Agent Gleason took time out of his investigation to study the recent al Salaam camp discoveries. At first he was just as puzzled as General Koenig and the allied command officials. On the surface, those camps being secretly destroyed made no sense. Al Salaam was loose upon the world. If anything, global authorities expected an increase in waves of attacks since he was back in command. Instead, an unknown vigilante group was apparently destroying his camps, anonymously. The two facts seemed to be at odds with each other but Gleason had a wild hunch. Before he revealed his trump card, he did more background checks on Tariq Albani.
“Mr. Albani, I see that before changing your field of study to American law and jurisprudence, you were a very gifted student in psychology. I looks like you had a promising future in both chemical engineering AND psychology research at Harvard. Why did you change your field of study?”
“I… I went as far as I wanted in those fields and decided to pursue Law studies in honor of my mother.” The subject nervously shifted in his chair.
“Right. Your Mother. What that hateful man did to your mother and thousands of other innocent people in the name of his murderous ideology has been truly horrifying. Why would you join a group that seeks to protect…”
Albani quickly cut him off. “We both know I wasn’t in the ACLU to protect that horrible monster. I hid my unfortunate connection to him to gain personal access through their prisoner-outreach policies. I just wanted five minutes alone with him.”
Agent Gleason was deeply gratified that he and Tariq could cut through all the legal pretense and grandstanding. Perhaps they could finally get down to brass tacks and uncover what really happened for those five dark minutes. He had some strong theories but needed Albani to fill in the blanks. As long as the subject was speaking freely, there was no wisdom in interrupting. Whenever there was a lull in the discourse, Gleason would offer a comment to spur the subject along.
“But you had him. You had him dead-to-rights. The two of you were alone in his cell. It was just you and the fanatic who orchestrated the bombing which killed your mother. Against all odds, you finally had your chance! You could have strangled or stabbed… or beat him. You could have killed him two-dozen different ways. Why’d you leave him alone? Please, help me understand. Was it a case of 11th-hour forgiveness? Was it pangs of moral conscience that struck you? Why did you leave al Salaam unscathed during those five uncensored minutes? Clearly you were motivated to pursue this long-term charade to get him. What stopped you from pulling the proverbial trigger?”
Mr. Albani grinned. He realized Gleason was leading him to confess but he didn’t care. “Who says I left him alone? I’ve dreamt of that moment for more than fifteen years. Facing him was glorious. Killing him in his cage would have been anticlimactic. It would have been a waste of all my efforts to let him off easy. I am far from a moral or forgiving man, Mr. Gleason. The thing is, if I am to spend the rest of my life in prison for a revenge plot, my actions will be for a greater cause.”
“Are you saying that you were responsible for helping him escape? To what end? Did he give up vital details of his organization? Have you organized an international secret militia to hunt down his training camps and headquarters?” Gleason fired off a round of questions, rapid fire.
“Killing him in that filthy cage would only extinguish his pitiful life. It would have also make a bigger martyr out of him to his followers. Another head of the hydra would immediately rise to take his place in that poison organization. Only he knows where his weapons caches and generals are. Only he knows the bank account numbers that fund all of his terror campaigns. There wasn’t nearly enough time to uncover that pertinent information out of him. Only he could gain access to his splinter groups.”
Sean Gleason’s lower jaw dropped involuntarily as the incredible facts unfolded. He didn’t want to interrupt but he was dying to ask questions. “Are you saying that you turned al Salaam into a ‘Trojan horse’ to destroy his very own organization? He’s the one doing those things to his camps and splinter cells? What kind of spooky ‘voodoo-mind-control’ did you do to him in those five minutes?”