Title:  War's End

Chapter 16

A Real Threat

Razorback, Arkansas
John White was in one of his moods.  Preaching for hours on end and repeating himself over and over again.  It wasn't good.  Something had to be done.  His megalomania had come full circle.  His followers were beginning to doubt him.  Hell, Rob was beginning to doubt him. 

"We have seen the coming of Armageddon.  We have seen a time when anarchy will rule.  It is then that we must seize the day! It is then when we must join with our Christian Aryan Brothers and wrest the United States of America from the stranglehold the Jews, Mexicans, and Niggers have on it.  What we have done is not enough; we must do more.  We must seize every opportunity to cast doubt, to chip away at the so-called democracy that keeps us down and from our rightful heritage as rulers of the world.  First, we must get them fighting--blaming one another.  And then, we must eradicate them--one by one.  For it is only with a pure society that we can go on into the future.  If you're with me say, Amen.  Say Amen!”

There was a resounding, "Amen!" from the crowd of men standing in the rain at the foot of the stage. 

"Remember Waco!" [Amen!] "Remember Ruby Ridge!" [Amen!] "Remember Bloody September!" [Amen!] "Remember John Whitlock" [Amen! Amen!]

It went on like this for hours.  White in the spotlight under an umbrella, two black men hanging upside down on either side.  Finally, at 3:00 am, he stopped ranting and let them go the bed.  The two men that they'd taken selling drugs in Little Rock were cut down.  One was dead and the other was so hypothermic that he would have died soon had George not put him out of his misery with a single shot to the brain.  They were both hauled off to the chopper.  Rob was glad he didn't have to do it.  These gory rituals were starting to get to him. 

"Say, George.  When are we going to get to those bridges?" Rob asked George as George was washing the blood from his hands in the bunkhouse as the sun came up. 

"You know the old man, he never tells you everything he's got up his sleeve.  My guess is that he's going to do it soon, the way he's been acting lately.”

George was right.  White called a powwow for 4:00 that afternoon.  Rob had only recently been included in the inner circle--just since he'd returned from the reconnaissance of the Bay Area bridges.  There were nine in the inner circle.  White, White's brother-in-law, Jim Kilpatrick, the Warner Brothers, Ralph and Mike, White's long time friend, George, "Killer", Jeremy Jackson, Pete Putnick, the "Mule," and Slim Slidell, an explosives expert, and Rob.  Rob figured that if he could keep his nose clean, that he'd rise to take over if ever the old man died or got decrepit.  Already, White was treating him like the son he'd never had.

They met in the small conference room that was regularly checked for bugs.  White spoke first.  "Our plan is working.  The Militias are standing guard in most states.  The stories we've planted on the Internet--thanks Rob--have got some of the cities’ mayors in an uproar.  All we need to do is get the Niggers fighting the Spics and the Kikes and the Gooks for control of the cities and we can move in under the guise of law and order and exterminate the bastards legally”

"The Big One didn't quite do it.  While there was a lot of looting and general unrest, the feds and police departments around the country seemed to have managed to get control of it.  If our plan is to succeed, we must have ANARCHY!" To make his point, John White had slammed his fist down on the table, sending cups flying and spilling their drinks, startling everyone.  Rob figured he’d better learn how to do that.

"I've sent you all out on reconnaissance missions to see if we can disrupt transportation, communications, and power.  I believe we can if we strike decisively and with enough force to tip the balance between civility and anarchy.  When it's, 'Every man for himself,' then we will have achieved what I'm looking for--enough unrest to bring whole house of cards down.  Slim, I want you and Rob to pull off the Bay Area job.  Will do it on September 11th to cast suspicion on al Qaeda.  Take revenge on Bloody September, too, at the same time.  Rob, make sure you use those Pakistani operatives we talked about.  If anyone gets caught I want their names to throw HS off.”

"The Klan tells me they're going to take out gas pipelines and highline towers.  Various groups around the country are gonna do bridges and communications centers.  We're gonna shut this damn country down--no electricity, no fuel, no way to communicate.  It won't take long and we'll have 'em right where we want 'em. We’ve got enough supplies to last five years--even our own underground water supply.   Not even the Army can last that long.  The cities will fall in a couple weeks once their basics are disrupted.  When that happens, they're gonna pay attention to our politics.  They're gonna pay attention or starve.” Nervous laughter floated across the room.  You couldn't tell where it came from, but everyone heard it. 

"Alright, who in the hell laughed? You think this is a laughing matter?" White slammed his fist down on the table again.  "I'll tell you what's a laughing matter! It's that stupid silly ass little woman of a President.  Always out parading around the country trying to say that the United States is still a superpower--gonna save the whole damn world.  And that Kangaroo Congress--bunch of fat cat politicos hiding out in caves and pretending to write new laws.  The whole damn thing is corrupt, bankrupt, and dragging the good Christian White folk of this country down.”

