Extremists of a Trading Floor Jihad
Extremists of a Trading Floor Jihad
“I don’t want a food menu.” The programmer declined the waiter. The two men had chatted while Tariq finished his workout: Kareem had begged off owing to his past strain. Fatima had shown up and that prompted the jihad man to insist on a lunch together.
“Aren’t you having a meal also?” The six foot tall and approximately twenty-eight-year-old man folded a chunky frame into the chair. “It’s not the time for Ramadan restrictions yet.”
“You’re both welcome to eat if you wish.” Tariq smiled at the thought of the special restrictions during the Arabic holiday. I could go without the food and water during daylight hours—but I’d have zero chance of Fatima letting me off without sex too. I don’t within an hour of my exercise.”
“Religiously?” The jihad man hadn’t heard of that requirement. He put his order in with the waiter and so did Fatima.
“Yes and no.” The programmer’s poundage loss after 9/11 was in part owed to this quirk. “I religiously hold to my personal rule, but it’s for non-sectarian reasons. During that hour, my muscles need refueling: they have to burn my fat instead of taking easier energy straight from the stomach.”
“I’ve trekked the Hajj,” Kareem hadn’t paid attention, though he could doubtlessly benefit from it, “the Umrah, and Ziyarah pilgrimages.”
Fatima nodded appreciatively at his pious accomplishments. She was seated slightly back from the table: so the men could catch her full female effect. The display of skin was culturally restricted but she maximized all tiny allowances. Her posture was crisply erect with knees tightly together. Her hands, folded carefully in her lap, were painted with coffee-brown henna designs like lace on the backs and down onto several fingers.
“In the gym,” the Iranian abruptly changed the topic, “you spoke only of general knowledge that I could’ve gotten from nearly anyone. You were ordered to speak with me because I need your in depth perspective.”
“Uh.” The younger man had been rapt in Fatima’s spell but conscious willpower had held his clandestine gaze from overt staring. “I shouldn’t discuss too much until I’m certain you’re not with the C.I.A.”
“The American Central Intelligence Agency is doubtlessly the most reprehensible organization in recorded history.” Tariq’s words seemed to come from his heart. “They’ve caused as much death and suffering as the Nazi SS but Americans are blind to it—just as people in Germany weren’t observant to what their government sponsored criminals were up to.”
“Puppeteers control the western media.” The jihad man offered sagely. His eyes flickered to see the woman’s reaction to his astuteness.
Fatima’s eyelashes fluttered to denote her favorable impression.
[A tastier cheese never baited any other mousetrap.]
“I don’t know how to prove what I’m not.” The Iranian man returned to the C.I.A. issue. “Maybe you could hook me up to a polygraph and ask me to describe my feelings on Agent Kermit Roosevelt’s manipulation of foreign politics that returned the Shah of Iran to brutal power. For a nation purportedly believing in democracy, they were eager enough to kill Iran’s.”
“I’m satisfied with that answer.” The commander accepted the rant as sufficient proof. It only took one glance over at the daughter to cement the substantiation in his mind as irrefutable. “Ask me whatever you like.”
Kareem seems like he fits the model of a policeman. The Iranian had a sudden inspiration. I’ll bet he was one—or aspired to that career.
All evidence proves what he wants it to show—with no possibility of it supporting any other conclusion. He was dead sure that he fooled me in the gym—a superiority complex is common in law enforcement officers. Now, he is eager to capitalize on his position for a personal perk—a willingness to take graft is often in a pouch on a Sam Browne belt.
“Let’s start with you.” Tariq smiled at his cleverness. Give a male the opportunity to tout his self worth in a beautiful woman’s ear and secrets will roll from salivating lips. “What path brought you to your position?”
“I was a police officer in Riyadh.” An admiring gaze from the girl was a starter pistol for Kareem Kareem’s tongue. A meal came and was eaten while the jihad officer regaled on his past exploits.
“You were actually on an aircraft out of New York’s Kennedy airport,” the man who lost his family wanted to know more, “on the day of 9/11?”
“I lead the back-up team.” Kareem bragged. “If the primary target had been missed, my men and I were ready to strike. I received a stand-down order while we were in the air. Shortly thereafter, my flight was grounded. My men and I deplaned and went to a hotel to celebrate the victory.”
