Authors: James E. Mosimann
James E. Mosimann
Critic and Son.
From April to July, 1994, the “Thousand Hills” of the small country of Rwanda in Eastern Africa witnessed a modern genocide, the killing of ethnic “Tutsi’s” by the “Hutu” majority. Nearly one million Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu’s were slaughtered. Unlike Hitler’s impersonal and “scientific” gas chambers, the Rwandan killings often were personally effected by pangas (bush knives or machetes) and clubs wielded by one-time neighbors and acquaintances. Many victims knew their slayers.
In 1994 a civil war raged between the mostly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame, and the forces of the Hutu-run Rwandan government. However the genocide was not a spontaneous mass movement, but a highly-organized plan cynically conceived by a small cadre of Hutu leaders who believed that the extermination of the Tutsi was necessary for their rule. Thus they prepared lists of Tutsis by district and imported massive quantities of pangas to distribute to local Hutu militias known as the “Interahamwe.” (“Those who work together,” or in context, “Those who ‘kill’ together.”) For months prior to the holocaust, strident broadcasts of hate from the
RTLM, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines
defamed and dehumanized the Tutsi.
All the plotters needed was a pretext to act.
That pretext arrived on April 6, 1994, when after a truce had been struck between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the government, an airplane carrying the Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Hutu extremists blamed the RPF for Habyarimana’s death. In turn, the RPF disclaimed all responsibility.
Whatever the truth, the Hutu plotters seized the opportunity to implement their plan and genocidal killings began the next day. Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders were executed. Throughout the country lists of Tutsi’s were distributed, and checkpoints were established where those with “Tutsi” identity cards were slaughtered. Everywhere, recruiters armed Hutu civilians with pangas, clubs, and other weapons and instructed them to hack and kill their Tutsi neighbors.
The genocide continued through June, 1994, until the RTF forces were victorious. At that time, France, under the auspices of the United Nations, launched
to create a safe haven for Hutu refugees. (The timing of this led some to believe that its mission was to protect the genocide leaders as much as refugees.) Under French protection, vast numbers of Hutus established themselves in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) around Goma, at the northern tip of Lake Kivu.
Inside Rwanda, the genocide was over. Its effects were not.
Lieutenant Henri Duval drove the Peugeot P4 along a dirt road through the sculpted Rwandan hills. To the left and right, green banana groves offered colorful relief from the fields of dry stubble that slanted down to the roadway. Though the air was cool, Henri’s forehead beaded with sweat. He wiped his brow and focused ahead. Several thin Ankole cattle with wide horizontal horns blocked his path. They refused to move, but Henri swerved onto the shoulder and passed them.
As a boy, Henri had explored the forested hills and valleys that surrounded his native town of Sousceyrac in the
Region of France. He loved the outdoors, and normally the panorama of the rolling Rwandan hills glowing in the morning sun would have captivated him.
But not today.
This morning, as on every other for the past week, an all-too-familiar stench assailed his nostrils. The scent appeared to come from a clump of banana trees located ahead and to the left of the roadway.
Henri stopped his vehicle and got out. Before him, a dozen decaying bodies lay strewn and abandoned in the detritus between the tall banana tubes from which broad shiny leaves projected erratically upwards.
The vile odor churned his stomach. He bent down and retched, but only a few drops of yellow mucus oozed from his lips. He wiped his mouth.
Beside him, a meter to his right, a once-human face stared vacantly upwards at a mass of broad leaves that hung, suspended and lifeless, from an adjacent tube. The girl was young, thirteen at most. A panga had cleaved her cranium that now was covered by a metallic mass of blowflies. Henri swept the butt of his rifle at them, but to little effect.
He turned further right where decaying bodies, all Tutsi, lay in the shadows of low-growing palms. One, a young man whose arm was severed at the elbow, may have tried to resist. Crumpled on top of him was the body of an older gray-haired man. He had been executed from behind while on his knees, his face blown apart by the bullet’s exit. A third man, skull crushed by a blunt instrument, had a tie about his neck, but his feet were bare. His shoes were now the trophy of some happy Hutu.
Some distance away, obscured by a dry banana leaf, lay a woman, hacked and barely recognizable, a mutilated infant near her knees. She had been nursing, but to the Hutu Interahamwe, she was just another “cockroach” with her filthy offspring, to be squashed.
Henri Duval swallowed and turned aside. He could take no more. He strapped his
assault rifle on his shoulder and walked back to his vehicle.
Henri had only a short ride back to the secure French encampment.
On the rutted roadway ahead, he saw a band of chanting youths wearing colorful patterned shirts and armed with pangas, metal pipes and wooden clubs. The leader, who held a French
assault weapon like Henri’s, spotted the French flag painted on the Peugeot P4. He stepped aside to let Henri pass.
