24 Season Zero: Day of Reckoning

Chapter 17


Saqib Ali, the Palestinian Authority's official emissary to Hamas-run Gaza, resided in an opulent villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in one of Gaza City's most posh areas. Despite the constant upheaval inflicting Gaza, the good times rolled for the Palestinian elite just as it always had. In addition to this villa, Saqib owned another mansion in the West Bank. Yet Saqib Ali's wealth did not only come from the international aid money that the Palestinian Authority siphoned off to its officials' personal accounts. He was also a triple agent with ties to both Hamas and the Israeli government. He often served as the middleman and arbitrator between these groups, and for this he was handsomely paid.

He was in sitting on his private veranda reading a newspaper eating a late brunch prepared by his personal chef as two servants stood by discreetly, ready to tend to his every need. Another servant opened the ornate French doors and walked over with a phone.

"My honored sheikh, I apologize for the disruption. This call has the special code you informed us of," the man humbly said, bowing to Saqib in the traditional Arab Muslim way.

Saqib snatched the phone out of the servant's hand and looked at the blocked number. "I need to take this in private," he said hurriedly. The man bowed again and left but the two servants who were preparing to move a tray of European delicacies did not leave fast enough to his satisfaction. "Are you both deaf? Scram!" Saqib Ali barked impatiently.

"Yes, my sheikh," one of them answered with deference as they both scrambled into the house and closed the door behind them. Saqib pressed the "take call" button on his phone knowing General Malachi was on the other line. He had spoken to him on several occasions in the past, since their line of communication remained open even when the official ones between the Israeli Prime Minister's office and the Palestinian Authority did not.

"For what do I owe you the pleasure of this call, Malachi? Usually you do not contact me until several days after the hostilities have started," Saqib said into the phone.

Malachi spoke back almost immediately. "It is not a usual situation, and there are things about it even you do not know, and I am not at liberty to discuss these."

"Just tell me what is going on here!" demanded Saqib as he looked up in the sky and saw a pair of Israeli fighter jets taking evasive maneuvers against the advanced antiaircraft systems that Hamas had obtained from Iran.

"Hamas will pay for what they did in Tel Aviv yesterday," Malachi said, "This time is different. Even you should know that. Hamas will be dealt a terrible blow, and the Palestinian street will be angry at your failure to contribute more to assist Hamas."

"Why are you telling me this?" Saqib asked, his mind spinning.

"In the interest of peace, and in the spirit of gratitude, Saqib, for the help you have given us in the past. You see, your friends in Ramallah are not reliable peace partners, but they are certainly preferred to Hamas. If you help us solve a problem, it will also benefit you and the Palestinian Authority in the eyes of your people."

"Go on," said Saqib, never able to turn down an opportunity for influence or financial gain or political influence.

"Do not ask me why, but if you want something to show the people of Palestine, I can give you the Americans and Israelis who have been causing trouble for Hamas in Gaza all morning. CIA agents, American soldiers, IDF soldiers, including Arab Christians working with the Americans."

Saqib nodded to himself as he got up from his plush outdoors couch and looked at the private gardens below the veranda. This would indeed be good. He and the PA indeed had to stay relevant to the struggle in the eyes of the Palestinian people. Obviously there was a reason Malachi was giving their own team up, but he didn't need to know. Sometimes, the less he knew, the better.

"And what do you want from me in exchange for this information which you offered yourself?"

"I want you to kill each and every one of them," Malachi said. "And you will be paid when it is done." While Defense Minister Doron had only stressed that Jack Bauer be killed, Malachi wanted all of them dead in case Jack had already told them about his reasons for coming to Gaza.

"You know me well," Saqib replied with a twisted smile.


Mahmoud Al-Harazi's driver blared the horn constantly as the Russian-made military jeep sped down the street in a northern section of Gaza City, not that it was entirely necessary as the gun-toting Hamas fighters in kaffiyehs were enough to clear the way. He had heard that multiple missiles had flattened the Ibrahimi Mosque and that Imam Ravid was still unaccounted for, even though dozens of Hamas fighters and Palestinian policemen had been killed. He felt a vibration in his pocket and took out the secure Iranian phone. It was an unknown number with a Palestinian area code. Saqib changed phones constantly to throw off the CIA, MI-6, and Mossad spies he knew were keeping track of him despite his cooperation with the Israeli government. They knew that for his services it was always an auction, though the infidels did have to pay more than Hamas because they had to overcome his innate Arab Muslim loyalties.