“America then attacked Afghanistan,” Tariq was almost too shaken by this twist to continue: he tossed out an insipid comment, “as predictable.”
“Kandahar is not the important theater that it once was.”
“I would like to,” still reeling, the Iranian almost said ‘go there’, but a blistering look from the burkha’s peephole stopped him, “uh—know more about why you’re still active in this vicinity.”
“NATO spends ordinance but the resulting bang-for-the-bucks are just exploding land mines left by previous conflicts. We send soldiers and that gives a false impression of accomplishing something with the equipment they’re wasting.” The jihad commander had an idea. “I might be able to include you on a limited exercise. You would have to first offer a solemn vow—with Allah as your witness.”
“I can swear.” Is it binding if I don’t ascribe that deity?
[A soul’s freewill isn’t obligatory any God: it trumps them all.]
Ghazi bin Omani was swearing too but in a different connotation. His verbiage wasn’t an oath but rather a furious critique flecked with expletives in an assortment of languages. The diatribe involved Bob Wall’s coupling with assorted livestock and taking excrement as a dietary supplement.
“It could take days to find out where the money is coming from.” The man giving the grim assessment was only temporarily in charge of the bin Omani Transport sub-unit. Rajah Fakir was of Saudi extraction and he didn’t fear instant beheading—only because no axes were sitting handy.
“Wall has blamed his production run foul-up on me,” Ghazi guessed, “simply because my ship carried the defective product.”
“It is ridiculous to suppose that so many disks could be swapped and resealed while at sea.” The unlucky underling offered aloud. Internally, he envied his supervisor’s fortunate stars that had him away undergoing major surgery while this stock market action was occurring.
“It’s similarly preposterous to surmise that I would’ve summoned you to comment on that subject.” The sheik was seated in a comfortable chair while his subordinate nervously stood. The windows on one side the huge conference room overlooked the New York nerve center of the bin Omani Group. “Recaps the trading action for me, from your perspective.”
“On the market’s opening, big blocks of bin Omani Transport shares were offered much faster than buyers could respond, and it sent the price tumbling. More shares were automatically put into the pool of sell orders when the ticker descended to pre-set stop-loss limits.” Rajah rattled the information off but then needed a breath. “That’s when I called you.”
“The shareholders need more faith in my corporate strength.” Ghazi’s remark was off-the-cuff but he knew the market’s wider mentality was in seeking gains and then in protecting them.
“The attack was of sufficient size to frighten even the bravest ones into selling.” The junior Arab blanched inside at having contradicted the sheik. “A pittance of buyers materialized but sales only ticked the record lower.” Rajah felt footing at the bottom of fear. “Subsequent automatic sell levels were as doors opening into an elevator shaft. Anxious shareholders dashed in only to find the cab, with its cable snapped, had already plunged by.”
“Those few buyers then turned into sellers,” Ghazi correctly surmised, “and the price went to record lows.”
“Suddenly someone, doubtlessly the perpetrator, started buying.” Fakir imagined his confidence ascending like the shares did. “He snapped up units as they hemorrhaged onto the trading floor. The raider replaced the shares he had sold short, to trigger the slide, then kept purchasing stock at bargain basement prices.”
“A run on my company could turn the power balance in voting shares.” The Sheik thought out loud and did a mental tally of how many shares he needed to maintain control. “Start buying.”
“The price is already climbing again.” Rajah’s voice was tentative. “That could be what he wants you to do. He’s already made a fortune on the slide and may double it on the ride back up.”
“I know!” Ghazi bin Omani offhandedly waved the man away. “But no eater of dung is going to buy control of one of my companies.”
“The subsequent buying frenzy made the elevator car seem to have landed on a super-rubber spring that shot the ticker back up faster than it had fallen.” Rajah Fakir reported near the close of the market day. “The bin Omani Transport Corporation is finishing the day up thirty points.”
“I’ve secured enough additional certificates to retain fifty-one percent,” the stressed Arab didn’t need or want to add that the cost had been grizzly, “and that company is now safe in the future.”
“May I go back to work now?” The executive of bin Omani Transport blessed his fortunate karma that Ghazi expended his wrath at the market activity. Rajah didn’t want to remain in the vicinity of quick-fused Arab when he realized the full impact. The sheik had a reputation of terminating a man’s career as casually as he would flush a toilet.
