The Pakistan Conspiracy, A Novel Of Espionage




The Pakistan Conspiracy

A Novel Of Espionage


Copyright (c) 2014 by Francesca Salerno. Published in the United States of America. Cover design by Natalie J. Kryza.


This ebook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any mechanism—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise—except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without prior written permission of the publisher and the author. This ebook is not transferable. You cannot sell it, share it, or give it away. To do so is an infringement of the copyright of this work. Although the author and the publisher have taken all reasonable care in researching this ebook, they make no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of its contents and disclaim all liability from its use by the reader.


If you find an error in the text, please email the author at
[email protected]
so that the issue can be corrected. This ebook may be updated periodically.


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I have become a mixture of the East and the West,

out of place everywhere, at home nowhere.

I am a stranger and alien in the West. I cannot be of it.

But in my own country also, sometimes I have an exile’s feeling.



Jawaharlal Nehru


Table Of Contents


Prologue  — Quetta, Pakistan

Chapter 1 — Peshawar, Pakistan

Chapter 2 — Islamabad, Pakistan

Chapter 3 — Islamabad

Chapter 4 — Washington, D.C.

Chapter 5 — Moscow, Russia

Chapter 6 — Washington, D.C.

Chapter 7 — Paris, France

Chapter 8 — Washington, D.C.

Chapter 9 — Islamabad

Chapter 10 — Moscow

Chapter 11 — Washington, D.C.

Chapter 12 — Islamabad

Chapter 13 — Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Chapter 14 — Islamabad

Chapter 15 — Moscow

Chapter 16 — Kabul, Afghanistan

Chapter 17 — Peshawar

Chapter 18 — Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Chapter 19 — Quetta

Chapter 20 — Islamabad

Chapter 21 — Camp Peary, Virginia

Chapter 22 — Karachi, Pakistan

Chapter 23 — Washington, D.C.

Chapter 24 — Bharuch, India

Chapter 25 — Karachi

Chapter 26 — Surat, India

Chapter 27 — Aboard the
Nippon Yoku-Maru

Chapter 28 — Islamabad

Chapter 29 — Peshawar

Chapter 30 — Peshawar

Chapter 31 — Port Said, Egypt

Chapter 32 — Peshawar

Chapter 33 — Peshawar

Chapter 34 — Islamabad

Chapter 35 — Cairo, Egypt

Chapter 36 — Cairo

Chapter 37 — Suez, Egypt

Chapter 38 — Islamabad

Chapter 39 — Jerusalem, Israel

Chapter 40 — Suez

About The Author

Prologue  — Quetta, Pakistan


February, 2011


It was cold for mid-February, nearly four degrees below freezing, in Pakistan’s mile-high city. Kate Langley was so overwrought at the prospect of interrogating the turned terrorist that she was perspiring beneath two wool cardigans. Yasser al-Greeb was an hour late. Night had fallen, but Kate speculated that Al-Greeb felt safer travelling in darkness. Her boss, Mort Feldman, the CIA station chief in Islamabad, was on his way to Quetta airport in a private plane. Kate hoped he would arrive before Al-Greeb did.


Yasser Khalidi al-Greeb was a Palestinian born in 1977. He had been jailed in Amman for establishing a jihadist website. As a reward, he had been invited to Pakistan by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the ‘Number Two’ Al Qaeda leader. Now he divided his time between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he was still in frequent contact with Al-Zawahiri and had apparently decided that the $25 million bounty offered by the United States on the Egyptian’s head was worth more to him than loyalty. Or so he had told the Jordanian Mukhabarat, which had relayed the information to the Central Intelligence Agency. Al-Greeb wanted to meet with Americans in Quetta to collect the money.


In the years after 9/11, CIA in Pakistan had one overriding mission: Called
‘Two Plus Seven,’
its purpose was to locate and capture or kill Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and their top deputies. The reward money generated multiple leads, most of them worthless, but each one had to be checked out. Al-Greeb might be the one that worked.


Kate Langley was sitting in a battered Ford Escort outside an empty two-story concrete building off the Samungli Road southeast of Quetta airport. The mud-colored building was the shell of what was to have been a shoemaker’s storefront, but construction had stopped when the builder ran out of money. That happened frequently in Pakistan. CIA had rented the shell through a local cutout because of its proximity to the airport and its nondescript exterior. It was used occasionally to debrief informants. Al-Greeb would arrive at the building in a dark green Suzuki Samurai driven by a CIA contract driver named Zeeshan.


