Cover of my new book, out later this year, currently in edit, very excited.
(Back cover summary)
Alex Wintour is the seventeen-year-old daughter of the US Ambassador to Pakistan. She becomes the target of a brutal terrorist kidnapping and the focal point between Mustafa, the Karachi-born US-educated Navy Seal assigned to rescue her and Omar, the young Al Qaeda operative who interrogates her. His command of English and American culture is based on his living in Kansas as a foreign exchange student.
He would turn out to be the perfect foil for Alex.
The plot twists and turns with finesse as Mustafa balances his relationship with Ambassador Wintour, his wife Sally and his extended family in Karachi.
The connection between Mustafa and his partner and lover, Dalia, the beautiful Israeli assassin who works for Mossad, the world’s most efficient killing machine, complicates his mission and may compromise his mission to rescue Alex.
This book has it all, political intrigue, conflict, romance, and ideology. Western culture and economics clash with Muslim poverty and hopelessness in a squalid interrogation hut in the foothills of the Hindu Kush of Western Pakistan.
Alex and Omar are intellectual equals, a relationship complicated by the Stockholm syndrome, they’re attracted to each other, emotionally and physically.
The story gives you a view of Muslim, American relations so different from today’s media, you’ll question every assumption you’ve ever made.
Don’t miss this one, as current as today’s headlines.
(Alex is undergoing her first interrogation with Omar, the young terrorist who is conflicted between his commitment to Al Qaeda and his attraction to Alex)
There was chemistry between us, we both knew it, a combination of looks, personality,
and intellect driving the discussion beyond victim and captor. Some might call it the Law Of Attraction, that new age maxim that “like attracts like” defined as either negative or positive depending on your mindset. In this case, my feelings for Omar were in a war zone, struggling back and forth from hate to empathy with the latter winning the battle if not the war. I liked this man, he was intellectually committed but not a fanatic, he could be turned, not sure I could do it.
He was treating me like dirt, slapping and abusing me and yet I felt something for him, something nurturing and consoling. I didn’t want to like him and God knows I didn’t want to feel attracted to him on a physical level and yet I couldn’t deny these thoughts. There was a spark, like a flint on steel, not yet a flame, but smoldering.
. “You’re not my friend Omar, you’re my enemy. You’re holding me against my will. You’ll soon discover that US foreign policy includes the rescue of State Department employees from creeps like you. Kidnapping me was a mistake, a big mistake and one that you and your gang of thugs will live to regret. I may not survive this ordeal but be assured, this mistake raises the bar on US search and destroy, they’ll find you and they’ll destroy you and your nest of snakes.
We don’t negotiate with creeps like you, you’ve put your foot into a pile of shit Mr Omar, the stink will follow you to a violent end, trust me.
He screamed; “enough woman” and slapped me , harder this time.
A nod towards Aalee ended the interrogation. He went to the door and shouted in Arabic, “get her out of here.”
My keeper appeared instantly. She took my elbow, I jerked it away with a “fuck off lady” and followed her.
(Alex Wintour undergoing her first interrogation by Omar, the young terrorist assigned to her case by the elders. He is cruel at first but slowly responds to his forbidden attraction for this girl.)
We were briefed on Islam and the cultural, religious and historical differences between these sects, Sunni and Shia, and their geopolitical significance in the Muslim world. It is almost impossible to keep it straight. There is so much cross over and misunderstanding between the two. Omar is a Sunni as are most Muslims in Pakistan and over 90% of the Muslim world. The differences are historical, having more to do with political leadership and governance than religion. The Koran and its tenets are common to both but interpretation varies widely.
My mind skipped from escape to rescue to acquiescence. I wanted to talk with Max.
Omar was not smiling or smirking. He was challenging, competitive. He seemed to be saying: “How can a woman defy me, especially a western woman?”
He was right, I was defying him, this guy was with a woman the likes of which he’s never seen before. A woman comfortable in her own skin, a woman taught to be independent, a woman who’s relations with men were equal, balanced and comfortable. Muslim women were trained from birth to be subservient to men, they didn’t know any other way. I felt sorry for them.
I would never conform to Muslim attitudes towards women. The idea that women were somehow inferior and needed to be forced into stereotypical roles with dress codes, lack of education and submissiveness was foreign to Western thought and culture, especially my generation.
Omar spoke perfect English with a broken Pakistani accent. He used American slang on occasion, his syntax indicated time in the US or Canada maybe. Muslim women were forbidden to speak until spoken too. I was not a Muslim woman.
“Tell me Mr. Omar, when were you living in the US?”
The question shocked him. He squinted, his eyes turning into narrow slits. His expression was threatening as he tensed and moved his arm to a menacing position. I braced for the blow that didn’t come.
