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The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:53 am
No zombies, but a WROL thriller where the author knows the difference between a mag and a clip...
The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
December, two years from now
Bilal sat on the concrete steps of the bombed-out unit block facing Punchbowl Road. Midnight was long past. With the coming dawn a light rain was beginning to fall, shimmering in the dancing light from the burning cars and washing the smell of dust, smoke and blood from the air.
Head resting in his hands, Bilal sobbed uncontrollably as his brain tried to process the events of the past few hours, weeks and months. Sydney's Caliphate was over, gone, blown apart from without and betrayed from within. The burning desire of their cause, the sure knowledge that they were right and destined for success was gone, replaced instead by a cold, hard doubt that spread from his guts up towards his heart. A deep sorrow fell over him, draining his strength and feeding a great sense of shame and defeat. Despite hundreds of true believers fighting hard, it appeared that God had abandoned His latest possession, and half of Western Sydney lay in ruins as a result.
The lively hopes & dreams of his friends lay strewn in the rubble beside their corpses, the holy dream they had trained and fought so hard for. Their promised land, a ‘Caliphate between two rivers,’ wrenched out of their grasp by infidels without and treachery within their own ranks. How could they come back from this defeat? Without a sure sign of success, the necessary funds, fighters and equipment to rebuild the pure Islamic state would not flow in from overseas, support which had flowed so thickly in the past 12 months would dry up, as their King and Princes' interest moved on from what now appeared to be a lost cause. His hope of reigning as a Prince was as dead as the bodies in the road in front of him.
Aching muscles protesting, he turned his head to the right and looked east along Punchbowl Road towards the Lakemba Mosque – or what was left of it. Even from this distance, the damage was obvious. The normally floodlit spire was missing from the skyline. A thick pillar of smoke rising into the rain clouds, silhouetted by the leaping flames around told him everything he needed to know and washed him with cold waves of despair. ‘Inshallah, no help from that direction’, he thought, and realized that he was on his own.
He knew it would be a few seconds before he was able to stand, so he used the time to take stock: his normally white dishdasha was filthy, bloody and shredded in places but the pants, long shirt and his precious leather boots seemed intact. He couldn’t see his rifle or his pack, but thinking about them brought back the events of the past hour in a series of disorienting, violent flashes behind his eyes. Suddenly he remembered the barricades, falling bombs screaming out of the sky, the wave of infidels attacking their section, a white searing flash that blinded him, hands grabbing at his arms and shoulders, dragging him away as he fell into darkness – but nothing after that.
The fact that he was still alive told him he hadn’t been captured by the infidels – surely they would have killed him on the spot, so he must have been knocked out and dragged to safety by some of the Shaheed – the lions prepared to be martyrs - beside him. They must have done what they could, then taken his rifle and pack and gone.
Fled, or died fighting?
He didn’t know and felt sick when he realized that he may never know. These young men and women were his family in the most basic, fundamental meaning of the word – his family of God, and now he was alone. His feelings twisted and burned like the flames and smoke drifting through the air.
Grasping the stair’s handrail with a burned and blistering right hand, Bilal levered himself upright, holding tight while the spinning in his head slowed. He moved off the steps and turned left, down Punchbowl Road then left again into Colin Street and headed towards Lakemba Train Station. Surely there would be someone there who knew what was going on.
Hunched against the rain, his thoughts ran again through the past night’s events, trying desperately to piece together what might have happened.
‘Fuck this!’ he thought. ‘You dumb shit, how did you end up like this?’
It was a big story, he knew. An epic. But his own part in it started just after he left school two years ago.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:23 pm
November of this year
It was perfect weather for early summer in Western Sydney as Bilal’s school education came to an end in a haze of parties, burnouts in their parent's cars and lazy afternoons at the Westfield’s Food Court. Like most of his classmates, Bilal’s parents had come to Australia in the 1980s as young refugees from Lebanon’s civil war. His father had trained as a real estate valuer, and soon found work, connections and opportunity in the booming economy of Sydney during the 1990s.
Bilal was born into this bustling wave of rising wealth, living comfortably with his mother in a two-bedroom unit in Lakemba. The unit and family it contained was similar if not identical to thousands of others in the same area – a moderately successful businessman or taxi driver with (now) several wives and their children scattered about the area. Bilal knew his extended family pretty well, although like most second-generation Australians, his own culture was complicated. A mix of Old Country, American media and the local teen culture that evolved its own expression of identity that changed on a weekly basis. Much of their daily conversation, words and expressions were drawn from the dialogue in Grand Theft Auto.
Although some of his friends took their education seriously and studied hard for their exams, Bilal and most of his class weren’t bothered with the Western education system, particularly its obsession with university qualification and corporate life. Bilal knew from experience that the real world was different – connections, power and money were what mattered, and a man's social standing was far more important than owning a house, nice car and an investment portfolio.
What really mattered were connections, being able to do favors for people, help them out, to be the man they came to when they needed a match for their daughter, smoothing over an obnoxious council building or heath inspector, or organizing the ‘right’ valuation on a real estate deal.
For almost a year, the deputy Mayor of Auburn council had been a role model for exactly this kind of connected, wealthy, fast living community icon. Even when he got into trouble with the law, thousands of Auburn residents had turned out in support of him. They recognized the pattern and knew that if they supported him and he managed to avoid losing his power, they would then be able to call in the favor when they needed it. If he fell from grace, no harm done – they would simply shift their support to the next likely power broker who arose. It was how the world worked, and had worked for ten thousand years. Modern laws and technology didn't change human nature, and humans inevitably either took power or gravitated towards those who appeared to have it.
To most Australians, the case was simple: the Deputy Mayor had broken the law, and must be punished. But to a culture that pre-dated the written word, one that had survived in one of the harshest environments in the world, the clan or patriarchal system simply worked. It may not be perfect, but it had held society together from Morocco to the Indus River since before humans started living in villages.
Although he had never specifically put any thought into the differences between the two world views, he had absorbed enough from his own family life to know that if you could do favors for people, if you were ‘the man’ that people turned to if they needed something, that was a man who was successful.
Bilal’s father provided funds to all his wives for raising the children, and the Centrelink single parent, education and disability benefits that they all claimed gave them an excellent standard of living, compared to anywhere else but a few select places in the world. Growing up in modern Australia, Bilal had no idea how confusing it had been for some of the new arrivals to learn how the country operated. In many of the places they came from, the government or head of the family provided everything you needed, and all one had to do was a little side operation if you wanted extra money. The patriarch of the area held all the authority and one went to him for permission to marry, start a business or buy property - usually building a cut for the patriarch into the deal.
To be a patriarch was a complex, often difficult job, distributing the income from family businesses to a tangled web of family members, rivalries and egos while at the same time keeping enough cash on hand to give to the poor as you passed them on the street or at prayers. The greatest honor was to receive the praise and thanks of those whom one helped, and this principle existed in every tribal community from London to Sydney.
Bilal had already asked his father to get the name of a doctor who could write a letter and get him a disability pension as well as the unemployment benefits. This small but steady cash stream would be enough to pay for Adidas clothes, jewelry and his phone credit.
Having no specific plans about the future, his role models usually lived at home until they got married for the first time, and then moved in with wife number one while working or growing a business. As success came and he could afford more wives, these would be housed in a rented flat of their own. His vague plans were simply drawn from those of his extended family, his community and hours spent playing Grand Theft Auto.
While Bilal saw the advantages in a life on unemployment only, he had also learned from his father and uncles that success in any form would still take work. Sitting with him at a white Formica table in the Bankstown Westfield’s Food Court were three of his closest friends – Mahmoud, Victor and Ibby. Victor was stuffing KFC into his mouth while talking non-stop about his recent troubles.
‘Mum wants me to get married, now school is over’. The other three laughed aloud, spraying tiny chunks of chicken and chips into the air.
‘Fucken A bro. Git some ass twice a day guaranteed!’ Ibby said grinning like a chump and bumping his fists together to mimic some kind of sex act. He slurped down a large gulp from his caffeinated energy drink and moved his hips back and forth on the seat.
Victor wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. ‘All mum wants is to dump the housework onto someone else. ’Sides, look around bro - which girl our age wants to get married, load up on mum's housework and never leave the house without hijab ever? Bitches be clubbing, not baby factories anymore.’
The others looked at each other and shrugged. They did know a fair few girls, either at school or a range of close and distant cousins, most of whom were doing their best to imitate the Kardashian women. Like most of their demographic, few were religious or interested in living their lives according to tradition. As far as they were concerned, Australia was ‘under new management’ and they could live however they wanted - money permitting.
And right now, marriage was the last thing on Bilal's mind.
‘Fuck that’ he said. ‘Imma get some money and status first. Gotta get a job, find some work.’
‘Work?’ Mahmoud smirked, and the line from GTA rolled off his tongue ‘Yo couldn't work a fart outta dat ass o yours’
‘Fuck you homie’ retorted Bilal. ‘When there's some shit to be won, Goddamit, I want it. I don't give a fuck what it is. You know what I'm talkin' about? Take no prisoners. I go hard doing that shit. Big dog. Big nuts. When names is on a motherfucking board, I wanna see MY name at the top of that motherfucker and next to it, it needs to say 'Winner'.’
They all laughed as he parroted the lines from GTA5 word perfectly, but Bilal's laugh rang a little hollow - he knew it wouldn't be easy to get ahead. ‘Fuck it’ he thought, drinking the last of his Monster drink, ‘call him tonight.’
That evening, Bilal sat on his bed, considering his options. Having treated school as a necessary interruption to his routine entertainment, he knew there was no point looking on a job website or attending interviews set up by Centrelink. No, he had to get his start by working contacts within his community. Since he lacked any contacts of his own, this presented a serious problem.
‘Fuck it’ he thought, thumbed away from the internet on his phone and called his father.
‘Marhabaan 'abi’ he said, trying to sound as casual and confident as possible. ‘Hi Dad.’
‘Marhabaan aibnih’ said his father Rafik. ‘Hello Son’ – then added in English, ‘Wassup?’
Bilal rolled his eyes at his father's attempt to sound cool. But he needed help, and a smartass reply would only make his father angry.
‘I, um, well... I'm looking for a job now’ stammered Bilal. ‘Could you...umm... do you know anyone...,’ his voice trailed off as he was embarrassed to ask.
There was a short pause, then his father's voice said ‘Maybe I do. Meet me before prayers on Friday.’
Bilal's heart sank, and he rolled his eyes, without making any sound that his father might hear. That meant going to the mosque instead of meeting his friends. F’kn boring. No, he realised, not just boring, it was just a part of his culture that he had never felt comfortable with. The kneeling, chanting, all the memorization, plus the Australian media kept on about Terrorists, Islamophobia and hate preaching. It just wasn't something he had been around. Growing up in Sydney had given many young people his age the option of not being religious, and as far as he was concerned he was as un-religious as it was possible to be.
Bilal’s normal Friday afternoon routine involved going to the gym with his friends, doing a heavy upper body workout to pump up his muscles as much as possible, then a quick spray of deodorant and heading out to meet up with other partygoers and see what shenanigans they could get up to. Chasing girls, spraying graffiti, tuning and racing cars, living life to the fullest. It seemed to Bilal this was about to change.
In every culture, the children of strict parents often choose a different path to what their parents would prefer. That didn't stop many parents from taking advantage of any situation to push their influence onto their offspring, and Bilal's father knew that he wouldn't be able to say no.
‘Okay, I’ll wait for you outside’ he said respectfully. ‘Shukraan 'abi.’
Ending the call, his news feed briefly flashed up a headline from one of the news media sites. Bilal had no interest in the news, and something about “Coalition Collapses – new elections in December” didn’t register as important. He thumbed away, looking for something about fast cars or bodybuilding.
It was still broad daylight when Bilal walked from the bus stop to the Mosque. In the broad open area in front of the doors, a crowd was already forming. Not really a crowd, thought Bilal, but several groups of men talking with each other. It was obvious that there were cliques and existing friendships, and people were catching up on news and sharing gossip about neighbors. Bilal didn’t know any of these people, and felt uncomfortable, an outsider unable to break the ice and join any of the conversations.
Instead, he swiped on his phone and scrolled through his news feed. Nothing of interest from his friends, and the news headlines were only going on about the vote count and how the racist party seemed to be well in front.
ISLAM INQUIRY SET TO GO AHEAD
MORE ELECTION CANDIDATES DENY RACISM
CALLS FOR TOLERANCE AMID GLOBAL TERROR ATTACKS
Since there was a lot of news about Islam, he was starting to pay more attention to it, even though he didn’t see what effect any type of government would have on his life – he was just insignificant in the overall picture.
On the other side of the square were the women’s groups, dressed in a wide variety of coverings. Some of them wore the classic black chador – which left the face open, and a couple even wore a niqab or burqa to cover their faces. Mostly however, they wore a coloured hijab, which was more like a scarf that covered the hair and shoulders.
Bilal must have looked for too long as he felt a sharp slap on the back of his head and heard his father’s voice say ‘Haram!’ Whirling around, he saw his father’s disapproving look, and the grins on the faces of some of the other worshippers who had noticed. Then Rafik grinned as well, winked and said, ‘pull your tongue back in and come with me.’ Bilal blushed and shook his head but greeted his father politely.
Leaving their shoes at the door, they entered the Mosque and Bilal gasped. It had been a long time since had been inside and he had forgotten the majestic sense of space and light that it conveyed. Dominating the ceiling was a giant blue dome covered in mosaic tiles in a pattern of yellows, orange and light blue. The setting sun was shining through the arched windows around the middle, creating a unique sense of light and space which Bilal thought must be what heaven looked like.
In front of their feet, the purple carpet was marked off with light brown stripes as a reference point for worshippers to pray in lines without crowding each other. Rafik looked around, and led him over to a group of men clustered around listening to a taller man speak. Dressed in a perfectly white dishdasha, a long sleeve shirt that fell all the way to his ankles, the man was speaking quietly but with great emotion, his face and hands moving but Bilal couldn’t hear what was being said.
Approaching the group, Bilal’s father was greeted by one of the men who had been listening, seemingly eager to get away from the emotional exhortation. They embraced in the traditional way, kissing each other’s cheek, then spoke quietly for a few seconds. The man looked sharply at Bilal, who straightened up and tried to look respectable. The two men came over and Bilal’s father said ‘Mr. Mohammed, my son Bilal. Bilal, this is Mr. Mohammed. You will work for him, understood?’
Bilal had no idea what was being planned but he just nodded and kept a respectful silence.
Mr. Mohammed looked past Bilal’s shoulder and beckoned to another man who had just entered. The man was younger than Mr. Mohammed but older than Bilal by a few years, with closely cut hair and a large bushy beard. As he came closer, Bilal saw that the man’s upper lip was shaved, so the beard only covered his cheeks and chin.
‘Sargon, this is Bilal’ said Mr. Mohammed. ‘He will be riding with you to help the deliveries. Start tomorrow.’
Sargon looked at Bilal and nodded ‘Ya ok,’ he said. His eyes narrowed, ‘whassa phone numbah?’
Bilal and his new boss exchanged phone numbers, just as the PA system gave a click and the Muzzein began the call to prayer:
‘Allahu akbar’ – God is the greatest
‘Ash-hadu an-la ilaha allah’ – I acknowledge that there is no god but Allah
‘Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-Rasul ullah’ – I acknowledge that Muhammed is the messenger of God
‘Hayya’alassalah’ - ‘Hasten to prayer’
‘Hayya’alal-falah’ – Hasten to success’
‘Allahu akbar’ – God is the greatest
‘La ilaha illa-Allah’ – There is no god but Allah’
The formal call completed, it would only be a few minutes before the Muezzin made the iqama, the second call for worshippers to line up - the beginning of the ceremony.
Bilal didn’t know what to say, so he just stood there, feeling awkward, until his father turned to Sargon and said ‘hey, keep him out of trouble, okay?’
Sargon just shrugged but Mr. Mohammed said, ‘Don’t worry – there’s a different kind of trouble, and we’re all in it.’
Bilal’s father raised his eyebrows and tilted his head at the group they had recently left. The unspoken implication was understood by the other three.
Mr. Mohammed nodded. ‘Troublemakers. Wealthy troublemakers from overseas’.
Bilal waited for the older man to continue but the conversation was cut short by the Muezzin starting the service.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:23 am
December of this year.
Bilal was already awake when his phone buzzed and the SMS glowed green. It was Sargon.
‘5 MIN’ was all it said, but the meaning was clear. Pulling on his Adidas track pants and hoodie, Bilal moved through the silent apartment, eased open the door and went downstairs. Even though dawn was an hour away, the city traffic was already moving, a constant restless hustle in the background. Trucks and cars roared on the main roads nearby, but in their little side street the air was calm.
Bilal had no idea what to expect, so he just stood outside the block of flats, thumbing through the updates on his phone. He had no interest in politics, but the news headlines screamed a combination of ‘Racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ as the different parties campaigned towards the mid-December election date. He was about to read more when a medium sized delivery truck pulled up in front of him and Sargon opened the passenger door. The truck body was square, about the size you would use to move furniture, but painted on the side were the words ‘DIMO: Halal Food Supplies’
Climbing into the cabin, Bilal shifted a clipboard stuffed with papers off his seat, and clipped into the seatbelt. His stomach growled as he saw Sargon gulping down a Mother energy drink and he mentally smacked himself for not preparing the night before.
Sargon put the truck in gear and move off, pausing at the end of the street to turn into Punchbowl Road, and heading towards the city. He gestured to the sheaf of papers in the clipboard and said ‘Find the first address.’
Grateful to have something to do apart from trying to make small talk with the older man, Bilal leafed through the pile of delivery orders, noting the addresses and suburbs, he shifted them around until they formed a decent route across the suburbs, without doubling back too much. ‘First stop is in Belfield – cross the train lines, then turn right’. He squinted as the rising sun dazzled into the windscreen, trying to make out the details of the other address.
WHITE BAY CRUISE TERMINAL
‘Fuck’s White Bay?’ he asked Sargon.
Sargon glanced at him ‘Shut up, watch, learn. Do what I tell you’
Bilal felt the anger rising inside him – nobody had ever spoken to him like that and he was about to tell Sargon exactly what to do but was forced to shut his mouth when Sargon slammed on the brakes outside a small restaurant and they both went to work unloading the various boxes, checking off the list and running them inside. By the time he was back in the truck Bilal was a little out of breath so rather than talk be got on his phone, scrolling through his news feed. He didn’t know what BREXIT and GREXIT meant so he just scrolled past, looking at the latest memes and videos his friends were posting.
The delivery truck worked its way across Sydney’s suburbs, as the sun works its way across the sky and by early afternoon they were in Rozelle, down by the docks in the inner west. Bilal had never been this far from home before, and was amazed at the blocks of large houses, spacious lawns and decrepit industrial estates. He wondered about the people who lived in these houses, driving nice cars, having the respect of their neighbors. He felt jealousy stir inside him.
