London 2nd July 2001
Fallon stepped out of Charing Cross Underground Station into a heavy rain as Big Ben struck 10.00am. Lofting an umbrella he headed toward Whitehall through the bustling London crowds.
Turning off Whitehall and onto Richmond Terrace, he passed through the wrought iron gates of a Ministry of Defence building and entered a courtyard. After clearing the security checkpoint he was escorted into the building and up to the second floor.
He loved the atmosphere of this place, the heart of British military strategy. He liked its smell of age, old books, oiled oak floors and its ambiance of authority and power. Taken to room 242 he was ushered inside.
Brigadier Peter Dance, the newly appointed Director Special Forces, was standing by a window reading a Daily Telegraph newspaper. Tall, gaunt, his long iron grey hair swept back over his collar, he wore an old military sweater and cavalry twill trousers and looked more like a university don than a soldier. He greeted Fallon with a warm smile. “Good Morning, James. Take the weight off your feet.” He indicated a chair by a desk.
“Good Morning, Peter.” Fallon hung up his raincoat and sat down. He filled a glass with water from a carafe.
Dance took a chair opposite. “Lousy weather we’re having. I should have stayed in Marrakesh. The desert was lovely; hot and dry.”
“I must try it out there sometime.”
“Oh, you must, James; a superb climate. I shall take my retirement there. So how are things with Global Solutions?
“Fine. We’re doing well.”
“Killing lots of pirates I hear.” Dance grinned and his eyes twinkled.
“When they ask for it we do. Though, I much prefer it when they flee. Since boyhood, I’ve always had a soft spot for pirates. But I’m pleased to say we’ve got them on the run.”
“That’s good.” Dance eased back in his chair. “OK, James, run it all by me.”
“Sure. As you know, we're into our second year of operations. We now tackle maritime piracy in five of the ten most effected areas. I’m pleased to say that no ship carrying our units has been successfully attacked. And that news is spreading like a prairie fire especially after my single handed capture of Asad Hassan. I’m expecting more of that sort of work in South East Asia. We also have guys fulfilling minder roles in the Middle East, mostly in the Emirates.” He grinned. “Those Abu Dhabi oil sheikhs love having their personal SAS bodyguard.”
“Yes,” Dance laughed. “Rather like owning an expensive dog. It reflects their importance.”
“That about sums it up,” Fallon said.
“And your negotiations with the Thais on Special Forces training are progressing?”
“Yes, thanks to you, Peter. It looks like it’s on. So, I’ll need a lot of good men. I placed an advert in the Sunday broadsheets.”
“But, as I mentioned before, what I’m really after is more challenging stuff.”
“Such as hostage rescue?”
“Well, why not; you were good at it. I see acts of hostage taking increasing in the future as terrorism intensifies as it is doing. It’s the terrorist’s bread and butter. And as most countries have poor quality standing armies and no Special Forces to perform rescue tasks, the villains have an easy time of it."
“That Libyan Embassy raid is a classic example. Those terrorists seized the embassy and the hostages and the Tunisian government had no answer other than a shabby police force and an undisciplined, unkempt army. In desperation, they asked Britain for help and we sent that SAS team with you leading. All hostages rescued and not a man lost. In my view, it was more impressive than the London Iranian Embassy caper in 1980.”
Fallon smiled. “Thank you, Peter.”
“But what if Britain had said no and declined to help? What would have happened to those hostages?”
Fallon shrugged. “The most probable scenario would be all hostages killed following a crude assault by the Tunisian military.”
“Exactly. And most of the time the British government would say no to such requests. After all, the Special Air Service is a regiment of the British army, not a mercenary task force to be hired out. What’s needed, James, is an independent task force. Like the SAS, but unlike the Regiment, free from all political restraints and so able to achieve these objectives.”
Fallon grinned. “I have a feeling I know where this is headed.”
“That’s why I invited you here.” Dance returned the grin. “I’ve thought of it for a long time, ever since you began forming Global Solutions. I see it as the perfect vehicle.”
“It sounds good, Peter, but you’re getting into uncharted waters. International law has to be considered. And there are those who want to see such private military outfits shut down. Remember the fate of the South African company, Executive Outcomes?”
“I know, they were put out of business. But admit to me that the idea appeals to you.”
“Of course it does.”
“There are lots of possibilities to consider; covert low intensity operations, military advisers?”
Fallon grinned. “That could be in the far distant future.”
“How about black ops?”
“Hunting down and taking out terrorists?”
“Someone has to do it. Take this man for example?” He took a photograph out of a folder and held it up.
“Who is he?”
“Abbas al Suleiman. Know him?”
“Yes, of course.”
Fallon took the photograph. It showed a fine featured man with a confident smile and penetrating eyes wearing an open necked shirt. “Handsome bastard isn't he,” he said. “Looks like Omar Sharif.”
“That picture was taken in his thirties,” Dance said. “He’s now in his fifties and has put on a little weight. He’s also tall for an Arab. He’s probably the most dangerous terrorist alive. The French are terrified of him. The Americans want to capture him and put him on trial for a host of crimes. The Israelis want him dead.” He slid a sheet of paper across the desk. “That’s his CV.”
Fallon took the paper and scanned it. He read it twice. “Jesus Christ,” he whispered looking up a Dance. “I see what you mean about dangerous.”
“The Israelis want to hit him.”
“Well, they have the ability and the
“They’ve made six attempts over the years and all failed.”
“Isn’t it? When you consider Israeli efficiency in these matters? The last one was a joint Mossad and CIA attempt which hospitalized him.”
“They’re about to try again I suppose.”
“Yes they are. But this time it’s a little different.”
“Different?” Fallon drank some water. He wondered what a possible Israeli terrorist hit had to do with Global Solutions. “In what way?”
“They want to destroy both him and his entire command network. One big hit.”
“That’s a task for Sayeret Matkal, their Special Forces arm.”
“Normally it would be, but not this time.” “Oh. Why?”
“For reasons not disclosed, probably
political, they can’t.”
Fallon shrugged. “I’m sure they’ll come up with something.”
Dance smiled. “They already have. They want you to do it.”