"Who is this?" demanded Mahmoud, increasing the volume on his phone to counteract the rumbling of the jeep as it tore down the Gaza streets.

"It is I, Brother Mahmoud. Emissary Saqib Ali from the Palestinian Authority."

"Or from Israel? I recognize your voice, you fat coward. Why are you calling me? Why in blazes are you not playing your part in the resistance?" He would not dignify the war profiteering dog by saying jihad, since Saqib and the other secular leaders were cowards who relaxed in their villas while Hamas made the sacrifices fighting against the Zionist infidels.

"I am calling to contribute something, Mahmoud. Information regarding the Americans and Israelis who are on the ground here right now, the ones who have been killing your men, and who attacked the Ibrahimi Mosque. No doubt they are helping to coordinate these drone and missiles attacks by the Israelis."

Good, Mahmoud thought. The Palestinian Authority had no clue what had happened with the nukes and thought this was just a regular round of fighting, albeit already one far bloodier than typical, with waves and waves of missiles flying across the border. So far, an Israeli jet had been hit by a Stinger missile, but its pilot was able to fly the plane over the ocean before ejecting there to avoid being captured by the Palestinians. Mahmoud had long suspected Saqib had contacts in the Israeli government or military but his information was usually reliable. He could only wonder about the intel though.

"This has better been accurate, Saqib," Mahmoud shouted into the phone, "As you can see we cannot waste the attention of our martyrs going on pointless leads. You better not be purposely misleading me, Saqib, I warn you! What do you have for me?"

"Do not worry, Brother Mahmoud," Saqib Ali said, obviously not mentioning that Malachi was actually paying him to pass down this information and that for once, his loyalty to Palestine and to his bank account actually were in alignment. "The information is very specific and ongoing. Right now the Americans and local collaborators are driving a Red Crescent van and are just outside the Qissariya Market. They do not have an exact location, but this van is circling the market. We assume there is a team of American soldiers and CIA agents inside the market, they are led by a young man named Jack Bauer."

The Qissariya Market? Jack Bauer? He had heard Nakkash curse this name from the school as he mentioned the resistance picking off his jihadists during the hostage taking. Mahmoud gasped and immediately dialed Nakkash, getting no answer. "Khara! Shit!" How did Jack know Nakkash was in the Qissariya hideout? He quickly dialed another number, ordering all the Hamas terrorists in the vicinity of the market to converge there to search for the van in question.

Mahmoud then got Saqib back on the line. "You will stay by your phone, and you will keep me updated if we are to pay you a single dollar!"


"Whew, that was a little too close," Rachel commented, exhaling deeply as they looked at the nuclear guidance system, finally powered down and disabled permanently. "We did it, Jack."

"Let's go home," Jack said simply, hugging her and giving her a quick kiss. Rafi had been taking fire from terrorists from an opposite rooftop, but he had killed the handful of Hamas terrorists who had been shooting at him. Thanks to Jack faking his death, Nakkash didn't beef up reinforcements in the area and instead had sent them to fight the Israelis who were retaliating for the high school massacre.

Jack used one of the secure CIA satellite phone and raised Henderson as they went down the stairs, going into the exterior, open-air portion of the Middle Eastern bazaar. "Sir, we're clearing out now, we have reports of possible opposition approaching the area. What are our exfil options?"

Henderson looked at the large map on the conference room screens showing the positions of different assets and military forces and opposition locations scattered across Gaza City and the wider Gaza Strip. "The skies are too chaotic for a helicopter extract, Bauer. Hamas is armed with handheld anti-aircraft weapons and the airspace above your position is too hot. We also can't risk a repeat of Black Hawk Down and Gaza's ten times worse. Are you able to operate stealthily?"

"I believe so, sir, if we move out of here quickly."

"I think our best option would be an offshore rendezvous," Henderson told him, Rachel leaning in to also hear the conversation. "You're not far from the main port area to your west. Satellite shows no terrorist activity at the Sinbad Marina and there are powerful watercraft available." Jack also looked at the map and saw that the marina was only a few miles away from his current position while skies above continued to buzz with activity.