The delivery truck moved past a long chain link fence that separated the road from the grey, oily water and pulled up at a small white booth in the middle of the road, where a boom gate blocked their forward progress. Sargon grabbed the clipboard as a security guard came out of the booth and eyed off the signs plastered to the side of the truck. Looking at the paperwork, the guard looked up at Sargon and smirked slightly, ‘Can't go in yet, Customs still checking off the passengers’.
‘Fucken fine, first prize for being early’ grunted Sargon under his breath then said aloud ‘can we park here until you ready?’
The guard just shrugged and went back into the booth and Sargon pulled the truck over to the grassy verge and shut off the engine.
The sudden silence, broken only by the metallic ticking of the cooling engine made Bilal uncomfortable. He risked Sargon's anger by asking a question, hoping it would be interpreted as Bilal trying to learn as much as possible about the job, rather than being a smartass.
‘Fuck we have to wait for?’
Sargon didn't even turn his head. ‘Dere a cruise ship up dere, beyond that cargo ship. Passengers get checked off by customs, make sure dere no illegals snuck on board. Once they finish, dey go to lunch wid the crew. Dose hot hostesses.....’ Sargon sighed and continued, ‘once customs gone, we drop off the Baclawa and date Kaak for de next cruise. Den we go home’
‘Huh’ grunted Bilal. That kinda made sense.
‘Watch. Listen. Learn’ said Sargon, emphasising his earlier lesson. ‘No madder what you see or hear, doan say nuthin to nobody. Evah. Unnerstand?’
Bilal looked at the floor and nodded.
‘You see or hear anyting, you ask me, only me, unnerstand?’
‘Okay, Okay’ stammered Bilal, causing the older man to glare at him. Bilal saw him evaluating whether or not Bilal was serious or mocking him, and was relieved when Sargon appeared satisfied that he was serious.
Fifteen minutes ticked by, and Bilal surfed the internet on his phone while Sargon sat almost motionless beside him. Bilal couldn’t tell if Sargon was awake or asleep, and thought it best to keep his mouth shut. This was an almost impossible task, since he was used to running his mouth with whatever came into his head. But he really wanted this job – no, not really - he corrected himself. What he really wanted was the respect that money and connections would bring – and this job was the first step along that path.
Idly pulling out his phone, Bilal flicked past the news headlines:
ELECTION CAMPAIGNS HIT FULL SPEED
MELBOURNE VIOLENCE DRIVES GREEN VOTERS TO HANSON
He was looking for something interesting but his mind kept going back to the Friday in the Mosque. He remembered the way the worshippers behaved around the Imam, the speakers and VIPs. He knew very little about the Koran or Islam in general, but he saw another form of power there – the respect of the people for their Mayor, Priest or Rabbi - the specifics of the religion and title did not matter, because the community’s respect came from the conduit that the person represented. Regardless of the God, the conduit represented power.
Bilal’s thoughts were interrupted by the truck engine starting. Sargon acknowledged the guard’s wave and nosed the truck down the driveway towards the docks. They turned a corner and the stern of the giant white cruise ship came into view. Clustered around it were a dozen trucks of different sizes, and forklifts swarmed like cockroaches, unloading and stacking pallets of food before shoveling them into a hatch on the side of the ship.
Finally, their deliveries were finished and the truck was heading into the early afternoon sun. Squinting in the glare as the truck turned right onto Georges River Road, Sargon turned to Bilal and asked ‘you going home, or gym?’
Bilal really wanted to go home but he made a split second decision, nodded and said ‘gym.’
He had no idea of the way this decision would change his life.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:15 pm
Please continue...or at make the book available on US kindles!
Tried to pick it up via the link in your sig line, but only available to AU and NZ Amazon customers.
Edit: here’s the link for US customers: https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Saudi-Au ... +australia
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:40 pm
January of next year
Bilal had barely noticed the election passing, most of his days alternating between deliveries, the gym and the mosque. He and his friends made a big deal of voting for the Help End Marijuana Prohibition party – against the instructions of their community to vote Liberal, but overall, they felt that politics didn't affect them. It was just one of those things that happened around their lives, without having much effect, regardless of who was in power.
Bilal only paid attention to the news headlines when they triggered something he was interested in:
ONE NATION CONFIRMS ISLAM INQUIRY IF ELECTED
AJP DEMANDS PIG FARMING BE PHASED OUT IN TEN YEARS
CRIME: NEW POLICE MINISTER PROMISES ‘ACTION’
At least twice a month, old Mr. Mohammed who owned the business would catch him at evening prayers, asking about how he was feeling, how the job was going. At first, Bilal was uncomfortable in the old man's presence, then after a few weeks he got used to it. But it didn't take long for the questions to feel a bit like harassment, and Bilal wasn't sure what the old man knew – if anything, or if he suspected there was more going on behind his back.
Several times, he felt tempted to ask the old man about Sargon, some of the strange things he had noticed that Sargon was obviously trying to hide from him. Several times, Sargon had come back from a delivery with a backpack on – a backpack that he hadn't had earlier in the day. Other times, they stopped at a Post Office or PO Box that wasn't on their scheduled list.
Bilal wondered if Sargon was running his own business as well, but then shrugged because although it may have been dishonest and maybe illegal, it was ultimately between Sargon and old Mr. Mohammed, and two prime things kept his mouth shut. The first was the knowledge that everybody had their own little thing going, and he was on the lookout for opportunities himself.
But the main reason for his silence was the expression on Sargon's face that first day in the truck.
‘No madder what you see or hear, doan say nuthin to nobody. Evah. Unnerstand?
‘You see or hear anyting, you ask me, only me, unnerstand?’
There had been something in his voice, something in his eyes that told Bilal that the punishment for breaking Sargon's order would be far longer and painful than anything he could imagine.
So, he told the truth – most of it, and kept Mr. Mohammed advised that the delivery work was fine, he was able to lift the boxes and he was looking forward to more work if the opportunity – he made sure to emphasise the word – arose. Mr. Mohammed appeared pleased with the way things were going, even if he was ignorant of Sargon's extra activities.
Besides, Sargon and the other four they worked out with were solid guys. Sure, they joked and teased each other, but that was just normal. Bilal remembered meeting them for the first time, on his first day at work with Sargon. He had acted cool, since he knew his way around a gym, but the first joke was definitely on him.
Sargon had introduced him to Ninos, Abdul, Ghulam and Amal, and he noticed that while they all wore different clothes and were obviously not related, they had all grown a large, bushy beard but shaved above their top lip. He had noticed it because it looked a bit like a uniform, a badge of common identity but he didn’t know what it meant. He didn’t have time to ask because they had gone straight to the bench press equipment and started working out. Sargon had said ‘Spot me’ as he loaded up the bar, swung his arms in circles for a few seconds and then lay down on his back to push.
Bilal counted off ten reps and then helped Sargon aim the bar back onto the rack. They swapped positions and Bilal gripped the bar and pushed with all his strength.
It didn’t move.
He was able to lift it enough for it to roll on the rack, but he couldn’t even get it off the frame and into the air above his chest.
The others roared with laughter, and gave high-fives all around. Ninos said ‘urgggg’ and strained his face in a parody of Bilal’s effort, which made the other three laugh even harder.
Bilal had sworn a lot, with words that he no longer used, since the Mullah had started educating him about how a true Muslim should act and speak. Still grinning, Sargon had told him to wait while he removed a few plates, then he started again.
This time, the bar was much lighter, and he could finish ten reps without feeling like he was about to throw up. Sargon nodded approvingly and said ‘Good – go heavier and we git you stronger, very quick.’
For the next hour the six men worked out, joked and got to know each other. Bilal learned that they were all born in Australia except for Ninos, who had come from Greece with his parents in the late 1990s. Ninos’ father had gotten in trouble with Jordanian Police, and fled to Europe with his wife, then came to Australia with Ninos as a baby.
Asked about his own life, Bilal shrugged in reply. ‘Fuck all’ he said. ‘Born here, Lakemba High, then I got this job with Sargon for Mr. Mohammed.’
Ghulam shook his head. ‘No no, I know you – Maryam is your sister, yes?’
Bilal nodded. ‘Yeah, so? She’s a year older than me’ he confirmed. ‘Where you know her from?’
‘My sister - in her law class at Uni.’ Ghulam said in between slurping from a shake bottle. Bilal nodded and went over to the free weights as the conversation drifted to cars, music and arguing over the correct movement technique for the exercises.
By the time the workout was over, Bilal could hardly move and was worried about being able to work the next day. As they climbed back into the truck to go home, Sargon opened his gym bag and took out a plastic lunch box that contained many different pills, in various bottles and blister packs. He eyed off a few of the options, glancing at Bilal then back to the pills as if doing mental arithmetic. Then he shook out five different capsules into his palm and handed them to Bilal.
‘Take dese, drink lotsa water’ he said.
Bilal looked at the handful of pills dubiously. ‘The fuck is this?’ he asked, as Sargon sorted out a similar dose for himself and downed it with water from a bottle.
Sargon smirked, ‘Testosterone Cypionate, Anadrol, Durabolin. Steroids.’ He looked at Bilal. ‘Dese will help you recover fastah, much fastah. You be able to lift more at work, too. Get strong, get huge.’
‘Fucken make my balls fall off, too, huh?’ asked Bilal. He had heard bad things about steroids.
‘Not any moah’ said Sargon. ‘Dese new pills from Europe, new formula. All good, all safe.’
‘Fuck it’ thought Bilal as he swallowed the pills and took a drink of water. Sargon seemed to have it all together – a decent job and a side business, incredibly strong with a good group of friends. It was exactly what Bilal had been looking for and he knew that he needed to keep up if he was to earn their respect.
It was now the last week in January, and Friday afternoon prayers were finishing up at the Mosque. Bilal waited around longer than usual, because Sargon had told him there was someone he should meet, but now he had disappeared. Although he was now a regular at prayers, he still didn’t know many people and felt left out of the various conversations going on around him. He wasn’t confident enough to just walk up to a group and introduce himself, so he stood awkwardly, looking around and desperately trying to appear uninterested.
Finally, he felt a touch at his elbow and turned to find Sargon standing there. Beside him was the tall man that Bilal had noticed when he first came to the Mosque with his father. The man that Mr. Mohammed had called a “wealthy troublemaker.” Bilal was stunned, not sure what Sargon was doing with this guy, but then he thought maybe Mister Mohammed was wrong about him.
Sargon said, ‘This is the Melbourne Mullah.’ Bilal thought it was a funny name, more like a title. No way on earth was the man called that when he was born. Bilal knew what a Mullah was, and the man could have come from Melbourne. But who was Bilal to judge? If the Mullah wanted to keep his real identity private, that was up to him.
The Mullah greeted Bilal formally. ‘Peace be upon you’ and Bilal responded, ‘and upon you.’ The Mullah’s English was perfect, although his accent showed that it wasn’t his first language.
‘So, this is the young man you have told me about’ said the Mullah, his face and eyes smiling at Bilal. ‘What is your name?’
Bilal introduced himself, but didn’t know what else to say, or if he should ask the Mullah anything. It was difficult to watch his language as well, since he knew the Mullah would be offended if he spoke in the way he normally talked to his friends. To his relief, the Mullah asked about his family, his job, what he wanted to do in the future. Bilal spoke about how happy he was with the work opportunities and Sargon’s friendship. Life was good, and he was looking forward to starting his own business so he could help others in the community.
‘And are you a good Muslim?’ asked the Mullah.
Bilal was caught. He didn’t know what to say, because he knew that the Mullah’s view of what made a good Muslim was different to most of the people he knew, certainly different to most of the Muslims in Sydney. ‘Ahhh, well…. I’m learning a lot’ he stammered. ‘And I’m trying to follow the example of the Prophet, peace be upon him’ he ended lamely. Sargon’s approving grunt told him that he had made a good save.
The Melbourne Mullah smiled as well and nodded approvingly. ‘Good answer, young man. I see very important things in your future, great things, and I would like to help you. Will you learn from me, and permit me to guide you?’
Bilal’s agreement was immediate. If Sargon knew this Mullah, and the Mullah had the overseas and social connections that Bilal thought, then this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For a moment that old but iconic Eminem song flashed into his mind:
‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’
Bilal shushed his brain, and listened to what the Mullah was saying. His voice was deep and soft, and Bilal had to concentrate to follow along.
‘We have been looking for strong men, men who are willing to become great by doing the will of Allah, the gracious, the merciful. To right the wrongs of these infidels. Will you answer the call of Allah, the merciful? To secure a safe place for our families, our wives and children.’
‘And our businesses’ said Bilal, hoping to indicate the direction that he wanted his life to go.
‘Of course,’ said the Mullah emotionally, passionately. ‘It is God’s will that you become the most successful that you possibly can, to become a great leader in the community, am I right?’ He moved his arm to indicate that they should move into a side room to continue the conversation in private.
Bilal was very hopeful that he had made a good impression. This discussion was exactly what he had been looking for, and the patronage of a wealthy and powerful Mullah would be essential to growing his reputation and his own business.
Busy with work and learning the ways of the world, Bilal had no time for politics. Unfortunately for him, he was living on the edge of a great upheaval, and the two worlds were about to clash.
The results of the Federal election stunned everyone – even the winners.
The media had run a vicious campaign in support of the three major parties against the minor parties – of which One Nation were increasing their vote all over the nation, but especially in Queensland. In the 2016 Federal Double Dissolution election, One Nation had smashed all expectations, winning five seats and dominating the coalition – until the government had collapsed a few years later.
So, the media had ramped up the opposition, pushing opinion pieces, articles and surveys all attacking the party and accusing members of ignorance, racism, creating division and fostering intolerance. However, in reality, the increase in support for the party was from Australians who were not racist, divisive or intolerant. They were simply sick of being ignored by the major powers and preached to by a hypocritical media who seemed intent on serving their corporate masters instead of reporting actual news.
The population were getting sick of fake news. And it showed in every pre-poll survey, in every capital city.
Desperate times drive extreme people to extreme ends, and the media and those who control it were no different. Sensing a seismic shift in Australian politics, they had tried desperately to stop the tide, but even now refused to see it had had the opposite effect. The more the media attacked the minor parties, the more popular they became. The more the established parties spoke, the more out of touch they appeared, and lost increasingly more votes as they became more desperate and shrill.
Instead of learning from their mistakes, the Australian media followed the same path as the American anti-Trump media, doubling down and increasing their rhetoric to nonsense levels.
It didn’t help that a weak approach by Government and police to immigration concerns and their inept handling of the rising crime waves belied their rhetoric about making the country safer. They also refused to allow citizens to patrol their own neighborhoods where crime was out of control, leading those people to warn others on social media and in the mass media. Once people stopped trusting the government to keep them safe, they also looked at the long list of broken promises and decided they did not like what it amounted to.
By the time the results were in, checked and all the preferences accounted for, the Australian parliament looked nothing like it had since Federation in 1901. The idea of a single party holding the majority or a coalition of two parties forming a majority had been blown out of the water. The major parties – Labor, Liberal and Greens had held onto one or two seats in Victoria and New South Wales, largely due to the massive support they had in the inner city, ‘trendy café voters.’ But they were annihilated in the rest of the states, in particular losing all their seats in their original stronghold of Tasmania.
Labor and Liberal, the two main parties which had governed Australia for over a hundred years, also lost most of their seats to a wide variety of minor parties and independents representing an equally broad spectrum of issues. It was as if most of the nation’s voters had reached a breaking point and snapped all at once, taking out their anger and frustration at the ballot box.
Not only did the ‘larger’ minor parties like One Nation, Christian Democrats and Katter’s Australia Party storm in with a dozen seats each, the election also saw tiny parties like Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party, Liberal Democrats and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party each take several seats between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Several of the parties had to scramble to find representatives to fill the number of seats they had won.
Capitalizing on their success in the earlier 2016 election, One Nation had campaigned cleverly against a bitter media campaign, and had stuck to their policies in the face of increasing accusations of xenophobia, racism, division and hatred, driven by the media. All the hysteria about racism and hatred became clearly revealed for the manipulative spin it was, as more people suffered from rising crime, reverse discrimination and ever-tightening government policies that took ever more away from the people who had voted for them. As reality intruded into their lives, they woke up to the lies they had been sold and once that happened, the propaganda had the opposite effect, further hardening their minds against the current regime.
The media were convinced by their own ideology and pay-cheques that they were fighting the good fight. Blind to the swing in public opinion they learned too late that they had overplayed their hand. If they had ignored One Nation, or at least been less virulent in their opposition, their claims may have appeared more reasonable to more of the population.
But now it was too late. The damage was done. Enough voters had rejected the hype and voted for conservative, minor parties. The balance of power had shifted.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:44 pm
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:29 pm
‘You keep saying ‘good Muslim’ – like ‘a good Muslim does this’ or ‘a good Muslim doesn’t do that’’ challenged one of the men in the discussion group the Melbourne Mullah was leading. The dozen others looked at him, respectfully waiting for him to finish. The man was short and plump, and had begun sweating under the stern glare of the Melbourne Mullah.
‘Perhaps there is a difference between what is a good Muslim in one country and a good Muslim in another?’ He paused, ‘All of us here are good Muslims, we pray, we preach, we look after our families and each other.’
‘No, The Holy Quran and The Prophet, peace be upon him, clearly say that is not enough’ replied the angry Mullah. ‘Whosoever turns from my sunna is none of mine.’ ‘Any Muslim who does not follow the example of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is apostate and must suffer the penalty!’
Another man spoke up softly ‘The prophet, peace be upon him, never broke his arm, so if I was to break my arm, or get diabetes, or measles, or anything that is not recorded, there is no example for me to follow.’
A third man asked a pointed question directly at the Mullah. ‘You flew here in an airplane, and you have a credit card, yes?’ The Mullah scowled, but did not deny it. The speaker continued, ‘The Holy Scriptures and The Prophet, peace be upon him, are from a time before these things existed, so you yourself are breaking your own requirements. Are you a hypocrite, then?’
‘You dare question my authority?’ demanded the Mullah. ‘I have completed the Haj!’
‘I have done the Haj three times’ replied the second man calmly, almost lazily. ‘Yet I do not insist that others be put to death just because they disagree with me.’ He shrugged, ‘you cannot deny that there are areas in life that cannot be completely explained and directed by the Holy Scriptures and the Suras. In these matters, there is proof that each man must live in accordance with his own conscience in the sight of Allah.’
‘Lies’ snarled the Mullah. ‘Anyone who turns his back on Islam is to be slain – 4:89. Repent, or I will kill you right now.’
‘Nobody will be killed – and surely not inside this Holy House’ boomed a loud, clear and authoritative voice from behind him. The Imam had approached quietly, and listened to the conversation flow until he heard something that had to be stopped. ‘If the only way to refute a statement is to kill the bearer, then the killer lacks understanding, and is as an unclean animal. The truth of Allah’s words will overcome all enemies. It is with words and reason that we declare the truth, not with the sword.’
Caught off-guard and outranked in the other man’s Mosque, the Mullah struggled to control his emotions. ‘But Sayidi, Imam Malik 36.18.5 requires that if someone changes his religion – then strike off his head.’