“A whore’s illegitimate offspring made a huge profit as my shares fell,” bin Omani stared at the man, “and a bigger paper gain as they soared.”
“Where hundreds of small investors used to hold stock,” Fakir uttered a mental prayer to Allah before continuing, “now Wall Soft Systems controls a large block. While you retained majority interest, the corporate treasury has badly suffered and the money has probably all gone to the attacker.”
“The cash might fuel other fights.” Sheik Ghazi waved the man away and strode from his boardroom. He slammed his office door behind and dropped onto his plush leather sofa. “Praise Allah this day is finally over.”
“Ah, life is good again.” The Wall Soft CEO had used the needle in the mistress suite bathroom. “The battle with Omani has me too stressed out.”
“Shit,” Bob was sitting on the toilet because it was comfortable and he stretched out his legs, “the worst part is that half the time I’m not even sure who is winning. I have to wait for the asshole to tell me the current score.” Then Wall looked at his surroundings and giggled. “I’m on a john but not defecating: I even mentioned crap and a butt-hole.”
“Maybe Collin is gay. He knows about that Les Liaisons Dangereuses stuff: that sounded queer.” Inspired by heroin the CEO’s mind veered off on a tangent to his previously inane mental activity. “I’ve never seen him with a woman but then we don’t cruise the same social circles.” He tittered again. “Is that because Hersker cruises Hershey highway rider bars? That gives the asshole label a whole different connotation.”
“I’m heterosexual and I want to free Willy, and then get his rocks off.” The CEO reentered the bedroom and lifted the sheet.
“~You woke me up.” Oksana mumbled and briefly opened her eyes. Seeing what he obviously wanted, she unceremoniously flopped her legs apart: then promptly closed her eyes to try to sleep again.
“I might as well have one of those realistic life-sized love dolls.” He found her actions insulting and lost his feelings of ardor. In disgust, Bob flipped the cover back onto her body. “With a babe made of rubber I could pull a string and hear an phrase in English.”
In the Russian girl’s defense, she really didn’t know how Wall wished to be treated. She knew her face was expressive, but he seldom looked at anything above her chin and he didn’t correctly react to her moods when he did. She could also see by his expressions, that he unfavorably compared her to other women—perhaps even to her friend Lyra. Half her time with Bob was spent in worry that he may take offence and send her back to the mob—and the other was in wishing that he would. At least she understood Sergey’s abuse—and had some pleasures when sent on other assignments.
Wall put his clothes back on and returned to the washroom for a piss—where his eyes fell on the needle kit and stash.
“That Russian bimbo hasn’t earned any of this today.” He swiped the junky girl’s precious package. “Time without will be a stern reminder of who her candy man is.” He went down to the cafeteria for a chocolate bar.
“Good Morning Major General Hersker.” With time zone differences between Wall Street and the Pacific coast, skirmishes were well underway before the corporate office opened: Bob’s recent habit was of arriving late. Just now, Collin was returning from lunch while the CEO was on his way back up. “How goes the battle?” The nerd asked in the elevator.
“We were doing okay but Ghazi of Arabia is one cagy opponent and pulled a cute trick when I moved on bin Omani Plastics.” Collin shuffled over as three more executives caught the same lift. “We started selling short again but he was ready. Omani duplicated the action and dumped loads of his own stock to increase the speed of the plunge. Consequently, we didn’t make as much on the price plummet.”
“But we made some?” Bob asked.
“Briefly, but again matching our moves, he bought on the recoil. The shares spiked but not as quickly as expected so we kept grabbing them.” Collin paused. “Unbeknownst, Ghazi ceased his purchases just short of the opening price whilst we kept on buying.”
“I now own controlling interest in a company we didn’t intend to buy?” Bob surmised the conclusion and saw the asshole nod. “The fact that the Arabic pit bull gave it up doubtlessly means we paid more than it’s worth.”
“I suspect so.” Collin smelled something foul and his nose wrinkled.
“Who purged Mr. Colon in here?” Wall reacted to a septic tank stink: the silent fart was nasty and concentrated in the small enclosure. He then realized he’d use the office joke in front of the butt of it. Bob forced a tiny laugh and the three junior executives took the CEO’s cue to chuckle too.
Collin found no humor in either the body gaffe or the events around it. I would like to fire any sycophant who laughed on such phony prompting.
