“I have all the numbers programmed.”
“Good.” Karim held out his arms and embraced Ahmed. It was the first time he had ever hugged the man. “I am very proud of you. This is what we should have done a week ago. I should have never allowed that snake Hakim to talk me out of it.”
Ahmed nodded even though he wasn’t sure he believed him. “Allahu Akbar.”
Ahmed moved up the walk and found the back door. There was a buzzer to the left. He pressed it twice and a few seconds later a voice asked him what he wanted. “FBI,” he said in near perfect English.
“I’ll be right there.”
Ahmed looked at his pistol and thought about the plan. An old man in a security uniform appeared on the other side of the glass door and opened it for him.
“What can I help you with?”
Ahmed stayed with the plan even though he wasn’t sure his heart was in it. “We have a possible hostage situation in the park. I need to set up a position on your roof so I can observe.”
“Sure. Come on in. Let me show you how to get up there.” The man led him to an elevator that they took to the top floor. From there they made their way down the hall to a back staircase and up another flight. They stepped into the dark night, and the security guard led the way to the southern edge of the building.
Two hundred yards away the massive columns of the Lincoln Memorial were bathed in bright light. Ahmed had to hand it to Karim. It was quite the setting to send a message. He slowly drew his gun while the old man was occupied with the view.
“I like to come up here on breaks sometimes. You look around and realize there’s a God out there. How else could all of this have happened? Through chaos . . . I don’t think so.”
Ahmed slowly slid the gun back into the holster. Karim had ordered him to kill the man, but he couldn’t do it. There was no honor in killing unarmed people. He wrapped his big arms around the man’s neck and head and pinched off the main artery in the neck. He kept the pressure on until he felt the man go limp. Then he dragged him out of the way and tied him up. It took less than a minute. Back at the building’s edge he rolled out his mat and set up his M-40 sniper rifle. He took a quick peek through the scope and acquired the Suburban. It was parked on the street in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Ahmed pulled out the phone and began calling the various TV stations and asking for the news director at each one. There were five in all.
After the last one, he pressed the button on the side of the radio and said, “It is done.” Ahmed turned his attention to the Suburban and watched it drive up on the grass and then begin its climb up the steps. Rifle fire began cracking through the still night. Ahmed brought his field binoculars up to his eyes and watched the Suburban lurch forward. Beyond the vehicle he saw people crumple to the ground as they were shot by Karim. He shook his head at the senseless carnage and began to pray.
BY the time Rapp and Nash got to the Lincoln Memorial the Park Police and the D.C. Metro Police had the place cordoned off. TV crews were both northeast and southeast of the barricades and the police were trying unsuccessfully to move them back. Both departments had big fire-truck-sized command vehicles parked out front. Rapp displayed his Homeland Security credentials at the checkpoint and told the officer to allow the next vehicle to follow as well. He had Nash in the front seat next to him. Reavers was in the backseat directly behind Nash. Rapp had quietly given the retired SEAL orders to shadow Nash wherever he went.
Dr. Lewis was in the Suburban behind them with some of Coleman’s other men and Hakim al Harbi. Lewis had convinced Rapp that they should bring Hakim along. Based on the voicemail messages they had reviewed and his cooperation so far, Lewis felt Hakim might be able to offer some insight into Karim’s mind. Rapp had some other possible uses in mind, but so far wasn’t willing to share them with the group. Coleman and Wicker were on their way with Max Johnson and his surveillance van. They were going to try to get a fix on the third cell phone that Hakim had given to Ahmed. For now they were assuming that Karim was inside the monument with at least one very important hostage. Rapp parked as close to the command posts as he could get, and then jumped out and raced to cut off Nash.
“Slow down, Mike,” Rapp said as he grabbed him by the left arm. He had barely said a word on the twelve-minute drive in from his house. For obvious reasons Rapp was concerned that he might do something stupid.
Nash turned and took a big swing at Rapp, his right fist sailing in a wild roundhouse punch.
Rapp ducked just in time and felt the punch brush the top of his head. He brought his fists up to block his face and took a quick step back.
“Fuck you!” Nash screamed. His eyes were filled with tears and his face was flushed with anger. “This is all your fault! If you hadn’t fucking outed me none of this would have happened. You put me and my family at risk and I will never forgive you. So fuck off and get the hell away from me.” Nash turned and stalked off toward the command vehicles.
Rapp had been waiting for it. He’d been feeling it himself. He just hadn’t expected it to come this soon. He looked at Reavers and jerked his head in the direction Nash had just gone. “Follow him. Stay close.”
Dr. Lewis came up. Hakim was a few steps behind him with a guy on each arm. His wrists were bound with flex cuffs but no other restraints. Lewis looked at Rapp and said, “That was unfortunate, but I think understandable considering the circumstances.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Rapp said. He was already trying to figure out a way to make things right. He knew what he’d do if he had a daughter. He started moving toward the command vehicles. He tapped his earpiece and said, “Scott, give me a sitrep.”
“We’re close. Just passing Watergate. Should be there in sixty seconds.”
“Anything so far?”
“He has both signals, but we won’t be able to p
inpoint until we get a little closer and stop.”
“Roger that.” Rapp did a 360 and looked at the terrain. “My money’s on the north side if he’s not in there with him.”