Or at least, that was the name he gave. He had come from nowhere, at the darkest depths of the struggle against the hated Russians, and rejuvenated them. He brought back their hope, he gave them a purpose, and provided them a plan, backed with his burning faith and cold planning. A faith that burned only a bit less brightly than his eyes, eyes which some said were those of a djinn.
Almost two hundred men crouched in the cold woods of Caucasian Russia, knee-deep in the persistent snows. The frozen winds of late winter easily penetrated their clothes, causing even the most devout mujahideen to shiver. Improvised explosive devices, mostly stolen Semtex studded with nails and set into a heavy metal bowl, lined the trees. On Ibrahim’s command they would unleash a lethal hail on the approaching convoy, whose lights were just visible in the distance. One of the mujahideen, battered by the winds, shifted to find any tiny amount of shelter, breaking a branch underfoot.
“Allah’s Beard, be quiet!” hissed Ibrahim. “If we fail because they hear you, Nazih -” The threat was left unfinished; Ibrahim didn’t have to elaborate. In the months of training that led to this day, he had been an unflinching taskmaster. Dozens of fighters had felt his wrath at their seemingly harmless mistakes. Three had been shot, calmly, casually, as an object lesson to the others. None of the men with him was eager to be next example.
The first truck neared their ill-concealed positions. Despite his exhortations, none were willing to completely conceal themselves in the deep snows. But the cover was sufficient to prevent the hopefully-unwary guards from noticing the force at a casual glance.
“Wait until they are all among the bombs,” he whispered to Hamzah, who held the trigger. The light from the vehicle’s own headlamps reflected back faintly on the long line of trucks - nearly thirty of them, large, worn vehicles of Soviet vintage, some still bearing the Red Army’s emblem on the sides. Three BTR-80 personnel carriers were distributed amongst the trucks. These were the only indications that this convoy was at all unusual.
The lead truck reached the last IED; Ibrahim shouted, “Now!”
With a furious roar, the devices were triggered along the road. The nails, directed by the bowls, shredded engines, tires, and men.
Horns blared, then died, as blood ran down the sides of the decimated trucks. The whole convoy came to a sudden, ragged halt. The tail of the convoy, maybe a half-dozen trucks, slammed on their brakes, panicked by the sudden hell unleashed before them.
Ineffectual, fear-induced gunfire peppered the cloth walls around the truck beds from the inside as the panicked drivers attempted to reverse their way out of the trap.
Rocket propelled grenades lashed out at the BTRs, smashing into, and through, their sides, turning the carriers into cauldrons of flame. The frozen Chechens reared up from their hides and began spraying the targets with their AKs in the typical mujahideen manner, contemptuously called ’pray and spray’ by the Satan’s dupes. The faithful knew, however, that Allah would guide their rounds to targets, and was it not written that they should submit to the will of Allah? Inshallah. As Allah wills.
A few surviving Russian soldiers leapt out of the trucks and began to return fire, causing many muj to drop into the snow for cover, but they were quickly silenced. Returning fire only drew attention from the Chechens, who then concentrated on their area. Even ‘pray-and-spray’ was effective when fifty men held down their triggers.
“Up, you dogs!” Ibrahim urged, kicking an unlucky Chechen who was slow to rise. “Stop cowering in the snow! We must collect our prizes, for the godless, cowardly Russian will surely have called for relief! Hurry!”
The rest of the men, leading mules and wagons, emerged from the trees well behind the ambush line and advanced on the butchered convoy. A few moved among the fallen soldiers, shooting each one, while the remainder wrestled with the crates each truck carried. They were all of a similar size, about two-and-a-half meters long, a meter tall and a meter-and-a-half wide.
Ibrahim had planned well; the IEDs had destroyed the trucks and killed many men, but their cargo, well-cushioned and packed for transport, had survived almost completely unscathed. The smallest group, equipped with devices emitting random-sounding “ticking“ noises, backed off quickly from three crates when the silver box began to scream. These few boxes were left behind.
Within twenty minutes of the first explosion, the cargo looted, their wounded bandaged and riding atop the precious cargo, the fedayeen faded back into the trackless forest.. Night would hide them from prying eyes, human and electronic, and the heavily-falling snow would bury signs of the ambush. Nature was cooperating. Inshallah.
The bright blue eyes of Kurt Schwenke gleamed in the night, like those of a djinn. Like a djinn, formless, with bodies of smoke, he and his men disappeared into the night. Yet the Chechens had forgotten one part of the tales of the djinn - be careful what you wish for.