“Why,” after an awkward silence while the elevator dropped off the gas passer and his two cronies, Wall continued, “did you keep on buying?”
“We were in for a penny so I went for the pound.” Hersker delivered a cliché in place of an answer he probably couldn’t put in words that the boss would appreciate. I wanted Ghazi to know he had vulnerabilities and this was an opportunity—but would Bob find that worth the price tag?
“They were dollars down a stink hole.” Bob botched a trite phrase as his mind strolled a side path. His butt’s not a virgin so his dog didn’t bark.
“So terminate my contract.”
“Perhaps,” Bob was about to call by saying ‘I should’, but he realized that Collin wasn’t bluffing, “you’ve flustered Ghazi with a sinker pitch.”
“A player that bats from the other side of the plate,” Hersker noted as they arrived at the top floor, “is dangerous to a right-handed pitcher.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over one bad inning.” The chief executive took a subconscious step back as his employee had almost flat-out admitted he was a switch-hitter. The slightly high CEO congratulated his astuteness in the correct assumption that Collin was gay—but he would have come to terms with dealing with a closet-homo. “So what’s next?”
“I’m not going to decide that until tomorrow morning. We have some options.” The takeover field marshal spoke quickly and he looked at the sapphire crystal display on his watch. Time he spent explaining would be better used in figuring out what to do. “One certainty is that I’ll be mixing pitches. Too many fastballs in a row had Ghazi’s bat poised for another.”
“I’m looking forward to your next report,” Bob playacted a salute, “but I’ll be in San Diego until late tomorrow night.”
“Huh?” Collin jerked from an engrossing new stream of thoughts: then just as quickly tuned Wall out. I’m too busy to even care where he goes.
Jihad is the word the soldiers of Osama call the job they do and Tariq was now acting as part of that struggle of the duped faithful.
[Are they really deceived?]
A sideline benefit of my undercover work will be in learning that.
“Why do you risk your life for this cause?” Tariq asked as they were traveling out to an impromptu arms range. The leader had introduced the sympathetic journalist and that provided a license to ask probing questions.
“Capitalists will bleed us until their blood is on the sand.” Said one.
“Democracy the west inflicts is only imperialism.” Answered another.
A better vein of research might be finding out why all the troops in this jihad unit are able to speak English. Tariq inquired of their backgrounds instead: most were of low-income families and had marginal educations.
[The employment prospects are in slaving for multinational interests or in soldiering against the same.]
The men I’m serving with have all seen inequities in their society. In their thoughts, they are trying to right the wrongs they perceive. Terrorists push for geopolitical change, through their violent means. The supposedly anti-terrorist governments exert their will, by force of arms. Is there really any tangible difference?
[It’s in the perception of the greater number of individuals.]
The television audience only hears half the story though so it is in the deception of the masses instead. As Fatima believes, capitalism owning both the press and the government is a humanity-defeating situation.
“The area around Kandahar was staunchly in support of our Jihad but the major battles have been lost.” Kareem explained the current situation. “NATO roams the countryside at will but we still make our presence felt.”
“Are we going to cross the border today?” Tariq felt a sudden grip of panic. I assumed this was just training or I wouldn’t be here.
“We won’t be going into Afghanistan but we’ll be close to it.” Kareem answered. “Even if we did, it wouldn’t matter much out here. The frontier isn’t some great barrier or even a fence.”
“I know the barren landscape doesn’t change color like ink in an atlas.”
“We have weapons to give our Taliban brethren.” The leader nudged his trainee and pulled aside the canvas tarp. “The inventory we hand over will simply be missing the ammunition we’ll expend for your training.”
The truck pulled into a draw between two sheer bluffs. For several hours, Kareem demonstrated the use of the AK-47 assault rifle, grenades and an assortment of ordinance. Some of the team had been dispatched to the surrounding hilltops to stand watch and the practicing ceased when one lookout signaled an arrival.
“Stand away from the vehicle but stay ready.” Kareem hissed a terse order as a tractor pulling a cart, chugged into the gully. He walked to the vehicle as the four occupants emerged.
Tariq watched as the newcomers climbed aboard the arms truck. This meet is as tension filled as a prisoner exchange between warring factions. The smaller Afghani unit drove away in the direction they had come from. The few spoken words had occurred only between the two commanders.
“It’s peculiar to me that men fighting the same enemy wouldn’t be more cordial.” The programmer broached the subject while bouncing in the wagon in the much longer return trip to Quetta.
