DIA agents gained expertise, not to mention the fact that age entered the equation, they were moved into offices and oversight of other agents. He was a long way from that age but circumstances altered cases as Grandma Crabtree used to say.

Apparently God had a different idea of what the future would hold. He wanted to take the war to the terrorists who chose to destroy lives – even nations – and knew his was a warrior’s heart.

He, Larry and his father had discussed it as recently as last week. They knew that even Tex and George were the same. Their lives were not for banks or telephone companies or other activities. They somehow had been chosen – by God, they all agreed – to wage war. They were different than military men, but on a level that allowed no quarter for people who murdered innocent men, women and children. This kind of human animal could not be shown any weakness.

Jake remembered as a youngster of about twelve, when a rabid ground hog had come galloping up the country lane. With white foam streaming in viscous lines from its mouth it had headed straight for the house. Jake ran to the back door, grabbed the shotgun that was always leaning in the corner by the inside door hinge. He moved around the corner of the house and the sick beast had spied him, changing course straight for him.

Jake had felt a strange sort of focus that shut out everything but the threat from his vision, and a calm had befallen him. He moved the barrel downward just in front of the animal and squeezed. The shot lifted the barrel but as it fell, Jake could see the rabid ground hog was dead. He’d taken it in a shovel to the brush pile and burned it before any other animal could be infected from its body, reloaded the shotgun and returned it to its place.

That was how he’d always been from that time forward: able to handle a crisis calmly, with a dose of adrenaline, but sensibly. His father had commented on it then, and watched it closely as Jake matured. He recognized it in his own father looking back, in himself, and in Jake.

Was it genetics? Training? Both? Whatever the source, it was a warrior’s blessing – or curse – depending on how one viewed it.

The continuing war on terror called for striking with ferocity, even at the cost of their own lives.

What Jake felt, more than knew, was what Kurt Muhlenberg and Yossi Cumi had offered – actually thrust upon them – a chance to fight a war that called on them to sacrifice personal desires. But, his mind said, was it really a sacrifice? Don’t you want more than anything to count for something? Don’t you want to be used for good? And, ego aside, don’t you really believe that you are better equipped, mentally, physically and in training to fight such a war and make such a difference than most men? Where’s the sacrifice?

Yes, you know you are called to do this, but there is so much that you don’t know on the highest levels of statecraft, corporate leadership and so many other areas that Zulu will demand.

You have to put together a team that can help manage it all, direct it at the highest levels and keep you free to do your battling.

That last thought troubled Jake. Unbeknownst to him, the exact thought had been in his father’s mind just that morning as he sipped coffee and read his Bible.

 

Yossi replaced the receiver and turned to look out the window of his suite at the Willard Hotel. He too was sipping coffee. He smiled as he thought about the excitement in his nephew’s voice. What had he gotten them into? Their lives were changed for the better materially, certainly. On the other hand, if and when the word hit that Solutions was on the side of the angels, the men’s lives would be at a premium for anyone who killed them.

They would have to live with the kind of security he now knew in his own life. Their naïve existence would cease. Fortunately they would be able to afford the best teams to give them some layers of protection.

Harold, Jake and Larry already knew the dangers, but their times in the worst of it were interrupted by recall to Washington or other areas away from the battle. This fighting terrorism was a war without neutral zones. Every place was a potential death trap; every new acquaintance a potential threat. Yossi hoped they were equal to the task. He would have to discuss it with them on the way to Israel.

 

It was midnight and Harold was at his desk. Yellow legal pad sheets littered the area, marked with red felt tip notations.

The phone purred.

“Hello.”

“Is Jake Crabtree there? This is Chief Deputy Willy McCarthy.”

“Jake is here, Deputy, hold one while I get him on the line.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Harold put the phone on hold and called up the stairs for Jake, who picked up an extension in his room.

“Jake Crabtree.”

“Mr. Crabtree, this is Greene County Deputy Willie McCarty. I met you when you were in our offices with Sheriff Dunlinger.

“I remember you, Deputy. How can I help you?”