‘Nobody here has changed their religion’ responded the Imam. ‘Every man applies the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him), according to his understanding. Would you kill a child because they cannot recite or pray? Of course not, the requirements for a Muslim change over the course of their lives. So, in the same way, the requirements for a Muslim change with the country they live in.’
‘No, no’ returned the Mullah. ‘The will of Allah is absolute. The whole world is the realm of Allah, polluted by infidels, sin and drunkenness. Those who practice sin must convert or be eradicated until the peace of Islam rests on all the lands, including this one. This is the true meaning of Salaam.
‘The only reason that the infidels have not killed of enslaved you all is that you are bad Muslims. You follow their laws, even if contrary to the laws of Allah. You allow them to prostitute their women, almost naked in advertising and on television. You can tell that the women on TV are all prostitutes because they do not cover their heads. It is sinful, and it must stop, Allah commands it. A good Muslim would fight against such evils, no matter where they live.’
‘So, if you were to discover that your life contained an error, would you cut off your own head?’ mocked a younger man at the back of the crowd. ‘What about words that have changed their meaning over hundreds of years – your understanding might be different to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) intended. How would you know?’
Another man interjected, ‘I have a question, hear me out’ and paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. ‘We know that animals such as bats, horses, dogs and whales can hear sound that is too high or low pitched for human ears.’ Several men in the group nodded, and he went on. ‘Your broken arm was healed by doctors using an x-ray image, so we know there is a light spectrum that we can only see a small part of – there is ultra violet and infra-red, to name a few.’
‘So, there are many things that Allah the merciful, the all-knowing has made, which we cannot perceive with our senses. Who knows what other discoveries science will make in the future? And the seasons - they are reversed in the hemispheres; there are 4 seasons – all different yet all equally important to the farmer. The differences are important and created by Allah, blessed by him. Is it not so in our religion also?’
The Mullah had to watch his tongue and his temper, so he prepared to leave while he still had some dignity and credibility. ‘Perhaps there is more to discuss,’ he said. ‘I will see you next week.’
Bilal and Sargon walked in just as the discussion was wrapping up. Sargon caught the eye of the Mullah and they joined him as the crowd dispersed in twos and threes, most of them continuing the discussion about what it meant to be a ‘good’ Muslim. The two younger men had been meeting regularly with the Melbourne Mullah for religious instruction, receiving his opinion on scripture, world events, politics, humanity and sociology in a sequence of hour-long classes.
The three moved into a side room and the Mullah began. ‘Great news, my young lions. Truly Allah is merciful and just.’ Bilal and Sargon looked at each other, waiting for him to get to the point.
‘For too long, these lands have suffered under the cruel and sinful hand of the oppressive infidels. Worshipping false gods, electing corrupt men to govern them, who pass unjust laws and send armies to fight illegal wars in our homelands.
‘Their media constantly attacks us, calling us terrorists, while they parade whores and prostitutes around with uncovered heads, deliberately stoking the fires of our lust.’
Sargon shrugged; there wasn’t much they could do about it than look away. Or was there? Was there a way to live a pure life of peace and success, as the Melbourne Mullah had been teaching them?
‘I have received great news. News that will change the world. But first we all must swear to secrecy. The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not immediately attack Mecca when he received the call of God, did he? No – he gathered his army, his resources and secured a base from which to liberate the Holy Land’
‘Our lands here in Bankstown have been selected, honored above all others - apart from the Holy shrines. In this land, King Nayef will build his palace, his court and his emirates.
Bilal was stunned at what he was hearing. He opened his mouth but all that came out was ‘what??’
The Melbourne Mullah nodded, giving it time to sink in, then confirmed it.
The head of our religion, King of Saudi Arabia, Nayef, will be moving his court, his house, everything away from the dangers of war and pestilence in Riyadh.
‘He has called upon a few of his most trusted to start the work of building the pure state for him to take and possess.’
‘The most honor goes to those who volunteer first.’ He continued, cunningly appealing to all aspects of their desires, religion and self-interest. ‘Will you answer the call of Allah? Will you join the other lions in creating a safe home for all Muslims in this city?’
Bilal paused. He wasn’t sure if this was something he really wanted to get involved with. It seemed very political and he was more interested in using politicians to help make him powerful in his own community, rather than becoming one himself.
‘Honor awaits those who help’ encouraged the Mullah quietly, addressing his fears and appealing to his pride and self-interest. The greatest share of the spoils, the greatest honor and influence belongs to those who step forward first.’
Sargon looked at Bilal and nodded. ‘I’m in’ he said. ‘I will lay down my life for the prophet, peace be upon him, if necessary.’
Bilal desperately wanted to stay friends with Sargon so he nodded as well. ‘Inshallah, we will both become princes in this land.’
The Melbourne Mullah smiled and blessed them both. ‘Continue your studies, say nothing to anyone about this honor,’ he commanded. ‘We will soon begin preparing you for glory.’
Then he turned on his heel and left the room, as Bilal felt a surge of electric excitement shiver through his whole body.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:26 pm
The painters had left a nasty smell in the PM’s office, so she sprayed a few squirts of air freshener around because the windows didn’t open, and the air conditioning wasn’t coping.
Pauline Hanson had been the very visible face of One Nation for over a decade, acting as a lightning rod for every journalists’ scorn and vitriol. Since her term as Federal Senator was cut short due to the collapse of the government, she had taken the advice of expert advisers and made the difficult decision to become Deputy Prime Minister when re-elected.
To the nation’s surprise, she turned down the top job and asked one of One Nation’s younger female members to become Prime Minister.
Although Pauline had undertaken a lot of training in the ten years leading up to 2016, she recognized talent and a media darling when she saw it - and besides, as Deputy PM she would literally be the power behind the throne, without the intense media spotlight on her literally every waking hour. She had argued it all over with her advisers, going over all the issues several times, and at the end she agreed it was the best way to proceed for the party, the government and the nation.
Now, she sat facing the new PM who was in the large black executive chair behind the desk. She cocked an eyebrow and asked ‘comfortable?’
The PM laughed. ‘Deliciously - but don’t tell me you didn’t sit in it yesterday, just to try it out?’
Hanson grinned and feigned innocence. ‘How could you accuse me of such a thing?’ Then she became serious. ‘First Hundred days – where’s our policy plan at?’
The PM flipped open a manila folder on her desk and scanned the contents.
‘We’ve filled all the ministerial positions and are almost finished replacing the advisers and wonks who either didn’t want to stay or were deemed unsuitable to stay in their jobs. We all knew it would take time to clean out the dead wood, but we’ve finished the first step.’
She raised an eyebrow. ‘Save a fair bit on the salaries and entitlements in the next budget too – can’t hurt.’
‘All immigration & refugee processing has been put on hold until we can get the new regulations through Parliament. Approved visas will be honored but no new ones will be issued until the new system comes online.’
‘Norfolk Island have replied to our invitation – they are glad we’ve reversed the previous government’s annexation and are willing to discuss recognition, trade, a whole raft of things. We really need to spoil them, or they’ll be China’s next military base – right in our front yard.’
The Deputy PM nodded, the whole Norfolk Island debacle had been an incredibly stupid move, done by a blind and arrogant government that was now, thankfully, in the dustbin of history. Now, the hard work to repair the damage would have to begin.
The PM took a deep breath. ‘And the big one. The inquiry...’ her voice trailed off as she looked at her colleague. This was one of the issues that the media had blown out of all proportion and twisted out of shape.
Hanson sat up straight in her chair. ‘Despite the media, or maybe thanks to them, this is why we got elected. The people want action. They want results. They want a firm hand. And we are going to give it to them.’
‘However… nobody needs to lose their head…literally or figuratively.’ She thought for a moment, and then chose her words carefully.
‘At the moment there is a large amount of uncertainty, emotional rhetoric, deliberate misinformation and hidden agendas with relation to Islam in Australia.
‘We’ve all seen how quickly the comments on Facebook or a newspaper article degenerate into trivialities, blind emotion and personal attacks whenever this issue is raised. The media are no help, since their existence relies on controversy.’
The PM nodded. ‘Any attempt at rational, logical conversation just dissolves into different groups who refuse to follow the rules of debate – most of them are unable to agree that opposing viewpoints may have some validity. It only takes a few moments reading through the comments to make my head hurt. There is absolutely no way we can have an intelligent debate on an issue as thorny as this.’
‘We need a neutral forum where all interested parties can submit evidence, which can be assessed by a group of people who are trained and experienced in weighing that evidence. No member of the public can conduct a reasoned debate, free of emotion.’
‘We need to clear this up once and for all. Since followers of Islam come from pretty much every country and ethnic group in the world, Islam cannot be described as a ‘race of people’ – a person who opposes Islam is regularly attacked as being racist, and we need to stop that - permanently.’
‘We need experts to review submissions, independently, and make a decision that we will abide by.’
The PM nodded. Inviting anyone who wished to make a submission was a good way of avoiding accusations of bias or preference, and appointing a panel of judges would move the debate out of the depths of fear and bigotry – on both sides.
‘Any ideas on who we should invite to the table?’ She asked.
Hanson shrugged. ‘I think we need either three or five – that way we get a majority decision no matter what. I’ll talk to the others and draw up a list.’ She stood up and said ‘I’m going back to Brisbane. Call me if you need anything’.
The PM nodded. ‘Goodnight’ she said as the party founder left the room.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:28 pm
The meeting took place in a private suite at the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay. One of the largest investment banks in the world kept the suite rented year-round as a secure pad for travelling executives, hosting of parties and brokering deals when the circumstances required complete discretion and suitable luxury.
While waiting for the rest of the attendees to arrive, the three VIPs stood on the balcony, drinking coffee and admiring the view as the morning sun moved across the forested hills and sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour. The Englishman looked at his companions and smirked, ‘And to think we sent you bastards here as punishment!’ The two Australians grinned, raised their cups in salute to the perfect autumn weather.
‘Beautiful day’ agreed the taller Aussie ‘but I’m not so sure about this proposal. Are you absolutely positive it is feasible?’
‘Fret not, gentlemen’ assured the Englishman with a flair of condescension. ‘The British Empire has been making and breaking kings for almost a thousand years. The current century’s political and economic development simply would not have been possible without our funding of Ibn Saud against the Hashemites and Rashids in the early 1900s. Without a fractured Middle East, giving us – and then the Americans – relatively easy access to their oil, all of us would be stuck – economically – in the 1920s. Without cheap oil, there is no economy.’ He shrugged ‘Rest assured, we know what we’re doing.’
Overachievers, driven to the point of obsession, they had all woken around dawn, dealing with a few urgent messages and emails from around the world before working out in the hotel gym, then showering and presenting their credentials to the private security at the suite’s doors, making sure they arrived at least 5 minutes before the meeting was due to start.
Just on 9.30am, the suite doors swung open and the security detail for the Prime Minister came in, followed by the PM herself and the American delegation. Courtesy introductions were made, some of the attendees knew each other from previous dealings shook hands as the meeting began.
The Englishman represented the largest private bank in the world, routinely closing infrastructure and trade deals at the highest levels of government.
The two Australians represented the largest media and insurance conglomerates in the country.
The American represented a joint venture of American and European influences, corporations and banks, funding government projects, wars and regime change all over the world.
They seated themselves comfortably on the sofas surrounding a central coffee table in the middle of the room, and the PM began.
‘Thank you for inviting me.’ She said calmly. ‘I’ve been told who you all are and what you do, what is the problem and what are your proposals for resolving it?’
The Englishman cleared his throat, ‘Prime Minister, as part of your background briefing, you would have been advised that ASIO has been fully briefed on the experiences MI5 has had with similar problems in London, and the DGSE in Paris.’ She nodded.
‘Since we won World War 2, immigration has been used as a powerful tool to keep our economies strong and growing. Cheap labour, increasing demand for goods & services have been a bonanza for every sector in the economy.’
‘Through the 70’s, 80s and 90s, the good times rolled. A rising tide that lifted all boats, so to speak. But now the wheels are starting to come off, the tide is going out. The economy has tanked, immigration patterns have changed, and London, Paris and Sydney all find themselves with enclaves, populated by immigrants who often refuse to integrate.’
The PM nodded, her short blonde hair bobbing. ‘I know that, why do you think I was elected?’ she snarled. ‘What are we going to DO about it?’
It was the American’s turn to speak. ‘It gets worse. Our contacts at Parsons indicate the Saudi Royal Family no longer feel safe in their kingdom.’
‘Parsons?’ asked the PM.
‘OK, let’s have a quick background sketch’ replied the American. ‘After World War 2, American assets worked with the Saudi’s to develop their oil reserves, infrastructure, military, civil administration, sewerage, the whole thing - all funded by sales of oil in Petrodollars.’ ‘One of these assets – the main one - was a consulting company called Chas T Main. In 1990, Main was bought by Parsons engineering, but the special advisory department remains there, and our links and co-operation remains as close as ever.
‘These men are among the personal advisers to the King, princes, ministers, everyone at the top levels. The information we exchange is extremely profitable to both sides, but with oil production flat for the past 10 years, the kingdom will soon be unable to continue in its current state. They have been buying security with oil money for as long as the oil has been flowing. Now that it is slowing, they can’t fund their security AND lifestyle budgets for much longer’ he concluded.
‘But my main point is, the Saudi Royal Family are leaving Saudi Arabia. They plan to set up in a new Caliphate, away from the problems of their old country and region.’
The PM wasn’t really following. ‘OK, what does that have to do with us?’
The American dropped his bombshell ‘They plan to set up a Caliphate in Sydney’
For a full minute, there was silence in the room. The PM closed her eyes, trying to visualize what this meant in its full implication. ‘You cannot be serious’ she murmured.
‘We know that many princes have already immigrated to Canada’ drawled the Australian Media representative. ‘They have already started lobbying to have the laws against polygamy overturned – with some success, I might add’
The PM’s face set like stone. ‘NO. FUCKEN. WAY.’ She spat. ‘The people elected me to stop this rot, not let them steal half the city from under us’.
The other Australian rolled out a map of the city and drew his finger across it. ‘Our sources indicate the most likely area claimed would be between these two rivers. The Cooks River flows to the Airport from Strathfield, and Salt Pan Creek – it flows into the Georges River.’
‘The area we are looking at includes the suburbs of Campsie, Belfield, Greenacre, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl’ he went on. ‘Based on demographics, the main core would be this stretch between the Cooks River, the M5, King George’s Road and George’s River Road to the north. South of the M5, the suburbs of Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville and Mortdale don’t have nearly the demographics of Campsie/Lakemba. Any non-Muslim in those areas would basically be fucked, of course, should the northern crescent be secured by the insurgents – they would be cut off from their jobs, supplies, they would have two simple choices – pay the Dhimmi tax or try to leave.’
The PM shuddered at the thought of Australians becoming refugees in their own country. The irony of the situation made her angry, then her anger changed to calm resolution. She nodded, and the media rep went on:
‘All told, this area contains almost half the mosques in Sydney – which we believe would be the main command centers for their operation.
‘The population of the core Caliphate would be about 150,000 people; the whole at-risk area contains double that. Of this, we estimate they could raise, train and arm no more than 15,000 militia fighters.’
‘Fifteen thousand fighters – but how many of them are trained properly?’ she wondered aloud.
‘Based on our intelligence, about a thousand – give or take’ replied the Australian Banking & Insurance rep. ‘We have been monitoring Persons of Interest, travel made, phone calls, and money transfers. The biggest challenge they face is keeping their training secret. Any big group of men doing military training would immediately raise suspicion. So far, we haven’t been able to identify anything.’
The PM wasn’t impressed. ‘Even so, even if they have a dozen trainees for every decent fighter – all they have to do is put up road blocks and the whole area would be sealed off. A quarter of Paris is like that already, and London is heading that way.’
‘Opposing this would be – what?’ she asked, her head spinning. ‘What troops do we have available to go in and stop this…this…terrorism?’
‘Two battalions of Army regulars coming off training exercises in regional NSW. That’s about five thousand men, but not all of them are trained combat troops. A lot of them are engineers, communication specialists, supply clerks, cooks & laundry personnel. Call it two thousand combat troops - trigger pullers – at the very most.’
‘At Holsworthy there are Black Hawk and Kioa helicopters, but these are just transport and surveillance assets, not gunships. The Tiger attack helicopters are in the process of being retired early because the French software won’t talk to the American weapons we want to fire from them.’
‘There are some artillery howitzers at Holsworthy, and we can bring more in from Enoggera and Palmerston in the NT but that will take a while. ADF Reserves would add about two thousand more rifles, but sustained operations would put a lot of strain on the economy, having that many people off work and away from their families – I wouldn’t count on using them for more than a week at the most.’
The thought of a week-long military action on Australian soil brought a harsh, coppery taste into the PM’s mouth. ‘Mother of God’ she thought, ‘what the fuck have I gotten into?’
‘Scraping the barrel – we could add five thousand Army cadets – mostly teenagers.’
‘Mostly cannon fodder’ she gasped. ‘I will not send children into combat, no matter what the risks’.
‘If it’s the media you’re worried about, don’t’ emphasized the Australian Media rep. ‘We can spin the war so you smell of roses the whole time.’ His oily smile and apparent glee at the topic bothered her - a lot.
‘That’s not my concern’ the PM responded. ‘I have a mandate to stop immigration problems and get the economy back on track. A few inner city NIMBYS writing letters to the paper don’t count for shit against five million primary votes. NO, this is going to be done properly; I will not get sucked into another Vietnam – not in my own country.’
The Englishman nodded. ‘Absolutely agree. Now, there are some concerns that we have identified and would like to suggest solutions’ The PM sat back and stared at him.
‘First, property damage. In any MOUT – that is, Military Operations in Urban Terrain - this tends to be extensive.’ He nodded towards the insurance rep and continued ‘naturally, most insurance policies explicitly exclude cover for any act of war. Some are covering terrorism damage, but an act of war is specifically excluded. So, the insurers are off the hook for any kind of insurance claim.’
‘Loss of life falls into two categories’ he continued, as if reading an audit report or shopping list, instead of describing lives lost and families torn apart. ‘Casualties outside the Caliphate would be light, limited only to Australian forces and any collateral damage from insurgency operations or accidental misses by Australian assets. Inside the Caliphate however, we would suggest you prepare for 50% of the rebel fighters to be killed and 30% of the entire population – as a general guideline’
The PM felt the bile rise in her throat – she couldn’t imagine how this man could remain so cool and calculating and felt compelled to ask, ‘and where did this …general guideline’ come from?’
‘The closest real-life scenario we have would be the second battle of Fallujah, in 2004’ he replied, warming up to the topic and mistaking her question for interest, rather than disgust. ‘Thirteen thousand allied troops liberated the city from about 4,000 insurgents. They captured about 1,500 and killed the rest.’
The PM’s voice dropped to a whisper. ‘What about civilians?’ she asked.
‘Actually, those figures are unknown. Most of the population fled before the battle began, but of the 30,000-odd people left in the city, probably half were killed or wounded’ he answered.