“The leader of that group and I don’t share much in common.” Kareem had taken a seat in the back while one of his men operated the tractor, “we had a heated discussion that started with tactics but turned to politics.”
“I should think ideology would be an area where you would agree wholeheartedly.” Especially since the Taliban and Al Qaeda are joined in the fight what both consider a holy war.
“Personally, I think the Taliban hold overly repressive opinions. That’s especially so in the draconian policies towards women.” The squad leader chuckled. “Were I an Afghani, I wouldn’t want them ruling my country.”
“Yet you appear willing to fight and die if needs be, to support their cause. That presents somewhat of a dichotomy.”
“Not really.” Kareem countered. “My concern is with the larger issue. The people of Afghanistan must be allowed their own choice on how they will be governed, even if their selection isn’t one I would want for myself.”
[Has an injected bias been coloring your opinions?]
“I understand.” Tariq quickly conceded the point. Like many people in the west, I’ve been prejudiced by propaganda. “Rank-and-file rebel troops in the American Civil War weren’t fighting to retain slavery. They fought to uphold the principle of having the right to select their own way of life.”
“19th century America proposed that they held a god-given Manifest Destiny of controlling the entire North American continent.” Kareem displayed more knowledge of American history than Tariq would’ve expected. “They have expanded that doctrine to putting the whole world under dominance in puppet regimes matching their own sham democracy.”
“Supposed democracy is doubtlessly the most pernicious government form possible.” Tariq agreed. “In claiming to represent the people, every action the regime performs is professed as inspired by the majority. In fact, a very slim minority tightly holds the reins of power.”
“A voting fraud,” Kareem offered, “and the misapplied principle of collective rule dupes the people.”
“The governance NATO installs with bullets doesn’t work properly in the trigger-pulling nations. So, the stated goal of bringing democracy is utterly ridiculous: they don’t actually have one to export.”
“How does Fatima feel about your coming with us?” Kareem changed the subject as they arrived back in Quetta’s outskirts.
“Fatima is a dutiful daughter and understands my mission.” I’ve been wondering when he would get around to this topic.
“Maybe she would like to come along next time?” The leader probed.
[Sergeant horn dog is weary of licking his own privates.]
“O Prophet,” Tariq invented a Koran sounding snippet, “we have made lawful to you your wives and daughters that they should not go to war.”
Kareem Kareem nodded sagely and stroked his patchy beard as if he knew exactly which chapter this verse was gleaned from.
[Does he lubricate his turban with depilatory cream?]
Tariq smiled as he recalled that the man kept no hair on his head and the beard ended sharply at the top of his ears. The conversation ended as the tractor had arrived back in Quetta’s center. Barely any heads turned to look, as even a farm conveyance like this was a regular sight in the city.
“Again the chess piker has lead with his tedious opening ploy.” Ghazi bin Omani smiled grimly. “The whole of last week he used the same move but chess has differences from the stock market.”
“Why do you compare the two then?” Rajah asked: as a dog nosing around a porcupine, he knew the risk—but smelled a sweet reward.
“The strategic game does have similarities to all aspects of life and especially business.” The sheik first spoke dismissively to the underling then he changed his tone after deciding that talking with a lesser man was preferable to his having a lonely internal conversation. “Yesterday for example, ended in a stalemate. I won in that I made more money but in doing so, I had to feel the sting of giving up one of my companies.”
“As you’ve astutely noticed,” Rajah Fakir sucked up, “Wall is up to the tactic again. Will you be willing to give up bin Omani Imports today?”
“I will,” Ghazi growled like a tiger taught oxford English, “if I can cost him as much of his cash reserves as I did for his taking my Plastics corp.”
“It seems that Bob Wall has found your Achilles heel though.” Fakir took the cordial voice as a possibility to advance his position. “Wall Soft Systems is only one huge corporation and the shares are too strong for you to move in the same manner. Your corporate configuration allows him to pick a sub-unit and then manipulate it.”
“My business affairs were structured this way for good reasons. Each unit being separate and with some based in different nations allows money to be taxed in alternate jurisdictions.” Again Ghazi bristled initially but softened after. “You’re correct though, the war is bought on my home soil and my enemy has the advantage. He can pick his targets and I’m left with deciding whether to defend or let that piece be captured. However, he’ll find my king less easy to be placed in check.”
