This is a re-write of a story I wrote a couple of years ago. For god’s sake don’t comment on this piece, you might “Offend” some poor sensitive soul. 😉
When planning their terrorist attack they applied meticulous attention to every detail.
‘You did well obtaining the Minister’s schedule Ahmed, now pay attention. This is the phone that will cause the detonation, take it to work and check there is a good signal there.’
‘I’m sure it will be fine, Muszra.’
‘Check it anyway, attention to detail Ahmed, at all times. When you plant the device first switch on the phone, only when it is up and running will you throw this arming switch, OK? Once switched on it cannot be switched off without detonating the explosives.’
‘I understand Muszra, though I am willing to detonate it personally and enter paradise.’
‘Your zeal is commendable Ahmed but we have other work for you. Engineers with your skills can gain entry to many places and we have other targets. Be patient.’
Ahmed examined his toolbox ‘it fits so well Muszra and I still have room for my tool tray on top.’
Muszra Wazir smiled grimly ‘when it is complete there will also be five kilos of ball bearings to increase the effect. The carnage will be immense.’
John Prichard, chief maintenance engineer at Aircol Max PLC regarded his protégé with admiration. Ahmed was quick to learn, an instinctive engineer. His beloved machines would be in good hands after he retired. The gentle older man had learned to accept Ahmed’s peculiarities like his insistence on taking his tools home every night, of sitting on the toolbox to eat at lunch and break times, snubbing the works canteen.
‘In my country’ Ahmed had explained ‘if a man lost his tools he would have no means to support his family. It would be a terrible disaster’ he shrugged ‘here in the West you are rich and can replace such losses easily, most of my spanners I inherited from my father.’
‘I wish you were as conscientious at keeping up the service and repair logs Ahmed, you have a whole batch to bring up to date.’
‘I’m sorry John, I will catch up at the weekend, I promise.’
Ahmed drove a dilapidated old car even though he could have afforded a much better one. ‘It’s a good car, only the locks do not work. Who would steal such a car anyway?’ he had said when John had remarked on it one day. He never mentioned the car again, considering it just another of Ahmed’s idiosyncrasies.
John brought him an old cushion from home to put atop the metal toolbox for some added comfort. Ahmed couldn’t understand John’s attitude, such kindnesses were alien to him. Why did the old fool keep doing him favours? He disliked that aspect of him but grudgingly admitted to himself the old boy was a first rate engineer. He never shirked getting down under machines, either, never using his age as an excuse to push work onto him.
‘Right, Ahmed, we’ve been tasked to build a platform and install the speaker system for the opening of the new wing.’
The company had recently made a breakthrough in the fuel systems of jet engines making them run cleaner by almost 10%. Such was the potential that a new extension had been built to accommodate this development. It was to be opened by the Minister of the Environment herself. This was an opportunity Ahmed’s group could not ignore. The chance to assassinate a government minister, a board of directors, several dignitaries and up to two hundred highly skilled engineers could not be passed up.
Abdul Azziz, the group’s leader, gloated as he thought through his plans. The company supplied the civil aviation industry. It had no political or military affiliations. This would be just another routine job for Ms Sally Goldsworthy, the Minister. Nothing about it was controversial; there was no particular security threat and no grounds for anyone to be unduly concerned. The infidel would be off guard.
Goldsworthy had insisted on the minimum of fuss for her visit. She would arrive at eleven forty five, meet the directors and senior staff then proceed to the new department. There she would make a short speech to the assembled workers then uncover the wall plaque, declaring the new wing open. After a light lunch in the boardroom, she would depart no later than twelve thirty. Her aides had called weeks before to discuss such things as security, lunch menus, toilet facilities and other nitty-gritty details that accompanied ministerial visits. Everything had been thrashed out to the satisfaction of her team.
‘We will have to build the platform at least two feet high, John. I’ve checked and the minister is only five foot one inch tall.’
John was impressed ‘that’s great research Ahmed, well done. By the way, have you completed those maintenance logs yet?’
‘Soon, John, I promise.’
‘It will need to be Ahmed, the general manager was asking me about them. I can’t keep putting him off. You really need to give more attention to these things.’
Their work progressed well, two small steps and a hand rail were built and Ahmed brought some blue velvet cloth to skirt three sides of the platform’s base. It looked a very professional job.
At home Ahmed watched the bomb maker going about his business with a cool efficiency. The bomb consisted of five kilos of Semtex 10, the most powerful of explosives. The toolbox had been lined with half inch ball bearings. The device was designed to cause the greatest destruction possible. In the confines of the foyer of the new workshop this would surely be achieved.
No one would suspect the maintenance engineers going about their business. He would leave the toolbox under the platform at the last minute. The Minister would be standing right above it making her speech.
Ahmed watched with satisfaction as Wazir finished and replaced the tray of tools on top. Once more it looked like an engineer’s toolbox.
