In author Larry Collins’ latest thriller, it’s the 21st century, and every day, the world’s largest crop of opium is harvested from the fertile fields of war-torn Afghanistan. The incredible amounts of cash generated from this dark enterprise are deposited in the West’s largest banking systems and with the profits from these dealings, Iran has acquired six nuclear weapons of mass destruction from a retreating Russian army and stands poised as the newest player in the deadly poker game of world domination. Here's an excerpt of “The Road To Armageddon”:
Five days and three rehearsal nights later, Crowley took Jim Duffy aside. “We were in and out of there in twenty-four minutes tonight,” he noted. “That’s as good as it’s going to get. We still don’t know what’s behind those steel doors, though. That’s a huge hole in our operational knowledge. Still, as much as I hate to launch an operation without everything I need to know in hand, I think we haven’t got a choice here. I think we’ve got to go.”
“I think you’re right,” Duffy agreed. “What’s the next step?”
“We move our men, equipment, and aircraft to Incirlik which will be our forward assault base. It’s when we get there that the realization is going to hit these guys that they’re really going to do this. Things will get tense then and I hope the President will give us our final OK to move as soon after that as possible.
”Crowley grinned. “All presidents love special operations. There’s never been one that didn’t. They stir up much less flack from the rest of the world because they don’t leave a big political signature the way conventional ops do. So I think we’ll get the ‘go.’”
“And you really think our chances of success here are 100%?”
“Oh, Christ no. Not when we don’t know what the hell the Iranians have got hidden behind those steel doors of theirs. Listen, why don’t you fly back to Andrews, check in with your bosses, then come down to Tampa Thursday morning and we’ll fly out to Turkey together Thursday after lunch at the Officers Club?”
“You make it sound like we’re off on a tourist junket.”
Crowley whacked Duffy on his knee. “Much better than that, pal. We’re off to a surprise party.”
“Jimbo, for God’s sake, call in sick on this one. You’ve got no business screwing around out there in the desert with those Delta guys,” Jack Lohnes pleaded with his old friend.
Duffy, already on his third cup of coffee despite the fact it was barely eight in the morning, shook his head. “How can I do that, Jack? The only reason Colonel Crowley agreed to go in is because I gave him my personal assurance the nukes were there in that headquarters they’re going to storm. Besides, you know what? I’m kind of looking forward to going in there with those Delta guys. They’ve got my adrenaline running.”
“Jim, the only reason Crowley and his team are going in is because the President ordered them to.” Lohnes office phone rang before he could continue arguing his case. It was the desk officer monitoring the satellite images of the Iranian site in the CIA’s Situation Room, 7 F27, a few doors away from Lohnes’s office. The National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly was sending those images to both the agency and the headquarters of USSOCOM in Tampa, Florida.
“Hey,” the officer said, “it looks like the Iranians are running a convention out there. Maybe you guys want to come down and have a look.”
Duffy and Lohnes were out of the Operations Directorate and on their way to the Situation Room immediately.
“These guys haven’t had a visitor since I’ve been watching the place,” the monitoring officer reported as they walked in the door, “and they’ve had three in less than an hour and here comes number four. ”He indicated what looked like a Land Rover just clearing the Pasdaran road block barring access to the site. “May we go tight on that vehicle, Chantilly?” he asked.
Duffy watched as the car drew to a stop on the esplanade before the entrance to the Iranian’s installation. A welcoming committee swarmed around the Rover to greet its passenger. Squinting, he studied the man getting out of the car. The new arrival embraced two of the men and then, touching his forehead and his heart with his right hand, offered a fraternal Islamic greeting to the others.
“Yeah!” Duffy half whispered as the figure moved towards the entrance. “I think I recognize that guy. I’ll bet it’s my old pal Said Djailani, the Gucci Mooj—the guy who collects their drug tax. I’ll bet he’s come by to get a look at what all that money he’s extorted has been buying for them.”
“The other guys came up in baby Mercs,” the man monitoring the screen noted. “I figure they must have flown into that air strip they’ve got down in Zabol.”
“Probably from Tehran,” Lohnes surmised. “So this must be some kind of a high-level gathering, alright. What the hell do you suppose it’s all about? Do you think it means their program is running into problems?”
“Could be that,” Duffy agreed. “Who the hell knows?