“I’m all eyes in on the market action for you.” Rajah opted to cash his gained chips and leave the table ahead.
“Get back here!” Ghazi’s eyes had drifted to his monitor, as Fakir was leaving and a change made him shout. “Wall has changed his tactics!”
“He’s likely been buying the shares you were selling to make up units he sold short to start the slide.” The temporary unit-chief saw the same thing. “This time he isn’t buying at the bottom to send the shares up.”
“Instead,” bin Omani took over the observation, “that wild boar’s rump has started a price plummet in a different stock group.”
“Wall destabilized five of your companies today,” Rajah tallied after a frenzied day of trying to follow the raider and react accordingly, “and he doubtlessly made back everything he lost yesterday—and then some.”
“This trading day was certainly different from the last.” Collin the asshole Hersker sat back in his chair and laced his fingers together behind a stiff neck. “In Ghazi’s opinion, I’ve doubtlessly earned my nickname.”
It was talking with his boss that spurred the idea for this ploy. I had thrown the same fastball for several days in a row and Ghazi expected another. He belted it out of the park. Today, I threw ones that looked similar but they were all change-ups.
“I haven’t had a boss alert yet,” Hersker glanced at his Breitling watch, “but I suppose I should find him and give my daily report.”
“Bob?” As there was no response to the first rap, Collin called out and knocked even harder. He put his head closer to the door and listened with care: there was a muffled thumping from within.
“Is he bound naked in his office chair,” Collin’s imagination presented a mental vista of a possible explanation, “and bouncing to gain attention?” I did see him tied to a bed like that. He turned the knob and peeked.
“Hello?” The executive asked again but he couldn’t see anyone. The banging is more pronounced here and coming from the apartment door.
“Bob, did you get locked in there?” Collin moved to the rattling door and opened it cautiously. The female within rushed through the opening crack. He had to physically catch her with his free arm around her waist.
“~Where is my stuff?” The Ukrainian junky’s voice was plaintive and she looked up questioningly at her captor. “~I have very bad withdrawal!”
Collin’s male strength overpowered the struggling girl and he nearly carried her back inside. As they moved into the apartment, the man cast about for some sign of his employer’s presence—and then he remembered. “The CEO told me he would out of town. I completely forgot.”
“~Please! I need some now!” Realizing her inability to force her way out, Oksana ceased her attempts. She made frantic gestures of inserting a needle into her arm. “~You have to understand: I desperately need a fix.”
“I can see that. I just don’t have anything to help you.” Collin tried to put sympathy into his soothing voice. Bob is the real asshole around here! Why would he leave her in this condition? It was especially heartrending due to her natural expressiveness that made him almost feel her pain.
“~I’m glad you’re here instead of the jerk.” Oksana allowed herself to be led inside: she slipped under his arm for the support of human contact.
“I know you want drugs. I don’t have them but it’s against my moral fiber to try to find any.” I could get methadone if she wanted to kick her habit but I can’t on such short notice. He sat quietly with her for a few minutes and her distress eased somewhat.
“~I can take the pain with you here.” Oksana communicated it better with her attempt at a smile.
“I can understand exactly what you’re saying. I need only to translate by your facial communication.” Now what can I further do to help? The asshole glanced around at the living room. The magazines were worn from frequent use. I was with her when we bought those. Bob hadn’t given this girl anything but his infrequent presence—when he took what he wanted.
“Should you and I go out again?” Collin had another idea. Her tears have streaked her mascara and her hair is a train wreck. “I’ll take you to a beauty salon for some pampering. It won’t get rid of your symptoms but it may help you to forget about them until Bob gets back from San Diego.”
“I don’t care if you have to call in off duty staff on overtime or press in contract beauticians from your competitors.” The youngish executive was adamant and specific. “This lady needs emergency aesthetic treatment and the cost is no object. She’ll have a facial, manicure, pedicure, makeover and even a massage while your team is working on styling her hair.”
Collin sat aside to watch and the delight on her face was worth any expense even if he couldn’t find a way to charge it back to the company. A spasm of anger made his back shudder. I knew he had idiosyncrasies when I hired on but Bob is hitting some all-time lows.
“It all started when Wall stole that program.” Hersker thought about the recent events. We still don’t even know everything that code is doing but it’s now too crucial to get rid of. That small application was driving the economic engine that enabled the bin Omani fight.
