The Falcon & the Viper

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The owner of the boatyard was a man of indeterminate age who passed as a Spaniard, perhaps one of distant Moroccan descent. He had in fact been born in Iraq, coming to Spain as a young man during the flourishing tourist boom of the eighties. Finding accommodation in a shared room in an apartment block in Malaga, he had found work as a tourist guide, known in castellan as a guía, and the name had stuck. However, the long hours, poor pay and the insolence of the British and German tourists with their decadent nature, had made him look for other, more lucrative work.

At first, the Guía supplemented his meagre earnings by selling tourists low-grade drugs to satisfy their cravings, which he bought from street contacts in Malaga. He soon expanded his market by buying large amounts directly from one of the drug barons living on the Andalusian coast. Within a couple of years, he was running his own successful cartel importing drugs from Morocco across the Straits from Gibraltar. He had been clever enough to realise that it could not last and with foresight and a fair amount of luck had invested wisely in legitimate assets, getting out just in time before government investigations into money laundering had become too restrictive.

One asset was the boatyard, which he enjoyed running, as he loved the sea, because he had been born in a desert. The Guía had always been a strict, practising Muslim and maintained links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist religious and political movement back in Iraq. The Brotherhood regarded him as a respected, trusted businessman and had approached him in the past for help. He had readily agreed to act for them and help their cause.

Sitting back behind the desk, he opened the plastic bag and pulled out a bulky envelope. Taking a razor sharp knife from inside a drawer, he slit it open and emptied the contents on the top of the desk. He checked the items. A folder containing a return airline ticket from Malaga to Oslo, together with a detailed plan of the botanical gardens in the city with a small, pencilled cross marking a rendezvous point and written details of a meeting date and time. In the envelope’s bottom, he pulled out two large bundles of Euros and Norsk Kroner that had stuck inside, knowing from experience that it would more than cover his expenses. Noting the imminent date of the meeting, the Guía would make the necessary arrangements with Faisal in the morning. His trusted and capable right hand man, Faisal always ran the yard like clockwork during his absence.

Two days later, the Guía drove along the coast on the A7 autovia to Malaga Airport. Catching his flight, he arrived in Oslo to negotiate the deal and later that evening met in the botanical gardens with the members of the Russian mafiya who were selling the goods. He had no qualms whatsoever dealing with the mafiya, who he despised and regarded as gun toting infidels. However, aware that the deal was one of the most important to date that he would make for his Islamic brothers, he would have been prepared to deal with Shayṭān, the devil, himself. After some hard bargaining, they eventually struck the deal. The price for the goods was admittedly high, but there were plenty of funds available so payment for the merchandise would not be a problem. As he walked out of the gardens, the Guía chuckled to himself, as he remembered that he had given up his drug trafficking business due to anti-money laundering investigations, and now would use a business he had recently set up to transfer the funds because of them.

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