"Sinbad Marina is the hangout for the Gaza's old elite families. Of course it is temporary abandoned because of the fighting but their boats are still there, many of them gassed and ready to know." Rafi Latif thought in disgust at how the owners of these fancy speedboats kept them filled up while ordinary Palestinians waited hours for rationed gas. The quickest way is through the Rimal neighborhood to the general port area. We should be able to drive all the way up to the marina, I just hope the chaos is keeping the police from following up on any possible reports of the explosion here. Maybe they will think it was just another drone strike."


Minaj checked the clock on his dashboard and saw that Jack and the team were just on time as the call came in.

"I'm here," Minaj said, updating them on his position. A pickup truck filled with armed men in Hamas kaffiyehs approached slowly from the rear. Minaj forced himself to hide his nervousness. It looked like one of the regular patrols Hamas usually conducted to make sure their subjects were cooperative, which happened even during flare-ups in fighting. If they asked, he was waiting for several paramedics who were obtaining traditional desert herbs from the market.

"We're heading to the east gate of the marketplace," Jack told him, "From here we're making a run as covertly as possible to the port area for an offshore extraction."

"Understood," Minaj said, then froze as he saw the vehicle full of Muslim terrorists slow down and then back up into an alleyway in order to turn around. Several of the terrorists pointed in his direction. Minaj then looked in the side view mirrors and saw two more Hamas vehicles approaching from behind.

Minaj immediately hit the redial button on the secure satellite phone. "Jack, we have a problem here. I'm being approached by terrorist forces on both sides. I'm cut off from escape Jack!"

"Dammit! What happened? Were you followed?"

"I don't know, Jack. I was careful, the terrorists drove past me, looked at me and turned around like they were looking for me. They didn't even question me, they are coming out with guns," Minaj said quickly as he looked in the side mirrors and saw several of the terrorists dismount from their vehicles with AK-47s walking in his direction.

"Minaj! We know it is you in there! Come out now and surrender yourself!" one of the terrorists shouted in Arabic as he waved his gun wildly in the air. Around them, civilians began leaving the area for their own good. Of course they would never say this to the international media, but they feared Hamas's undisciplined fighters who often sprayed bullets wildly vs. the well-trained Israeli commandos who took down their targets with precision.

"What is your location? Are you still on Yusuf Sayyid Avenue?"

"Yes, Sayyid Avenue in between Habiba and Al-Hawa Streets!" Minaj said quickly. Yusuf Sayyid Avenue ran alongside the eastern end of the market with Habiba on the north and Al-Hawa on the south. To the west of the market was the Grand Mosque of Gaza, separated from the market by a high stone wall so that obviously was not an option for escape.

"We're heading straight there!" Jack said into the phone, "We should be less than three minutes out. Just hang in there, Minaj!"

"No, Jack!" Minaj said, looking at the terrorists closing in from both directions. "You get the rest of the team out of here! It's over for me. I've accepted it, I'm at peace."

"No, Minaj," Jack said. The news of the ambush tore at Jack's heart. He couldn't just leave Minaj behind, but Minaj insisted.

"They will be looking for you. I will hold them back. Jack, please, I am at peace with this. I know I will be going to heaven to be with Jesus Christ." Minaj disconnected the phone and crawled to the back of the van, where a formidable armory still stood despite the military hardware already used up in the earlier battles of the day. In the time he had left on this Earth, Minaj would be grateful to the Americans and his CIA handlers for being so prepared. He only prayed that Jack, the Latifs, and Rachel would make it out. He knew that the Lord knew when the time would come for everyone, but he hoped it wasn't anyone else's time yet.

Minaj began saying the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6 from the King James Bible as he picked up the M72A7 LAW rocket launcher and made sure two warheads were available. "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name," he recited in his native Arabic.

