» Tehran, Iran
The orders went out from the grand mullah of Mashhad, Iran, and crossed the open border into Iraq, recalling select members of the Khomeini Sharia Unification Movement for Preaching and Combat.
"I'm sorry to lose you, but it must be very important," their ground commander said to the captain leading the group. "We are killing so many Americans and their sympathizers here, disrupting everything they hope to accomplish, surely Mullah Mansour has something big. Go with God."
Including the captain, they were five, and met in a Tehran warehouse, where with the help of Mullah Mansour -- who hoped to salvage an operation on which Osama sent his own niece -- a battle plan was devised, weapons chosen and ordered, transportation arranged, fake IDs and passports manufactured, vows made to Allah, praise his name.
The next day, a cargo ship in Los Angeles Harbor bound for Honolulu received three wooden boxes from three different shippers, labeled Machine Parts, Modeling Clay and Cell Phones. In fact, the first contained the elements to assemble and fire shoulder-fired missiles, the second plastique explosive. The third did, indeed, contain cell phones, but they were encrypted and able only to communicate with the others in that box.
Upstate in Oakland, another cargo ship also bound for Honolulu received two similar boxes. Even if one were discovered, the other might get through.
And if both made it undetected across the Pacific, think of the carnage the Khomeini Sharia Unification Movement for Preaching and Combat could inflict on Honolulu's many targets of worth, both strategic and symbolic.
They fanned out, flying from Tehran, and then again, each time using a different ID and passport. Using a third set of passports, they arrived at Honolulu International Airport from five different cities of departure in the United States, Europe and Asia. Again, no problem with the passports or visas.
They arrived separately over two days, checked into five hotels. While some would independently take taxis to the Arizona Memorial and gaze across at their target on Ford Island, others rented cars and drove up into the hills of Aiea to search for other possible angles of attack.
They went about buying clothes at Ala Moana Center that would help them fit in. Thus it was one afternoon the five materialized at the same time in the Food Court, coming from five different vendors.
They were old friends, gathered comfortably for lunch, no hint that they had each arrived here after traveling for days. They spoke English, and if anyone overheard the captain say that he had to head out to the harbor to pick up a shipment and one of his buddies reply that he had a similar duty that afternoon, it did not seem at all remarkable.
Unremarkable was the best camouflage.
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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