This was the closest I had been to him and he looked every bit as shifty as his file had suggested when I’d read it on the flight over. Mas’ud Kassis was a fairly young man who’d escalated rather quickly through influential ranks courtesy of a rich and powerful family. The same money had bought him the best education available, and a natural gift for physics had led him into nuclear research.
Given that his home country of Iran was under intense international scrutiny when it came to anything nuclear, he had been hidden away to work on… well, that’s what we weren’t sure of. What we do know is it’s something that wouldn’t benefit anyone other than Iran.
A chance relationship with an American girl seemed to have opened his eyes to the potential for abuse of his work and he’d abandoned his work and family, escaping the country and going into hiding. Actually, the relationship had been anything other than “chance” – the CIA had arranged the whole thing – but it had had the intended effect, other than the fact that he was supposed to run to them. Not in some random direction that it took our combined efforts three weeks to pinpoint.
Before he could take off again, I grabbed him by the collar. “It’s alive with me,” I shouted in his face, “or take your chances with them – and I think they’d be quite happy to see your little secrets spread all over the ground.”
To his credit, he seemed to take this on board fairly quickly and nodded. Not too soon either as a couple of sharp cracks told me that the less friendly of his pursuers had managed to get close enough that they were no longer afraid of taking a few pot-shots.
A window to our left shattered and another bullet ploughed through the wooden door next to it with a hard thunk. The crowd hadn’t yet realised what was going on, but in a few seconds they would see the guns.
Now, where do you go when you’re in need of sanctuary on the street in the middle of one of the most tightly-packed capital cities in South East Asia?
Well, where else? A place of worship.