The PM’s brain whirled. The population of the Caliphate’s stated area in Canterbury & Bankstown was about 350,000 people, so the comparison made sense. Was it even possible to destroy an area of Sydney the size of Fallujah?
‘Anyway, back on topic’ the Englishman’s manner became businesslike again. ‘Should the Australian Government seek to destroy the Caliphate, it is reasonable to assume that several suburbs of Western Sydney will be largely destroyed. Without insurance cover, the property owners will not be able to afford to rebuild the homes – mind you, half of the homes won’t be immediately necessary.’ He paused, smirking at his little joke.
‘So, to summarize, the option we recommend is as follows: you raise and train a suitable armed force, while buying time and placating the Caliph as much as possible. When the time is right, you seal off the area, attack from three directions under cover of air and artillery bombardment and wipe out the insurgency.’
He looked around at the other men. ‘Our combined resources will be used to maintain positive media spin, and ensure that the underwriters stay calm. Once the dust settles, we will provide a reconstruction loan to the Australian Government, with which you can pay developers and builders to start again. Instead of a thousand medium density unit blocks, randomly scattered around the suburbs, linked up with congested little streets, you can properly plan for combined developments – transport hubs, commercial offices and shops with thousands of unit blocks on top.’
‘With one stroke you can eliminate this terrorist threat from your living room, send a clear message to your supporters that you mean business, and provide thousands of construction jobs for the rebuilding work. The GST on the building materials sold will more than pay for the interest on the loan.’
‘Before your first 4-year term ends, this whole part of the Sydney basin could be transformed into a properly planned urban center, with extensive public transport options, walkable communities and brand-new infrastructure for business, commerce and industry.’
Normally gifted with knowing what to say at any time, this time the PM was actually speechless. They had thought this through and managed to spin the concept that a civil war would be a good thing for the economy.
Head reeling, the PM frantically tried to think of objections. ‘But there are too many of them, don’t we need something like three-to-one if attacking a defended position? Plus, it’s their home ground, so they know it well and could booby trap every street and house. It would be a nightmare.’
‘Ordinarily, yes’ said the American. ‘We have two suggestions that would offset the defenders advantage. First, we can use artillery and air assets to break up the infrastructure, deny them water, power, shelter. For this first phase, the nation’s troops will only be needed as a cordon, to prevent any insurgents from escaping. Minimal casualties expected.’
‘Secondly, remember the objectives here. We are not trying to simply kill everyone in the area. That would be a bonus, mind you, but not necessary to preventing the Caliphate. All we need to do is render the area uninhabitable. Then, re-locate any remaining residents and the site is ready for re-development. Think about Europe’s beautiful cities: Rome, Dresden, Hamburg, and Budapest – these were largely bombed flat during WW2, but we’ve rebuilt them even better than before. The plumbing, electricity, public transport was all improved far beyond the original, and it gave work to millions of people - and made billions in profits for the contractors and banks involved.’
The American paused to let his pitch sink in. ‘Finally,’ he said, ‘we propose that you add to the trained military troops by establishing an auxiliary force.’ He passed around a sheet of paper and they all looked at it. The main image was a picture of a man in a Redcoat uniform, the iconic British military uniform of the 1700s. White pants, red coat and a black hat, holding a musket that was almost as tall as the soldier.
‘The New South Wales Marine Corps’ he said proudly. ‘This was the first regiment established in the colony, it served the governors until 1891 when it was replaced with the infamous Rum Corps. To raise the largest number of troops in the fastest possible time, at the lowest cost, we propose that you re-activate the NSW Marine Corps and call for volunteers from the population.’
‘Fuck off’ spat the PM. ‘We can barely train our own officers and troops for your wars in Afghanistan & Iraq. The ADF has been crippled by political correctness for decades, so how the hell are we supposed to turn civilians into soldiers in time to stop this insurgency?’
The American simply beamed, and with the shit-eating grin on his face, turned to the security detail and said, ‘show him in.’
The door swung open and the PM involuntarily gasped. Striding into the room was perhaps the most perfect example of a man she had ever seen. Almost six-foot-tall, his broad shoulders tapered to a narrow waist and his perfectly fitting blue uniform seemed to radiate pheromones. The PM’s eyes rose from the perfectly shined black shoes, the razor sharp creased pants, white belt, and deep blue jacket covered with colored pins, and lingered on the face. Late 20’s, his tanned, taut skin was chiseled over a jaw that reminded her of the cliffs near her office in Brisbane. The stone-grey eyes did not blink as the man walked a few paces into the room, swung his peaked cap under his left arm and saluted.
‘Colonel Mason, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines from Marine Rotational Force, Darwin.’ Col. Mason’s voice was deep and clear, his speech precise and confident.
The PM shifted her hips in the seat. Dear God, he was attractive.
‘Another American?’ were the only words that came to her mind, still trying to process the raw masculinity and animal magnetism radiating from the Marine. She had no idea what all the little flags on his chest were for but damn they were impressive. The man was hard, confident and had an energy that acted like a bar heater in a cold room.
‘Yes Ma’am. There are eleven hundred Marines in Darwin at this time’ he replied, his eyes fixed straight ahead on the horizon. ‘Every single one of us would be honored to train your Auxiliary forces to fight these terrorists.’
The PM’s eyes narrowed. As far as she knew, US Marines ranked very highly in the world’s best small unit fighting forces – quite possibly the best, given their decades-long experiences in the Middle East and Africa. ‘What would be involved?’ she asked. Then, waving towards a seat, she said ‘For God’s sake, sit down’.
In one fluid motion, the Marine sat, placing his hat on the space beside him, and continued.
‘Ma’am, I and four other Marines in the battalion are qualified recruiters. We can easily work with your own resources to process applications – which based on your election results should be sufficient. The general population supports what you are doing, and once they know what’s going on, we should have plenty of volunteers. We generally eliminate almost half of our applicants because they don’t meet entry requirements – tattoos in the wrong place, serious criminal history, or they fail the academic tests. But if you need lots of bodies, you could consider a waiver for certain categories if they don’t render a recruit dangerous to themselves or the country.’
‘Marine recruits generally don’t fail once we they start basic training’ he continued. ‘We might recycle recruits a few times if they need to improve in some areas, but in this situation, we aren’t training full Marines. The auxiliaries need to know how to follow orders, handle a rifle and a radio and perform combat first aid, not much more. We can modify the 12-week Basic Training course and probably have the first companies ready in 9 or 10 weeks.’
‘What are they going to train with?’ asked the PM. ‘We scrapped all our old defense hardware in the 80s, and our rifles look different to your American ones.’
‘No problem, Ma’am’ replied the Marine. ‘The rifles use the same ammunition, which can be shipped here from Hawaii in a week plus a few days. We can use what you have right now for the first few recruit training platoons, and build up as more supplies arrive. Some platoons might end up with a mix of M4s and Steyers, but that’s nothing we can’t handle with good training. Your Hercules transports from Richmond can bring everything we need down from Darwin within a week.
‘There’s plenty of land at Holsworthy for training, staging and warehousing. We would request that you set up a JC2 – a Joint Communications Centre - there as well, staffed from all necessary areas of the ADF: Artillery, supply, recon & surveillance, air support. That way we can co-ordinate everything we need through a single hub - for training and once combat operations start.’
This was looking like a definite possibility, thought the PM. These Marines really knew their stuff, and if they could ramp up training as more resources became available, they just might be able to stamp out this cancer once and for all. If the media held up their end of the bargain, an early victory could set her career for life.
‘Okay, let me see if I understand this…proposal’ she said.
‘You will recruit and train a force to deny a suitable area for this Caliphate. Then fund re-construction of the area once the fighting stops and everyone goes back to work. How are we supposed to pay for this?’ she asked.
The Englishman waved his hand dismissively. ‘A minor consideration, Prime Minister. ‘Priority access to your natural resources – especially that natural gas – should fund the interest payments’ he said. ‘The only other favor we would ask – and this one we must insist on, I’m afraid – you would vote on certain issues in the UN Security Council according to our suggestions…’
‘Fine by me’ agreed the PM. ‘PM&C will contact your local assets to start the paperwork’. She turned to the media representative and said, ‘get your people working on making sure NONE of this sticks to me.’ She looked around to close the meeting, inviting any further comments or questions.
‘One question, Ma’am,’ Mason fixed his eyes on hers. ‘Chain of command – who do we report to?’
The PM smiled evilly ‘Oh, I know just how to arrange this. US Marines are a department of the Navy, aren’t you?’ The Marine nodded.
‘So, we will do the same thing – create a department of our navy called the Australian Marine Corps. We have a female Muslim Captain in the Navy – wears a hijab and everything. I’m going to promote her to Commodore and put her in charge of the training phase. Hopefully she will be targeted by these…insurgents: that would give us a clear declaration of war and get rid of her as a bonus – two birds with one stone.’
‘Operationally, I’m going to pull Peter Cosgrove out of retirement and get him to head up the whole thing. He’s manifestly more qualified to do it than anyone else, and he knows how to handle the media as well.’
Impressed with how quickly the PM had accepted their idea, the men stood to leave.
As they filed towards the door, the PM waved her hand dismissively at the security detail. ‘Colonel, please stay – I have some further questions for you…’
As the door closed, leaving them alone in the room, the PM stood and gently pushed the Marine back onto the sofa. ‘You’re required to help improve diplomatic relations with our nation’ she said huskily, climbing onto his lap and unbuttoning her top.
Sargon was giving Bilal a tour of Mr. Mohammed’s main business site. The food supply truck was only a minor side business to the main import company, DIMO Furnishings & Flooring.
They had driven out near Bankstown airport, parked in the street and walked inside the factory complex. At the rear was the main receiving yard, where metal shipping containers were lined up and a small team of men were unloading carpets, rugs and cardboard boxes for storage inside the warehouse. Shelves up to the ceiling held piles of goods that had been imported from all over the world, and were being shipped out to a range of wholesale and direct outlet customers all over Sydney.
They watched the forklifts emptying the shipping containers and stacking the contents in the metal shelving, then went upstairs to the office. Sargon pushed the door open and stepped inside, greeted by the plastic-and-stale-cigarette smell common to all factory offices everywhere. Bilal looked around and noticed that the office area was divided into two sections. The main section contained the reception area, where they stood, with several desks scattered around, almost buried under piles of colored paper, brochures and manila files. At the other end, behind a dividing wall, Bilal could see an office, with a leather chair and a dark timber desk visible.
There was only one person in the office, and old man with a narrow face and a big nose, wearing thick glasses and an old-fashioned sports coat over a white buttoned shirt. He nodded to Sargon and Bilal as they came in greeting them warmly in Arabic.
‘Peace be upon you.’
‘And upon you’ they responded. Sargon introduced Bilal to the man, whose name was Akram.
Sargon explained that the other desks were for the sales clerks, who placed orders with suppliers overseas. Akram’s job was to monitor the orders as they were completed and ready for shipping. He would then arrange for drugs, weapons, cigarettes or other prohibited and therefore profitable items to be included in the shipping containers and transported to Australia. He also tracked the shipment identification numbers, matched them to the ships they were on and logged the date they would arrive in port. Once the arrival date and dock number were known, the transport company would collect the containers and deliver them to the warehouse.
Sargon pointed to a list of phone numbers taped to Akram’s desk. ‘Dis de most important part of ‘is job. Our customs officers – well paid to keep our containers away from de scanners and sniffers.’
Bilal realized the extent of the operation. ‘Fffff…..So we can import whatever we want, and these people, on this list, will make sure it isn’t inspected?’
Akram smiled ‘Yah. Less dan ten percent of imported containers can be inspected. So, we just tell dem which numbers are ours and dey makes sure dey don’t get scanned. We bring in lotsa tings that many people want, but the govmint tries to stop dem having.’
Bilal was stunned. ‘So, all these drug laws, gun control laws, prohibition, import taxes…’
Sargon laughed. ‘We love gun control laws. Makes our business so much more profitable…
‘I always laugh at dat woman…Samanta Lee, on the Tee VEE’ he rhymed. ‘But I love her work. Keeps de police busy chasing ordinary hunters, so dey have less time to chase us or our customers!
He frowned. ‘She should cover her head, though. Shameful to be seen in public without a covering.’
‘Also, de gun laws keep supply down, so da price is higher. If drugs and firearms were legal, we would be outta business.
Bilal nodded as he appreciated the scope of the business operation, then Akram went on.
‘Straya used to have a big firearms industry, made rifles dat won World War 1 and World War 2. But after dat dey shut most of it down, den more and more restrictions and laws made business much better for us.
Bilal nodded, impressed. ‘I thought most criminals stole guns from legal owners.’
‘Nahh, too risky. You bin listening to Samanta Lee too much.’ said Sargon. ‘Even though we got the list from the registry, we don’t really need it. Only if there’s something really valuable or someone places an order and we want to keep ‘em happy. De shopping list is mostly used by small timers exporting to places like China.’
‘Cheaper to buy from us, the importer - less hassle and dey know we aren’t gonna get investigated by de cops’
‘Do you seriously have a list from the registry?’ asked Bilal.
‘Sure’ said Sargon. ‘We got it from some bikers – dey got even more people inside de police than us. Guys who owe dem big favours – owe dem for a long time, officers, high up guys. Get lotsa money to look de other way, help out where dey can.’ His brow furrowed as he searched his memory for a name. ‘Who was dat other guy, dat cop selling fake IDs…Gary, Garis, Jeff Garis? Wanna bet he was also selling de firearms registry to anyone who had cash?’
‘But I heard on the news, there’s lots of farmers getting guns stolen.’ Bilal objected.
Sargon laughed. ‘I reckon most of dem are neighbours, doing de right ting.’
Bilal raised an eyebrow. ‘Whaddaya mean?’
Sargon looked at him as if he was simple. ‘Tink about it – farmer goes away for a few days. Neighbour breaks in, breaks open de safe and takes de guns. Leaves everyting else. Den de farmer gets back, reports guns stolen to police and claims on insurance. Buys new legal guns and collects his old ones from de neighbour – puts dem in de roof or de barn. So now he has guns dat cannot be traced, seized or stolen because dey are removed from de registry.’
They both laughed at the idea of a registry stopping gun crime from happening. They didn’t know for sure, but official figures confirmed that the registry has never solved a single crime. Despite what TV shows said about ‘ballistic fingerprinting’ and ‘matching bullets to a gun’, every bullet deforms when it hits something, so trying to match a fired bullet to a particular barrel was extremely difficult. Besides, in the rare instance that a criminal actually had to shoot someone, the gun usually ended up in the Georges River or Sydney Harbour ten minutes later. To the criminal, a gun was much more useful as a threat than an actual tool of violence.
It was obvious to Bilal that the people running the registry were benefiting from keeping the population disarmed. They were well paid to do a little paperwork in a comfortable office and in absolutely no danger of repercussions from stopping criminals from getting their hands-on firearms. Meanwhile, shipping containers full of pistols, ammunition, explosives, drugs and precursor chemicals were flooding in through the ports and marinas. Under the laws of supply & demand, banning something never stopped the demand for it, all it did was increase the price for the importer and the profits for organized crime.
Bilal thought about it. Corrupt cops and customs officials, useless government bans pushing up the price of illegal items, a gun control lobby that was actively assisting organized crime – this city was full of opportunities. He could barely stop dancing on the spot at the ideas that were bubbling up in his brain.
He reflexively pulled out his phone and scrolled through the news headlines:
PREACHER SEEKS PEPPA PIG BANNED FROM TV
100 HOMES BURGLED IN 1 DAY
HOME BUILDING APPLICATIONS SLUMP – CRASH LOOMS
EXCLUSIVE - BANKS FEAR SLOWDOWN IN LOAN APPLICATIONS
He scrolled through a few of the comments on each article, shaking his head at the stupidity of the masses until Sargon had the car unlocked and he climbed in.
Sargon dropped Bilal home, but he knew that he was expected at the Melbourne Mullah’s house for lessons, so he walked towards the mosque for a few minutes, then turned into the driveway of the house nearby. As he kicked off his shoes and opened the door, the Mullah met him.
‘Bilal, peace upon you’ he said quietly but intensely, hugging Bilal and then stepping back inside the house to give his guest room to enter.
‘And upon you’ responded Bilal hesitantly. He wasn’t sure what he should do, but again the Mullah set his mind at ease by saying ‘please follow me’ and moving into a side room. The room was large and had several rugs on the floor with cushions scattered around. Bilal wondered at the size of the room, then realized that there was no furniture around the walls or in the middle to take up space. It was an optical illusion that made the room appear larger than similar ones full of Western furniture.
The call of the Muezzin sounded from the Mosque up the street as they entered the room, so Bilal looked around the ceiling and spotted the mark that indicated the direction of Mecca. He and the Mullah stood side by side, facing the right direction, and began to pray in Arabic, the Mullah louder than Bilal, who still wasn’t quite sure he had all the words right.
Once the prayers were finished, the two men sat and Bilal’s lessons continued. His Arabic was improving, and he could maintain a basic conversation with the Mullah.
Next came religious questions about events and people from the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Bilal had the most difficulty with history because it felt so foreign, so irrelevant. He expressed his doubts to the Mullah, who nodded.
‘Understandable. Things happened long ago, far away. This is true. But several things remain constant, no matter where or when a man lives. The first is the true path of Allah, the path of Jihad within and Jihad without. ‘The words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, remain true forever.
‘The second thing, which never changes, is the human nature of those infidels who oppress. Greed, lust, power – these things all remain the same. The stories of old, the history of the world – can be easily understood once you understand the nature of the oppressor and those they oppress.’
‘The lessons are plain. Those who are prepared to fight for what they believe in with a pure heart will always be successful. Those unable to kill will always be slaves to those who can.’
An hour later, the lessons were finished, and Bilal said goodnight to the Mullah. He put on his shoes and began walking towards his home, thumbing through his phone again, checking the news feed.
YOUTH MURDERED IN NIGHT VIGILANTE ATTACK
The sensational headline grabbed his attention, but upon reading the article he learned that the teenage gang member had been caught stealing mail from the mailbox in a large strata scheme.
Several residents had held him and called the police, but during the struggle the thief was put into a headlock and suffocated. By the time the police arrived, there was nobody around and neighbors said they hadn’t seen who was involved. With his new knowledge and understanding gleaned from the Mullah, Bilal could see how the reporters had twisted the facts, and the misleading headline gave the impression that the residents were to blame, when in fact it was the criminal’s fault for committing a crime in the first place.
He felt good that he was able to detect the bias in the media, but then he also realised something. If the media was so eager to pardon the real criminal and blame his victims, then he could play on that bias as well.
He filed that idea away in his mental notes for later improvement.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:23 pm
Villawood Immigration Detention Centre
Deng sat on a hard metal seat, his back resting against the wall and his legs stretched out in front of him. A few kids were playing on the equipment across the yard, and the early sun was shining over the whole scene, warming the air and his spirits. It had been a difficult journey to Australia, but the Villawood Detention Centre was quite comfortable when compared with many places he had lived, and surely the day would soon come when he was free and able to continue the will of God - Inshallah. He had just met with Sargon, a good Muslim who regularly visited him with news, toiletries and a few items to help pass the time. The news this time was particularly good, and Deng was pleased to receive instructions on how he was to be released.
