The Ambassador’s Daughter by Nick Hahn, due 2017

(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 2390004_6123521keep 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”.

The Ambassador’s Daughter by Nick Hahn, due 2017


289b8876-a15e-46ea-8a5f-4ac05b90ed6cOmar 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.



The Ambassador’s Daughter by Nick Hahn, due 2017

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, and2390004_6123521 Beepa.

“I think this must be a dream, that I’ll wake any moment and be back at the Embassy in my pink and white bedroom with the Barbi Collection on the dresser and Beepa, the soft cuddly monkey I received when I was a baby.
Beepa was my childhood companion, he went with me everywhere, he slept with me, played with me and made cookies with me. If not for Sally, he would have bathed with me. He was my security, he protected me from the world, he made me feel safe and loved, I needed him, now!.”
The path up the hill was steep and rocky, my thin sneakers are not enough protection. I shouldn’t be daydreaming, I should be thinking about escape, about how I’ll react should one of these thugs come on to me.
They would come early morning, after the call to prayer, just before sunrise. 
Billy told me how he woke every day with a hard-on and sticky sheets. I giggled at this, I would say, “come on Billy, you must have been sleepwalking”,  he would grin and respond, “nope, sleep-fucking”.
Christ, I’m going be tortured and raped in the morning and all I can think about are Billy Watson’s  wet-dreams.
Get it together girl, this isn’t a dream.”