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Authors: Joel C. Rosenberg

The Last Days

BOOK: The Last Days
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THE LAST DAYS
Also by Joel C. Rosenberg from Forge Books

THE LAST JIHAD

THE LAST DAYS
Joel C. Rosenberg

The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.

Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author's copyright, please notify the publisher at:
us.macmillanusa.com/piracy
.

This book is dedicated to our Arab and Jewish friends in and around the Middle East who are pouring out their very lives for the peace that passes all understanding.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To my incredible wife, Lynn—my hero and best friend. You constantly amaze me with your grace and discernment, your kindness and stamina. I don't know how I'd survive without you. Every day we walk together I learn something more wonderful about you. I love you so much. Thanks for loving me and doing this adventure together. We're living our dreams, and this is just the beginning. To Caleb, Jacob, and Jonah, my prayer warriors and “traveling buddies.” I love being your dad. I love seeing your faith, hope, and love growing day by day. Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, Jerusalem—who knows what's next!

To everyone in our previous acknowledgments, especially our families, friends, and kindred spirits from Syracuse, Washington, McLean, and Frontline. To our November Communications compadre, “John Black John Black,” thanks for all your “air support” and wisdom! To Dan (“Duncle”) Rebeiz, welcome aboard; Marcus and Tanya Brackman; the “Posse” our Spain '03 team; the Stahls; the Rose family; Shirley O'Neill; and the team at
World
magazine. Thanks for your faithful friendship and for making us part of your lives.

Special thanks to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. You sent
The Last Jihad
into the stratosphere and our lives into hyperspeed with your passion and enthusiasm. We couldn't have been more surprised or had more fun. And many thanks to Steve and Sabina Forbes and Bill Dal Col for your enduring friendship and tremendous encouragement. We're still so humbled and grateful. God bless you guys!

To those who've been so generous with their time, research, and insights, including Allen Roth, Steven Schnier, and their colleagues; Ambassador Dore Gold; Mey Wurmser at AEI; Jim Phillips and Ariel Cohen at Heritage; and to so many Palestinian and Israeli sources who wish to remain anonymous.

To everyone who put together such wonderful book events for us over the last year, and have blessed our lives in so many ways, including Stanley and Gay Gaines; Janet Westling and her family; Bridgett Wagner at Heritage; Jeff Taylor; Nancy Streck, Steve Scheffler, and their team in Iowa; David Keene, Diana Banister, and everyone at CPAC; and even the kind folks who invited me to do the “Pat the Bunny” readings on that beautiful Saturday afternoon—thanks so much!

To Greg Mueller, Leif Noren, Keith Appell, Mike Russell, Peter Robbio, Suzanne Bakri, and the wonderful team at Creative Response Concepts for everything you did for me.

To Tom Doherty, Bob Gleason, Linda Quinton, Elena Stokes, Brian Callaghan, and the stellar team at Tor/Forge Books. You guys are absolutely amazing. Thanks so much for all you did to make
The Last Jihad
a bestseller and for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. I couldn't be more grateful.

And to Scott Miller at Trident Media Group, the best agent in the business. What an amazing year—who woulda thunk it? Thanks again for your wisdom and candor, your willingness to go the extra mile, and most of all for your friendship. Let's hope there's more to come.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

James “Mac” MacPherson

THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

William Harvard Oaks

THE PRINCIPALS

Scott Harris, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Stuart Morris Iverson, former Secretary of the Treasury

Lee Alexander James, Secretary of Homeland Security

Marsha Kirkpatrick, National Security Advisor

Jack Mitchell, Director of Central Intelligence

Tucker Paine, Secretary of State

Burt Trainor, Secretary of Defense

Neil Wittimore, Attorney General

SENIOR WHITE HOUSE STAFF

Jon Bennett, Senior Advisor to the President

Bob Corsetti, White House Chief of Staff

Erin McCoy, Deputy to Jon Bennett and CIA operations officer

Chuck Murray, White House Press Secretary

OTHER KEY ADMINISTRATION ADVISORS

Marty Benjamin, State Department's Policy Planning Staff director

Dick Cavanaugh, Deputy Secretary of State

Ken Costello, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Troy Moreaux, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, head of ORHA

General Ed Mutschler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Danny Tracker, CIA Deputy Director for Operations