White was off on one of his rants again.  Rob was tired of all these tirades.  He wanted to see action.  It was time for him to speak. 

"Excuse me, Mr. White, weren't we talking about our part in the September 11th action that will be going down in about a month?" He spoke loud enough so that he could be heard over White's rant. 

John White stopped ranting in mid word.  His eyes widened in anger, and then they focused on Rob.  The pulsing veins in his neck and forehead subsided and he said, " You're right, Mr. Johnson, you're right.  Now where was I?”

San Jose, September 3rd. 

Rob and Slim had holed up in a Motel 6 in Fremont.  They didn't want to be caught on the wrong side of the bridges after they blew.  Tonight, they were pulling together their team in a dingy little apartment just off El Camino Real.  There were six of them, just enough to make three teams of two.  They were experienced seamen--fisherman really--that's how they had brought their battered little boat to the Mexican shore in the first place.  Knowing no Spanish, they were still able to bribe their way across the border and into this little Pakistani enclave in the South Bay.  They were hiding out from HS, fearful of being caught any day.  The FBI often raided this part of town and hauled off Pakistani Americans for violating one part of the Patriot Act or another.  The Molahs in the mosques were becoming quite strident, declaring "That the United States government was behaving immorally and should be brought to task for singling out poor working people as potential terrorists.”

All these guys wanted to do was to assimilate into the American landscape.  As illegals, they could only clandestinely hire on with the Bay Area fishing fleet for day labor, competing with Mexicans, Chinese, and others who slipped through the leaky borders and worked for almost nothing.  Their dreams fading, fuelled by their religious fanaticism, they opted to join in on the plot to bring down America so that they could get their piece of it.  John White could promise them legal papers so that they could go to school, start a business, or work like any other American.  They were desperate, and given the chance, a desperate man will do anything. 

Knock! Knock!  Rob was knocking on the fingerprint stained door on the second floor balcony of the dingy little apartment house.  "Mohammed, are you there?"

The peephole had long ago disappeared.  It was now stuffed with what looked like commercial paper towel.  The paper popped out from the inside, and an eye stared at them.  "Ahhh, Mr. Rob, we have been waiting for you.  I will let you inside in one moment.”

Rob could hear locks snapping as Mohammed hurried to get the door unlocked.  The door opened a crack, chain still on, while Mohammed
 Took another look, and then he opened it wide to let them in.  The small living room, dining room combination off the kitchen was crowded with bearded men.  The place smelled of dead fish.  The single bulb over the dining room table cast a stark, but dim light on the room.  Cockroaches scurried in the kitchen as they walked past it to two chairs waiting for them at the dining room table. 

"Tea?" Mohammed offered as they sat down. 

Rob thought about it a minute, and then said, "Okay."

Slim was less generous.  "No thanks, I just had a beer.” They hadn't had anything to drink since leaving the motel.  It was just Slim's way of hinting what he really wanted.  It registered little on Mohammed who brought them two steaming glasses of tea mixed with cream and sugar. 

Rob looked carefully into the greenish foamy liquid to see if there were any roaches floating in it, and then took a sip.  It tasted like a hot sour milkshake.  The glass was burning his hand so he put down and began to talk.  Slim eyed his like it was poisoned.

"Mohammed, you know the drill.  If you and your men pull this off, our man in San Francisco will give you identities and green cards so that you can live and work in this country and become a citizen if you like.  We have hacked the Immigration Service database and can alter the status of anyone in it.  For your part of the bargain, you must do things exactly the way that Slim and I tell you, and never, ever, tell anyone what you've done.  If you die in this operation, you'll become a martyr.  If you live, and do right, you become an American.  If you or any of your men feel that you can't go through with this, then I want you to leave the room right now.” Rob leaned back a bit, fingering his glass of tea and stared into it for a moment.  No one moved or said a word.  He knew they were with him. 

"What you've got to do is simple.   Slim has done all the hard work already.  At 6:00 pm on September 10th, Slim and I will meet you, Mohammed, and your men at the fishing docks in Alameda.  The explosives are in waterproof, 20-pound packages with magnets sewn-in to attach them to metal surfaces.  The packages float, but can be made to sink by pulling two plugs from the top and bottom.  Your job is to put as many of these packages in place and out of sight around the piers of the bridges as you can before the detonation time, 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time.  You don't have to worry about the packages.  We use precise computer clocks that are completely waterproof.  If you suspect any of the packages are defective, you can easily unzip the side zipper and pull the ring that disarms the bomb.  You must drop any unused or disarmed packages in the dumpster at our motel and give us a call saying that you lost your key.  Understand?" Everyone shook their heads.  Rob was unconvinced.  He went over everything again.

