The Falcon & the Viper

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Chapter 66

Sailing across the wide estuary the Guía pointed the bow of The Saiph towards the River Thames in the distance and the Guía’s ultimate goal, the city of London. Both he and Jamel kept a sharp lookout for any sign of approaching danger. The Guía thought about the many hours of preparation that had gone into planning the voyage, not least checking up on the latest information about the UK border controls he was about to penetrate. Back in the boatyard in Almeria, he had read, as anyone could on the internet, of the boasts of the UK Border Agency that had long been developing a high tech screening device to enhance counter-terrorism measures at its borders. Called the Cyclamen Programme, they had installed it at all the ports and airports across the UK, in order to detect illicit nuclear and radiological material being carried into the country. He had seen photos of the devices, the large yellow pillars standing either side of the vehicle entry points of the ports, which could be easily recognised. To his dismay, he had learnt that the screening device had been so refined that the UK Border Agency’s Maritime Division fleet of fast cutters now carried a mobile variant, patrolling the coastal waters around the UK to check on small vessels arriving by sea. The same mobile device was also being used by helicopters in multi-agency maritime operations in both UK and international waters.

The Muslim brotherhood, with its long tentacles reaching into the depths of the British Government, had effectively solved the problem for the Guía. They had contacted a fellow Muslim working in the Home Office on their underground network and the technician had promptly taken an all-inclusive holiday in Torremolinos. The Guía had driven up from his marina and met him in a bar there, where he had handed over the relevant information to bypass the Cyclamen system.

As he got nearer to the river’s mouth, the coastline narrowed on either side and the Guía laughed to himself to ease the tension that had built up inside him. The estuary was busy with similar private yachts like his own, some motor boats and the occasional large merchant ship. He praised Allah, as there had not been a customs boat or helicopter in sight. He could not know that he had already passed inspection by an officer of the Port of London Authority’s control centre at Gravesend. The officer, sitting at his lookout post inside using a powerful pair of binoculars, had already decided that the Guía’s expensive, state-of-the-art yacht had not been out of place with the other vessels navigating the estuary. As a result, a screening check would not be made.

Motoring up river, the landscape changed from the green fields and rural scenes of the country to the busy docks, offices and trading estates of the suburbs of London. A launch of the Metropolitan Police marine unit that patrolled the Thames approached from its base at Wapping, and the Guía sighed with relief as it swept by. Before long, he arrived at his destination, the marina in St Katharine’s Dock. Part of the commercial docks that had served London on the north side of the Thames. The area was now a thriving, popular housing, restaurant and leisure complex, and only a short distance up river, he could clearly see the outline of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. All within easy reach of the Palace of Westminster, seat of the UK government and the City of London’s financial district.

The Guía did not need to contact customs authorities on his arrival as he carried no goods to declare, nor did he have an immigration issue as he already lived in an EU country. He entered the offices of the marina and completed the mooring and insurance agreements for the two-month booking reserved many months before. A large tip of a hundred pounds greased the formalities and ensured the marina manager’s undivided attention. To his delight, the Guía told him that the Guía’s business partner, who would arrive soon on a business trip to the city, would give another large gratuity and then sail the yacht away at the end of the mooring contract.

Later that evening, the Guía and his deckhand, Jamel were leaning back relaxed in their seats on the EasyJet flight from Gatwick bound for Malaga. The suitcase lay in the rear of the engine room of the Saiph, surrounded by the batteries; the final stage of the attack relying on two jihadis now incarcerated in a cell in Munich.

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