The international manhunt was on to recapture Bashir al Salaam but with his resources, he could have been anywhere on the planet. Tariq Albani maintained his full innocence despite a lengthy series of intense interrogations. Meanwhile the ACLU pointed to a lack of direct evidence and petitioned for his unconditional release. Durant, Kohl, Banks, the Captain’s secretary, and the entire compound security team were given polygraphs.
Special Agent Gleason found out about Lieutenant Kohl’s ‘lead poisoning’ threat and focused on that for a while. He couldn’t justify how threatening to shoot him in his cell could somehow translate to assisting in his escape; but It was all he had to go on at the moment.
More than a week passed. There were numerous sightings of the fugitive within the international intelligence community but none could be independently verified. It was feared that he would quickly go underground and hide. Either that or accelerate his global terror plans while he was free to do so. Agencies across the globe braced for surprise attacks. Metropolitan cities across the world were uneasy. No one knew where ‘the pious one’ would strike next, or how he would make them suffer for his imprisonment.
A tribal band of resistance fighters in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan found one of al Salaam’s training camps. It had been completely gutted. All of his soldiers were dead. All munitions and weapons had been destroyed. By the condition of the bodies, they had been dead several days. The tribal fighters reported the puzzling development to their respective governments, which in turn informed the allies.
General Koenig of the allied command toured the destroyed camp and searched the festering bodies for al Salaam. He wasn’t among the deceased but they did find evidence that he had been among them. A far greater mystery loomed in the mind of the allied commander. One that he had to answer.
What organization was responsible for secretly destroying his training camp? Did ‘they’ also have the most wanted fugitive in the world in their custody? Perhaps it was a rival terrorist group holding him ransom. By now, they would have already come forward to claim the money if that was the case.
While the General and his team sifted through the ruins for clues to that mystery, another training camp was discovered in Yemen. Just like the one in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, it too had been fully destroyed. The bodies of the dead were ‘fresher’ this time. The allied authorities dated the timeline of the massacre as less than a day earlier.
General Koenig toured that site and was struck by the similarity of the victim’s injuries. In both camps, the dead appeared to be caught off guard. One of the deceased had written in his journal that “Allah was smiling upon them since the ‘pious one’ was among them”. Once again, the terrorist mastermind’s body was not among the dead. While two gutted training camps was always fantastic news, the allies were still determined to find out who their mystery benefactor was.
Special agent Gleason reviewed the polygraph results for all the personnel at the holding compound. Unlike in the movies, the information gleaned from polygraph testing isn’t cut and dried. Instead of deception, a high level of agitation from a test subject could just be nervousness. He had to determine what was a sign of nerves, versus guilty actions.
Both Lieutenants came across as mostly truthful, as well as the Captain’s secretary. The two interrogators tested in the moderate range but Gleason attributed that to worry about their gray-area actions in the interrogation room. The members of the security detail only had a few questionable areas in their test results. He surmised that was subconscious guilt over allowing the prisoner to escape in the first place.
The Captain and Albani however were a different story. Both men appeared to be hiding something significant. Was it because of collusion with each other? Was it just fear about the loss of their freedom? Sean wasn’t sure but he put a lot of weight into the murky results. Regardless, it wasn’t definitive enough yet to arrest Durant or to file charges against Albani. He had to continue fishing for answers until something more concrete floated to the top.
When a third al Salaam compound was discovered equally destroyed, the news media erupted with vivid headlines. Commentators theorized controversial ideas. World leaders celebrated the weakening terrorist infrastructure, regardless of what unknown organization was behind the assaults. When it all came down to it, most people just wanted to feel secure. They didn’t really care who was responsible. They just wanted to thrive in a world free from car bombs and suicide vests detonated in public markets. For every al Salaam camp that was destroyed, their world felt a little safer.