At 5:00 pm on September 10th, Rob and Slim drove to the Lock It Up on Fremont Boulevard.  They opened the garage rented by their man in San Francisco and backed out the U-Haul truck.  The truck had been bought in Arkansas as salvage from U-Haul.  Once in the compound at Razorback, it was fixed up, painted, given a new serial number, and some false paperwork stolen from a U-Haul dealer in Fort Smith.  A young couple with two small kids was hired to drive it to San Francisco.  Inside, the truck contained fifty 20 pound packages with high explosive and computer timers set to go off precisely at 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time on the morning of September 11th.  Slim was so sure that his packages were safe, he offered to drive the truck himself.  White would have nothing of it, and hired the young family to do the dirty work.  The back of the truck was rigged so that, if the doors were opened, all that could be seen were bicycles, a refrigerator, chairs, a mattress, some toys, and boxes. 

The young couple was stopped three times on the way.  Dogs sniffed where the compound dogs had peed on the truck's tires.  The back of the truck was opened, but it was never searched.  The mother lode of explosives, sealed in watertight containers in steel boxes, did not give off enough scent for the dogs to detect.  The couple dropped it off, unaware of their part in the plot, at a truck stop where Rob and Slim took it off their hands.  The couple was happy, having gotten a free ride out West and made a couple hundred for doing it.  They were the perfect chauffeurs.  They knew nothing of the cargo and presented an innocence that fooled the HS. 

By 5:30 pm, in rush hour traffic, they were already turning off I 880 toward Alameda.  They pulled into a gas station on High Street to kill some time.  Didn't want to be late and didn't want to be too early.  The fewer people that saw them at the docks, the better.  With money they got from the plan, Mohammed had rented a boat from one of the Pakistani fleet owners.  He explained that his rich uncle had sent him some money and he wanted to take his own boat out for a week.  He and the others had already been out three nights, and had made fairly good catches, enough to pay for renting the boat and to put a little in each of their pockets.  They used these three trips to time and plan the execution of the plan.  The rest of the members of the fleet, always concerned about getting out to the fishing grounds and catching enough each night, did not pay much attention to the new entrepreneurs.  They had been at the docks since 4:00 pm getting their little boat ready to sail and renting a speedboat that two of them would take to the San Mateo Bridge. 

Rob and Slim arrived at the docks precisely at 6:00 pm and backed the U-Haul as close to the boat as they could.  Rob looked nervously around, but there were no fisherman in sight.  Slim opened the back doors of the truck, quickly removed the facade, and the brigade of Mohammed's men begin passing the packages, one by one, into the boat.  It took less than ten minutes.  The speedboat was pulled up and loaded with explosives.  A tarp was placed over them.  Kumar and another trusted man then took off with the speedboat.  Their orders were to pretend to be tourists, not to get too close to any other ship or boat, and wait until after midnight to place their charges.  The U-Haul was long gone when the other fishermen started arriving about 8:00 pm

The San Francisco fishing fleet traveled out every night to the good fishing waters just off the coast in the early morning hours.  They arrived back in time every morning to supply the fish markets and restaurants of Oakland and San Francisco with a fresh catch.  Since its beginning, the fleet had been mostly Italian.  It was a family tradition, passed down from father to son.  Fishermen made a good living.  Their sons went on to good schools and got good jobs in the Bay Area, paying much more than their father's boats had.  It became harder and harder for the old Italian families to find labor among their own young.  First, they began hiring Mexican immigrants who worked hard for little pay.  By the late 1970s, a wave of experienced Vietnamese fisherman moved in and bought boats.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, Eastern European immigrants moved in.  The Pakistanis were just the last wave.  No one really noticed. 

Not wanting to attract attention or even a minor road accident, Rob found a small drive off I-880 toward the Bay at Russell City and took it.  The road led them down to a little estuary where people fished.  Nobody was fishing that night.  Rob and Slim dozed and relaxed until about 2:00 am.  Rob would rather have been cruisin for whores in the Fillmore district. What he was about to do weighed heavy on his mind.  He didn't say anything to Slim about it.  It was too late to do anything about it anyway.  The wheels were already in motion.

In the race to the fishing grounds, the rented boat fell behind.  At the Bay Bridge, Mohammad and his crew let out a long rope with charges tied at ten-foot intervals.  When they had encircled the huge pier, they tied the ends together and sunk the charges, one by one.  Under water and tight against the aging concrete, the charges were designed to splinter the concrete and weaken it enough for the weight of the bridge to bring it down.  They repeated their evil at the Golden Gate before heading out to fish.  It was rougher from continual swells, but a fog helped hide them from the Coast Guard and other boats.

Without a word to Slim who was still dozing, Rob turned the truck around and headed back to I-880.  Traffic was very light in the early morning hours, so they were at the turnaround for the Dumbarton Bridge in about twenty minutes.  Pulling up under the piers, Rob looked left or right to see if anyone was about.  Aside for some campers and pickups parked off in the distance, no one was in sight.  Keeping to the heavily traveled tracks in the sand, he pulled up to a pier and stopped.