Several terrorists moved toward the vehicle from Habiba Street with their weapons drawn, aiming at the driver's seat. Minaj instead suddenly opened the back doors of the van and unleashed the first rocket, turning away to avoid the choking smoke trail that followed it as it raced several feet above the cracked pavement of Yusuf Sayyid Avenue, making a direct hit on the Hamas truck loaded with terrorists. At least seven terrorists were incinerated instantly as the truck was left a flaming hulk. The terrorists in the other Hamas vehicle approaching from Al-Hawa Street stepped on the gas, trying to evade the situation but Minaj reloaded and fired another rocket. This one narrowly hit the truck, but it was still a hit nonetheless and the American made warhead detonated in its glorious fashion. The rocket hit the Jeep in the side, igniting its gas tank which added to the gigantic explosion that carried it into the air and sent it crashing into some recently abandoned market stalls.


"Jack, we must go now!" Rafi Latif urged as his wife nodded.

Jack looked at Rachel, who shook her head sadly. She had also been trying to reach Minaj but to no avail. "I don't have an answer, Jack. This map shows that Sayyid Avenue is the next major intersection. We should….."

They looked down and saw a Hamas Land Rover painted in cammo make a turn onto Sayyid Avenue.

"It's over for him!" Rafi said forcefully now. "We have to head to the harbor now."

"We will mourn Minaj later," Merina told Jack and Rachel. "He will be in heaven soon. Please take comfort in that."

Jack wanted to argue but nodded as they head in a separate direction. They needed to find a vehicle quickly. Any would have to do at this point as the streets would be crawling with Hamas reinforcements soon. They looked up and down the street and saw more civilians scrambling to leave the area, people dropping their grocery bags and rushing for their cars as the gunfire from Minaj's position echoed down the street.

Rafi saw a man getting into a Hyundai Sonata and rushed over toward him. "You! Away from the car now!" he shouted in Arabic as he pointed his pistol at the driver. The middle aged man put his hands in the air and took off running and screaming something, trying to get the attention of any authorities nearby. Unfortuantely he was successful.

Jack and his team had almost reached the Sonata as two Hamas terrorists came toward them shouting. Jack wasted no time. He raised his machine pistol and immediately shot down the first terrorist. The other terrorist fired back, shattering some of the windows of the Sonata but Rafi rose up from behind the engine block and took him down with a burst to the chest from his M-16.

"I'll drive," Rafi said as they all hurried into the vehicle. The tires squealed as the car picked up speed and make a quick turn down an alleyway, leaving Al-Hawa Street behind.


"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth, as it is in heaven."

Minaj whirled around and saw the four terrorists who were now at the door, two of them crouching in fear from the surprise explosions with shouting in Arabic coming from both ends of the street now. Minaj unleashed a furious fusillade of machine gun fire, sending all four men sprawling onto the pavement with blood and pieces of flesh flying everywhere. He was now out of bullets on that weapon and whirled around to the other side of the van, firing down the street with his pistol, killing another terrorist. The return fire was more concentrated now, and Minaj felt a sharp pain in his arm and a stream of blood oozing from his shirt. He fired again, shooting down another hostile.

"Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

Minaj activated the self-destruct device on the CIA van and ran across the street, the terrorists quickly coming in pursuit. He fired back some more but the hostiles kept coming. Minaj saw the hostiles going past the van and crouched down to protect his eyes and ears as he pushed the detonator. The blast was deafening and the shock wave carried Minaj at least twelve feet backward, slamming him into a market area. Five hostiles were killed instantly by the blast which shook several surrounding buildings off their foundations. Yet he heard more shouting through the dust.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Three more hostiles, Palestinian police this time, came charging through the ruined market displays, rushing past large crates of watermelons and citrus fruits and a butcher stand. Minaj made sure his clip was full and rose up from behind a stack of carbonated beverages discharging his clip. Within seconds, all three hostiles were dead. Two additional Palestinian police came and Minaj once again took cover behind the beverages. The bullets from the cops shattered the merchandise, sending flavored grape juice flying across the sidewalk soaking Minaj and the surrounding ground in purple.