“~Which one would you like to see on me?” The junky waved to catch his attention. She held up two hair fashion pages in the salon’s catalog.
“What do I know about coif trends?” Collin chuckled at the dance of tickled expressions on her features. He nodded at one on the left.
“~Now I can take the other one.” Oksana Gagarin giggled: the pain of her withdrawal was temporarily on hold.
“Is there nothing I can be doing?” Fatima hovered like a hornet over the programmer’s shoulder. In the days since Kareem’s retelling of his doings on September 11, Tariq had been tack-welded to his computer. The outing in the countryside was the only break his hacking marathon,
“I’m not even sure what I’m looking for,” he answered distractedly, “so showing you how to help would be nigh on impossible.” He had taught the girl how to use his Trojan’s features, but this needed his finicky work.
“Talk it through with me,” to gain full attention, Fatima spun his chair away from the desk, “and let me judge if I can be of assistance.”
“Kareem hasn’t directly said so, but his seeming autonomy lends to the impression of his troop being an independent unit. It seems to exist within Al Qaeda, but not quite subject to the same coordination.”
“You think bin Omani commands it?”
“The robbery I saw in his New York offices backs up Kareem’s story of his being a contingency to 911.” Tariq’s mind wafted back to the scene of his wife and daughter’s death. “Osama wanted widespread destruction and a big event but Ghazi needed a precise target hit. He is a chess player and so he maneuvered in his own redundancy. His bishop was poised, just in case Osama’s pawns failed to take out the specific opposing castle.”
“How does that equate to what you’re digitally seeking?”
“I don’t know,” Tariq’s exasperation showed, “and that’s where I am stuck at. There has to be something in there,” he hooked a thumb over his shoulder to point at the monitor, “or I’m stymied.”
“You’ve searched everywhere?” The girl moved in between his knees: she squatted onto her heels and reassuringly stroked his thighs.
“Everywhere except where I need to look.” The Iranian grimly smiled at the futility of his nil progress. He decided to talk out the closer details in hopes that she might spot something his familiarity had missed. “Through his many sub-companies, Ghazi has been supplying money to the Jihad: it’s been transferred in sneaky ways. Some cash transfers to the Islamic Jihad Journal, and some goes to that publication’s parent company, Shan Media Corp. In searching that intermediary’s files, I’ve found other contributors, like the Stryker Group. Unfortunately, that corporate entity hasn’t upgraded to the newest Wall Software, so I can’t snoop in there.”
“That’s not what you need anyways.” The girl offered. “You want to see where the funds are going: not where they came from.”
“I already know almost all I need to about the cash.” He corrected. “It goes to some accounts and then vanishes: bank networks are somewhat tougher to breach and I’m not sure that would be really worth the effort. Presumably, the cash pays Al Qaeda and Kareem’s sub group’s expenses.”
“Both wouldn’t come from the same money pot.”
“Stryker’s and Ghazi’s money link up at Shan Media but bin Omani is alone in transferring some of his also to the Islamic Jihad Journal.”
“That assessment is substantiated by your contact with Kareem, instead of one of the regular Al Qaeda units.” Fatima surmised. “The journal’s editor is in touch only with bin Omani’s secondary team.”
“There I stand,” the programmer laughed dryly, “and here I flounder.”
“I could date Kareem,” she offered, “and pump him for information.”
“That man is too dangerous.” Tariq stomped a solid foot on that. “He is a policeman turned criminal soldier. I can’t think of a worse combo.”
“To a woman,” the female offered sagely, “a man is only a man.”
“You’re not to go anywhere near him if I’m not present.”
[Forbidding a woman’s doing something is like asking her to do it.]
“I really mean that,” Tariq acted on Loki’s sound advice, “and it’s for your protection as well as my peace of mind. Police guns account for more wrongful deaths than does even the military’s weaponry. But both groups individually, are responsible for more wrongdoing than the whole criminal element combined. Cops and soldiers have tossed their morals in with the organizations they serve: there’s not much left for their personal uses.”
“Okay.” Fatima acquiesced, but then had a thought about the benefit of using her female talents. “It seems as if the Islamic Jihad Journal’s editor may hold the key to your puzzling lock. What was his name again?”