With his body enjoying the sunshine, Deng's mind was free to roam, away from the infrastructure of the Immigration Detention Centre around him, drifting to his favorite verses of the holy book, long sermons committed to memory, some of them delivered to audiences seated in mud huts or in grassy fields, chemical and electrical formulations which formed the tools of his trade.
His thoughts drifted to the path that had led him from his childhood home in the rocky foothills around Yemen’s capital Sana’a, across the Red Sea into Somalia, Sudan, Libya, back into Sudan and now to Sydney. Inherited from his father and grandfather, Deng’s life was that of a warrior.
Born into a conflict as old as the desert sands, Deng had been trained from a young age in the arts of war, learning hard lessons fighting oppressors – firstly local bandits and enemy tribes, then uniting with many of these former enemies to fight the growing power and decadence of the Royal House to the east.
Deng only knew a little of the history of the region, all he had been taught was that the Saud families' lands were filled with oil, which had made them fabulously wealthy as the infidel's machinery and technology required ever increasing supplies. So, for the past hundred years a small group of rulers had amassed a wealth in the trillions but instead of using it to help others, as the Quran instructed, they had kept it for themselves, purchasing domestic peace by lavish spending, vain infrastructure projects, and a massive security & intelligence force to ensure they stayed in power.
Deng's religious beliefs were technically similar to the Saudis - they would both be classed as Wahabi by any scholar - western or Islamic. But as far as Deng and his fellow believers were concerned, the ruling classes in most Islamic countries were corrupt, decadent, having been seduced away from the true path by wealth, pleasure and politics. As far as he was concerned, there were only two ways to resolve this problem: destroy these ruling classes and free their people from oppression, or create a new, pure Islamic caliphate where true Muslims were free to practice their faith as Mohammed had intended.
Reflecting on their successes and failures to date, Deng knew it was a work in progress. Somalia, Libya, Egypt had started the birthing process, experiencing the contraction pains as the old regimes struggled to retain power against the rising tide of true believers. Iraq and Afghanistan were proving difficult, the Great Satan had so devastated their peoples, cities and infrastructure. Deng thought that unless the wars were stopped, and a strong Caliph or Ayatollah united the peoples, they would end up like Palestine - a nation of mentally damaged people, crippled with Post Traumatic Stress, giving birth to another generation afflicted by the same thing. The cycle would continue unless a place could be found, free of war, where true Muslims could submit to the will of Allah in peace.
Which was why he had been sent to Australia.
Deng had fought wars and skirmishes from Yemen to North Africa, and had long experience not only in combat, but also fundraising, teaching, training, logistics and communications. A genuine all-rounder, he had been honored with instructions to start the creation of the Caliphate.
His instructions were simple, and he knew better than to ask for more information. So he did as ordered, flying to Bali via Jakarta and then making his way to the boat that would take him through the Savu Sea then east towards the patrolling Australian navy. Once on board the small fishing boat, he had dumped all his identification so that when the boat was intercepted, the immigration policy of the time landed him right in the Caliphate’s back yard, Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. He waited patiently while Immigration officials attempted to confirm his story and determine his refugee status.
What he did not know was that the Saudi's had seen their oil production rates slow down, as the pressure from the vast reservoirs could no longer lift the valuable liquid to the surface. Immense amounts of money were invested in technology to increase the flow rate, but they only helped a little. In 2005, what had been an ever-increasing supply to an every-hungry world stopped growing, and production basically remained flat for the next 10 years, despite billions in investment, exploration and injecting nitrogen or sea water into the wells. There was plenty of oil in the ground, but it simply couldn't be extracted at a price that the world could afford.
Fortunately for the global economy, experts at the International Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had foreseen this as far back as the 1970s. Plans that had been regularly updated were now implemented. To soften the impact on markets, ‘oil production’ figures were combined with other categories that technically weren't ‘crude oil’, but served to make the production figures look higher than they were. Non-Gas Liquids, refinery gains, tar sands, tight oil - all these were combined into ‘oil production’ in order to avoid spooking the markets.
But oil supply itself was only part of the problem. It only represented cheap energy - an essential input for a global economic system built on debt, which requires an ever-increasing creation of value to pay back the debt plus interest. Without cheap energy, everything created by the economy was more expensive, cutting into profits, debt repayment and interest.
The first crisis hit in 2008, but by throwing ever more money at the problem, the gurus in charge managed to calm the markets and extract even more money from the system. Labor costs were cut by shifting factories from China to Africa, automation boomed - making its way from factories right into the everyday shops in the form of self-checkouts and console ordering systems in McDonalds.
But the energy problem was just too big to handle. For a global economy created to run on cheap and plentiful energy, the crisis was unsolvable. Tinkering around the edges with alternative energy and efficiency gains did nothing to solve the energy elephant in the room. There wasn’t enough energy to go around, at a price people could afford to pay. Something had to change, drastically.
While Deng was fighting actual wars in Somalia and Libya, men in $5,000 suits were fighting an increasingly desperate war against declining energy supplies and the inevitable changes - and losses - that were the natural consequences. But the increasing wealth in developing nations exacerbated the problem - as more and more Chinese and Indians were lifted off the poverty line, they purchased phones, cars, computers, and meat, and medical care, clothes - consuming further resources and compounding the scarcity problem. Oil prices fluctuated wildly as different methods were tried to calm the situation, but it became clear that oil below $80.00 a barrel destroyed the producers, and oil above $40.00 destroyed the consuming economies.
The ruling houses of the oil producing nations were in a desperate bind. Without a steady supply of petrodollars flooding into the country, they would be unable to pay off the massive, angry population and keep it pacified. The only way they had held on to power this long was by bribing the population, importing thousands of foreign workers to do any kind of work, and ruthlessly suppressing any voice that spoke out against them. But without the incredible wealth necessary to maintain such a nation, the question became ever more urgent: What can be done?
By 2016, the issue had become pressing but the 80-year-old King Salman's health was declining, and he had no time or interest to discuss options. Salman saw his role as protecting his kingdom, routinely executing opponents and involving the country in a full shooting war in Yemen. Believing that he would always be able to rely on American military assets to retain power, he could not comprehend a situation where declining oil output would threaten his family's hold on power.
Muhammed bin Nayef had been named as the King's successor in April 2015, and having spent most of his career in the Ministry of the Interior, counter terrorism and chair of the Council for Political and Security Affairs, he was privy to information that nobody dared bring to the attention of the King. While Deng was waiting in Australian detention, Nayef was in his office in Riyadh, waiting for a Skype call to George to go through. As the computer whirred, Nayef’s mind wandered over the path that had brought him to this point.
An experienced businessman, diplomat and strategist, he agreed with his adviser's assessments that the writing was on the wall for his Kingdom. Hostile forces within and neighboring the area were growing stronger each day, and the kingdom was pumping oil flat out, using every available technology to produce oil – and constantly evading accusations that the production figures published were inaccurate. But the supply refused to nudge over 12 million barrels per day. Sure, the published figures were more than that, because they included the energy equivalent of gas produced alongside the oil. But the global economy didn’t run on natural gas - the plastics, medicines & chemicals that were essential to modern life were rooted in an economic model that required cheap light sweet crude oil.
While there was no danger of ‘running out of oil’, the simple economic fact was that few producers could sell oil profitably for under $80 a barrel any more.
Nayef had read the Club of Rome's report ‘Limits to Growth’ in the 1980s, and in the ensuing 30 years had been impressed to see that despite sustained and hysterical criticism, the Club's assessment had largely been correct. As the population had grown and become wealthier, several factors started to kick in which started a Feedback Loop. Oil wealth was spent on luxuries, travel, cars, planes, buildings and streets – all of which consumed energy not only to create but to maintain. The vast population of the kingdom, no longer a simple town on the desert coastline but a sprawling metropolis required vast amounts of oil to make and maintain the roads, plastics, medicines, computers, clothes, not to mention the transport of all of the items into the country.
Oh, there was plenty of oil there, but getting it out – at a price the world could afford? He shook his head at the thought. To make matters worse, the early kingdom had been able to sell almost 100% of its oil production to the West at a good price, but now, their own infrastructure required an increasing share of not only the crude but the profits that flowed from its sale. Economists called this the ‘Export Land Model’ but Nayef like the more poetic phrase ‘going back to riding on camels’.
Nayef also had a great deal of experience with the British and Americans. He was under no illusions that once the kingdom was unable to supply an increasing amount of oil for their economies – addicted to cheap energy and utterly unable to cope with prices over about $50 a barrel – when that time came, the Americans would be gone faster than one of his several Ferrari's.
Very quietly and discreetly, Nayef had started investigating the options available to the Royal House. Solar and Geothermal infrastructure received massive investment, and discussions were started about changing the wasteful and obscene manner of patronage, where thousands of Saudi family members were well paid to do nothing at all.
But he quickly learned that nothing was going to be enough. Once the tipping point was reached, American help would vaporise and the angry, starving hordes would overwhelm the elite's personal security. Nobody knew when that tipping point would be reached, but within six months, the cities of Riyadh, Dubai and their sisters would be torn apart before crumbling into dust.
Perhaps it was fitting, in some philosophical way, he thought – after all, the cities existed because of the oil that came from the desert, so in a sense they were an aberration, and the desert simply waited to reclaim what belonged to it, merely transformed from oil to skyscrapers, then dissolving back into the desert sand.
No, his family line would continue for generations but not in this place. Like the earlier generations of Bedouin tribes that he was descended from, he would relocate, seeking more favorable conditions now that changing circumstances demanded it. The plans he had put in place were taking shape – hundreds of Saudis, some students, some princes and their families – had already moved to Canada. Others had gone to London, Switzerland or other central European countries.
But Nayef had looked further afield. Even before the mass immigration to Europe had hit the news headlines, his intelligence assets had made him aware that Europe faced major challenges from millions of immigrants who were ideologically and economically opposed to his family's existence. So, Europe was out of the question, Canada and North America had their own problems, the pacific islands suffered from long supply lines and unstable politics.
Australia featured highly on the short list of suitable countries. Technologically advanced, politically stable, self-sufficient in food and energy and with a long history of positive relationships both with Muslims domestically and in international affairs. True, there had been a race riot in Sydney a decade ago, but the reports stated that this was a result of specific conflicts which had since been largely resolved. The media in Australia was strongly pro-Muslim, leftist and dominated by friendly media barons based in America and Europe.
Over the course of several meetings with Parsons’ Executives, Nayef had covered a range of concerns and received pleasing assurances that a plan to annex a section of Sydney was achievable. By the end of 2014 and early 2015, he was confident that the Australian government and media were actively preparing to make his dream a reality. News – both online and print – were consistently pushing pro-immigration and pro-Islam stances, and actively branding anyone opposing these ideas ‘racist’, ‘xenophobic’ and ‘intolerant’. Nayef was pleased to hear the assessment of his advisers. In their opinion, daytime infotainment shows employed some Muslim and many pro-Muslim infidels to push political correctness into the population. Opinion pieces insisting on ‘tolerance’ were increasingly being used to suppress anyone who spoke out against the process. Nayef chuckled at the thought of using the media instead of prisons to silence rivals, but then again, patience was required for a successful colonisation. Once he was established as Caliph, he would be at liberty to make the necessary changes to ensure his rule was as ‘peaceful’ as possible.
He trusted the Parsons men, since he knew of their extensive experience with top level politics and economics around the world. If anyone could help him create a safe place for his family, it was the same group who had looked after them for so long.
The computer screen blinked, and his old friend George’s face filled the screen. The light from George’s own screen reflected off his glasses, but as he took them off Nayef couldn’t help thinking that he was looking at Jabba the Hutt, from the Star Wars films he enjoyed so much.
In fact, George Soros looked ill. His silver hair had receded in the weeks since they had last seen each other. Thirty years older than Nayef, George’s sagging cheeks and the deep bags under his eyes gave his pasty face an eerily reptilian appearance. The fact that it was almost 3am in Davos and George obviously hadn’t slept much increased Nayef’s concern for his friend and mentor.
‘As-salamu Alaykum’ said George. ‘How are you, young terrorist?’ His thin lips twisted in what Nayef interpreted as a smile. Truthfully, Nayef thought it looked like a toad being strangled.
Nayef laughed aloud and gave the accepted reply ‘Wa’alaykumu s-salam.’ ‘I’m merely thy humble student’ joked Nayef in return, knowing full well that George had caused more damage to the global economy, causing more suffering and indirectly – more death, on a single Wednesday in 1992 than any of the orders Nayef had given in his career.
That Nayef was born a Wahabi Saudi, and George was a Hungarian Jew made no difference at the levels these men operated at. Any sort of ancient or modern feuds had been set aside long ago, as the pursuit of wealth and more importantly, power took precedence in their lives. More often than not, the two men and the others like them – truly ‘internationals’ whose business empires and lives spanned the globe - used, stoked and sometimes even started feuds and conflicts to sell weapons, secure or deny access to resources, or simply to show off to the others. They all knew that power was the true currency, religion and means for existence. These men at the top of the tree used currencies, religions and governments to play their own game of global domination.
George had made a billion dollars in profit from a single operation that broke the Bank of England in 1992, and he had invested that wealth through various foundations that created incredible influence at all levels of society. Partnering with Nayef and others like him as the need arose, George and his various foundations pretended to champion environmental and human rights causes, while the bulk of their investments were directly aimed at securing total control over the world’s population. Like chess pieces on a board, the UN, IMF, World Bank and the various central banks of the world’s nations were played off against each other.
Straight to the point, George asked ‘So, you have decided to move?’
‘Indeed, we must’ said Nayef. ‘We can calm the markets for maybe a year longer – any more would be completely in the will of God.’ Any collapse in the energy markets would be catastrophic for a global economy that had barely recovered from the Global Financial Crisis and Great Depression.
George grunted. ‘God is a useful control for the masses, but he doesn’t make business decisions, and he certainly won’t keep your family safe’. For the briefest moment, his mind brought up a distant memory from his childhood, of the prayers made by local Jews as he helped the Nazis round them up and ship them off to the camps. None of those prayers were answered, and George knew that he alone was responsible for his life and the consequences of his actions.
Nayef nodded. ‘The preparation and propaganda are almost finished, and messengers have been sent to Sydney to start organising a governing body. They have identified some who can be trusted, and who will need to be removed. But soon they will need weapons and equipment to form a defensive army.’
‘Already arranged’ replied George. ‘We’re using the same setup as we did with the RPF in Rwanda.’
Nayef was concerned. ‘Is that wise?’
‘Don’t worry’ soothed George. ‘We got away with it then, and we will achieve success this time as well. I’ll handle the UN side of things and make everyone believe that it’s a natural evolution in the democratic process. Immigration, then a democratic expression of the immigrant’s rights. They’ll love it when I put it that way.’
‘Thank you, my friend’ said Nayef. ‘I will send you the reports from Sydney when they arrive.’
‘See you in New York’ George ended the conversation and waited for the connection to close.
Then he made another call.
‘He has swallowed the bait’ he said cryptically. ‘Tip off ASIO but make sure nobody can trace the intel back to us.’
‘The French are going to raid another lot of Mosques next week’ intoned the voice on the other end of the line. ‘I’ll make sure one of the kids overhears something the day before’.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:56 pm
The Villawood Detention Centre is a sprawl of drab brick buildings and metal fences, all surrounded by a high security fence. The security fence is mostly steel mesh, interspersed with concrete sections and separated from the fenced-in living and activity areas by well-lit grass areas and driveways. There is no cover near the fence, making it impossible for anyone to hide or cross it.
One of the outer fence panels was missing, and the stolen car Xanthe has driven through the gap had crashed through the inner fence of Deng’s enclosure, opening a clear path for him to escape.
Driving in had been an exhilarating rush, but now Xanthe was running for her life.
Heart pounding and lungs rasping in her chest, she sprinted across the grass between the two walls of the Villawood Detention Centre. Getting in had been simple, and Deng had been exactly where he was supposed to be, but as they raced back to the hole in the outer fence, the much older man was several meters in front and leaving her behind. Terror at what would happen to her if she was captured drove her legs. She dashed blindly across the open space between the two fences, over the crumpled section of metal fence that now lay on the ground between two concrete wall sections, and into the paved yard of the DIMO WASTE SERVICES compound.
In the compound waited a white delivery van with the engine idling. By earlier agreement, the owners of the vehicles were only reporting them stolen at this moment– to minimise police attention for as long as possible. Two other men, the driver and a passenger slid the door shut, climbed into the front and planted the accelerator. The van shot down the short driveway, onto Birmingham Ave, then turned right onto Christina Road. Lying on rugs and carpets covering the metal floor of the van, Deng and Xanthe instinctively spread their arms and legs to prevent being slammed into the walls by the sharp turns. Still gasping for breath after her sprint Braced against the centrifugal force, Xanthe tried to breathe but all she managed were some shallow gasps. Speeding parallel to the train tracks, they raced underneath an overpass, then lurched right, across two lanes of traffic and up the ‘on’ ramp, heading north up Woodville Road.
Barely slowing and weaving through traffic, the van passed a car dealer, a petrol station and crossed over the metal pipes that were used to supply water to the city. The driver moved into the left lane and slowed, preparing to turn into a side street. Itching under the hot synthetic balaclava, Xanthe used one hand to pull it off, shaking out her short, blonde hair before bracing again as the van turned left.
Immediately after turning left off Woodville Road, the van lurched right, into the driveway of a unit block, rushing down the concrete ramp to the underground basement car park. Pulling into a marked Visitor car space next to two other small passenger cars, the driver shut off the engine and everyone exhaled. They all felt as if they had held their breath for the entirety of the jailbreak, and now they laughed nervously, shaking their heads and unbuckling seat belts, discharging the nervous energy from their bodies.
Getting out of the van, Xanthe threw her arms around Deng and hugged him gleefully. Their daring plan had worked. Xanthe was passionate about social justice and so infuriated at the detention of innocent refugees that she had jumped at the change to strike back at the evil government and its inhumane program. She was amazed at how alive she felt, so relevant, making a clear statement that her people would no longer tolerate inhumanity, no matter if it was done by a legitimately elected government. Graduating High School last year, she had done less than a semester at university, but had thrown herself into every cause possible. Social Justice, equality, refugees, economic socialism, she took any opportunity she saw to advocate and fight for those she saw as voiceless, defenseless, exploited by a system that had given her so much privilege.
Xanthe let go of Deng and continued to dance around the bare, dusty car park. She felt like a messiah, pivotally important in the salvation of others. Desperately trying to purchase atonement for the unequal privileges she had innocently enjoyed as a child, by emancipating Deng, even if that involved breaking the law. To her mind, if she felt a law was morally wrong, then it was okay to break other laws to overthrow the injustice. The feeling was intoxicating. She felt energized, powerful in the most basic, electric meaning of the word.