U.S. SECURITY OFFICIALS

Tariq Abu Ashad, CIA agent

Max Banacci, DSS agent

Dietrich Black, late FBI agent

Hamid, CIA agent

Sergeant Hunt, Navy SEAL

Kyl Lake, DSS agent

Maroq, CIA agent

Donny Mancuso, DSS agent

Nazir, CIA agent

Bud Norris, Director of the U.S. Secret Service

George Polanski, FBI agent

Eduardo Ramirez, SEAL Team Eight commander

Jackie Sanchez, Secret Service agent

Robbie Trakowski, DSS agent

Neil Watts, FBI agent

Jake Ziegler, CIA Gaza Station chief

IRAQI LEADERS

Ayad Allawi, Iraqi National Accord

Mustafa al-Hassani, Iraqi National Alliance

Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq

Masoud Barzani, Kurdistan Democratic Party

Achmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress

Jalal Talabani, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

ISRAELI LEADERS

David Doron, Prime Minister of Israel

Dmitri Galishnikov, CEO of Medexco, Inc.

Dr. Eliezer Mordechai, former head of Mossad

Yossi Ben Ramon, head of Shin Bet

Avi Zadok, current head of Mossad

Uri “The Wolf” Ze'ev, chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces

PALESTINIAN LEADERS

Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority

Abu Mazen (a.k.a., Dr. Mahmoud Abbas), Palestinian Prime Minister

Marwan Barghouti, Fatah Tanzim leader

Mohammed Dahlan, Palestinian Interior Minister

Jibril Rajoub, Palestinian security chief on West Bank

Khalid al-Rashid, personal security chief for Chairman Arafat

Dr. Ibrahim Sa'id, CEO of Palestinian Petroleum Group

Achmed Qurei, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council

AL-NAKBAH LEADERS

Yuri Gogolov, Russian co-founder of Al-Nakbah terrorist movement

Mohammed Jibril, Iranian co-founder of Al-Nakbah

Nadir Sarukhi Hashemi (“The Viper” “Mario Iabello”), terrorist

Daoud Juma, terrorist

OTHERS

Akiva Ben David, founder of the Temple Mount Battalion

Ruth Bennett, mother of Jon Bennett

Solomon Bennett, late father of Jon Bennett

Marcus Jackson,
New York Times
White House correspondent

Dorothy Richards, sister of Ruth Bennett

Then Jacob called for his sons and said:

“Gather around so I can tell you

what will happen to you in the last days….”

—
Genesis 49:1

The real test of a man is not

when he plays the role

that he wants for himself,

but when he plays the role

destiny has for him.

—
Vaclav Havel

CONTENTS
ONE

“You really want me to kill him?”

The question hung in the air for a moment, and neither said another word.

The flames crackled in the fireplace of the elegant penthouse apartment overlooking central Tehran. Light rain fell on the clay balcony tiles. Bitter December winds howled outside, rustling trees and rattling windows. Thunder rumbled in the distance. And the room and the sky grew dark.

Mohammed Jibril looked out over the teeming city of his youth, as the haunting call to prayer echoed across the rooftops. He knew he should not feel so tired, but he did. Tired of sleeping in different beds, different houses, different cities. Tired of constantly watching his back, and that of Yuri Gogolov, the man sitting in the shadows behind him, puffing casually on one of his beloved Cuban cigars. Jibril considered his options. There weren't many.

“You understand, of course,” Jibril continued, “that you will be unleashing a war that could escalate beyond our control—beyond anyone's control?”

A silent, unnerving pause.

“And you're ready for this war?” Jibril asked, perhaps too bluntly.

Instantly regretting the question, he could feel a chill descend upon the room. Gogolov sat motionless in an overstuffed velvet chair. He looked out at the mountains and the minarets and the twinkling lights of the ancient Iranian capital. He drew long and hard on the Cohiba, and the cigar glowed in the shadows.

Air Force One roared down runway 18-36 “Lima.”

Flanked by four F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, the gleaming new Boeing 747 quickly gained altitude and banked toward the Atlantic. President James “Mac” MacPherson stared out the window. He could no longer see the lights of Madrid Barajas International Airport, or the lights of the Spanish capital itself, just nine miles away. The emergency one-day NATO summit was over. In a few hours, he'd be home, back at the White House, under pressure to answer the question on everyone's mind: Now what?