Minaj threw a grenade as hard as he could toward the attackers. He heard a scream and saw one of the policemen's mangled bodies flying through the air into the middle of Sayyid Avenue. Several more bullets flew past his head as another pair of police fired from across the street. In the corner of his eye, Minaj also saw more hostiles running along the rooftop to fire on his from above. Minaj opened fire on the police from across the street with an M-16 in both hands, spent cartridges littering the ground. The first cop was cut down as he tried to charge across the street, falling in a puddle of blood right in the middle. The other fired intermittently as he hid behind a car abandoned by its driver in the middle of the street after the CIA van self-destructed. Several bullets whizzed by Minaj's ear, then a round hit him in the shoulder. Before he fell, however, Minaj fired once more as the cop stepped out from behind the vehicle, screaming wildly. Minaj saw the hostile drop down but the relief was short lived as more gunfire came from above as well as from down the street.

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, amen."

Minaj double fired again, mowing down four more policemen who fell in a heap as the automatic rounds sliced through their flesh. Yet Minaj knew his last stand was coming to an end as he saw the groups of police taking their positions on the rooftop.

Two more bullets struck Minaj, this time in the chest, but as he fell brought his gun up one last time and discharged two bullets from his pistol that struck one of the shooters, sending him plummeting off the roof. Another Palestinian policeman squeezed off a shot that struck Minaj in the head, and his gun fell silent for the last time.


Captain Henderson decided that he personally needed to go on his mission along with Lance Sizemore, Darius Greene, and Jack's other teammates. They boarded the same Blackhawk helicopter that had taken them to Ariel Sharon High School the previous evening, but they were also accompanied by a US Army AH-64 helicopter gunship to suppress any kind of possible resistance that might arise. They were not forseeing any, but it was always ready to have the backup and not need it rather than need backup and not have it.

Henderson thought of Jack as the two US Army helicopters flew out over the ocean and began following the coast down toward the Gazan border. He had been more right about Jack's potential than even he himself had expected, and Henderson was rarely wrong. Getting Jack home safely wasn't simply about the gratitude that the country owed him for stopping the nuclear warheads. Most importantly, it was about the future asset that Jack would be. That was the real reason he was willing to commit so many resources to getting Jack back. Henderson knew he would find a way to recruit Jack into this line of work permanently. He would try the nice, encouraging approach first, but if that failed to work, Henderson always got what he wanted one way or another. It was for the good of the country, Henderson told himself, but then reminded himself to take it one step at a time.


Jack caught a whiff of the ocean breeze fighting its way through the unbearable stench of Gaza City as they entered the commercial part of town adjacent to Gaza's harbor.

"What happened back there? How did they know about Minaj?" Jack demanded, his voice betraying some of the panic that raced through his mind. The mission had gone off as well as could be expected but now they had lost a member of the team and were still deep in enemy territory with both Hamas and the Palestinian security services devoting most of their resources to tracking them down.

"I have no idea," Rafi replied, "Maybe they've had him under surveillance already. Maybe they've been watching him for a long time. Being a Christian in itself warrants this in Hamas's view."

"What about you and Merina? Do you think you may be compromised?"

"I don't think so," said Rafi. "We have always been careful. Unlike with Minaj, nobody knows we are Christians. I have always been loyal government employee who was loyal to Hamas, the same with my wife."

"We also never associated with Minaj at work," Merina added, "We knew he was probably being watched. He knew it too, everything was done in secret. Jack, I understand your concerns, but….."

"Shit, look behind us!" Rachel screamed as she looked into the rearview mirror and saw a bright orange ball approaching them. She grabbed the wheel and the Sonata made a sharp turn at the intersection they were just crossing, nearly turning over. They were still in shock at her sudden move when the RPG fired from an upper floor window whizzed down the street they had been on and struck another vehicle. A second RPG followed the first but landed on the sidewalk, destroying a storefront and sending debris everywhere.

"Dammit!" Rafi said as if something had just occurred to him. "The Iranians must have satellite imagery of this area they are transmitting to Hamas. They may be getting it from the Russians or the Chinese!"

"How far are we from the port?" Jack asked.

"Two blocks!" Merina replied.

By now the terrorists on a rooftop had rushed over to the other side and fired two more RPG rounds directly below, narrowly missing the Sonata. Then, however, more hostiles opened up with automatic weapons fire. A group of Hamas gunmen on a balcony squeezed off an endless stream of bullets that hit the car's engine block, completely destroying it.

"Go! Go!" Merina shouted.