Omar glanced at Abdul Aalee who stood motionless in the back of the room. It was not clear if Allee spoke or understood English. I assumed the latter.
He spoke in very low tones, almost a whisper, as he replied.
“You know nothing about me or my background, woman. Silence!”
I ignored him.
“I know more about you than you think. Your speech betrays you. You spent time in the American Midwest or Canada maybe? You speak English like you’ve been in Indiana or Kansas maybe. Is this not so, Mr. Omar?”
Again he glared and again he glanced at Allee. I didn’t know what to expect, either he would punish me physically or lock me in my room without meals or exercise privileges. I’d hope for the former. Meals with the others and walking in the yard were essential to my health. A few more slaps meant nothing.
I was shocked, he answered with an acquiescence in his tone, as if he had discovered an old friend or compatriot.
“Have you ever been to Kansas?”
Oh my God, what a breakthrough! After all this, it turns out my hunch, and that’s all it was, is right. Omar had spent time in America. Was it as a tourist or a student or perhaps the member of a terrorist cell? We knew that terrorists preferred small towns in the Midwest. Their modus operandi were to blend into the community as newsstand owners or taxi drivers minimizing attention to themselves.
I smiled weakly, nodded my head and responded:
“Yes, Omar, I’ve been to Kansas”.
Omar is the young terrorist assigned to interrogate Alex. He was educated in the US, his English is perfect, his understanding of American culture is not. His relationship with Alex drives the narrative of this book!
“Next morning we served a meal. We didn’t use western terms like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food consisted of hot tea, hard boiled eggs, assorted vegetables, stale bread and sour cream, no meat. The captives ate with us, escorted into the kitchen and seated at a long wooden table. Alex came in first. Like last night, she was defiant, walked erect with her head held high, this young infidel had an attitude even though I knew she was scared, I liked that. There was two of them, the girl and the aid worker we’d been holding.
They were no longer in restraints. Our location was remote and secure. We posted 24-hour guards and released the Rottweiler’s at night. The people in this village were Taliban. The mere sight of a westerner would alarm them. She was wearing the hijab, exposing her face, her hair, visible around the edges, was blonde, with highlights, she was obviously not Muslim.
This girl was distracting me in ways forbidden by Allah.
Only our trained interrogators spoke to captives. I was not trained but the elders acknowledged my US experience with an exception. Talking was not on my mind this morning, this was emotion and the ache in my groin.
In Pakistan, marriage was arranged by the families. In extreme cases, the bride and groom never met until the day of the ceremony. This arrangement had advantages. Issues of wealth, education, culture, language, and religion dominate any marriage once the passion is gone and the day to day living and child rearing take over. After seeing her, I understood the wisdom of these customs. When you see a woman like Alex it’s about passion, not religion. Passion controls you, it’s addictive, nothing else matters except release and the promise of more. Like drugs and alcohol, it ignores culture, language, and wealth. Passion is a narcotic, more powerful than poppies. Passion drives life and all its permutations–sex, work, creativity, revolution. Without passion, there would be no America, no Al Qaeda and no Taliban.
The Koran can channel passion, it can harness it and drive you to a higher calling. The West doesn’t understand this about Muslims, our passion is stronger than there’s, driven by basic economic necessity.
This morning, economics were not on my mind.
This girl, this daughter of Satan, stares at me. Her expression is blank no emotion, no passion. No wonder we’re winning our unequal battle with the West, they have arms, we have passion, it’s stronger.
Alex arrives at the Taliban Village, it’s dusk, the sun is setting behind the Hindu Kush Mountains to the West. She’s tired, sore, hungry and terrified. She wants her parents, her boyfriend, and Beepa.
Casey got his stripes the old fashioned way, through the ranks, he earned them. He was respected by his peers, his men loved him, not a man on that team that wouldn’t take a bullet for Bull Casey.
We met in basic training, I was a recruit, Casey a drill Sargent. He couldn’t break me down physically or mentally, God knows he tried. That SOB busted my balls for seven long weeks of BUD’s training at Coronado, at the end of it all I found myself respecting the bastard, if not liking him.
I hadn’t seen him since graduation, not surprising I’d find him in an NCO club.
I smiled when the waitress said the beer was on the gentleman sitting at the bar. That was no gentleman, it was Casey, the insignia on the sleeve of his dress blues told you all you needed to know, red stripes, three stars and an eagle, not a man alive going to fuck with him.
I heard a rumor he was in town, seemed appropriate we’d meet in an NCO club, our last meeting in California was in the same place, they all looked the same.
He turned on the stool, I smiled and nodded. The long neck in my hand tipped forward, his did the same, he headed for my table.