Interrupting her moment of celebration, the nameless driver took off his mask and said ‘Not over yet. Go get your phone, meet us with Maryam.’ Then he bundled Deng into one of the small cars and drove slowly out of the garage.
Xanthe and the van’s passenger got into the other car and followed, turning left out of the building and then left again onto Woodville Road. In silence, they continued north into Parramatta, and a short time later Xanthe was dropped outside the main shopping center. Entering the food court, she found her friend Maryam reading a book at a table, an empty coffee cup and plate in front of her. Maryam closed the book and stood up quickly, straightening the chador that covered her face.
Brimming with excitement, Xanthe hugged Maryam and almost danced a little jig on the spot. Her eyes shone with delight at the experience she had just had, and she desperately wanted to tell her friend all about it.
‘Ready to go home?’ asked Maryam with a smile. She took a phone out of her bag and passed it to Xanthe. Thumbing it open, Xanthe saw she had no messages or missed calls.
The two young women left the shopping center in Maryam’s car and headed south-east. Maryam handed over a list of the shops she had visited with Xanthe’s phone in the past two hours and Xanthe looked over it, committing a few to memory so their alibi stories would match if they were ever to be caught and interrogated.
While driving towards Bankstown, Maryam listened to Xanthe telling her about the raid and how it had gone exactly as planned.
‘I followed the van into the DIMO yard – their back fence is the exterior security fence of the centre. The other two from the van hooked up cables to the tow bar, and then clipped them to the fence right where the metal sections joined the concrete parts. They got back in the van and floored it; the cables ripped the whole metal section of fence right off the wall. The bolts just broke out of the concrete and it went sliding along the ground.
‘I drove straight through the gap, across the grass and into the interior fence. I was afraid it wouldn’t bust through, but we did, and Deng was standing RIGHT THERE. You shoulda seen the look on his face!’ she giggled at the memory.
‘Soon as the car stopped we were both out through the hole in the fence, bolted to the van. By that time the others had unhooked the cables, we got in and we were off – bam’. Xanthe swept one palm across the other to express the speed of the van. ‘We swapped cars in the car park, then they dropped me back to you’ she concluded, then smiled. ‘And I got an alibi, I can prove I was with you the whole time, my mobile phone tracked me around the shops.’
Maryam smiled, briefly taking her eyes off the road. ‘I'm so glad everything went as planned. I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to you.’ She paused, then asked ‘are you going to stay for dinner?’
‘I'd love to’ nodded Xanthe. She loved Middle Eastern food and her new family even more. She felt so alive, as if she had stepped through a metaphorical doorway into a brand-new life, one where she made the rules, where she was in control. She felt so mature, like a movie hero in real life.
The two young women drove parallel to the M4 motorway, staying away from the toll points that would register the location of the vehicle on the tag glued to the windscreen. They turned south in Auburn, went through Berala and arrived in Lakemba about ten minutes later. Maryam parked in the street outside their unit block, right behind Xanthe's own small hatchback.
They got out of the car and went inside the first-floor unit, greeting the small crowd in the living room and being greeted like heroes themselves. Everyone was cheering, hugging and some were even crying, relived that their little rescue operation had been successful. Xanthe saw Deng across the room, talking with the driver and some other men she didn't recognize, and then she was mobbed again by a pair of older women who hugged her tight.
Eventually, everyone started to calm down and some of the elder women started shooing people away from the middle of the room. They set up several small tables to make one large one and spread out brightly colored cloths over the whole thing. From the kitchen they produced a steady stream of cooked foods: spicy lamb & chicken, rice, flat bread, vegetables and more – set out in several places so they were within reach of everyone regardless of where they would be sitting.
Xanthe stayed by Maryam's side, watching and waiting to be told where to sit. First seated was a tall, thin man with a full, grey beard. Seeing him seated first told Xanthe that this man was extremely important, probably the head of the family that lived in the unit. He would have other units, housing other wives and children – some of whom may even be here at the party, Xanthe had no way of knowing without asking Maryam, and she didn't want to be rude.
The older man then indicated Deng to sit next to him, indicating that Deng was an honored guest. Then the driver and passenger made a little group around Deng. Xanthe knew enough about dining etiquette to understand that these were the places of honor. Next would be the male family members in order of age, thought Xanthe; finally, the women would be seated.
She gasped aloud when the host looked directly at her with a wide smile and said ‘Zantee. A daughter who is a warrior like any man. Please...’ he indicated a seat next to Deng, inviting her to sit.
Xanthe couldn't believe that the host had broken with tradition to honor her in this way. She bowed her head to acknowledge her gracious host and moved across the room, sitting as quietly and quickly as she could. The rest of the young men waited awkwardly, then moved as indicated by their host. While somewhat confused, they knew that it was his table, and he could seat his guests at his own discretion – within reason. Once the men and older women were seated, Maryam took the empty seat next to Xanthe.
Looking around, Xanthe noted the skill of her host. He had balanced the table, respecting his male guests and relatives and seating Xanthe and Maryam with the rest of the women, but closest to the male end of the table. It was a neat way of honoring her while at the same time, maintaining tradition and a family structure that everyone understood. Putting it in perspective, and given her contribution to the rescue was far more than any of the younger men, it made sense for the host to break with tradition in this way. It also sent a subtle message to the entire family: participation and results were recognized and respected. If you didn't participate, you were demoted in favor of those who did – regardless of their gender. Xanthe knew this was a bold statement, indicating their host was setting out to make his own rules. She wondered what other traditions might be altered to suit their new homeland.
The meal began in the same order. Xanthe knew to keep her left hand at her side, only eating or passing food to others with her right. Several conversations were going on at once, ebbing and flowing in a mixture of English and Arabic as vibrant and exotic as the food on the table.
Once the eating had slowed, the conversation continued until it was interrupted by the host gently clapping his hands. He looked around at the group and welcomed them all.
‘Peace be upon all of you’ he began.
‘Today, we have won our brother's life from the jaws of Satan himself.
‘Today, we have declared with our actions that we can and will, act. We will secure our lives, our lands and our families.
‘Today, we have gained our brother, and tomorrow we will declare to all that we will possess our lands, we will serve Allah, the merciful, and we will bring this land under His peace and His law, Inshallah.’
The group nodded in agreement and most of them murmured ‘Inshallah’ as well.
He then turned to Maryam and said ‘Maryam, would you and Zantee please tell us what happened?’
Xanthe appreciated what he was doing. It was unthinkable for the host to communicate directly with her, a female who was not a direct family member. So he had obviously and cleverly asked a directly related female family member to act as a liaison.
Maryam began telling their story. She alternated looking at Xanthe and her host, avoiding eye contact with the other men at the table.
‘Well, Xanthe and I have been friends for months. We're in all the same classes at Uni – we're both passionate about social justice, opposing intolerance and fascism.’
Xanthe continued, making sure to speak to Maryam, but loudly enough that everyone in the room could hear. ‘We've done a lot of activism, marches, Antifa rallies, putting up posters. We both volunteered for the Greens at the election.’ She paused, a little sad that the Greens had lost almost all their seats in parliament at the recent election. All that effort had basically been wasted.
Maryam nodded. ‘So I overheard Sargon talking about the Villawood Detention Centre. It's such an evil place, a symbol of the corrupt government, the torture of innocent people. Everybody deserves a home, and we are such a rich country, we owe it to humanity to give a home and food to anyone who wants it.’
‘It was mostly Xanthe's idea. She and I drove around the centre to get an idea of the place and we memorised the layout from Google Maps. Sargon had told us what area Deng was in, how important he is, and when we saw there were two walls, I thought it was impossible.’
But Xanthe looked at the walls up close, and had the idea of pulling down the outside section, then driving a car through the gap and into the inner wall.’
‘Punching two holes’ explained Xanthe. ‘It meant that we had to leave the second car in the fence, but since it was stolen anyway, there's no way of tracing it back to us.’
‘Sargon arranged for two others to help us out, and we arranged for Maryam to stay at the shops with my phone, to create an alibi, just in case. The four of us went over the plan every day for a week, then did a dry run yesterday, to get used to the road, turns, everything.’
So this morning, it all went as planned. Even though Sargon had a key for the gate, we cut the lock off, then the van went in and they hooked up steel cables to the metal fence – it’s there in sections – bolted into other parts of the wall that are concrete. The van drove off and pulled the whole metal section off onto the ground. I drove through the opening and smashed the car into the inner fence. That's what made the hole big enough for Deng to get out. We ran back to the van and got away.’ Xanthe was smiling and wiggling around on her seat as she relived the excitement.
‘Then we switched cars in a unit block basement nearby, and then they dropped me back at the shops where Maryam was waiting.’
Everyone else at the table had been listening with great attention, and now smiled, nodded and clapped to show appreciation of the planning and execution of the escape.
But none of the smiles were wider and warmer than their host's.
‘Well done. A bold but simple plan,’ He nodded again. ‘And we are very pleased to have our honored guest with us safely. Truly Allah is merciful and gracious.’ He paused, then went on.
‘Both of you have brought great honor to our family. Thank you and bless you.’
He turned to one of the younger men sitting at the table near him.
‘Bilal, would you please call Mullah Melbourne and arrange for Zantee to join your classes? I believe she has the makings of a great warrior for Allah.’
One of the young men about her age blushed, and then nodded. The older man saw it, laughed, and said ‘perhaps we should marry you as well!’ Bilal’s eyes nearly fell out of his head, and Xanthe laughed aloud at the idea. It was absurd.
But their host’s eyes narrowed as he thought about it. ‘Maryam, can you tell me who Zantee’s father is?’
Xanthe shook her head. ‘Both of my parents are dead, I was raised in a foster home and once I turned eighteen, I was on my own.’
Maryam put her hand to her mouth as she learned this about her friend. ‘Oh – I had no idea…’she said but Xanthe smiled at her friend and shook her head slightly, smiling to show she was not upset.
‘It’s just a part of me, and my life’s story, no big deal. There are many more people less fortunate than me – maybe it’s why I feel so strongly about helping people.’
One of the other men at the table tilted his head to the side as he asked the host a question. ‘If a young woman has no father, no male authority, how then can she be married? Who can vouch for her?’
The host smiled ‘Truly Allah is merciful, and has provided all things for us. If a woman is to be married, and has no male relative, then the Imam can take the place for her.’
Xanthe looked at Maryam, somewhat alarmed. ‘I do NOT want to be married right now.’ She paused, ‘One day, yes, but not right now.’
Their host nodded and stroked his beard as he entertained the idea of marrying this woman who had a lion’s heart to one of his strongest warriors – maybe Sargon would be a good husband for her. Surely their children would have the strength of a hundred men - like the Prophet, peace be upon him. Then he laughed with the others, waved his hands to dismiss the idea, and went on with the last of the meal.
When it was time to go, Bilal offered to take Xanthe to meet the Melbourne Mullah. Their host asked them to take Deng as well, since he was going to be working for the Mullah. Bilal nodded and gestured for Deng and Xanthe to follow him. She wrapped a scarf around her head as she went out the front door, down the steps and climbed into the EVO, Xanthe and Bilal in the front and Deng in the back. Bilal fired it up and roared off towards the house near the Mosque.
As they drove, Xanthe turned to Deng and smiled, the relief of the jailbreak bubbling up inside her again. ‘How are you feeling?’ she asked him. ‘Do you need anything?’ Given he had run out of the detention centre with nothing but the clothes on his back, it was a reasonable and thoughtful question.
Deng looked at her for a moment, his mind weighing up whether to respond. She was a non-relative, a woman, but then again, the host had honored her highly, and he was in a foreign country, with a specific mission, and he needed to learn more about everything before he would know who was to be obeyed and who could be ignored. Best to show minimal courtesy but be polite to everyone until he knew more.
He didn't smile, but he said ‘Thank you, no. The Mullah will give me what has been provided, Inshallah.’
‘Fuck yeah I’m interested,’ drawled one of the wealthiest property developers in Australia. Despite a net worth well over $2 billion, he still spoke and thought like a Western Sydney bricklayer. Harry leaned forward in his chair at a private table in the Mosaic restaurant, part of the exclusive Westin Hotel in Sydney’s Martin Place. He scrawled his signature on the Non-Disclosure Agreement and tossed it across the white tablecloth towards his host. Anything that required a contract of secrecy would be profitable, and he loved being in on the ground floor of any development enterprise.
‘Ahem’ said the Englishman, clearing his throat and sipping on iced water. He was having difficulty reconciling the wealth, power and dress of the man with his crude manner of speaking. It was incongruous in the extreme, particularly when contrasted with the style and eloquence that normally frequented the Westin Hotel in Martin Place.
The Englishman steepled his fingers, resting his hands on the white tablecloth while he chose his words carefully.
‘Harry, the interests that I represent have come into some information…that indicates…major reconstruction and development works will be soon required…in South Western Sydney…’
Harry looked quizzically at the Englishman. ‘I know about the fucken Caliphate, mate. What, you think they’re going to want us to build their Taj Mahal?’
The Englishman shook his head, ‘Well, no – the Taj Mahal is Indian – but that’s not it at all.’ He shook his head and quietly continued.
‘My clients believe the Australian Government will not allow the Caliphate to continue for more than six months. They are quietly gathering forces to evacuate, surround, secure and clear the Caliphate of all extremists.’ He considered Harry’s eyes, and saw them widen in disbelief, then narrow as the implications – and profits – became apparent.
‘They’re gonna destroy the joint!’ Harry gasped.
The Englishman breathed in, then said quietly ‘Using a combination of air power, artillery and some ground forces.’
Harry leaned back in his chair, fixing the Englishman with a piercing stare as his brain worked. Finally, he uttered two words, in a question: ‘Seven suburbs?’ His bushy eyebrows arched over his hawkish nose as he contemplated the loss of life and property involved in what was being proposed – as well as the incredible profits for those involved in reconstruction…
The Englishman cocked his head, ‘well, not all of those suburbs will require…complete… rebuilding, but essentially that area of land will need to be completely re-developed, much like Berlin or Tokyo after World War 2…’
Harry shook his head. ‘No, that won’t work.’ The Englishman started to contradict him – worried that Harry was concerned about civilian casualties – but Harry held up his hand to request patience.
‘There’s no point just rebuilding more houses’ said Harry slowly. ‘We need to start below ground, put the trains and busses in tunnels.’ He held out his hand flat, palm down, indicating a strata level below ground, and then lifted it a little higher. ‘Above that go the services, water, electricity, and communications.’ He lifted his hand a little higher: ‘Then, at ground level you put in transport hubs, warehousing and distribution, shops and restaurants.’
The Englishman nodded, pleased that Harry had grasped the scope of the idea but believed it to be his own. He was man enough that he didn’t need everyone to think he had all the ideas. If his client’s proposal was implemented, that was all that mattered.
‘Above that, you have a couple of levels of offices, then your residential towers,’ finished Harry, as his hand swept up from chin level to above his head, indicating the amount of residential he foresaw.
Then his eyes narrowed, and he scrutinized the Englishman’s face again, looking for any wavering, any hint this was not serious. He saw none.
‘What about the government?’ he asked. ‘Something like this would take years to get through all the planning departments – just look at Barangaroo…’ his voice trailed off as he noticed the Englishman’s Cheshire grin.
‘Fear not,’ the Englishman chuckled. ‘My clients have made sure that both the Federal and State governments understand that this is being done under Emergency powers. Do you think you can accomplish a project of this size?’
Harry had already figured out who he would involve, and who would be shut out of the deals to come. ‘Sure’ he responded, ‘I’ve got everyone from demolition, excavation, construction – and every fucken strata manager and real estate agent in New South Wales is going to be lobbying for a piece of the sales and management – fucked if we can do it all, so lucky for them!’
‘You’re not worried about…casualties?’ asked the Englishman.
‘Fuck no,’ replied Harry. ‘Anyone with any brains will get the fuck outta there as soon as they can. Those who stay deserve what’s coming to them.’
The Englishman picked up the secrecy contract that Harry had signed to finalize the meeting. ‘Then we’re done, I’ll leave all the administration and organization to you. Have a think about setting up a working group to liaise with the necessary people in State and Federal circles when the time is right. Develop a list of any questions about infrastructure you’ll need answered once those secrecy requirements expire.’
Harry stood to shake hands, and said ‘What about local government? What about council? Who do we talk to about local logistics and waste?’
The Englishman just laughed quietly as he equaled Harry’s firm handshake. ‘You write your own rules for now. Local councils will be abolished by the Caliphate, so once they are gone,’ he shrugged, ‘those who get out early might be able to stand for new elections once the dust settles.’
‘But by that time, we’ll both be rich, and I’ll be long gone…’
Twelve hours later, on the other side of the world, the sun was beginning to set in Paris and Muslims from every quarter were on their way to Friday evening prayer. Philippe had arrived earlier than most, and had started the ritual washing in the men's room. He was almost finished when two more men entered, talking loudly, almost arguing. Philippe didn't mean to overhear but he gathered that they were talking about Australia.
‘I don't care if you don't believe me, I'm telling you, it’s happening,’ said the first man.
‘A Caliph?’ said the second in disbelief. ‘None of the Caliphs have enough money to buy that kind of land.’
‘No, no, I'm not talking about the Jordanians’ replied the first man. ‘It's the Saudis – the new king doesn't feel safe anymore, not in Arabia, not in Europe. They are starting a whole new Caliphate and he will be the Caliph!’
Philippe didn't hear any more, since his business was finished, and he was focused on prayers and the evening ahead. He entered the main area of the small Mosque and completed his prayers with about a dozen others. He stood up just as the doors burst open and black-clad figures rushed in screaming ‘descendre’ in French and ‘nankab’ in Arabic. Philippe saw that some were ordinary National Police, their clothes had POLICE written in English – but others were more like commando soldiers with GIPN on the back of their jackets. All wore body armor, black helmets and carried small rifles. Philippe realized that his dinner plans didn't matter anymore, and if he was lucky he might be able to get to work on Monday.
The intruders pushed everyone to the floor, used cable ties to secure their hands and feet, and then left them on the ground while they searched the Mosque.
Since Philippe was lying nearest the doors, he heard the team leaders reporting back to the commander. They had been looking for weapons, explosives and computers but hadn't found anything.
‘Pack up’ he heard the commander order. ‘Get this lot back for interrogation.’
Philippe was hauled to his feet and the cable ties on his ankles replaced with shackles that allowed him to walk. He was bundled into a police van with the rest of the worshippers and the van drove slowly through the crowded Paris streets. The van had no windows, so Philippe guessed that they had only moved a few districts when the van stopped and the doors opened, revealing they were inside what looked like a police garage. The walls were concrete, same as the floor, and there were other vans and police cars parked in rows.
Still shackled, the prisoners were led through a door into a reception room where their personal items were taken, sealed in plastic bags and registered in a computer. Then they were led into a long corridor, which had many glass doors set into it on both sides. These turned out to be interrogation rooms, containing a metal table and four chairs, all bolted to the floor. Philippe was pushed into the first one and left alone as the door clicked locked. Through the glass, he saw the rest of the worshippers shuffling down the hall, each being allocated a room. He sat in a chair, rested his arms on the table, put his head in his hands, and began to wait.
