Mad Dog, page 15
-Okay, -he said finally with a sigh, -I know I’m going to regret this but you can both go. -
Charlie thanked Harvey profusely whilst Harris simply sat head bowed in silence, shuddering with the tears of gratitude that he was incapable of expressing.
Harvey didn’t feel pity for Harris what he felt was concern, a profound sense of concern for a friend and it was only at that moment that he realised that his relationship with Harris, as difficult as Harris could be and generally was, had become one of friendship and respect. He admired Harris’ ability to get to the crux of a problem, to see the pieces of a puzzle in their entirety even when several of the pieces were still missing, and for that reason he knew just how painful the case of the Jackal must have been for him, how frustrating it had been and how obsessive it had become, he had been at every moment one step behind Fowler at every moment until the very end when he was the only one that realised the truth, the truth that Fowler had not been killed. The entire investigation from then onward had become a vindication of his ability to stay ahead of Fowler, to find him without Fowler being aware that he was even being sought. To be there at the end was precisely the closure that he so desperately needed, a final irrevocable conclusion demonstrating his superiority. His obsession had brought him to the edge of insanity and Harvey was aware that to refuse him the end he desired could be the act that would push him over the edge into the abyss and he was incapable of doing that to a friend, a friend that he admired and respected.
-Look, - said Harvey, -I’ve had Brock recalled from duty and he’ll be here on Friday. I’ll organize for the three of you to fly out on Saturday. Brock will be in complete control, he knows what he has to do and he will do it, your role will be that of observers, don’t interfere in his work because he won’t tolerate it and Harris don’t be officious with him this time if you want his help. In the meantime I have other problems to worry about and as I’m now not going to be able to benefit from the assistance of DS Clarke I would like to pick your brains whist I have the opportunity. Oh and I suppose you’ve no objection to us transferring DS Mann to help with the investigation or will you need him to hold your hand as well. –
-No, you can have him, I’ll permit that, but only because you’ve asked nicely -replied Harris with the beginning of a smile.
Harvey proceeded to give them a complete step by step account of all the developments since he had last updated them, the discovery that the terrorists had not died in the Dudley explosion, the kidnapping and the CCTV footage, the note addressed to Harris and himself, what they believed it to mean, the Iranians involvement in it’s leaking to the press, the phone calls and the bizarre visit of disabled children to the Embassy, he even explained how he had considered the possibility that Mahmouds father had not been killed in an American attack and was in fact behind the events and his reasons for discarding the idea.
Charlie and Harris listened attentively without interrupting and it was only when asked for their opinions that they ventured to speak up.
-Do you have a copy of the note, -asked Charlie.
-Yes, - replied Harvey handing them each a copy.
After studying it a short while it was yet again Charlie that spoke.
-I can see why you have concluded that this is the work of Al Qaeda and I obviously agree that it has nothing to do with our investigation but I think you have missed the essential element of it. The question should not be “what does the note mean?” it should be “why have they bothered to leave it?”. If you weren’t so sure that Mahmouds father was dead I would say that you were on the right track with that line of thought. There is clearly an element of revenge in this, they want you to suffer and I think that it is you rather than Harris and yourself that they are after because of the nature of the hostages, family members of members of the government and its guests, directly in your line of responsibility if you see what I mean. Is there no other family member of Mahmouds that could be responsible? -
-No his brother Hari and half brother Mustafa were killed alongside Jiriyis Aswad his former body…g…u…a...r…d.. , -the final word trailing out of his mouth as the obviousness of the truth descended upon him. It hadn’t been Imam Hussein Al Sayeghi Alam that had feigned his death it had been the others and that meant that this had all been planned some time ago. –Oh my god! Why didn’t that occur to me earlier? –
-Well that’s not important if you ask me, -said Harris, -I think you need to be more concerned about what they are planning because it wouldn’t need the four terrorists that weren’t killed in the Dudley explosion plus Mahmouds two brothers and his ex bodyguard plus the Iranian government in order to kidnap four teenagers. It also appears to me unlikely that Al Qaeda would be involved if it was a simple matter of getting a bit of revenge, there is something deeper involved. It appears to me that the hostages are like the note, a bluff, a diversion from the real event. –
-Well if this is a bluff what the hell is the real thing going to be, I mean if the Iranians are involved in this and if anything happens to the kids they are going to be in direct confrontation with both us and the Americans, so if this is a diversionary tactic then the real thing would have to be enormous, something that they wouldn’t care about our response to, and that would mean that they would be willing and intent on getting our response, it would mean JIHAD. -
-Well then you now have two tasks, to find and rescue the kids and to discover what the main event is and stop it and you have only five days to do both things. –
-Yes, and all of that without causing the diplomatic incident that I suspect they are looking for. I get the impression that they want us to accuse them of something, that they want a reason to react. –
-Okay can you do something for me, -asked Harris, -get me the tapes for yesterdays movements at the Embassy, get me a listing of all the recent personnel changes in the Embassy staff and photos or videos of those involved in the changes and finally photos or whatever else you have of Mahmouds brothers and bodyguard. Let Charlie and I play with this for a while and we’ll see what we can come up with before we have to leave on Saturday. –
-You’ll have all you need first thing this morning. I need to get things moving and I have a pretty important person to brief on this, I’ll speak to you tomorrow if you don’t come up with something first. –
Harvey thanked them and left for London leaving them to try to get some sleep. It was not something that Harris intended to even try and it was not something that Charlie was going to be allowed to try for more than a hour later that morning.
-Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking? –asked Charlie.
-God that’s a stupid question!, -replied Harris, -but if you think that I’m thinking that the kids are in the Iranian Embassy you’re right, and another thing, what do you mean by “daft bugger”, “grumpy bugger” and “I’ve been slipping painkillers into his tea”. –
-Ahh well erm I was meaning to talk to you about that, Oh, I think that’s the nurse calling me, I’ll be back in a minute. –
Mustafa Akh Mahbud alias The Mongul was left with only thirty kilometres to drive before arriving at the border between France and Spain and La Junquera customs controls when Harvey left Harris and DS Charlie Clarke at four thirty local time on the morning of Thursday the 29th June. He was nervous and worried, prior to his death he had featured on the most wanted lists throughout Europe and was wanted by the Spanish authorities for his links with Al Qaeda and their implication in the Madrid Bombings, and although he had the best falsified documentation available he felt vulnerable. The Guardia Civil could be extremely efficient when their interest was roused but he had nothing to worry about, that morning as on the majority of mornings there was no sign of life at the border post and they weren’t even waved through, they simply reduced speed as they reached the kiosks and when no sign of movement appeared they continued their journey. Mustafa had been talked into risking that route precisely for that reason, the airports and ports
Mikel Querejeta a twenty three year old student of Law at the Zaragoza University was working on a part time basis at the Sidreria as a barman/waiter in order to help finance his studies. Mikel recognised Txabi and Martxelo the moment they entered the restaurant, how could he not recognise them, they had been heroes of his for years. Mikel was a “legalak”, an ETA member with no police record who lived an apparently normal life, who’s only desire was to be useful to the cause. His studies were a means to an end, a way of preparing him for the legal and political career that would best allow him to serve “his nation”. His initial concern at seeing them enter was caused by the two young men seated at the far end of the bar, two young men he knew to be Guardia Civil, but as they showed no interest in either Txabi or Martxelo he started to relax, a situation that changed the moment that the three Arabs entered and headed directly for their table. Mikel tapped Tatiana, the only other bar person on service at that time, on the shoulder and whispered in her ear.
-Tatiana, let me serve table five, I think I know them. –
Tatiana was a thirty eight year old married woman who wished that she wasn’t, her husband of only two years being everything that she didn’t want in a man. Mikel on the other hand was everything that she did want and he could have asked her for a lot more than being allowed to serve a table and would still have received the same purring, fluttering eyed reply.
-For you Mikel, whatever you want. -
Mikel approached the table and positioned himself in between the bar and the table thereby blocking completely the view of the two members of the Guardia Civil.
-Good morning gentlemen, how may I help you? –
Txabi turned towards him a little irritated by the fact that he had to crane his neck in order to attend the waiter when if he’d positioned himself at the end of the table as was normal he wouldn’t have been required to exert himself in the least. His humour wasn’t improved by the fact that Mikel apparently paid no attention to him as he wrote on his pad. Before he could recriminate his lack of attention Mikel turned his pad around, “THE TWO AT THE BAR ARE GUARDIA CIVILS… Bietan jarrai “ the ETA salute at the end Bietan Jarrai ("Keep up on both"), referring to the two figures in its symbol, a snake (representing politics) wrapped around an axe (representing armed struggle), making his status of legalak patent. There was no exchange of words.
-Good Morning, how may I help you? -repeated Mikel moving to the head of the table.
-Yes, four black coffees please, a little Russian salad and Pintxos Bilbaínos for five. –
-Right away Sir, -replied Mikel with a smile and a gentle bow of the head as he turned towards the bar.
-Do you know them? –asked Tatiana as Mikel prepared the coffees.
-No, but the stocky one does look like a mate of mine, prepare me a plate of Russian salad and five Pintxos Bilbaínos if you could. –
Txabi paid the bill at the table when Mikel served them, leaving him a sizeable tip and whispering “Bietan Jarrai”. Five minutes later they were outside and heading for the car. Martxelo extended his hand towards Mustafa indicating that he wanted the keys.
