She knew she had to alert the Terrorist unit that had been hers for so many years. She picked up her other mobile and called the head of the unit. After an exchange of salutations and a few pleasantries, he asked her what the purpose of her call was as she had been excluded from the unit by her boss who had asked the head of the unit to refrain from speaking with her anymore and to ensure other members of the unit also did not exchange with her. She answered that an attack might be imminent in Westminster but she did not know for sure there would be trouble. She explained that it was expected that individual cells from Boko Haram and ISWAP would meet at the station and perhaps things could go awry from there. He asked her for a few other details and finally told her not to worry and that the unit would be ready for them the whole day and the couple of days after that if they did not arrest them the same day.
After hanging up, she wondered whether it was really the best choice. She had no idea whether Manas would also join the Boko Haram cell. After all he was the head of Boko Haram in Cameroon and he might need to prove his value to the headquarters in Nigeria. She wondered whether she should call him and tell him not to join the meeting but she had already broken her burner sim and she was not sure she would have enough time to get a new sim so she just typed ATU coming on her phone and hoped that Manas would see it in time to avoid the Westminster meeting. After that she ran to the shop to purchase another sim which she used to call the other number for Manas. The phone rang several times but nobody picked up. She kept calling, all the time worried that something happened to him. Suddenly she saw a message flashing on her normal mobile. It said “OK, out”. She felt so relieved that he was no longer in any danger.
She wondered what was happening with the other members of the two cells. She tuned into the frequency that the members of her old unit used to use. The satellite phone she had was able to link into the frequency and she heard everything her old team was saying. Funny that they had not changed the frequency after her departure, she thought. The head of the unit probably thought she would not remember it but he visibly did not realise how good with numbers she was and underestimated her incredible capacity to learn strings of numbers without any problem. She was not just a tactical part of the team, her ability to leverage a person’s psychological issues in order to turn them away from what she wanted them to stop doing was considerable and had made her boss interested in deploying her in the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU).
When she was in the ATU for Africa, she had been able to decipher several transfers of money using her pattern-matching capacities. It was thanks to this that she had been able to establish that several transfers coming from high-ranking officials in Qatar were funneled into an Islamic organization that professed to be a non-profit for building mosques and then routed through the disguise of Sadaqah, or charity towards the poor, to reach a similar organization in Nigeria and be distributed to what looked like ISWAP’s accounts in Nigeria. It was difficult in practice to establish that these accounts were indeed ISWAP’s accounts because the front was a non-profit that looked like a charitable organization but when you linked all the entities with the payments made and you realized that the individuals who received the payments were indeed suspected ISWAP members, you knew that these had to be ISWAP accounts. The only problem was that they could not establish for certain that these individuals were ISWAP members because they were perceived as God-fearing individuals who were devout Muslims and there was no actual proof of wrongdoing. In the time she worked with the ATU, she had never established a clear link and her unit was never able to bring the ISWAP down through the money trail as they had to proceed with caution, owing to local cultural and religious sensitivities
Enigma - The Rivers Of Belief
After a period of interrogation, the anti-terrorist team released her as they didn’t have anything against her and they could no longer retrieve her to the US as an asset given she was no longer part of the team. They let her go with a sneer and a jeer though and inferred that if they found her with him, they would not hesitate to shoot her down to serve as an example. She merely scoffed and took her belongings before leaving the US embassy in London. She could see that the two who had caught her at the London eye were following her discreetly. They were not so discreet though as to evade her trained eyes. She stuck up her middle finger backwards towards them, showing them she was aware of their presence. She went straight to her flat and decided to sleep for a few hours.
Her phone buzzed for a while before she got up and grabbed it. She had hoped to see Manas but it was someone else who was clad with the same clothing that she had seen Manas wear. He pointed towards a picture next to his face. It was very small and she had a hard time identifying what it was. He then sent her a picture and deleted it after he saw that she had identified it. It was a burner phone and he spoke in Arabic telling her to get something similar. He told her to get the yellow one and she put on her computer and activated the private network application so that nobody could follow her search on the internet if they were hacking her computer. She almost felt like a terrorist herself now that she was trying to avoid the US anti-terrorist unit dedicated to African terrorism that had been hers. He also sent another picture and she quickly took a photograph of it before he could delete it. It was a number in what was now considered as Arabic numerals and she realised it was a UK number to call.
She kept the application on throughout her research and purchased the yellow burner phone. Instead of having it delivered to her, thereby leaving her address, she marked it for collection at the store. She was glad she had got this small payment card that she had used as it could not lead back to her at all and had sufficient money in it to purchase anything else she would need to make her encounters with Manas as safe as possible. Later that afternoon she went and picked up the phone and bought two prepaid sims which she paid with cash rather than the debit card even though it was deemed to keep her untraceable. She walked towards Southwark park and sat on a bench before bringing her phone out. She put in one of the prepaid sims and called the number that Manas’s man had sent her. The phone did not have whatsapp on it and she realized that it would not be possible to put that application on this phone. She heard Manas on the line and her heart skipped a beat.
- How are you, she said
- I am fine Angel. How are you?
- I was so scared for you but I feel better now knowing that you got away.
- Angel, I need you to do something for me
- Anything my love
- Don’t take any tube today that passes by Westminster
- Why, what is going to happen in Westminster?
She felt a cold sweat running down her back. Was there going to be a terrorist attack in Westminster? She could not possibly suspect it and do nothing. So many people could die if she did not report it to the authorities. Manas was not answering her question. He appeared hesitant but then said
- I don’t want you to get hurt. Two opposing factions of Boko Haram are meeting at the station. I really don’t want you to get hurt
- What about the other innocent bystanders?
- They risk less. You risk a lot because your face is now known to the two factions. You could be used to bring me down or as a tool to make me lose control at the leadership level of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
- Understood. I will not go there today
- Today and the following two days might be better actually.
- Yes, okay. I will do as you say
She hung up feeling a pit in her stomach. At the same time, her mind was racing. Should she report this to the authorities or not? If she did report it then the two factions might suspect Manas and she did not want to get him killed. Was he telling her the truth? She knew that Boko Haram wanted to reignite its fame and be counted as a force to reckon with outside of its territory and this might mean that they could have wired up the station to take down westerners together with the other faction that called itself the Islamic State West Africa Province (to be known as ISWAP). Boko Haram could easily send only suicide bombers to the meeting with the ISWAP group and then bomb the whole of the Westminster station. This would cause huge disruptions in the life of thousands of westerners and block all logistics around that area for days if not weeks as well as send a stark message to Islamic State abroad. She felt stuck, incapable of making a decision for several minutes. Then all of a sudden she stood up and went back home after throwing the sim card in a dustbin. She knew what to do.
"Desolation" - Adam Hurst