54

T HAMES H OUSE : 4:15 A.M. , C HRISTMAS DAY

I think I may have found something.”

Graham Seymour looked up. It was the Israeli girl with dark hair and a limp: Dina Sarid. He gestured toward the empty chair next to his desk in the operations room. The girl remained standing.

“According to British Telecom records, twenty-seven calls have been placed from the telephone in the Northumberland Road residence to a phone located at Number Fourteen Reginald Street in Luton during the past eighteen months. Five of these calls were placed after the disappearance of Elizabeth Halton.”

Seymour frowned. Luton, a heavily Muslim suburb north of London, was one of MI5’s worst problems.

“Go on,” he said.

“According to your matrix, the telephone in Luton is located in the home of a man named Nabil Elbadry. Mr. Elbadry runs an import-export business and several other enterprises. He does not appear on any of your lists of known terrorist sympathizers or jihadi activists.”

“So what’s the problem?” Seymour asked.

“When I saw the name a few minutes ago, I knew I’d seen it somewhere before.”

“Where?”

“In a cache of Sword of Allah files we obtained from the Egyptian SSI.”

Seymour felt his stomach begin to burn. “Keep going, Miss Sarid.”

“Five years ago, the Egyptians arrested a man named Kemel Elbadry in Cairo. Under interrogation at the Torah Prison complex, he admitted to taking part in several Sword of Allah operations inside Egypt.”

“What does this have to do with Nabil Elbadry from Luton?”

“According to Kemel’s file, he had a brother named Nabil who immigrated to England in 1987. That corresponds exactly with the details on Nabil Elbadry’s immigration records.”

“Is Kemel still in custody?”

“He’s dead.”

“Executed?”

“Unclear.”

Graham Seymour stood up and called for quiet in the operations room.

“Nabil Elbadry,” he shouted. “Number Fourteen Reginald Street, Luton. I want to know everything there is to know about this man and his business interests and I want to know it in five minutes or less.”

He looked at the girl. She nodded her head once and limped slowly back to the conference room.

The boys in black came for him ten minutes after Ishaq left the cell. As they led him up the narrow stairs, Gabriel prepared himself for another beating. Instead, upon his arrival in the warehouse, he was lowered rather cordially into a folding aluminum chair.

He looked straight ahead and saw the lens of a video camera. Ishaq, now playing the role of director and cinematographer, ordered the four men in black to stand at Gabriel’s back. Three held Heckler amp; Koch compact submachine guns. One held a knife ominously. Gabriel knew his time had not yet come. His hands were cuffed in front. Infidels about to suffer the profound indignity of beheading always had their hands bound in back.

Ishaq made a few minor changes to the arrangement of his props, then stepped from behind his camera and handed Gabriel his script. Gabriel looked down. Then, like an actor unhappy with his lines, he tried to hand it back.

“Read it!” Ishaq demanded.

“No,” replied Gabriel calmly.

“Read it or I’ll kill you now.”

Gabriel let the script fall from his hands.

It took Graham Seymour’s task force only ten minutes to assemble a detailed inventory of all business interests and properties registered to Nabil Elbadry of Reginald Street, Luton. His eyes stopped halfway down the list. A company in which Elbadry was a minority partner owned a warehouse in West Dock Street in Harwich, not far from the ferry port. Seymour stood and went quickly to the map. Harwich was approximately forty miles from the spot where the Essex police had discovered the abandoned boat. He walked back to his desk and dialed the Israeli command post in Kensington.

Ishaq snatched up the fallen pages, then, after composing himself, read the statement on Gabriel’s behalf. Gabriel had committed many crimes against Palestinians and Muslims, Ishaq declared, and for these crimes he would soon face the justice of the sword. Gabriel did not listen to the entire recitation of his sins. Instead he looked down at the floor of the warehouse and wondered why Ishaq had not bothered to obscure his face before stepping in front of the camera. He knew the answer, of course: Ishaq was a martyr in the making and they were going to die together. When Ishaq was finished reading Gabriel’s death sentence, he walked over to the camera and checked to make certain it had recorded properly. Satisfied, he signaled the boys in black to commence their next beating. It seemed to last an eternity. The stab of the needle was an act of mercy. Gabriel’s eyes fell shut and he felt himself drowning in black water.

“How long will it take you to get your teams in place, Uzi?”

“I moved everyone that way after the Essex police found the boat. I can have three teams in Harwich in twenty minutes or less. The question is, what do we do when we get there?”

“First we determine whether he’s really there and, if so, whether he is still alive. Then we wait.”

Wait? For what, boss?”

“We came here to get the American girl, Uzi. And we’re not leaving without her.”

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