At that moment a young woman dashed to the car from his left. Frantic, she pressed her hands on the driver-side door, eyes wide in terror, pleading. Before Henri could react, red streaks splattered the vehicle, and the woman, head slashed, fell from view. A tall teenager, his yellow, green and blue shirt fresh with blood, appeared at Henri’s left.
The youth grinned and wiped his panga free of gore. The leader pushed him aside and waved the Peugeot onwards.
Henri pressed the accelerator and careened forward, spinning dust up from the roadway.
Back at the encampment, Henri Duval went to make his report.
His superior sipped his coffee. Moving his cup aside, he placed his feet on the desk.
‘Ah, Lieutenant, Quoi de nouveau ce matin?
’ What’s new this morning?”
‘Rien, mon Capitaine, tout allait comme d’habitude, rien de spécial.
’ Nothing, Captain, everything went as usual, nothing special.”
But inside Henri screamed.
A word from his government and the slaughter could be stopped.
The radio on the desk was tuned to the
RTLM, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines
. From it, a voice screeched in Kinyarwanda. Henri recognized the word for cockroaches, “
,” the term that the Hutu Interahamwe used to dehumanize their Tutsi targets.
The Captain, perhaps unfamiliar with the propaganda of genocide, ignored the broadcast. He slumped in his chair, wiped his brow and returned to his coffee. He waved the cup at Henri in dismissal.
Back in his quarters, Lieutenant Henri Duval sat alone in glum thought. He stared at the bare walls around him.
Then he made his decision.
He was eligible for discharge, and the recent offer of a job in a French company with a branch in the United States appealed to him.
Despite his apathy for things American, he would accept that offer and leave the military.
Anything to escape this Rwandan Hell!
In Manassas, Virginia, the sun had not yet risen. On the third floor of the Torbee Building, a man stood alone in a dimly lit office. He braced himself against the wall. The hall light that filtered through the opaque panel of the door failed to reach the shadows where he stood.
The man held a paper in his hand. He was not supposed to know the numbers on it, but security had screwed up and now he had them. He shined his flashlight on the wall safe. He read the combination from the paper and turned the knob.
The handle of the office door rattled.
He froze, held his breath. The rattling stopped, and footsteps disappeared down the hallway. He exhaled. Only a guard on his rounds.
He paused. If he opened this safe he crossed a line. No turning back.
But something was wrong, seriously wrong.
Damn it, someone in this office is planning mass murder.
He thought of the men and women with access to this safe. The list was short, only three names. None was his. He gritted his teeth and checked his watch, 5:30 am. Everything was in place. He had to act.
He spun the dial to the safe.
The style of the three-story Torbee Building was known to its occupants as “Government-Bland.” The edifice was surrounded by a razor-wire-topped fence whose only entrance was lined with concrete barriers and featured tire-shredding spikes that could be raised in seconds. At the guard post, each man wore a 9 mm Glock, and had access to a rack of M16 assault weapons.
All the windows of the building were sealed shut for reasons of national security. The closed windows had resulted in numerous memos from workers who variously reported odor-induced coughs, dizziness, headaches and other symptoms of debilitating illness. Sensitized by the possibility of a disaster like Legionnaires’ Disease, the building’s owners answered the cyclic complaints with periodic inspections. These
always affirmed that the ambient air of the labs, cubicles and offices was safe.
All Torbee workers were aware of the surveillance cameras that swept rooms and hallways alike, but only a few knew that hidden covert cameras covered sensitive locations. Still fewer knew that the third floor housed devices to protect the building from electronic eavesdropping, as well as others capable of jamming radio and other signals.
But again, all workers knew that the entry or exit of CD’s, flash drives, DVD’s and other storage devices was strictly forbidden. Ditto for PDA’s, personal phones, radios, etc. etc. The only way to carry information in or out of the building was in the mind, in underwear, or in a body cavity, and if the latter was suspected, an unpleasant intimate search would follow.
The Torbee Building was occupied by a company whose sole client was a little known, but highly secret, agency of the United States Government.
In the security center of this same Torbee Building, a red light started flashing. A tired guard named “Irv” jumped to his feet.
What the hell?
“Bob, look at that!”
“That’s the safe in 310. Harry, Damn it, check that hall monitor?”
Harry’s eyes moved to the third screen from the left.
Bob chambered a round in his Glock. and started for the door.”
“Come on Irv, you’re with me. Harry, stay with the monitors and keep us posted. And call the chief. That’s a special office. Let him know there’s a problem with the safe.”
Irv followed Bob out the door.
Harry, now wide-awake, stared at the empty hallways and stairwells on the bank of monitors.
In room 310, the man pulled back the door of the safe and reached inside.