The city of Quetta was tense. A day earlier, a dozen killers had ambushed a chartered passenger bus carrying sixty Hazara pilgrims on their way to the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom in Iran. The gunmen opened fire, killing 26 people. Two more of the ten wounded died
en route
to a nearby hospital. Though the scale of the killings was horrific, similar assaults had taken place in earlier weeks as refugee Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Hazaras, all members of the Shia sect of Islam, had started settling in the outer suburbs of Quetta. These migrants were not welcomed by Quetta’s half-million citizens, most of whom were Sunni. An extremist Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was probably responsible for the attacks.


Kate figured that the heightened security probably worked against her, increasing the likelihood that her driver and passenger would be stopped and questioned. This was not good, as Al-Greeb had made it clear he expected to be treated like a VIP. He even insisted on not being searched before the debriefing.


Kate’s cell phone vibrated.


“Salaam aleikum,”
Zeeshan said.
Peace be with you.


“And with you, Zeeshan. How far are you now?”


“We are at Shell petrol pump near the fire brigade,” Zeeshan said. “Five minutes from you, perhaps ten, no more.”


“Let me talk to your passenger.”


Kate heard the sounds of traffic as the phone was passed.


“I am here,” Al-Greeb said. “You will treat me as a friend, hokay” He seemed nervous.


“Yes. Of course,” Kate reassured him. “You honor us as our guest. We wish to talk. You will be treated well.”


“I am soon with you,” Al-Greeb said. “Remember well your promise.” He ended the call.


Kate shut her cell. Where the hell was Mort Feldman? She hated to start the debriefing alone. How could she stall Al-Greeb until Feldman arrived?


In the short time that remained, Kate Langley tried again to anticipate the things that could go wrong. At the top of her list was a suicide bomb, a betrayal by Yasser al-Greeb, a man she had never met and could not trust. Her thoughts kept returning to a story Brigadier Mahmood Mahmood, the Pakistani counterterrorism chief, had told her weeks earlier at an American Embassy reception. It had to do with terror training camps and how suicide bombers were prepared psychologically for their missions.




“How does the suicide bomber steel himself in those final minutes before he detonates the bomb?” Kate asked. “I have to believe there is a nagging voice in the back of his mind telling him not to do it, the hard-wired instinct for self-preservation.”


“It’s a question of psychology that is of supreme interest to Al Qaeda,” the suave Mahmood replied, “and one to which they have given a great deal of thought. They have written about it extensively.”


“They train the suicide volunteers to overcome the instinct for self-preservation?” Kate ventured.


“Precisely,” Mahmood said. “They have developed a specific procedure which they drill into the suicide bombers. You are familiar with the Hadith, the Sayings of the Prophet?”


“Superficially,” Kate said. “They are writings that guide proper Muslim behavior. A kind of supplement to the Koran, the basic text of Islam.”


“Very good, that is quite right, bravo! Well, there is a passage in the Hadith Qudsi, the most sacred of these texts, that goes this way —


“Those Faithful who say aloud ‘there is no god but God alone, no partner to Him, His is the sole dominion and His alone is the praise, and He is all-powerful in all things’ one hundred times, such a one has done the equivalent of setting free ten slaves and for this person one hundred good deeds are recorded for him in Heaven, and he is protected from temptation and the devil on that day.”


“So that little voice telling you not to blow yourself up is reinvented by Al Qaeda not as the voice of sanity but as the voice of a demon?”


“Quite right. Very elegant, is it not?” Mahmood said in his clipped, British English. “It turns the problem on its head by teaching the suicide bombers to use special prayer, recited aloud and repeated in a rhythmic way to quash any thought of turning back to save a wife, a child, a family, or simply to save oneself. At the first sign of hesitation the suicide must commence reciting that prayer aloud. It will give him the holy resolve to continue his mission. It induces a kind of focus, like a hypnotic state. That is why suicide bombers are often described by those who survive the blast as having been in a trance while they were chanting prayers in Arabic.”


Brigadier Mahmood’s explanation left a deep impression.




Kate looked through the rain-streaked passenger window of the Ford and saw an airport taxi, newer and cleaner than your typical Quetta hack, pulling to a stop on the opposite side of the Samungli Road. It was Feldman, at last, along with two armed Special Activities Division security types, with Omar Saada, a translator from the station in Islamabad, and a visiting targeter from Washington, a woman highly regarded by the Seventh Floor.


