FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Nick Hahn, Sally Wintour, the Ambassador’s Wife.

Like all US Ambassadors we had household staff and security personnel recruited for their loyalty 10906106_10153497009507586_6014278123377555685_nand discretion. As the gates swung open and we entered the courtyard there were five people standing in front of the main house, three women in traditional Hijab headdress, two men dressed in black pants and white shirts. Three out-buildings were grouped around the courtyard; a guard house adjacent to the gate, a large garage or perhaps storage facility and separate living quarters for the staff. The guard house was large with a small brazier for heating tea and sleeping cots for the 24 hour rotating security.

A third man stood to the side not wanting to be included as household staff. He was tall and muscular with a large black mustache and chiseled features. He wore designer jeans, a turban and a baseball jacket in spite of the heat. The jacket was emblazoned with the iconic NY Yankees logo and barely covered the bulge in the center of his back near the waist. This had to be Mustafa, the name meant Warrior of Islam, a fitting description for the man responsible for Alex’s security. He was born and raised on the streets of Karachi but moved with his parents to New York when he was 17. Now a naturalized citizen of the US with dual passport he’s a trained Navy Seal assigned to the State Department for special operations, guarding our daughter was a special operation. The State Department dossier covered his background in detail but the passport photos they included hardly did him justice, he was beautiful.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE, a bi-cultural political thriller by Nick Hahn, due 2015

(Alex)

10906106_10153497009507586_6014278123377555685_n“Since leaving Pakistan I’m consumed by the dichotomy between life in a Muslim country and my life in the US. Omar was born into poverty, a third world society, educated by radical Imams to think a certain way, I was born into upper middle class society also educated to think a certain way. Political and economic paradigms are means to an end, systems designed by men to enhance their lives. Democracy supports freedom of speech, assembly and religion driving political and economic parity for most but not all Americans. Minorities suffer under the system, people fall into disaffected sub-cultures often following leaders telling them what they want to hear, leaders motivated by power fueled by sophistry, immoral means justifying unattainable ends. This small fraction of the US population is shrinking, being absorbed into a growing middle class that appears utopian to the third world. That world is dominated by poverty, people willing to follow any philosophy or leader promising a better life. This is not about intelligence or morality it’s about survival and basic human entitlement. Omar was not immoral he was sick, suffering from a philosophical virus spawned in the Muslim barrios of Pakistan. He would have detonated that bomb, killing thousands of Americans and himself in a cloud of smoke and a full throated Allahu Akbar. The cure for islamic extremism is not found in Guantanamo, it’s an incubator for advanced terrorism where incarceration and torture feed embryos of destruction. Omar is better off with Allah, the world is better off with him dead and America will be better off when we close the dungeons of Guantanamo.”

FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Nick Hahn (part-2) due 2015

 

10906106_10153497009507586_6014278123377555685_nExtremism is an addiction, something powerful and overwhelming, addicts can’t control their thoughts or actions. These people are cultural pedophiles, this isn’t a physical disease as some would postulate about alcohol, this is a psychological sickness. Traceable to birth, to sucking the mother’s milk of an abused woman whose life was compressed by a literal , sophistic interpretation of the Koran and unquestioned obedience to Allah and his self ordained disciples. Omar was one of them, an addict in more ways than one.

His private journal revealed a physical interest in men, homosexuality in the Muslim world was punishable by death, usually stoning or having their throat cut. The leaders preferred cutting to beheading, the former being more painful. Being gay was not pardonable under any circumstances. Omar’s journal had links to gay porn and dating sites, he would  satisfy a predilection for gay sex in liberal NY undetected. We wanted to know more about this, where did he go, which clubs, bars and bath houses. Did he have a steady lover, where and when  did they meet, were others in their circle, did he do group sex,  with whom? Omar used an alias on password encrypted dating sites, his handle was Deep Throat, his profile page had dozens of photos, nude and semi-nude in various states of arousal. He checked the “partnered” box on his favorite dating sites. There were closed messenger systems, chat-rooms and review options;  the sites were a social media microcosm, a brokerage for anonymous assignations with a nefarious purpose. Omar was active, he built a contact list with ratings for each man he’d been with, the four and five star performers were visited often at their apartments or shared motel rooms on Staten Island. Omar’s death had not been reported to the media, Starbucks was told he was ill and would not be returning for work. Deep Throat was now a CIA agent, we would arrange meetings, we would isolate and interrogate his lovers, one by one by one.

Were there operatives working outside of Omar’s cell in NY, did he communicate with them, were they attracted to him sexually, did they meet; where, when,  how?  This was an opening to a side of Islam we had not expected. Gay sex was taboo, forbidden, punishable by a long, painful death.  Addiction thrives on the adrenalin rush of danger, fear of discovery and consequences of exposure. Abusers of alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex are endemic to our society, we knew that suicide bombers like those plotting 9/11 would frequent strip clubs and bars before their mission. They had a predilection for booze, drugs and porn but we didn’t suspect male sex, we were wrong.

Regardless of race, religion or status, someone living under crushing tension and stress without access to drugs and alcohol will often turn to sex. Drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief but have unacceptable consequences subject to mindless thought and activity, they left a mark that could compromise a mission. Sex is free, anonymous and non-toxic, not detectable by a blood test. It leaves no physical footprint and provide relief for a terrorist planning suicidal murder in the name of Allah. Without a hangover sex gives you a free pass to nirvana, a taste of what’s in store when meeting the quaranic virgins, all 72 of them, ostensibly but inaccurately promised by Allah. Omar’s private journal was a treasure trove, an encrypted database of names, places, dates and reviews of gay sex practiced by a man suffering from a deep, dark psychosis.

Understanding what made Omar tick,  how he became who he was and why he persevered in spite of his American experience would give us clues to the extremist state of  mind. These men were not foot soldiers following orders, they were anarchists, troops in the service of Allah imbued with a literal and inaccurate interpretation of the Koran.

Some believe we should not use labels when defining extremists. They would argue there are no Muslim terrorists, Jewish terrorists or Catholic terrorists; there are simply terrorists. Murderers, rapists and kidnappers, who act on their own initiative without the aid or inspiration of a deity. The billion plus peace loving Muslims in the world are living testimony to this thesis.

Omar’s personal diary would lead us into an agnostic world of secrecy, fear, violence and sex. An incubator for terrorists, a place where thought becomes reality powered by addiction, the alchemy of terrorism.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Nick Hahn, due 2015

Alexandra Wintour had come of age. At 21 she’d seen and experienced more than most people do in a lifetime. Her relationship with Sally and Owen changed from supplicant to equal, they were just getting used to the idea when Alex informed them she had applied for admission to FSI (Foreign Service Institute) the US government’s primary training program for career foreign service officers. Owen was thrilled, Sally held her breath and said nothing, her dream of a nice American boy with a business career and a love for children had been dashed on the rocks of a young woman’s dream to change the world.

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Alex was no longer the Ambassador’s daughter, she was the Ambassador’s acolyte. A young woman with a split personality, one representing her country as a state department officer the other as an undercover agent for Interpol.

Omar’s death was in vain, he failed, he and his fellow terrorists were either dead or in custody. He could have been and done much more in the Muslim world. Global terrorism is an airborne virus, it multiplies in the slums and barrios of the third world, a world ignored by developed nations of the West. Alex Wintour would infiltrate that world, not as an Ambassador but as a an Interpol operative. Mustafa would be her mentor, Omar was the flint striking her steel resolve, a spark that would ignite her passion for changing the world as she saw it.