“My slave escaped!” Early afternoon in Pakistan was after midnight in the Pacific Time Zone. Bob Wall had returned from his trip much later than expected to find the apartment door ajar. His fears were quelled as he stepped into the living room to find the girl on the sofa. His bigger shock was seeing Collin Hersker seated in the adjacent chair.
“When I found her earlier,” the second-in-command reached and took the young woman’s hand: he turned it palm down, “these knuckles were bleeding from her beating on the door. You took something she needs.” Hersker’s words were as firm as if roles of employee and boss had been reversed. “Give it back to her—now.”
“She can have it.” Without balking, Bob produced the kit.
“~Thank you!” Oksana’s words were directed at Collin but she raced to take her stuff from the CEO.
“Uh,” the chastised man fumbled for a change of topic and the junky’s new appearance also befuddled him. “I went to San Diego and bought—.”
“I don’t want to talk about anything right now.” Hersker cut him off in mid sentence. He hadn’t done his homework while caring for Bob’s living sex toy. “I don’t even have time to go home before preparing for my day.”
The CEO’s eyes moved from his subordinate leaving, to the Ukrainian girl. They weren’t screwing. Collin really was gay. He fixed her hair and makeup like they were girlfriends.
“When a woman feels she looks good, she performs to match.” Bob gleefully rubbed his hands as he sauntered to the bedroom. “Zeigfeld gave his dancers silk panties so they would be better in his Follies.”
“~I doubt this will be good even if I close my eyes and pretend you’re that other man.” Though much relieved after her needle, Oksana’s hyper-expressive face still betrayed her disappointment.
Bob however, didn’t notice anything above her neck. He was frustrated in her continued lack of suitable responsiveness but a drug injection made him soon forget his disenchantment.
‘Dear Mr. Kiani.’ The email he opened had a formal greeting: that was an odd occurrence in this age of digital communication. He read on. ‘I’m an avid reader of your fine publication. I feel an anticipation akin to sexual excitement before reading each issue.’
“Sexual excitement?” Bijan stopped perusing while he chuckled.
‘I’m continually amazed at your genius in putting just the right mix of theology and politics to keep us dedicated fans cheering on the wonderful jihad. You are an exceptional human being and I personally am turned on by a man’s stimulating intellect—far more than by a virile physique.’
“What is this tart buttering me up for?” The magazine editor’s skeptic nature showed, but deep in his lower anatomy, he felt a tiny twitch.
‘I wish I could contribute to your cause in any manner possible. I am currently enrolled in a journalism program and my goal is to write on the humanities and romance attached to the greater goals. While my talent for creative writing is growing, my subject knowledge has flagged behind. I guess that I need to experience a sensual relationship with a jihad visionary before I can capture that passion in my work.’
‘I’m writing to you in hopes that you will publish my essays, after I’m able to write them. In the meantime, I just wished to reach out and touch a great man like Bijan Kiani. May I call you Bijan? I’ve included a photo.’
“This is why a university professorship would be an intriguing job.” The editor viewed the photo. A very attractive young woman was dressed in a white shirt with a pleated plaid skirt. “She looks like a schoolgirl,” he observed a coy look about her eyes: a light veil covered her lower face, “but with a serious crush on her teacher.”
“Where is the possible harm?” Bijan answered her slightly flirtatious missive, with a tastefully playful one.
Wall Street opened with the usual bell and especially the day traders scoured the boards for activity. There was profit to be taken in the erratic price swings of a proxy war but there were serious risks as well. Fights among elephants, or mating for that matter, tended to crush any onlookers.
“Today, I’ll try a new tactic.” Collin Hersker rubbed sleep out of his eyes and sniffed his armpit. “Phew: I’m rank.” He hated wearing the same clothes for two days. “I’ll transfer this bad smell into Ghazi’s nostrils.”
“Short sell bin Omani Shipping.” The Wall Soft battle master stabbed the line connect button on the first of six phones he now had in his office. He picked up the next and placed a similar order. “Short sell bin Omani Holdings.” How many green bandages does Ghazi have handy and which of his many hemorrhages will he attempt to staunch? Collin took two more handsets and targeted more of bin Omani’s core companies.
“This is still only Thursday morning.” Hersker’s fingers were a blur on his keyboard checking on the effects of his manipulation. “I still have one more day of making Ghazi feel like a jihad martyr of the trading floor.”