Targeters were analysts specially trained to extract information about the location of terrorists from any source material available, mainly raw electronic traffic poached from the ether by the NSA. They were mainly deployed behind computer terminals at CIA headquarters, but sometimes they were sent into the field, especially for high-value interrogations that could lead to senior Al-Qaeda leaders. Kate had warned Al-Greeb to expect four or five Americans. She hoped the large welcoming committee would not spook him.


Spotting her car, Feldman and his crew crossed the road. Kate left her vehicle to join them on the dusty path that passed for a sidewalk. There was space in front of the Ford for the Samurai to park. The entrance to the building where the interview would take place was only a few yards away.


“All set?” Feldman said. He was a large, bear-like man dressed in a drab green woolen sweater and heavy khaki pants. Like Kate, he was wearing a sidearm. The pair of SAD men carried rifles. Alice Carulla, the targeter, had a case that probably contained recording equipment.


“You just made it,” Kate said. “Zeeshan says he’s just down the road with our guy.” She pointed in the direction of Quetta. Moments later, the green Samurai came into view, travelling west. Kate waved so Zeeshan would see her.


The Samurai pulled off the road, slotting precisely into the space Kate had left for it, the passenger side door directly opposite her. Omar the translator stood next to Kate with Feldman next to him. The rest formed a line to the right, a receiving line of sorts.


The SAD men approached the vehicle from the front and the back, each carrying his M-14. Kate stood straight and smoothed her rumpled clothes and tried to smile. Through the grimy glass in the door of the Samurai, Kate could see the man she took to be Yasser al-Greeb. He was dressed in a baggy, tan
shalwar kameez
and a thick, black woolen vest wrapped around his fat belly. An expansive waistline was the hallmark of a prosperous man in this part of the world. A brown shawl was draped over his shoulder, protecting him from the cold.


Kate opened the passenger door.


“Salaam aleikum,”
she said. She could see Al-Greeb more clearly. He fidgeted in the back seat and seemed nervous or frightened. He was shorter and stockier than she had imagined him to be.


“Salaam akhoya,”
Omar Saada said, trying to elicit a response from Al-Greeb.
Greetings, my brother.


Kate pulled the backrest of the front passenger seat forward so that Al-Greeb could exit the vehicle. Inexplicably, he slid away from her and pushed against Zeeshan’s seat. Zeeshan opened the driver’s side door and got out, pulling his seat forward so that Al-Greeb could exit the Samurai on the street side. Al-Greeb got out slowly, almost losing his balance. Was he drunk? On medication? He stood outside the boxy car. Both his hands were underneath his shawl.


Kate felt burgeoning alarm. Why was Al-Greeb acting so weird? As the group watched, Al-Greeb tottered awkwardly around the front of the car toward Feldman. He was moving with difficulty, as though injured or carrying a heavy load. The two SAD men, sensing something was amiss, approached him from opposite directions on the street side of the vehicle.


Spurred by instinct, Kate moved to the front of the Samurai between Al-Greeb and Mort Feldman. Al-Greeb was mumbling and seemed in a daze.


Kate’s worst fear was taking shape. A mistake now would end her career.


“La ilaha illa Allah...,”
intoned Al-Greeb more loudly
. There is no god but God...


Suddenly she knew for sure.


“Let me see your hands!” she screamed. Al-Greeb froze and closed his eyes. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, in a glacial fog. The two SAD men swung their rifles up and aimed. Kate raised her SIG-Sauer P229 pistol to eye level with both hands and squeezed, the shot hitting Al-Greeb just above the right temple. He collapsed instantly like a rag doll filled with rocks.


Mort Feldman knelt at the side of Al-Greeb’s still twitching body, pulling back the woolen vest and shirt. Al-Greeb’s right hand was wrapped around a detonator connected to an explosive jacket weighing 30 pounds.


When they took the bomb apart later, the techs determined that it consisted of five plates of plastique and a fragmentation vest loaded with four-millimeter steel balls coated with Warfarin—rat poison to suppress blood clots in the victims. Had the bomb exploded, it would have slaughtered everyone within thirty yards. Beyond that range, anyone hit by shrapnel would have quickly bled to death because of the Warfarin.


By killing Al-Greeb, Kate Langley had likely prevented seven deaths—that of the five Americans and the two local employees. Had Al-Greeb succeeded in detonating his bomb, it would have been chalked up as the third deadliest attack on CIA in the 60-year history of the agency.

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