He was mentally prepared to spend several days in this room, but was surprised when less than ten minutes later, the door opened and two plain-clothes investigators came in. One was blonde, the other had red hair. Both men were tall and thin, pale from spending too much time indoors. They didn't introduce themselves, and Philippe didn't speak either. He was sure they knew who he was because they certainly would have examined his belongings, wallet and ID as soon as they were recorded in the computer system.
‘Philippe Brulee’ began the redhead. ‘Thirty-two years old, you live in Saint-Denis, you teach law at the 13 University.’ Philippe spread his hands in a gesture that acknowledged the man had spoken, but remained silent. They hadn't asked a question yet.
‘What do you know of the reasons you have been arrested?’ asked the blonde man. Philippe chuckled inside – he recognized the Good Cop – Bad Cop routine right away, but decided to play along.
‘I am not aware that I have been arrested,’ he said calmly and slowly. The last thing he wanted was to upset these investigators and turn his life into a pissing contest. ‘I understand that I have been brought in for questioning, but nobody has told me that I'm under arrest.’
The two interrogators looked at each other. Despite their power, they knew they had to tread carefully. This guy was a teacher at the same school that the Mayor of Paris taught at, and undoubtedly moved in the same circles. Any abuse of their authority may come back to bite them – hard, particularly since nobody knew the future and who might be in control of their budgets in five or ten years’ time.
The redhead cleared his throat. ‘Correct. We had a tip-off that the Mosque was being used to assemble and store weapons for a future terror attack. Do you know anything about this?’
Philippe honestly replied that he had no idea what they were talking about. Yes, he lived in a terrorist stronghold - that was a fact. But just because his part of the city had become a war zone didn't mean he was involved. All he wanted to do was be left alone to teach his classes and climb the bureaucratic ladder in the university. He racked his brain to try and figure out a way to convince them he was just a public servant who happened to be a Muslim. Then he remembered.
‘All I can tell you is what I heard in the wash room.’ The two men stared at him, the redhead started writing in a notebook.
‘Two men came in. I didn't see their faces because they were behind me. But they were talking about Australia.
‘Australia?’ asked the blonde man. Philippe paused to search his memory to make sure the words he used were clear and couldn't easily be twisted against him.
‘One man was saying the Saudi King is moving to Sydney. He doesn't feel safe in the Middle East or Europe, but they are preparing a place in Sydney – a Caliphate.’
The redhead stopped writing. ‘You can’t be serious.’
‘That's what the other guy in the washroom said,’ replied Philippe. ‘I'm not saying I believe it, I'm just telling you what I heard. Sorry, but I don't know anything else.’
The two interrogators looked at each other, then back at Philippe. They seemed at a loss for words, then the redhead asked, ‘and there's no way you would recognized them again?’
Philippe shook his head. ‘My back was turned, that's all I heard. Sorry I can't help you further.’
‘Have you noticed or heard anything else? Even if you don't think it’s important.’
‘Look, gentlemen,’ he pleaded. ‘Every religion has its extremists, and there are morons everywhere, right? Even WE had Vichy, didn't we? I believe in the rule of French law. I teach it for God's sake. I'm not a criminal or a terrorist, my family goes back to Charlemagne.’
The blonde nodded slowly, his mouth twisting to express reluctant agreement.
‘Looks like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ Philippe breathed a small sigh of relief.
He sensed they wanted to check his story with the other worshippers and decided to put a little pressure on – see if he could still get home in time for dinner.
‘Look, you know who I am; you know I'm not going anywhere. I've co-operated, told you everything I know. Can I go home?’
The redhead stiffened in his seat. ‘That's not up to us. We need to check a few things.’
They stood, collected their notes and left him alone.
But Philippe had the last laugh, because it was only a few more minutes before the door unlocked again, and another police officer came in. This was an old man, dressed in a normal police uniform. Philippe immediately sensed this guy was close to retirement, and worked in administration, not front-line police work. The man checked a file in his hand and asked ‘Philippe Broulee?’
Philippe nodded, and the man said, ‘You are free to go, please come with me.’
Going back to the reception room, Philippe collected his wallet, phone and keys, signed the paperwork and walked out into the night. He made a phone call, explained his disappearance and was pleased to hear his dinner plans were still valid.
It would be months before he learned anything about what was going on in Sydney, or what his unwitting actions had unleashed. He had no idea that his report had been included in the joint Interpol data sharing network and picked up by ASIO clerks. The intel was routed upwards and included in the PM's daily Threat Assessment Brief.
Bilal was tired but focused on what the Mullah was saying. The group lessons were held several times a week, and Bilal had learned a lot – his Arabic was conversational now. Although he was tired, he was looking forward to the end of the lesson because he had a special surprise planned for the Mullah.
Bilal waited patiently while some of the slower learners got individual attention from the Mullah, then sat up a little straighter as their teacher went to the front of the room and sat down. ‘Inshallah, that's all for tonight,’ he said, smiling at his students in turn. ‘Anything else before we all go home?’
Bilal cleared his throat and raised his hand, waiting for the Mullah to give him permission to speak. Receiving it, he held up a small bag he had created and proudly explained his idea. ‘It’s called a Faraday Bag.’ He began. ‘Two zip lock bags with a foil layer in between. You've taught us that the infidels can access our phones even when they are turned off, but... I thought... if you block the radio signal completely, they can't get anything...’ He was extremely pleased to see the other students looking at him admiringly and finished in a rush. ‘It would mean we can keep our phones with us, but invisible to the infidels...’
The Mullah looked at Bilal with a smile on his face. A warm, enthusiastic smile that gave Bilal a rush of power and joy. Perhaps he had shown the all-wise, worldly Mullah something new, something he hadn't seen before. The Mullah stroked his bearded chin, and nodded appreciatively.
‘Well done, Bilal. You are thinking, testing, that is good. Let's test it, shall we?’ Bilal's heart froze a little at the idea. He hadn't tried it yet and he wasn't even sure how his idea might be tested.
The Mullah nodded to Bilal. ‘Put your phone in the bag. Make sure it is turned on and the ringer isn't silent.’
Hands trembling, hoping against hope that he was right, Bilal complied. A few seconds later, his phone was securely wrapped in the foil bag. Slowly, almost theatrically, the Mullah pulled out his own phone, an ancient Nokia 3330, scrolled into the menu then hit the green phone key.
The nervous energy in the room climbed exponentially in the two seconds after the tinny BEEP sounded, as if the old phone in the Mullah's hand was radioactive. Then Bilal's world imploded.
The familiar trilling of his own ringtone filled the room, and all Bilal's pride and excitement evaporated as the rest of the students burst out laughing. Bilal was about to yell at them to shut up when the Mullah did it for them.
‘Silence’ he bellowed, and the room instantly hushed. Nervous eyes locked onto the Mullah, shame creeping across some of the faces as the owners guessed the lesson they were all about to learn. The Mullah glared at them all. ‘Inshallah!’
‘None of you had any original ideas. Bilal has learned an important lesson, as I hope you all have. No physics or electronics training, yet he has brought up a valid idea. I praise his ideas and initiative; I want to see more of it.’
The older man turned to Bilal. ‘A layer of tinfoil will not insulate against the radio signal from your phone. Solar radiation, yes. EMP, maybe. But the tinfoil you buy in a supermarket is not sufficient.’ He paused to make sure Bilal understood that he wasn't being scolded or mocked, then went on. ‘You will need to find a more effective insulator. It may simply require more layers, it may need to be a metal box with soldered sides. This is a good project. Do more research and give a report next week. OK?’
Bilal nodded, swallowing his pride and grateful that the older man had defended his ego from the others in the class. He would get onto Google as soon as he got home.
Mario was so average he could have been a stereotype. Stocky and dark haired, he had average looks and he lived in an average fibro house in Western Sydney. Like a lot of almost-forty-year-old men in his situation, he lived alone, sharing the care of two teenage kids with his ex-wife.
Like most average Australians, Mario worked hard, earned decent money and saved up his annual leave so he could take a week off at a time. His lifetime passion was hunting with a bow, and he would finish work about 4pm on a Friday, dash home, finish packing his Land Cruiser and then head out to one of the hundreds of State Forests in country New South Wales. There he would set up camp and hunt for several days and nights, stalking the feral goats and deer that made excellent organic, free range food. While he absolutely preferred to eat what he killed, he had no issue shooting feral dogs, cats, pigs and other predators that were destroying the native plants and animals at a rapid rate.
Earlier in the evening, his small lounge room had looked as if a hurricane had hit a camping store, but now all the pieces of equipment were organized, pack and loaded into the Cruiser. Tent, stove and gas, clothes, food, water, batteries, lights, butcher knives, baby wipes… A dozen other items to make camp life a little more comfortable and help preserve the meat he hoped to take.
Now, it was close to midnight and he was ready to leave. The house lights were all off except for a small desk lamp in the study where he had gone over the maps one last time, and he was in the process of checking over his bow before he left for his hunt. It was important to check all the moving parts, the cams and strings for cracks, wear or other damage that could cause it to fail. While he did carry spare parts, it was best to check it while repairs could be done at home – much more comfortable than trying to work on it in the field.
The house was quiet, almost resting after the bustling teenagers had been causing constant noise for a week. They had gone to their mum’s house after school on Friday, and now there was no music, no electronic entertainment, even the WIFI router was switched off. Mario’s mind was approaching a state of Zen as his eyes and hands worked around the familiar shape of the bow, evaluating the components and comparing what he saw to what should be.
The bow was a perfectly proportioned creation of carbon fiber, steel and rubber. It flexed gently under his hands as he ran his fingers over the surface, checking for cracks, lumps or imperfections that could indicate damage. He touched the bolts that held it together, the cams that tensioned the string and then ran his fingers over the string itself, making sure it wasn’t twisted, knotted and sat correctly in the grooves.
Fixed to the top of the bow, a quiver of arrows lay vertically opposite the grip and sight, with four razor-sharp broadhead arrows secured into the rubber rack. The arrows were clean, sharp and virtually identical, free of variations that could affect their flight to the target.
He was completely relaxed and about to take the string off the bow when he heard glass breaking from the rear of the house. Startled, he forgot about the bow in his hand as he stood up and eased his body into the doorway, peering down the central hallway that ran from the front door, past three doorways – including the one he occupied – and ended at the kitchen on the back wall of the house.
The house was pitch black, and his night vision hadn’t recovered from the desk lamp he had used a moment earlier, but a rising moon shone enough light outside to shadow the figure that had broken the window in the back door, and was now reaching through to unlock it.
Mario’s breathing stopped. He was terrified. Blood was roaring in his ears and he tried to comprehend what was happening and what he could do – but nothing came. His brain felt paralyzed, and he stood, frozen, watching as the lock clicked and the door swung open.
The shadowy arm moved again, towards the wall and with a softer click the hallway light came on, startling Mario but his brain stubbornly refused to help him. He stood stiffly, looking at the intruder less than ten meters away – blue overalls, black nylon jacket, no mask or face covering. Mario saw a man, mid-20s, with a narrow, emaciated face and deep sunk eyes. The dark hair was long, tangled and greasy and Mario could see tattoos on the man’s neck and face.
The terrified home owner’s brain screamed ‘JUNKIE’ as Mario’s eyes moved to the gloved hands and fixed upon the gleaming knife blade that shimmered menacingly in the pale light on the ceiling. Mario wanted to scream out, to threaten the intruder, to drive them off, but nothing happened until the burglar took a step into the hallway and saw him there.
Mario’s heart and lungs started working again, but his throat couldn’t make a sound pass into his mouth. All that came out were a series of squeaks like a mouse might make, until the intruder took another step and he was able to cry ‘Get…out...’ To Mario, it sounded like a ten-year-old boy trying to stand up to a schoolyard bully, and the intruder simply laughed. A deep chuckle that seemed to swell from hell itself, up through the floor and into the man’s body. Mario seemed hypnotized by the knife as the man stepped towards him again, twisting the knife in the air.
‘Too late cunt’ hissed the burglar. ‘Seen my face, I gunna cut you up.’
As the words registered in his brain, Mario felt the terror in his body washed away by an overwhelming feeling of calm. He was as good as dead. Messed in the head by who knows what kinds of drugs, for how long, this junkie would have no trouble slitting his throat before stealing whatever he could. But then Mario’s brain jumped to the next logical conclusion, the criminal would also be free to rob, rape and kill his next victim, then the next and so on.
By the time these thoughts had gone through his brain, Mario found he had stepped out into the hallway and turned towards the intruder, bringing up the bow and nocking an arrow into the string. He had no memory of the movements, everything was flashing by so quickly, but his eyes focused on the broad-head hunting arrow, reflecting the same light as the attacker’s knife.
Mario’s throat twisted again, and he managed to croak ‘no, get out’ as he drew the string back and locked his fingers in next to his cheek. In a confused mass of jumbled images, the man sprang towards him, lashing out with the knife and Mario jumped back, losing his balance and reflexively releasing the bowstring at the same time. His head struck the inside of the front door and he slid to the ground, seeing stars for a full five seconds.
Opening his eyes, shaking his head to clear it, Mario saw the intruder lying in the hallway, halfway to the back door. Body trembling with the aftermath of the massive adrenaline shock, he crawled to his feet and moved closer. The burglar was lying on his right side, head towards the door with the arrow embedded in his chest. Mario shuffled closer, there didn’t look to be any blood on the carpet – could the man still be alive?
Reaching the body, Mario saw that he was indeed dead, the arrow had struck right in the heart and stopped it instantly. With the heart stopped, the dying man had been able to take two or three steps – purely on reflex, before crashing to the floor. The hydrostatic shock of the impact in the heart would have overwhelmed his nervous system instantly, shutting down all conscious thoughts, although the subconscious reflexes remained active for a second or two more. In short, the burglar was dead before he hit the ground. Because his heart had stopped instantly, only a small amount of blood had leaked from the wound, and remained trapped inside the jacket - Mario saw it as he gently touched the end of the arrow pointing grotesquely up in the air.
Mario dropped the bow and collapsed into a chair in the kitchen as the stress reaction kicked in again. His hands shook violently, his head spun, and he felt like he was going to throw up. Dropping his head into his hands he moaned weakly, an audible expression of the nervous energy pouring through his body.
After a few nerve-wracking minutes, he began to calm down and think clearly. He involuntarily grabbed his phone to call the police, and then thought twice. A proverb his mother had often repeated came into his mind, and he smiled at her ancient wisdom: ‘If you have an intruder in your house, then you have a problem. If you call the police, then you have two problems.’
No, the police would be almost as bad as the burglar. They would certainly snoop around and see if they could find what the burglar was looking for. They would question him for days – he could kiss his camping trip goodbye. Then there would be media attention – the last thing he needed was for his wife and kids to find out about this on TV.
Absolutely not. He would need to take care of this himself.
Mario crossed himself, closed his eyes and whispered, ‘Bless you Mama’. When he opened his eyes, there was something different in them, a hardness; a bitterness. The set of his jaw was resolute. He had an ugly job to do and was resigned to seeing it through.
He realized exactly what he had to do, and he most certainly did not like that knowledge. Steeling his nerves, he went into the garage and brought back a blue tarpaulin, opened it on the ground next to the corpse and then moved the feet onto it. Moving around to the head, he grabbed the jacket shoulders and used them to lift the torso off the ground and onto the tarp. Then he knelt, grabbed the arrow shaft and began to screw it off the head, still buried deep in the corpse.
After several turns, the arrow shaft popped free and he jerked it out of the corpse. Mario shuddered involuntarily as the horror of the whole situation crashed down on top of him. ‘Get a grip, mate,’ he admonished himself and rolled up the tarp to completely cover the body. Using the tarp as a sled, he dragged the corpse into the garage, stopping several times to catch his breath. It was heavier and more difficult than it looked in the movies.
Leaving the garage lights off, he opened the garage door and reversed the Landcruiser inside, then shut off the engine. He closed the garage door, then went around to the back of the vehicle and opened the rear doors. He spent a few minutes re-arranging the camping gear in the back and then, with great effort, managed to get the body in as well. He covered the tarp with camping gear and slammed the doors shut.
The sun was almost rising as he pulled the Land Cruiser out onto the road and started heading west. He had patched the broken glass pane in the back door of the house, retrieved the rest of his gear & maps and then locked up the house as he left. Now, as the tyres ate up the black roadway illuminated by the headlights, he had time to think, to plan. He blasted the air conditioner as cold as possible and tried to get his thoughts in order, to categorize options as ‘workable’ or ‘not’ and eliminate the unworkable. He was on the M4 approaching Penrith when he settled on a plan that was ‘workable’ in all elements.
He pulled off the freeway and made several turns, finally pulling into the car park of a giant Bunnings hardware store. Turning up his coat collar and settling a hat low over his eyes, he entered the store just as it was opening. He knew enough high school chemistry to understand that it would take weeks for acid to dissolve a human body, but his plan didn’t need to dissolve the body, just make it unrecognizable. He bought several PET plastic tubs, aluminium foil, a selection of bricks & pavers, protective equipment and some pool chemicals. Now that he was committed, Mario’s mental process was remarkably clear. He ticked off the items in his head, adding in the equipment he already had in his car, paid cash and then exited as calmly as he could.
The Land Cruiser crossed the Nepean River, climbed the steep ascent at Emu Plains and Mario mentally cancelled his planned breakfast at McDonald’s. He just didn’t feel like eating.
At each of the towns strung along the railway line through the Blue Mountains, he stopped in at pool shops to buy an extra drum of pool acid, paying cash and taking precautions to avoid CCTV without being noticeable. He spread out his purchases through several shops, just in case somebody tried to put together a trail of evidence. Traffic was slow, but he eventually reached Lithgow and dropped down off the Great Dividing Range, and out of mobile phone reception as well.
Steering with one hand, he turned off his phone, then wrapped it in several layers of aluminium foil to completely block any signals it might be displaying. Then he opened a metal .50 caliber ammunition box and stuffed the foil-wrapped phone inside. For anyone tracking his movements, or going back through the location data stored in the phone memory, there would be no indication as to where he had been since leaving Mt York.
He turned north off the Great Western Highway onto State Mine Road, heading deep into the Newnes State Forest. Heavily logged for decades following the collapse of the kerosene shale mining industry, this wilderness was crisscrossed with logging tracks, dirt bike ruts and fire trails. This maze of paths could disorient even an experienced local, but Mario wasn’t interested in keeping track of his movements. He planned to find the most remote camping spot he could, do what had to be done and then head east until he hit State Mine Road again. It didn’t matter where he got onto that road, he could just go south until he arrived back in Lithgow.
Six days later, Mario arrived back in Lithgow and ate breakfast at McDonald’s, refueled the Land Cruiser and headed back towards home. He had unwrapped his phone on State Mine Road, leaving behind a burnt-out fire pit, some crushed grass but otherwise no indication that he had dismembered a body, burned off the fingerprints, face, tattoos, teeth & eyes in acid and then buried the remains under several layers of bricks to make sure the predators couldn’t dig it up. He had done his best, and to the best of his ability, nobody would ever find the body or be able to tie him to it if they did.
