Chapter 01.1

In the kitchen, Fahid dropped the glass he had just pulled from the cupboard, grabbed the 9mm Parabellum from the back of his waistband and dashed into the living room. At that same moment, four other cell members, who had been sleeping in the bedroom on the far side of the living room, met him there. As Fahid turned toward the gaping hole that was once the window, Captain Thomas’ assault team swung inward and set down over the rail of the balcony. Gunshots exploded with a Pop! Pop! Bang! Pop! Fahid aimed his weapon toward the first two men on his left, fired, and hit them both squarely in their chests. The force of the impact pushed the two back over the rail. The third shot, discharged by Captain Thomas, successfully struck and killed Jamal who, freshly awakened, had brought his gun up to the ready. The fourth shot, issued again by Fahid, sent Captain Thomas flailing backward over the rail, following his teammates.

Fahid and the remaining three terrorists spent the next several minutes scurrying around, gathering the rest of the weapons in the apartment. As they were about to exit the condominium, Ayman al-Masri, the cell leader, turned to Fahid, ordered him to lay low for the next four hours and then meet at the primary cell hide-out, at 9423 South Lafayette, near the 95th St. Greyhound Sub-Station. Fahid repeated the address back to Ayman, to be sure he had heard it correctly, “ninety-four twenty-three South Lafayette. I have it. Salaam.”

“Nine four two three South Lafayette, check,” Captain Thomas parroted. He and his team were already wringing out their black fatigues in the pick-up boat, slowly and stealthily maneuvering upriver. Their attention was focused on the conversation being picked up by the transmitter Fahid had planted a few hours prior to the firefight, just under the edge of the cocktail table, in the middle of the living room. Fahid had been firing the well-aimed, special low-velocity rounds, designed to leave no more than minor bruising behind the team’s flak jackets.

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