”Duffy was concentrating on the figure of his old mooj warrior moving towards the building. So good were these satellite images in the bright, late afternoon Iranian sunshine that he could even see the Gucci Mooj’s shadow trailing along behind him. That image brought to mind a Farsi saying he’d frequently heard from his mooj who spoke that language rather than Pushtu: “May your shadow never be shortened.”
“It’s a shame we’re not going in there today. Think of all the shadows we could shorten.”
“Nothing. Just an old Iranian saying.”
Respect. Awe. Reverence. Fear. Exaltation. Hatred. Dr. Parvis Khanlari could read all those emotions writ large on the faces of the members of the Committee for Secret Operations as they gazed down on his first fully assembled and armed nuclear device. The long journey which had begun with the Professor’s midnight rendezvous on a steppe in Kazakhstan was almost over. Operation Khalid was entering its final phase.
Khanlari had no intention of giving the men before him a lecture on nuclear physics. None of them would have understood it anyway. What they were interested in was what the bomb could do for them, not how it worked.
The finished bomb, now roughly the size of a beach ball was cradled in the especially built container Khanlari had designed for it, the container in which, under Imad Mugniyeh’s watchful eye, would be smuggled into Jericho on its way to Tel Aviv. The container was the size of a small steamer trunk. Its front was hinged and dropped down to allow the committee members to admire Khanlari’s finished bomb. The lid remained to be secured once the front panel had been locked into place.
Khanlari pointed out to his audience the black needle of the antenna which would receive the radio signal to initiate their nuclear explosion. It popped out of the top of the bomb’s circular form like a flower stem. The lid would be fixed over that black needle leaving it the only element of the assembled bomb outside the locked container.
Next he indicated the battery which would receive the signal from the radio attached to the antenna. Then he traced three red wires running from the battery to the capacitor-krytron assemblies, one for each of the bomb’s two hemispheres and one for the neutron gun, over which the 250 volt initiating charge would streak. Finally, he pointed to the spider web of wires running from those housings to the fifteen detonation points placed on each of the hemispheres and to the neutron gun.
“And just like that, the way it’s sitting here right now,” inquired an awed committee member, “it’s ready to work? To blowup?”
“Yes, but only of course, when our volunteer driver sends it our pre-selected radio signal.”
“How large an explosion will it give us?” asked Sadegh Izzadine, the mullah who ran the Gouroohe Zarbat, the Strike Force, whose men had murdered Tari Harmian in his London home because he had dared to question the wisdom of Operation Khalid.
“It is impossible to state that with absolute precision because we cannot, of course, test one of our three bombs. To do that would be madness. It would tell the world we really do possess these devices.But all my calculations tell me our bomb will yield between 25 and 30 kilotons.”
“Yes,” Izzadine insisted, “but what does that mean?
“It means that it will explode with a force considerably greater than that of the bomb the Americans dropped on Nagasaki.”
“What will it do to Tel Aviv?” pressed Izzadine.
“It will not wipe Tel Aviv off the face of the earth, but its effects will be horrible, absolutely devastating. For the Israelis, it will be a second holocaust.”
Khanlari noted the anticipatory smiles on the faces of three of the committee members before him. The others’ expressions remained blank, almost dumb-struck as if they still could not grasp the enormity of the force which now lay in their hands.
“How much time do you need to prepare the other two bombs?” asked Ali Mohatarian, the chairman of the Committee.
“To do it patiently, correctly, taking no risks and being sure everything is done right, five days for each bomb,” Khanlari promised. Extraordinary what we have accomplished here, he thought. The men before him could not appreciate what he and his fellow scientists had achieved in transforming three low-yield Soviet nuclear artillery shells into full-scale atomic devices. Too bad. There were scientists in the U.S., in England who could. They would stand in awe—and horror—before their achievement.
“We must allow these brilliant scientists so devoted to our cause the time they need to do their work the way they feel it must be done,” the Professor declared. He looked at his watch. “It is close to five o’clock. Perhaps we should go upstairs to my office to begin our discussions.”
“Washington,” muttered one of the committee members as they all crowded into the elevator that would carry them up two flights of stairs to the ground floor of the laboratory. “Isn’t there some way we can get one of those bombs into Washington?”
Excerpted from “The Road to Armageddon”by Larry Collins. Copyright © by Larry Collins. Published by New Millenium Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.