"Slim, wake up.” Rob shook him gently and whispered as though someone could hear.  "Were here.”

Slim shook himself awake and looked around.  "Is this ok? I parked as close to this pier as I could.”

Slim took a look around, and shook his head, "Yes". 

They slipped out of the truck quietly and began their deadly work.  Digging with shovels in the soft sand next to the pier, they struck water that quickly filled in the holes they made.  The charges were waterproof, so all they had do was submerge them in the water and cover them up with sand.  They placed six charges at the first pier, smoothed the sand with a rake to obliterate their footprints, and then drove over to the second pier opposite the first and placed another six charges.  When they finished, slim said dryly, "That should bring her down.” His broad smile showed in the cigarette he was lighting.  Rob made sure that there were no matches, matchbooks, or cigarette wrappings around to link them to the act.  After carefully raking their tracks and making sure that there were no more charges in the truck, they got back in the U-Haul and drove off.  By 4:00 am. They were in bed at their motel.  Slim dropped right off to sleep.  Rob tried but he couldn't.  He kept thinking about what was going to happen. 

Mohammad and the other Pakistanis had only about half of their normal catch when they arrived back in Alameda at 5 am.  They didn’t mention it to the others.  Mohammad was selling it to the restaurants in San Francisco at 6 am and back in San Jose by 7.

Precisely at 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, the bridges blew.  The Bay Bridge crumbled far worse than it did during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.  In the heavy rush-hour traffic, about twenty cars were seen driving off the edge to certain death below.  Worse, a whole section of the bridge, about a half-mile long, collapsed and fell to the Bay from one end.  It was too steep for the eighty-four cars on it to hold their ground.  Even though they'd stopped after the main pier collapsed, they slid helplessly down the slope and into the Bay, the black marks of their tires tracing the drivers' frantic efforts to keep from sliding.  A KPIX-CBS traffic helicopter that happened to be reporting rush-hour traffic overhead captured the horror live.  Television viewers were subjected to countless reruns in slow motion of the helpless victims skidding to their death in the cold Bay waters.

The San Mateo Bridge lost an entire span at the channel.  Over fifteen cars were seen hurtling into the Bay before traffic came to a stop. Many of the occupants in the stopped cars jumped out and tried to save those who had fallen into the Bay.  Unfortunately, only three people were plucked from the waters that morning. 

The Dumbarton Bridge folded in the middle of the channel, and, like the others, several cars were seen speeding off the broken pavement into the Bay.  In spite of frantic efforts by fisherman and other boaters underneath, no one was saved. 

The Golden Gate Bridge shuddered and shook under the blast, but its piers, one heavily damaged, held the bridge structure up, saving many lives and allowing the drivers on it to drive off.  It was shut down immediately.  Authorities had no idea how long before it could be used again.

Rob and Slim were cutting DVDs of the news coverage in their motel room.  Slim was disgusted that the Golden Gate hadn't come down and stomped around the room puffing on a cigarette, cursing, "Damn.  Dammit to Hell!" He knew he was gonna catch it from White when they got back.  Rob smiled, making sure that Slim didn't see him.  He liked the idea that the Golden Gate, icon of the Bay area, had survived.  Cutting the East Bay from the West was destruction enough. 

All across the country electric power transmission lines were down.  Gas pipelines had been blown up.  Bridges were down.  Dams were breached, the resulting floods submerging whole towns.  White was getting the attention he wanted.  Homeland Security was scrambling to keep up with anarchistic acts that seemed to multiply in the chaos that followed. 

Rob and Slim discreetly checked out of their motel at 11:00 am and headed south.  The U-Haul remained in its berth at the U-Store.  The rent was paid for six months.  It would be ready for another job if needed.  The Pakistanis continued to fish as though nothing had happened.  The increased traffic made it difficult for them to get to the docks.  The fleet had to go around Treasure Island to the east to avoid the tumult around the area where the Bay Bridge had fallen in.  Homeland Security searched all the vessels, but, finding no evidence and occupants with shiny new green cards, moved on to let them fish.

Bits of the waterproof bags the explosives were encased in were found from the Golden Gate to the sands under the Dumbarton Bridge.  They were traced to a factory in St. Louis.  The material was sold from rolls in home-improvement stores throughout the country.  There were no markings on the plastic to indicate which store sold it. The zippers, explosive materials and clock mechanisms also led nowhere.  Burned pieces of new rope were the best evidence HS had.  It was half-inch hemp rope used for farming.  It was traced to a factory in Omaha and was sold in farm supply, hardware, and home-improvement stores.  Slim had made sure they didn’t use fishing rope and had ordered them to remove all traces of it from the boat.

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