Ibrahim was meeting with the leader.
“A great success!” exclaimed Giku Inarov, self-proclaimed Emir of the Caucasian Emirate, the former Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Inarov had been the successor to the last separatist government. Then, after a secret meeting with a Taliban emissary, he had declared the dissolution of the rebel Chechen Republic. His replacement was the Emirate, a fundamentalist Islamic state which was dedicated to conquering all of the Caucasian region of Russia for Islam and, just incidentally, himself. But in the year since his conversion, success had been extremely limited. The Chechen people were tired of war, tired of having Russians trample the fields, smash the buildings, and kill anyone they thought threatening.
Little support was forthcoming from the people, and this could be the final effort. Inarov had spent all his resources. Every ruble in the treasury - gone. Every contact in the Russian military and intelligence agencies - burned. Every bit of goodwill left - used. If this failed, the Emirate would never be, and the would-be Emir would likely wish he was never born.
But Allah was watching over their efforts! How else to explain the appearance, months before, of Ibrahim? Ibrahim, who promised to lead Inarov to a great future? Ibrahim, who had brought order and discipline to the fedayeen? Ibrahim, who conceived and executed the bold stroke that brought them the weapons to secure his destiny?
Inarov faced Ibrahim across the table. “And now we strike! Our nuclear fire will rain down upon their cities! The infidel shall burn, and we shall reclaim the Dar al-Harb for Allah!”
“Slowly, Excellency, slowly,” cautioned Ibrahim. “We have but one opportunity to land our blow and secure the Emirate. Our plans are not yet complete, our security not yet perfect.”
“But now we have these awesome tools of our liberation!” cried Inarov. “Inshallah, they cry to be used!”
“And so they will, Excellency. Soon.” Ibrahim bowed his head in a gesture of respect. “There is still much to coordinate. You ask for a simultaneous attack -”
“Of course, it is the only way that we shall bring all of these corrupt unbelievers to their knees! They must feel the pain of their false gods!”
“I agree, of course, yet doing so is far more difficult than isolated incidents. Our people have yet to recognize the brilliance and rightness of your path -”
“They are faithless and weak! I will have them -”
Ibrahim calmly overrode the rant. “- and our numbers are small for what we plan. Although it is Allah’s will we succeed, I need time to implement the plan. Most especially, I need time to execute the most dangerous enemies of your rule, the utterly faithless Keldara.”
Inarov looked puzzled. “Ah yes, the Keldara. But why should such a small group pose such a threat to us? I have never understood your insistence on their annihilation.”
“They are pagans, worshipping false gods, not even the weak Christian Jesus. That apostasy alone condemns them. They also have the support of the President of Georgia, which could stiffen his resolve in face of your requests. Finally, they are led by an agent of the Great Satan, an accursed American, who seems to wield an unseemly amount of power with the American government. If he asks, the Great Satan itself might decide that you were a threat to its interests and bring its military might to bear upon us. While Allah would not let them prevail, it is not yet time to face them in battle. Islam needs you, and your leadership, as we build to bringing all the world to Allah. Risking you, and your place in the reclamation of the Dar al-Harb, would be an offence to Allah.”
Inarov, convinced, settled back. “So tell me again, faithful one, where our plans lie in claiming the lands for the Emirate.”
Ibrahim relaxed and began ticking off points on his fingers. “First, we must verify that all the weapons are functional. That will take at least a month, especially if any need repair. We have the equipment to do most repairs, and I have acquired “ - kidnapped - “sufficient technicians to do the work. The Lesser Satan built sturdy weapons, but they have suffered for lack of maintenance.”
“Second, while we are working on the weapons, I will dispatch teams to the former capitals of the Emirate’s lands - Yerevan, Baku, Groznyy, Makhachakala, Magas, Nalchik, Stavropol, Vladikavkaz, and Cherkessk. Tbilisi, too, but I shall handle that after the Keldara. They will seek locations suitable for our operations. I will lead a team to Moscow for the same purpose.”
“How shall I help?”
Ibrahim had expected this. “Rally the people to our cause. Convince them that your rule will bring the beneficence of Allah to their land and a life of prosperity to their children You are their Emir, yet they do not know you. Use the equipment we will use to transmit to the ungodly to speak with them.” Inarov’s head nodded at every point.
“Yes! I will exhort our people to rise against the ungodly! Their hope has arrived! Soon the oppression shall fall!”
“Do not reveal too much, Excellency!” cautioned Ibrahim. “The Great Satan’s agents are clever, and while we have the blessing of Allah, we cannot expose ourselves too much to Shai’tan’s wiles! Platitudes, and kind words, and the text of the Qur’an.”
“Agreed, my friend. I am simply eager to be about Allah’s work!”
“So you shall, Excellency, as you need to also prepare the statements declaring your Emirate, and the power behind it.”
“How will we prove our intent? They shall doubt our words if we cannot supply more.”
“Each warhead can be individually identified. We will provide each leader with the numbers for the warhead in their city, and they can get their proof from the Russians.”
“Have you set a date yet for the execution of our plan?”
“No, Excellency. I did not wish to presume upon your prerogatives.”
“How long will these missions take?”
“With Allah’s favor, they shall be completed in four weeks. But Shai’tan works strongly to protect his infidels, and we must allow for that. I also must complete the mission to the Keldara before we can announce our presence, otherwise the Great Satan will only be a phone call away.” He seemed to think for a moment. “Six weeks from today.”
“Excellent, Ibrahim! You could not have picked a better date! The great festival of Soviet laborers will be the day our labors finally break us free of its decaying husk!”
After Inarov had left, Ibrahim went to his quarters. “I am not to be disturbed,” he informed the guard outside the door. The guard didn’t question him, and Ibrahim was sure that nobody would come near. Still, he locked the door securely before relaxing.
The plan was proceeding well, reflected Schwenke. It would have shocked his sponsors to learn that Ibrahim al-Jasir, devout Muslim and fervent revolutionist, really didn’t care about the Emirate or Chechnya or even Islam. In fact, the whole structure, the whole towering edifice of plans and plots, treachery and deceit, was all so one Kurt Schwenke, former intelligence agent, could have his very personal revenge on an ex-hooker.
Twice, the woman had gotten away from him. Once, she had humiliated him, once, simply interfered with his plans. Not again. It had taken him some time, and quite a few of his remaining resources, to track her down, but he had finally learned that she spent much of her time in a small valley in Georgia, under the protection of a semi-feudal lord called the Kildar and his militia, called the Keldara and Mountain Tigers. It had taken even more time to conceive this operation, using the megalomania of the so-called Emir and his resources. While Kurt had made sure that his scheme was fundamentally sound and would, if all went well, achieve the Emir’s goals, the true purpose was to deliver a single weapon to the valley, wipe Katya off the map, and even the score once and for all.
“Soon, bitch, soon. Soon. You won’t be able to run. Your little tricks won’t help you when the sun comes to visit you. Soon. Soon.”
All the guard could hear through the thick door was an indistinct mumble.