Osama bin Laden was dead. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were obliterated. And now—just three and half weeks after it began—the war in Iraq was effectively over. Saddam Hussein was dead and buried under a thousand tons of rubble. His sons were dead, too, cut down in a hail of allied gunfire. His murderous regime had been toppled. His henchmen were being scooped up by U.S. Special Forces, one by one, day by day. But the president had never felt more alone.

Rebuilding Iraq and keeping it from blowing apart like Bosnia would be difficult enough. But that wasn't the only thing on his plate. Wars and rumors of wars dominated the headlines. New threats surfaced constantly. North Korea was just months away from building six to ten nuclear bombs. Iran would soon complete a nuclear reactor with Russian assistance, capable of producing two to three nuclear warheads a month. Syria and Iran appeared to be harboring top Iraqi military officials and scientists. NATO was badly divided. The U.N. was a mess. Democrats threatened to filibuster most of the White House's major legislative priorities. And now this: the FBI and Justice Department were recommending the death penalty in
United States v Stuart Morris Iverson,
one of the most chilling acts of espionage in the nation's history, not to mention one that involved one of the president's closest friends and a man who was, until a month ago, Secretary of the Treasury.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, was insisting that all U.S. forces leave its soil immediately. And OPEC—outraged by the U.S. strikes against Iraq—was threatening an all-out oil embargo unless war reparations were made to the Iraqi people and pressure was brought to bear on Israel to allow the creation of a Palestinian state. The president recoiled at the thought of an ultimatum from countries he had just saved from nuclear, chemical, and biological annihilation. He wasn't about to submit to blackmail, but he was painfully aware of the risks he was running. Even now, his handpicked diplomatic team were on their way to Jerusalem.

MacPherson—feeling quite vigorous at sixty until a team of Iraqi assassins nearly took his life the month before—was beginning to feel his age. He swallowed a handful of aspirin and washed it down with a bottle of water. His head was pounding. His back and neck were in excruciating pain. He needed sleep. He needed to clear his head. The last thing he needed was an oil price shock reminiscent of '73. So much of the road ahead was foggy. But one thing was painfully obvious: the horrific battle of Iraq wasn't the end of the war on terror. It was just the beginning.

 

When ordering a hit, Jibril preferred the anonymity of an Internet café.

No one would bother him. No one could trace him. And at less than 25,000 rials an hour—about three U.S. dollars—it was far cheaper than using his satellite phone.

Tehran alone boasted more than fifteen hundred cyber shops, which had exploded in popularity ever since Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997 and gave the fledgling Internet sector his blessing. The hard-line religious clerics continued to be wary. In 2001, they'd forced four hundred shops to close their doors for operating without proper business licenses, breaking Islamic laws and trafficking in “Western pollution.” They'd insisted that the government deny anyone under the age of eighteen from entering the shops. But that just made the idea of an electronic periscope into the West all the more alluring, and Web traffic shot up faster than ever.

The bulletproof sedan eased off the main boulevard. Mohammed Jibril told his driver to drop him off at the Caspian Cyber Café on Enghelab Avenue, across from Tehran University. A moment later he logged on, and sent a half dozen cryptic e-mails. Next, he pulled up the home page for Harrods of London and quickly found what he needed. “Harrods Chocolate Batons with French Brandy—twelve individually wrapped milk chocolate batons filled with Harrods Fine Old French Brandy. Made from the finest Swiss chocolate. 100g.” He hit the “buy now” button, typed in the appropriate FedEx shipping information, paid with a stolen credit card, and left as quickly as he came. Now all he could do was wait, and hope the messages arrived in time.

 

The eyes of the world were now on Jon Bennett.

A senior advisor to the president of the United States, Bennett was the chief architect of the administration's new Arab-Israeli peace plan. The front-page, top-of-the-fold
New York Times
profile the day before—Sunday, December 26—had just dubbed him the new “point man for peace.” The media was now tracking his every move and the stakes couldn't be higher.

The president was eager to shift the world's attention from war to peace, to rebuilding Iraq and expanding free markets and free elections in the Middle East. The Pentagon and CIA insisted the next battles lay in Syria and Iran. But the State Department and White House political team argued such moves would be a mistake. It was time to force the Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table, to nail down a peace treaty the way Jimmy Carter did with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David in '77, and the way Clinton tried to do with Barak and Arafat in the summer of 2000. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” they reminded the president. And the president was listening.