“Sir, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but Sheriff Dunlinger is dead. He was shot from ambush sometime last night.”

Jake was stunned. His mind awhirl with processing the loss of a friend, the facts of the call and wondering what else was to come.

“Thank you, Deputy. Please tell me what you can. And call me Jake.”

“Yes Sir. Well, about two weeks ago there was a discovery in a pond near Berdan. Eleven bodies of people – men and women – of Spanish descent the coroner says were found in a farm pond. Gutted like a carp. Just tossed in that old pond and left. By the time they were found they had been pretty bad, and rain had wiped out any tracks. We got nothing.

“We’ve been hit real heavy with meth labs. I think Vernon told you that when you were here.”

“He did, but how are the two connected?”

“We aren’t even sure they are. But there’s something else. I was in Desert Storm. Marine sniper. Jake, Vernon was taken out by a sniper. Had to be. I found his hide pretty quick. It was professional. And the shot was forehead above the brow. No brass left behind. No cigarette butts. Not a clue except the quality of the hit.”

“The State Police around here don’t really want to do much but write traffic tickets, we have only five deputies, and no one works after 2 AM unless something is going down. I can’t stand the FBI agent in Alton, which is the closest to us. We need some help, and I remembered all Vernon said about you and your father after you left.

“What I’m asking is if you could come out here and just sort of sniff around and see what you think?”

“Sounds like you got your plate full, Willy. Listen this is a lot to digest and we are pretty full up here.”

As he said it, Jake heard the young deputy sigh with frustration and resignation.

“How about I talk to our team and see what we can come up with? I’ll call you back in the morning. Give me your cell phone number.” That handled, they said their goodbyes.

Jake walked down the hall, rapped on Larry’s door and said, “Can you come downstairs for a minute?” When he heard an affirmative grunt, he walked down the stairs.

A fresh pot of coffee and everyone gathered around the office in comfortable chairs. Jake explained the contents of Willie McCarthy’s call.

“I can’t go back there, and I’m not sure that even if I did, it would do any good. Sniffing around the county where I’m now mostly a stranger won’t really help.” Jake was saddened at the loss of a friend, especially the way it had occurred.

“Maybe you should go with Yossi and the rest of us will take a short trip to Illinois and see if we can be any encouragement – if not help – to the deputy,” Harold suggested.

“Hey, Nick was a State trooper! He’s got to have some experience that we don’t have. And in Paris you know I did some sleuthing before they teamed me with this albatross,” Larry added, trying to cheer up his friend a bit.

“Okay, Tex can fly you out there in the King Air. Connie and I can work as a team on the G V, though I can hear Tex grumbling already,” Jake warmed to the idea.

“It will give me a chance to check on the place. See how Pete’s doing with it,” Harold added. He loved being a part of the team, but his heart was on that 40 acres outside Patterson, Illinois.

“Frances can watch the office. I think sometimes I get in the way more than I help when she really gets things moving there anyway,” Harold admired the petite lady who had worked for Secretary of War Don Rogers until he retired. After the death of her husband, all the men had decided that she would be a priceless addition to Solultions.com. She had considered the offer for a full ten seconds before saying “yes.”

It was a perfect fit. Her contacts and administration skills had blended with Harold’s ability to see the larger picture and assemble the ideas which she then put into motion.

“Okay, then Jake goes with Connie and Yossi on Thursday. We fly out after they leave. I’ll call Tex and Nick in the morning.” Jake was relieved that his dad would tell Tex he wouldn’t be going to Israel. He knew the disappointment the little Texan would feel at not being able to fly the Gulfstream back to the States when they returned.

“And I’ll call the deputy back then.” After that it was lights out.

We hope you enjoyed theses chapters. It’s a rollicking good adventure.

All the best to you and yours, we appreciate your friendship, support and encouragement as we serve the Lord. Thanks for being there beside us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ernie Moore

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Psalm 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 60:12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

[1] See book #1 in the Jake Crabtree series, One Time Messengers by Ernie Moore.

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