There was no time to examine the contents, but a quick glance confirmed his suspicions. His flashlight illuminated two documents that listed numbers that surely were cryptographic keys. These he thrust into a canvas briefcase along with folders, bound reports, computer-security tokens, flash drives, and several CD’s.
He fingered his Beretta, but left it holstered. The innocent security guards had families and were in no way responsible for this mess. Even if apprehended he knew he could not shoot. Still, he had only 60 seconds before the guards would appear.
And they would not hesitate to use their Glocks!
He donned a dark ski mask and ducked into the hallway. The ceilings in the Torbee Building were not high. This figured into his plan. Shielding his eyes from the anticipated mist, he stretched on tiptoe and sprayed black paint on the camera lens.
He dashed for the stairwell, entered, lifted his paint can and sprayed once more.
In the security center, the guard named Harry watched as the hallway monitor outside 310 went dark. He immediately communicated with Bob.
“Someone just knocked out the hall camera outside 310. Go to the third floor. No, wait. Camera twelve just went dark. That’s stairwell eight. Now camera thirteen is out. He’s headed down. You can trap him on the first floor.”
But the man in the ski mask was no amateur. He did not continue down the stairs. Instead, he ran back to the third floor, left the stairwell and raced towards the window at the end of the corridor.
Only recently, the sealed window had been smashed to evacuate smoke from a paper fire on the third floor. A temporary panel occupied the opening. And earlier the man had loosened the bolts that locked that temporary glass in place.
Now he removed the bolts and set the glass panel on the floor. He leaned out the opening.
As he anticipated, two stories below was a long dumpster filled with clipped grass, leaves and trimmed branches ready for removal. To preserve appearances, the container had been placed against the building, behind a border of crepe myrtles.
The man grinned under his ski mask. The dumpster was in Zone B. It was scheduled for pickup this morning, in an hour.
The exterior grounds of the Torbee Building were divided into three zones, each entered through the guard post, and each isolated from the other two by high fences with razor wire. Zone C had the parking areas for employees and visitors. Zone A, whose loading and storage areas held weatherproofed crates of concealed contents, was most secure. Zone B, less secure, allowed entry to maintenance vehicles, like dumpster trucks.
The man zipped the canvas briefcase shut, sealed it in a waterproof garbage bag, and dropped it out the window. It landed in the dumpster, plunged through the loose network of brush and leaves on the surface, and disappeared, camouflaged by a coating of displaced leaves and grass that resettled upon it.
Satisfied with the drop, he removed the ski mask and threw it outwards. Next, the can of paint spray followed.
He had planned carefully. He would use the separation of Zone A from B to his advantage. He took a remote from his pocket and pushed a button. The remote, too, he tossed out the window into the dumpster.
Then he replaced the window, bolted it, and looked at his watch. He still had twenty seconds. Earlier he had fixed the card entry to his office. It showed that he had entered two hours ago and not left.
He counted the seconds.
It was a small explosion, but it triggered several events in the security center.
First, the monitor for loading dock AA went dark.
Then, a red light on the panel above Harry blinked on and off wildly, signaling that the steel door to dock AA was ajar.
At the same time a siren on the roof of the building emitted a whine too shrill to be ignored.
Harry reacted to all three alarms.
“Bob, the door to loading dock AA is breached, and the camera there is knocked out. The outside motion sensors have triggered the A-Siren. He’s outside, in Zone A.”
“Roger that, he’s got no place to go now. We’ve got him.”
But after an hour-long search they found no one. There was no intruder in Zone A. And elsewhere in the building were only regular employees working night hours.
Frustrated, Bob, the head of the night detail, returned to the security center and called maintenance.
“Get the damned surveillance cameras back on line and seal off the door to loading dock AA. Irv is on guard there. Divert any incoming to dock BB. The chief is on the way.”
He turned to Harry.
“And keep your eyes on the monitors. If my butt gets busted, I’ll see that yours does too.”
Bob stormed into his cubbyhole of an office and slammed the door, rather tried to, but the pneumatic door-closer resisted and jammed his wrist. He winced. Tonight nothing was right.
Hugh Byrd, chief of security for the Torbee Building, bulled an angry path through the guards at the gate. He found Bob in the security center.
“Give me the list of all who were on the third floor during this mess.”
Bob hit print on the computer and handed the list to Hugh.
“There are four, all with high clearance. They were all in their offices. You think it was an inside job?”
How dumb can this guy be?
He crossed out one name on the list, and handed the paper back to Bob.
“Seal the offices of these three and bring them to the conference room on two. Hold them there until I call you.”
Hugh pointed to the name he had crossed off.
“I’ll talk to Mr. Hamm myself.”
Bob left. Hugh Byrd punched his cell phone.
“Tom, I’m in the security center. Meet me in room 310 right away. We have a problem. His name is ‘William Hamm.’”