"Merina, no!" Rafi said, but she shoved open the door to her car and opened fire, shooting down one of the hostiles on the balcony. The others quickly exited the vehicle, engaging the terrorists in gunfire. Rachel hurled a grenade upward which exploded near the roof, forcing several terrorists to stop firing and retreat.

Jack heard a painful yelp and saw that Merina had been hit several times in the chest as terrorists arrived from street level. Rafi began rushing over to help his wife but another bullet slammed into her head and she collapsed to the pavement, a grenade rolling out of her hand. Jack, Rafi, and Rachel all took cover in different positions as the grenade exploded, killing three hostiles who were approaching. Rafi went over and saw Merina's body burned beyond recognition.

"Merina! No!" he said in anguish, his voice breaking and tears falling from his eyes.

This time it was Jack's turn to urge him on. "Rafi, I'm sorry, but we have to go!" Jack aimed at a hostile coming toward them and felled the man with a long burst.

"I….I can't Jack!" Rafi said, his voice broken. "Merina, she was everything to me."

"Rafi, we need to honor her sacrifice by getting out of here. That's what she would want you to do, Rafi. Please." Jack pleaded with him through through the sound of gunfire. Rachel took cover behind a postal box as the bullets bounced off it. She then returned fire in two quick bursts, killing a terrorist each time.

"Rafi, the boats are that way, we have to press on if we're to make it!" Jack urged.

Rafi took one last painful look at Merina's burned body and followed Jack. They were now going through the ruins of an old industrial warehouse that sat on the Gaza docks. They quickly came under fire from two different directions. It seemed there were dozens of hostiles in the two structures nearby whose large, imposing Arabic letters identified as a Bank of Palestine building and the Gaza port authority customs office, both of which had not been utilized for at least a year. More hostiles also tried to flank them from both directions. If help didn't come soon, they would be surrounded and slaughtered as the terrorists had no shortage of men they throw at them. Rachel tossed a grenade at two terrorists she saw advancing through a pile of rubble then flattened herself on the ground. The grenade exploded with a bang, killing the two hostiles instantly and attracting the attention of more. Rachel now took her Uzi and fired back, forcing the enemy to take defensive actions.

Jack opened fire from another direction, exchanging fire with another group of hostiles. Jack was able to shoot down one of them after some back and forth firing, then called Henderson on his radio as Rafi aimed his M-16, strafing the third floor of the Bank of Palestine building. Several terrorists ducked into the windows but none of them were killed. Another RPG sailed through the air, impacting the ground close enough to Jack for him to feel the heat wave from the explosion. Rafi saw the rocketeer prepare another attack but fired off a lucky shot that struck the man in the chest. His next RPG went straight into the air and back down on the roof, and they could hear painful screaming. At least a few terrorists were killed in that friendly fire incident that Rafi caused.

"Sir, Merina is down! We're one block from the boatyard, the area is crawling with hostiles, we're taking heavy fire! We have at least four shooters in the Bank of Palestine directly to the southeast of the boatyard and more hostiles from the port authority offices. We're pinned down, sir!"

Jack and Rachel tried to go deeper into the ruined warehouse building, but the volleys of machine gun fire were too relentless. It seemed everything around them was being hit, bullets bouncing off the walls, sending pieces of concrete and cinder block flying into their faces, sending large clouds of dust into the air.

"Can you get clear?" Henderson asked with concern.

"NO, DAMMIT!" Jack screamed as furious gunfire echoed all over the background. "I repeat, we are completely pinned and won't be able to make it to the boat. We need air support immediately!"

Jack desperately tried to squeeze off a few shots, which caused one of the attackers in the bank building to hold his fire for a moment but the others continued to send bullets flying in their direction, depleting several magazines.

At the same time, Mahmoud's small convoy had almost reached the port area and he was continuing to coordinate with the terrorists already on site. "Keep firing, do not let them escape to the water!" Mahmoud ordered.

"We still have them covered, Brother Mahmoud!" one of the Hamas fighters in the bank replied. "We will move in too, flush them out, our ammunition is running low!"

"Don't spare too many men in there!" Mahmoud told his man, "Jack Bauer is dangerous. Keep firing, and use stealth against him if you cannot take him down from your current position. He is a monster in combat! We are only two minutes away, we have heavy mounted machine guns that will destroy their positions!"

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