-I’ll drive from here if you don’t mind.-
-No problem, -replied Mustafa passing him the keys but feeling a little offended for a reason he couldn’t define but suspected to be a matter of Martxelo´s way of asking or rather of his attitude in general, an attitude that left him feeling offended every time they had met yet at the same time, infuriatingly, he couldn’t accuse him of having said anything that could have caused offence. He put it down to racism which was the easiest option. –It’ll give me a chance to nap, I could do with one. –
Martxelo retook the A2 in the direction of Madrid and made a steady 120km /hour for a little more than two hours when they reached the turning onto the R2 which they then followed as far as Cabanillas del Campo where they took the N320 to Vadeaveruelo. Just before reaching the small town they turned right onto the Sotolargo Housing Estate where at the far end on Calle de los Madroños they had a safe house and more importantly a garage in which was parked the five year old Nissan Patrol that they had stolen in Valladolid some three weeks earlier and had changed the plates for an identical model registered to Gaizka Etxandi in Bilboa. Gaizka Etxandi was a false name with a false address that a legalak in the town hall had managed to introduce into the system. The fact that Gaizka Etxandi means “saviour big house” in Basque or more simply “safe house” was the legalaks idea of a joke. Gaizka Etxandi had five vehicles registered to his name all representative of the years and makes of cars that ETA preferred to use or rather steal in order to use.
Mustafa had indeed fallen into a deep sleep as Martxelo drove them down the A2 and in testimony to a mixture of his smooth driving and the Citroen C5´s famed suspension, he hadn’t even woken when they left the motorway and had taken their diversion to the safe house. What woke him with a start was the sound of the boot opening and his countrymen excitedly trying to stop Martxelo and Txabi from unloading their luggage.
-Don’t touch the wine!, -he shouted loudly and a little too urgently as he came to his senses.
-Don’t worry we don’t want your fuckin French crap, what do you take us for, petty thieves? –responded Martxelo offended.
-No, No, of course not, I’m sorry I was startled that’s all, it’s just that the wine is very valuable to us, please allow us to handle it, where are we and why are we changing cars? –
-Because we know what we are doing that’s why, because three Arabs driving a French registered up market saloon in an area suitable more for off road vehicles would call too much attention, and because we say so and because we’re getting paid to say so that’s why, -barked Martxelo angrily, his hand drifting towards his jacket pocket where his pistol was waiting for it. -
-ENOUGH! –snapped Txabi placing his hand on Martxelo’s arm. –We’re here to work together not to fight like children. Mustafa, Martxelo is right, we need to change cars, yours is far too distinctive, we need something that blends in better, something that no one will pay any attention to; your car simply isn’t suitable for where we are going. Now if you want to move your stuff to the other car by all means do so, we won’t touch anything that you don’t want us to touch. Martxelo, come with me, we need to get in touch with head office, leave them to move their own things. –
Drinking the wine that had originally occupied the bottles would probably have left them with the slightest of hangovers, the actual contents however would have far more devastating effects and now was not the time for them to do so.
By one o’clock they were back on the road and heading up the N340 towards Torrelaguna where they took the M131 towards the El Atazar Reservoir, taking a dirt track off to the left of the road some two hundred meters past the turning for the Los Tomillares Housing Estate and heading up the heavily wooded hillside track that led them directly to the lodge. The lodge was ideal for them, completely invisible from the main road only three hundred metres away, the only people that could know of their existence were their neighbours at the foot of the hill, neighbours that could only hear their v
Life for the hostages had changed dramatically. Shortly after arriving at the Embassy they started to recover from the effects of the Rohypnol, Julian being the first to fully recover consciousness and as he scanned his surroundings he started getting vague flash backs of their journey. It was only once they had all fully recovered that they could piece together the events. Henry had the clearest memory of what had happened remembering almost the entire sequence of events but as though he was viewing it through smoked glass, Peter and Jennifer however had no coherent memory, Jennifer having completely passed out and Peter having slipped in and out of a daze that he couldn’t distinguish from a dream that had managed to intertwine itself into his memory a dream in which he had suffered also permanent erections, a dream in which he had been dressed and undressed by foreign women with beards who had laughed and taunted him about his erect state, having woken in clothing that he didn’t recognise he profoundly hoped that it had been a dream. He suspected that it was not!
What they knew for certain was that they had been wheeled into a large building in a large city and that the building was occupied by foreigners almost certainly Arabs. They suspected that they were in London and that the building was probably some sort of Al Qaeda safe house. What they unanimously agreed upon was that they preferred their new lodgings, the lack of view being more than compensated by the fact that they were now in a flat with three bedrooms and a lounge complete with television, something that was to become a mixed blessing as time passed, and a kitchen with a fridge well stocked with cold drinks. They had tea making facilities and an ample supply of tea but no other kitchen utensils, nothing that could be used to either attack their kidnappers or defend themselves from attack.