My Kind of Town
Don Chapman

Thursday, March 3, 2005


Clutching at life

» UH-Windward

Walking across campus to their computer lab, Fatima bin Laden and Jennifer Hira passed a stately line of banyan trees with ancient roots four feet high in places reaching out like human arms, hands, fingers, clutching at whatever life the land might offer.

So it was for Muslims. As she looked around now at the lushness of Hawaii, she saw an endless hue of greens, down the hill a patchwork of lovely blues in Kaneohe Bay, and for the first time, Fatima wondered why it was that Islam flourished in areas where there were so few natural comforts. But was it not in the desert of Saudi Arabia where Muhammed received verses of the Koran from angel Gabriel? The result, a spartan religion for spartan places.

But that was changing. Her Uncle Osama's goal was to bring Allah to the far ends of the globe, so that Islam would be the one religion of the world. His methods were extreme, he said, because the times and the threat to Islam were extreme. And was not Muhammed himself a warrior prophet, participating in many battles, slaying many men, even those of his own Qraishi clan who feared the threat his new religion posed to their power and profits? That's why she was in Hawaii, to take up Muhammed's sword and strike a blow against America for Allah.

And now she was nearly certain that Lt. Basel Zakly Faris, USMC, would be her ally in this mission. Perhaps one day her husband.

Jen had been chattering on about lunch with Baz's friend Lt. Joe Matsuo in the cafeteria, what they ate and what she told him about herself -- leaving out the part about dancing at Club Le Boing Boing several nights a week -- and that he's such a sweet guy, and funny, and he used to play baseball at Pearl City High, when she said something that shook Fatima out of her reverie.

"Did you know that Joe and Baz don't actually work on the base here in Kaneohe?"

Fatima didn't. All she knew was that they were MPs.

"They're based up at Camp Smith, but they're currently assigned to the brig on Ford Island, you know, out in the middle of Pearl Harbor."

"Mm," Fatima said and tried not to shout "Allah akbar!" and laugh and dance right there beneath the banyans as Jen chattered on about Joe.

While Hawaii was home to many possible targets of value -- military, university, business and tourist sites -- at the very top of her uncle's list was the brig at Ford Island, where his colleague Muhammed Resurreccion was still being held after his plot to blow up the USS Arizona Memorial was foiled.

Jen paused to take a breath and Fatima said, "I would be very interested to see where they work. Is this possible, do you think?"

"Actually, Joe already offered. They're really proud of everything that's happening out there."

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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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