Central Intelligence Agency
0846 Washington Time
March 11 2004
"And as you can see, Libyan forces are massing along the Tunisian border. Despite the economic incentives he's been given by President Bush, and by the now out of office President Kohler, Moammar Qaddafi is readying his forces for a complete conquest of the country. We suspect that this is merely a part of the rivalry in the region with Egypt." Joseph said, clicking to a new slide in his presentation for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A few of the faces around the room turned to face one another. The rivalry was nothing new. If Qaddafi was trying conquest as a new means for Regional Prestige however, then the situation had a drastically improved potential to be explosive.
"Pictured here is the latest of the Egyptian home-produced line of Main Battle Tanks. From the best information we have, it seems that they have been collaborating with the Jordanians, and even with the Israelis. Our sources have not been able to verify our suspicions that the Israelis have shared information we gave to them with the Egyptians but it remains an unwelcome possibility." He turned to look at the tank briefly. He had seen the picture before but it was important that the Joint Chiefs get a good look.
The tank looked remarkably similar to the M1 Abrams Tank. It had a long smooth bore gun, and a square shaped body. The shell like turret was fully capable of spinning around completely to face a threat from any direction. A small rectangular black box was also jutting out from the base of the cannon, no doubt housing thermal and night optics while accounting for modern range finding assets.
"We believe that it has also incorporated elements from the Merkava tank in conjunction with the Israelis. All together, it has produced a fearsome weapon in the Egyptian arsenal and to our best guess, Libya would have no answer to the Saladin MBT if it came to open war."
The Under Secretary siting on the far side of the room scrunched up his face in confusion as he pulled another candy from its wrapper and tossed the tin foil shell back into a bowl with a half dozen others. Joseph couldn't recall how many he had seen the man eat by now. They had only been going for an hour. The African division of the CIA was unusually low profile and mismatched compared to the others. Where as other briefings were filled with Generals, Admirals and Diplomats with years of experience, the African briefings seemed to be filled with low level civilian officials who reported to their higher ups on the news out of the forgotten continent. Today it was the usual assortment of officials. Disinterested and lazy obese masses with little capacity to make up their mind on anything, unless it was not to waste their time by informing the President of something he ought to know.
Most of them did have the courtesy to where a suit. Usually. Although it was almost always the same one. The Under Secretary himself was wearing the same grey suit from last week, with a mismatched dark blue tie, and a white shirt that still had the stained splash of coffee from when he had recoiled after taking a sip from his drink three weeks ago.
The Under Secretary on his way to the meeting.
"Saladin? What's that?" he asked in between chews.
"The Tank is designated the Saladin, Sir. He was a famous Muslim King. He fought the crusaders under Richard the Lion heart-"
"Richard the what?" He asked pausing only momentarily before he shook his head. "Never mind. Just tell me if it's a threat that I need to tell the President about."
"Realistically Sir, we believe that it would be capable of inflicting casualties on American forces if confronted, but our forces should be able to handle it."
"Good." he said. "Saves me and the President time then. Continue." He said with a wave of his hand, like some overfed and lavishly dressed King from times gone by.
Joseph took a deep breath and reassured himself that someday this man would be gone, and the African division might amount to something other than a joke. "Beyond the Saladin MBT, and the impending Invasion of Tunisia, there is some concern within the division about growing European influence on the continent. We are already aware of several high profile trade and mining agreements procured by the European Government and by companies that we know are government shadow corporations. It seems that -"
"The Chinese are doing this, correct?"
"Yes, Sir. That's why-"
"And the Russians?"
"Yes, Sir as far as we can tell. From the best information we have, they are funding Militant groups and Regimes opposed to ourselves across the continent. They have set up what we think the Europeans have called the Axis of Africa. This is a secret network of alliances between Libya, the Congo, Sudan and Angola. We believe that they are trying to bring Morocco into the organization."
"Why does this interest us?" the man asked in contempt.
"Because this network is devoting funds to revolutionary movements across the Continent. We can also confirm for a fact that they are receiving industrial and military resources from both China and Russia in exchange for security agreements and promises to stir up trouble on and off the continent. We know for a fact that they have been funding the Brothers of Islam in Somalia, which has already claimed much of Mogadishu, and that they have been funding the Nigerian Revolutionary Front, combining Socialist and Islamic Political ideology to some extent to attract the lower classes and Islamic hardliners to the organization. We suspect that they will announce their presence soon. In the North," he fumed, weeks of pent up rage with the mollusk of a man coming out in a litany of information an briefings condensed into a rant.