Ahmed knew John was very conscientious and would stay with him throughout the installation of the PA system. He had sabotaged a machine in the main workshop by over tightening a bearing. He knew it was a machine John loved working on. Ahmed would be left alone in the new foyer. He needed but a few minutes.
Abdul Azziz, leader and quartermaster, was the man who had supplied the explosives and the false passports they would use afterwards. The flights were booked, all was ready. He gave Ahmed his final briefing. ‘Leave everything until their security people have checked the area before planting the bomb. If you cannot divert your colleague you must kill him.’
‘I understand, brother. I have informed the company that I have a dental appointment tomorrow afternoon and will miss the grand opening.’
John and Ahmed set up the microphone and rigged it to the speakers, tested it and gaffer-taped the wires in place. The Minister’s security woman came around and checked the room. She looked under the platform shining a torch. She then went through the double doors into the new wing, doing more checks. Satisfied, she left, leaving the two engineers tidying up wires.
John couldn’t help noticing Ahmed was very nervous ‘What’s the matter, Ahmed?’
‘Oh, It’s my dental appointment, John’ he answered ‘I really hate going to the dentist, it terrifies me.’
John was sympathetic and made some kind remarks. As the time for the visit drew nearer they gave the sound system one last test. Ahmed’s nervousness was increasing by the minute; surely that bearing should have burnt out by now? He was reluctant to kill John unless it couldn’t be avoided. Their work was almost completed. Both John’s body and the bomb would fit under the platform. He reached in his pocket for a sash cord garrotte and moved behind John.
John’s phone rang ‘yes? Oh, OK, I’ll be right along.’ he turned to Ahmed who had hurriedly stuffed the cord back into his pocket. ‘I have to go mate, the big milling machine’s playing up again.’
Once alone Ahmed armed the device then pushed it under the platform.
Passing through the factory he bumped into Mark Dutton the general manager. He was carrying a sheaf of maintenance logs Ahmed recognised. ‘I’ll need these signing before you go anywhere Ahmed, my office now please.’
‘I’m sorry Mark, but I have a dental appointment and they’ll be upset if I’m late.’
Dutton was having none of it ‘Not as upset as me, Ahmed, It’ll take only a few minutes and I must insist that in future you pay more attention to these logs.’ Ahmed reluctantly complied he still had a few minutes in hand and could not afford to raise suspicions.
Hurrying to his car Ahmed drove to the rendezvous on a hill a quarter mile away overlooking the factory. The deserted lane led nowhere, the farmhouse it once served had long been demolished. It was one of those desolate places used by fly tippers and streetwalkers who brought clients there after dark.
Ahmed was first there despite his delay. He checked his watch he was still a minute early. The others arrived on time and drove up behind him. Ahmed went to sit in the back of the BMW driven by Abdul Azziz. ‘All set?’ Azziz asked.
‘Yes’ Ahmed replied ‘I paid full attention to every detail. I did not have to kill the old man.’
Abdul Azziz lit a cigarette and sat silently holding a mobile phone in his left hand he closed his eyes and drew smoke deeply into his lungs then he slowly exhaled. ‘To you Ahmed must go the honour of detonating the device’ he said solemnly ‘this is your first operation and you have done well.’
Azziz looked through powerful binoculars ‘OK’ he hissed, ‘the official cars have arrived.’
He took the Minister’s schedule from his pocket and read it for the tenth time ‘eight minutes to meet and greet’ he said, his voice cold and merciless ‘then one minute to walk to the new building followed by a seven minute speech so that’s twelve minutes to detonation, right in the middle of her speech’ he smirked and drew on the cigarette again. He was enjoying himself.
In the back of the car Ahmed was deep in thought. It was right, he believed, that the infidel should be taught a lesson in blood even so he hoped John would stay with his machine and not attend the opening. Despite his beliefs Ahmed found he had grown fond of the old man.
‘One minute’ the voice of Azziz cut through his thoughts and he was handed the phone. ‘Bring up contacts’ Azziz ordered ‘Select Taxi and await my command.’
Ahmed took the phone, his hands trembling. ‘Wait..wait..’ said Azziz looking at his watch. Time seemed to stand still. In the front passenger seat Wazir sat rocking back and forth, muttering prayers under his breath a fixed stare in his eyes.
‘Now’ barked Azziz and Ahmed brought his thumb down on the dialling button. He heard the phone beep beeping out the number, a tiny pause then the phone made its connection. The bomb detonated with its full lethal effect.
When John rang Ahmed’s number the phone went straight to voice mail. Believing him still at the dentist’s he left a message. ‘Hi Ahmed, I left my glasses on the platform mate and when I went back for them I saw some tape you used on those microphone cables had come loose. When I bent down to replace it, guess what? You’d left your toolbox under the platform so I took it to the car park. I couldn’t find you and that machine needed repairing urgently so I just popped your toolbox in your car boot old son, OK?’ John’s voice took on a humorous note ‘That dentist must have got to you really rattled pal, I’ve never known you overlook a small detail like your toolbox before.’