Bennett wasn't so sure it was the right time, or that he was the right man. He hadn't asked to be named “point man for peace.” He hadn't wanted the job. But the president insisted. He needed a deal, he needed it now, and Bennett couldn't say no.

At forty, Jonathan Meyers Bennett was one of the youngest and most successful deal makers on Wall Street, and a guy who had everything. An undergraduate degree from Georgetown. An MBA from Harvard. A thirty-eighth-floor office overlooking Central Park. A forest green Jaguar XJR, for business. A red Porsche turbo, for pleasure. A seven-figure salary, with options and bonuses. A seven-figure portfolio and retirement fund. A $1.5 million penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village near NYU, for which he'd paid cash. Closets full of Zegna suits. And Matt Damon good looks.

Few people on Wall Street knew much about this shadowy young man, but he was the talk of all the women in his office. Six feet tall with short dark hair and grayish green eyes, he had a picture-perfect smile after a fortune in dental work as a kid. He'd once been voted the office's “most eligible bachelor,” but only part of that was true. He was a bachelor, but not all that eligible. He dated occasionally, but all his colleagues knew Bennett was married to his work, pure and simple. He typically worked twelve to fourteen hours a day, including Saturdays. None of that had changed at the White House, and now he was at his desk by ten-thirty on Sundays, too, watching
Meet the Press
and planning for the week ahead.

Before coming to Washington, Bennett was the senior VP and chief investment strategist for Global Strategix, Inc., one of the hottest firms on the Street. Part strategic research shop, part venture capital fund, GSX advised mutual and pension funds, as well as the Joshua Fund, which had $137 billion in assets under management. Over the years, GSX had become known as the financial industry's “AWACS”—its airborne warning and control system—able to alert money managers of trouble long before it arrived. GSX also had a reputation of finding “sure things,” early investments in start-up ventures that hit the jackpot and paid off big. Most of the credit went to Bennett. He had a sixth sense for finding buried treasure, and he loved the hunt. The plaque on his desk said it all: “I'm not the richest man in the richest city in the richest country on the face of the globe in the history of mankind. But tomorrow is another day.”

Then “tomorrow” threw him a curve ball. Suddenly he was off the Street, out of GSX, working for the White House, and on the Secretary of State's 757, headed for the Holy Land. It was surreal, to say the least, but the package came with one big incentive: the chance to cut a deal they'd be writing about for decades, and Bennett was determined to see it through.

“Hey there, Point Man, we there yet?”

Erin McCoy rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She put her seat back in its upright position and prepared for landing. A senior member of Bennett's team for the past several years, she'd been teasing him about the
Times
profile for the last twenty-four hours, and enjoying every minute of it. After takeoff from Andrews, she'd persuaded the pilot to welcome the entire American delegation, including “our own Jon Bennett, the esteemed point man for peace.” She'd even plastered the interior of the plane with big red, white, and blue signs asking, “What's the point, man?”

“You kill me, McCoy.”

“Don't tempt me, Jon.” She smiled.

Bennett stared back out the window, trying to ignore how good McCoy looked in her ivory silk blouse and black wool suit. She really was beautiful, he thought. Why hadn't she become a model instead of joining the CIA? She was five-foot-ten with shoulder-length chestnut brown hair, lightly tanned skin, sparkling brown eyes, and a picture-perfect smile that hadn't required any dental work at all. All that, and she was ranked an “expert marksman” with six different kinds of weapons, including her favorite, a 9-mm Beretta, which she carried with her at all times. How could this girl still be single?

“Just give me a copy of the schedule, would you?” Bennett asked.

“You got it,” said McCoy as she pulled out a few pages from her briefing book. “Point Man touches down at 0700 local time, Monday, December 27th; meets with the Palestinians; then the Israelis; saves the world; spends New Year's in Cancun; then cuts large check to beautiful deputy for saving his life, and his job.”

Bennett fought hard not to give her the satisfaction of a smile. But it wasn't easy.

“I don't know what I'd do without you, McCoy,” he said, snatching the pages from her hands. “But believe me, I'll think of something.”

The Web master in London instantly recognized the e-mail address.

This was no order for chocolate. And she knew it was urgent. She quickly e-mailed a copy to Harrods' shipping clerk downstairs for immediate processing, then logged onto AOL and IM'd a gift shop on the Rock of Gibraltar.

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