"In the North, the Islamic Combat Group under Khaled Al-Assad has just set off a trio of bombs in Madrid that are sure to provoke a military response from the new European President."
"Let them kill each other. What does it matter to us?" the man asked.
"It matters to us, because we have been competing for Moroccan loyalty by giving monetary packages and loans to Morocco. At our last briefing I informed you that we thought some of the money was being misused. We now know that portions of that aid was being diverted to a bank account owned by the ICG."
"And? We didn't misuse the money, and didn't you tell us, all of us-" he said, gesturing to the men around the table "- that it was the Russians who were funding them?"
"I also said that the Russians had been shifting their aid donations to other sources and that we weren't sure what to make of it. I can tell you now that someone in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service has shifted the paper trail from their Service, to ours. They have linked American Financial Aid abroad, to possibly the most deadly terrorist attack on European soil in years."
"We may not have planned it. We may not have had anything to do with the attack, but by trying to buy the loyalty of the Moroccan King from the Chinese, he and the FIS have been able to implicate the CIA in this attack."
The room was quiet. No one was sure what to say. What could they say?
There was one thing.
The Under Secretary on the far side of the room slowly leaned back in his chair.
"I need to speak to the President." he said under his breath.
Russian Foreign Intelligence Service
0851 Madrid Time
March 11 2004
Dmitri Taylor stood in the corner of the dimly lit room. The thin sheets of plastic, unrolled and sprawled across the open window were enough to let in enough light to see, but not at all too much. He took another glance around the room in his boredom. The walls were bare and of the same sandy colour that for all he knew could have been mud bricks or a sandy concrete that had built the house in the first place. The Moroccans weren't exactly renowned for their decorating habits, as he recalled. The floor was practically the same, save for a few carpets rolled out in the middle. The middle of the room however was not bare like the walls, or like much of the floor. In the middle of the room, a camera stood on a tripod, facing a man backed into a corner near the window, letting in just enough light to see his face.
"Allahu Akbar." came the weathered and low pitch voice from the man with a short and well kept black beard, and closed eyes. His skin was dark, and wrinkles and scars criss-crossed his face. He was clad in a long robe of charcoal black, with a black turban wrapped around his head. Unlike the other men who Dmitri had seen in his time in Morocco, Khaled had some of his hair draping out from his Turban to hang around the edges of his face. When he spoke, he did so in Arabic. Clearly and concisely. His voice rang out in the room as his eyes opened, a brilliantly dark brown, commanding Dmitri's attention.
"Today, three bombs were detonated at Atocha Station in Madrid. This is but a taste of the vengeance that shall be wreaked upon your lands. For decades, you have butchered our people. You have raped the land, and stole it's children." he said, bowing his head slightly and closing his eyes. Dmitri looked long and hard at him in what was only a brief silence. He wasn't sure, but he thought he could almost see a tear forming in the corner of the man's left eye.
"You have defied the almighty and your inaction against the false Republic, the false Caliphate is proof of your incompetence. What should never have been, has come to pass. What should not be allowed to continue, goes unpunished. If you will not take action to right the wrongs you have made, then you will be punished for them." He said, his voice growing hard, and his eyes fiery.
"The Black water that you covet has betrayed the world. Those to whom you pray to keep you safe, are false. Your world is a fantasy, and it must be brought to a close. All those who know the truth, will confront you. All of us who have lost, will confront you. All of us who have bled, will confront you." he paused as his breathing grew shorter.
"May you find Mercy in the arms of the Almighty, for you shall have none on this Earth." he finished, closing his eyes, and bringing his hands from his knees together in front of him in what looked to Dmitri, like a Christian stance rather than an Islamic one. Without pausing, Khaled Al-Assad brought his head to the floor and set his palms down in the traditional Islamic prayer stance. He stayed low for several minutes, whispering to himself as another man in the room came, this one dressed in combat gear with a golden turban wrapped round his head to cover all but his eyes. The man, an AK-47 draped over his back switched off the camera and stood before Al-Assad with his head held low.
When Khaled came back to sitting up straight, he looked at the new man with steely eyes and a stone face.
"Your Eminence, the time has come to leave Morocco." The man said with a young voice, heavy with an Egyptian accent.
So I'm hoping that I'll be able to get a more worldly update soon but Africa and Asia will see a good number of updates for the next little while. I might make some trouble flare up elsewhere for good measure, but I am starting to miss Reynald de Burgundy ... he'll definitely be back soon.
Thanks for the feedback guys! I'll work on getting some more pictures and showcasing some other viewpoints from different nations. Hopefully, Morocco and the USA today will do a little bit to sate your appetites.