Mario focused on these positive thoughts, and boosted his spirits even further by thinking about several kilograms of goat meat cooling in his Esky. Mario loved goat curry, made in his slow cooker, and several days’ hunting had ensured he would be eating quality, free range, and organic meat for weeks.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:50 pm
‘I don’t get it, homie’ said Bilal’s friend Mohammed. ‘Why you wanna fight to bring Sharia law into this country? If you wanna live under Sharia, why not go to Iran or Dubai?’
‘You don’t understand’ replied Bilal calmly. He was confident because this was one lesson that the Mullah had spent a lot of time on. He was educated now, his eyes opened to the reality that had been concealed, drowned out by the infidel distractions of television, internet and advertising.
‘The whole world belongs to Allah, the whole world desires to be free to live according to his mercy. Some, many, may not know this, but subconsciously, they do. Sadly, many parts of it suffer darkness, blindness and the oppression of the infidel. But now, the balance is changing.’
‘It makes no difference what the people in any land want. It is the will of Allah. The whole world will submit, and we will be the ones to do it. Inshallah’
Bilal took a sip of bottled water and went on to describe the Arab Spring sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. Millions of believers freed from the yoke of colonial oppression, free to reject the sinful, sexualized advertising, the corrupt and extractive corporations, taxes that supported foreign invasions and regime changes that only suited the global elites. He spoke about corrupt Western governments stoking sectarian divisions and strife, maintaining factions that prevented nations from coming together in unity.
‘For the first time in a thousand years, we have a chance to fill the whole world with praise to Allah.
‘Shit bro’ scowled Mohammed ‘if it gets serious, it’s not like Battlefield 4, you’re dead. Ended.’
Bilal’s smile widened and he stroked the thin, wispy beard that was starting to grow on his chin. ‘And if Allah does take me on the field of battle, then what awaits the pure soul is truly better than our mortal minds can understand.’
Mohammed shook his head again. ‘Life’s good HERE, bro. Big risk - for what?’
‘Yeah, life has been good – for the infidels. But what of the true Muslims? Harassed and targeted by police, Halal opposition, fascists, constantly accused of terrorism – it is truly evil to oppose an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. We must, all of us, make a stand against evil.’
‘Besides, times are changing.’ Bilal’s voice had changed in the past few weeks, along with his speech. He rarely raised his voice any more, adopting the softer, more expressive tones of the Mullah and the Sheikhs. ‘You been following the elections? The government is a mess, the people are upset, and this is the perfect time.’
‘Perfect time for what?’ asked Mohammed.
‘Perfect time to fulfill our destiny!’ preached Bilal quietly. ‘To become princes in our own land. To make our own laws, collect our own taxes. To become the heads of our own families’
‘Look around you, everywhere the peace of Allah is under attack from infidels. They control the economy, the military, the water and food supplies, the law, the media. Every day the media attacks us directly, calling us terrorists, promoting sin and corruption. There's more Muslims in prison than any other religion. Ask yourself, have you ever felt truly happy and free?’
Mohammed thought for a moment. ‘Shit bro, I never… maybe...when I was little. But now, even with decent clothes, work, money, shit. I got what I thought I needed, what should make me happy. But no, I'm not happy.
Bilal nodded, ‘That's exactly what I said when the Mullah asked me.’
‘We never knew how badly our true way of life was under attack. They're just using us for our labor, taxing our money right out of our pay, before we even see any of it. And what do they do with our money? They give it to young women to have babies, they send soldiers to the Middle East to steal oil and opium. They pay judges to put us in prison – for what? Being Muslim? It's not right.’
Mohammed was beginning to agree that life wasn't as good as it appeared on the surface. ‘But still, shit – starting a war? That's extreme, bro.’
‘I'm not starting anything’ retorted Bilal. ‘THEY started it. They continue it, snooping in our homes using our own TVs and laptops, passing laws that make us guilty before we even did anything. We live in a comfortable injustice, a comfortable cage; but the comfort is failing every day, more and more people are waking up and realizing the prison we are all living in. We deserve to be able to live in this country, without living in a social prison.
‘All we want is to live in the way we choose, just like everyone else wants to. But if the oppressor’s hand weighs too heavily upon us, it is our duty to strike back, to kill, conquer and create a safe land, a sharia land.’
Mohammed shrugged again, and shook his head ‘Fuck no. Crazy talk bro.’
Bilal recalled the words of the Mullah: ‘If they will not hear immediately, do not push too hard. Plant a seed in their mind, and water it regularly, then when it grows, it will change their mind for them.’ He decided to back off. Perhaps his old friends could be useful in other ways.
‘OK, I get it’ he held up his hands, palm out in appeasement. ‘Forget it. Change the subject. You know when we played soccer, those hot/cold packs they used?’
Mohammed screwed up his eyes to help him think. ‘Maybe.’
‘The Mullah is starting a sports club, needs as many as he can get. So if you see some in the chemist, do me a favour and buy em?’ Mohammed was glad that his friend was talking some sense now, hopefully getting involved in sports would channel his energy away from the religious stuff.
‘Sure bro, my sister works at Priceline now, I'll see if she can hook you up with a carton.’
Bilal smiled. The Mullah and Deng would love that.
The next afternoon found Bilal back in the DIMO truck, waiting for access to another cruise liner at White Bay. As was his habit, he scrolled through his news feed, but paid more attention to the news headlines these days.
VIGILANTE VIOLENCE INCREASING
MUSLIM LEADERS DENY TERROR ACCUSATIONS, CALL FOR CALM
PM ANNOUNCES NEW JOBS INITIATIVE
He sensed that there was more to it than simple sensationalism, but all he knew was that he didn’t know anything about psychology, propaganda or mass media. Shrugging, he flicked off his phone, closed his eyes and bent his mind in submission to something he could understand:
‘In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.
‘Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.
‘The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
‘Master of the Day of Judgement.
‘It is You we worship, and upon You we call for Help.
‘Guide us to the straight path.
He repeated the opening words of the Holy Scriptures, clearing his mind and calming his breathing. The peace and calm radiated from the words through his entire body, relaxing his muscles.
He opened his eyes just as the guard was waving them in, and the truck shuddered as Sargon started the engine. The same routine played out as it had several times earlier, however once the truck was unloaded Sargon said ‘wait here, one minit, grabbed a daypack from behind the driver’s seat and disappeared into the maze of shipping containers, forklifts and delivery trucks.
Bilal sat in the passenger seat and watched the commotion as tonnes of food, alcohol and supplies were shoveled into the ship. His interest was interrupted by Sargon’s return, stuffing the bag back behind the driver’s seat and getting the truck moving. Bilal gave no indication that he had noticed anything, and was relieved when Sargon asked ‘Gym?’ and their normal routine continued after the irregularity.
On Friday, Bilal’s delivery schedule ended at the Lakemba Mosque for prayers. As the worshippers were milling around afterwards, the Melbourne Mullah found Sargon and Bilal and introduced them to another man, dressed the same in a clean white dishdasha with a small white Taqiyah – a prayer cap - on his head.
‘Here are the two young lions I was telling you about,’ he said, indicating Sargon and Bilal with a sweep of his hand. ‘Sargon, Bilal, this is my old friend and associate, Sharik Eamal. We call him the Sydney Sheikh.’
The three men greeted each other formally and respectfully. Bilal looked at the Sheikh, sizing him up and trying to get a feel for where he fit into the community. He saw a tall, thin man with dark, freckled skin and black eyes which were studying him carefully. Then the Sheikh spoke fast, in a deep voice that resonated with authority.
‘Very impressive. You young men are part of a great destiny, a calling. Very special.’
Bilal thought this sounded good, but wanted details. Everyone seemed to be talking about a great mission, but exactly what kind of greatness awaited them seemed to be vague.
The Sheikh must have sensed Bilal’s thoughts, because he smiled warmly and clapped him on the shoulder. ‘Soon, soon – all your questions will be answered. Inshallah, our descendants will write and sing of your deeds for generations to come.
And your family will be wealthy and powerful, long after Allah has received you into heaven.’
Now that was exactly what Bilal wanted to hear.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:21 pm
So now that I've swallowed the hook, I suppose I have to buy the book to finish the story?
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:37 pm
Zed Hunter wrote:So now that I've swallowed the hook, I suppose I have to buy the book to finish the story?
It would be great if you would buy the book and help a struggling zombie hunter.
But I will be posting the rest up eventually.
In between updates from the other writers...
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:13 pm
Zed Hunter wrote:So now that I've swallowed the hook, I suppose I have to buy the book to finish the story?
Sorta along with what I thought. But worth it.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:33 pm
Couldnt wait. Supporting a starving artist i bought the ebook. Good read.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:14 am
DAVE KI wrote:
Zed Hunter wrote:So now that I've swallowed the hook, I suppose I have to buy the book to finish the story?
Sorta along with what I thought. But worth it.
Thanks heaps. Means a lot.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:14 am
Zed Hunter wrote:Couldnt wait. Supporting a starving artist i bought the ebook. Good read.
That a awesome. Thanks very much.
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:23 pm
Finally finished last night...good read!
Though with a bit of patience I suppose I could have just read it here!
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:42 pm
Re: The Kingdom of Saudi Australia
Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 7:06 pm
If anyone has bought the kindle version, please leave a 5 star review and a comment. Helps more than you can imagine, especially to an emerging author.
Thanks much to those who have left a review
‘You’ve already passed a test that you are trustworthy, and know how to keep your mouth shut’ intoned the Melbourne Mullah. ‘Now you are required to be silent even to yourself. Nothing of what we are about to do can be whispered outside these walls. Inshallah, the success of our caliphate is surely won through our silence.’
His audience of five young men and Bilal were kneeling on the carpeted floor of the house just down from the mosque. Friday evening prayers had finished, and the latest batch of recruits were being given their first lessons.
‘No phones, no email. The infidels invented those things and they know every word that is sent through them.’ He went on, describing the Five Eyes and Carnivore programs that copied every electronic transmission from anywhere in the world, sifting for keywords and then filing it in the giant data warehouse in Utah. ‘From now on, your phones will only be used as a weapon against the infidels.’
‘You have been given a roster for the week of where you are to work, and where you are to learn.’ Bilal looked at the sheet of paper; it reminded him of his High School class timetable – each day of the week was broken up into morning, day, evening and night – each delineated by the five-required prayer-times. For the current week, Bilal’s schedule was like his regular work week – except for added prayer times. He felt angry, insulted to have been excluded from more glamorous things – religious or military training, logistics, anything but helping Sargon in the delivery route. He was about to say something, anything, when a new thought entered his brain, as if dropped from the throne of Allah in heaven itself.
It simply said, ‘Is this another test?’ The thought was so clear, sudden and sharp that it immediately cooled his rising anger.
Hmmm…What if it was? Another test of his patience and ability to keep his mouth shut? Bilal frowned and concentrated on the rest of the lesson.
The Mullah continued ‘Stay off your phones at all times. Any time you are NOT doing your Taqiyyua - your normal job and tasks to deceive the infidel - your phone will be switched off and left in your bedroom. That will stop the infidels from listening or watching.’
One of the younger volunteers asked, ‘but if the phone is off, how can they listen?’ One of the other students nodded in agreement.
‘Young fool, child’ scolded the older man. ‘The infidels built these phones so that even though they appear to be off, the camera and microphone can be turned on by remote control - even if the screen remains blank. You MUST assume they are ALWAYS listening, and watching through the camera. The same thing with any electronics - consoles, TVs, laptops. Anything with a microphone or camera, anything connected to the internet – you must be aware that these things are always watching, always listening. Their computers are always recording, indexing, snooping.’
Bilal felt ill. The things he had said while on the phone, or while playing his X-BOX ONE would be stored on the infidel's data servers. He thought about the gigabytes of porn on his laptop and felt even worse. He would have to smash it, burn it and buy a new, clean one. Start a new online identity. He hoped that these new ideas for keeping secrets, tested and proven all over the world, would help in his own business plans, as well as his Holy Jihad.
‘Now, nobody can survive in society without a phone, and a young man without a phone will immediately raise suspicion. So, get a decoy phone, one you take with you any time you are not on jihad training. Make sure it is different, so you can tell the difference. The punishment for losing them or getting them mixed up will be severe.’
‘Email,’ continued the Mullah. ‘Any instructions or information will never, ever be sent by email, as every email is automatically saved, scanned and filed by the spy agencies.’
The group was shown how to log in to web-based email servers, using the ‘draft’ folder to leave and receive messages from operatives around the globe, logging in with the same credentials, then changing the password according to pre-arranged schedules. By saving a message into ‘draft’, the next operative could read it and delete it without ever sending it through an email server.
‘Remember, above all’ said the teacher. ‘We use the enemy’s technology against him. Just because smart phones track your location wherever you are – even if they are switched off – does not mean we cannot use them as a weapon. In 2007, we hid some army rocket launchers in the Royal National Park, but do you think we went straight to the location? NO!’
‘Instead, everyone left their phones with a decoy. He walked around in circles for an hour, while the others took the weapons further on, and buried them safely. Surely, when the police arrested everyone and examined the phones, they dug holes in the park for weeks but found nothing! Because they were digging where the decoy walked, not in the true hiding place! Nobody could be charged because there was no evidence!’ His laugh filled the room and Bilal with hope. Truly, this man was wise and experienced.
The students nodded, understanding the lesson. Every technology had both advantages and disadvantages to the operator, and the tables could be turned if one understood the implications.
The rest of the evening passed with instruction in Arabic, codes, counter-surveillance and operating the radio. Of the group, Bilal knew the most about computers so he was asked to set up social media accounts for the Mullah, and begin ramping up a propaganda campaign to gather and educate followers.
Before they left, the Mullah passed each of them a plain envelope stuffed with $50 and $20 notes. ‘This is to help you buy a copy of the Noble Quran, pious clothes and halal food. Make sure you clean it properly before you use it’ he added, referring to laundering the money.
As a group, they went to the local RSL club and each put over two thousand dollars into the electric poker machines, then immediately pressed the button for a payout, making sure they avoided the other buttons because they considered gambling a sin. The machines printed a ticket, which they took to the cashier and got their money back, with a receipt. They filed their receipts carefully to justify their income to any government tax or investigative agency that came sniffing around. In this way, foreign funds were made legal inside the country, and used to fund the growing security and recruitment efforts of the Caliphate.
During one of the earliest lessons, Bilal had asked the Mullah where the money came from, and how it got into the country. The Mullah smiled graciously and complimented Bilal on his curiosity and quick learning.
‘Hawala,’ he began. ‘Truly, there is only one true currency. There is only one basic, fundamental measure of value. It is trust, honor. A man may own much property but without honor, nobody will befriend him or do business with him.’
‘But we do need to use symbols of value, money, currency to carry out trade around the world. Money, gold, computer symbols – all these occupy a different level, a much lower level, to the trust and honor that a man has in his own community.’
‘There are many people who wish to see our efforts succeed. While many of them are very poor, there are some who are very wealthy and have been blessed by Allah the merciful. These men are happy to provide funds for our cause, and it uses the Hawala system.’
Bilal’s confused look encouraged him to continue. ‘Hawala is a network of brokers all over the world. Some of them operate inside the formal banking system, but many of them are traders, merchants and the like, in every city and town all over the world. You will find a Hawala dealer or sub-dealer in every Mosque in the world.
‘So, let us say that a wealthy man in Geneva wishes to send you money’ he went on, pointing at Bilal. He sends you a message with the amount of money in your local currency, the details of the broker, and a password. This can be done over the phone, by mail, by courier, any way you like. Most of the transfers I use are done on the Gmail account, saved as a draft but never sent.’
‘So you go into the Hawala dealer, and you give him the password and the amount of money you need, and he hands it over. Very simple, but you need to be able to explain the money to the kaffir officials, so we use their own systems of gambling and sin to make it legal in their eyes.’
Bilal understood the process now, but it still didn’t make sense. ‘But how does the Geneva man know that the local man won’t rip him off?’
The Mullah laughed. ‘That is the basis of the whole lesson. The world is ruled by trust, and every Hawala dealer is a trustworthy member of the community, with many connections. Can you imagine to a dealer once word got out that he was a cheat?’
‘What would you do if you were cheated by a Hawala dealer?’
Bilal thought about it for less than a second, the answer was already moving off his tongue. ‘I’d kill the ffff….. dealer.’ He stammered, acutely aware and embarrassed that his emotions had boiled up for a second. He knew the Mullah would not tolerate curse words or swearing – they were as haram – forbidden – as alcohol or gambling.
The Mullah shrugged, ‘That may be a lesser punishment than being an outcast. Once broken, trust can never be established again.’ He shook his head. ‘It is not like this government, who makes agreements and then breaks them at will. They get away with it because they do not know the people who they are harming. Small business owners, families, and babies - the unjust system only exists because it is an extremely wealthy and disconnected society.
‘Once the oil supply slows and the economy crashes, everyone will need to develop trust with their neighbors again. And where neighbors trust each other, it is difficult for a foreigner to impose his will upon them, for they will fight for each other, their clan, against the invader.’
Waiting for his friends at the Westfields Food Court, Bilal was scrolling through his phone, searching for a car to buy. Mister Mohammed was paying him in cash every week for the delivery run, and he was also laundering several thousand dollars per month from the Melbourne Mullah. With only his mobile phone bill, clothes and jewelry to spend money on, he had rapidly saved up almost twenty thousand dollars. For a young man in Sydney, the next logical step was to buy a suitable set of wheels.
In seventeen years, a high proportion of his waking hours had been spent reading about, talking about, arguing about and working on cars – the faster the better. He had routinely passed hours with his friends, arguing over minor details that made one vehicle superior to another. He knew that he would love to drive a Ferrari, but that wasn’t going to be happening immediately. One day, but not right now.
He looked at a couple of cars, mentally comparing them to the various ‘ideal’ cars that he had argued with his friends about. He knew his price range excluded anything over about $25,000 – he didn’t just have to pay for the car but there was also registration, insurance – even with his mother’s disabled pensioner discount, it all added up.
He had narrowed down a short list, regretfully excluding nice cars that were in other states or out of his price range when his eyes fell on a yellow Mitsubishi EVO III. Sure, it was 10 years old and had done 100,000km but it was perfect: Dandelion Yellow, black interior with a 2.0l turbo intercooled engine. Factory tint, heavy suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels – his eyes ran down the list of features, absorbing the details and making comparisons, judgments and evaluations.
Bilal heard his friends approach across the food court before he raised his eyes and saw them. Joking, laughing, shoving each other and generally being as obnoxious as teenagers could possibly be. They collapsed into the other 3 chairs at Bilal’s table and greeted each other with the usual insults and penis jokes.
‘Are we even eatin?’ asked Victor. ‘I not hungry.’
‘Not yet’ said Bilal. ‘I’m thinking of buying a car.’
‘You’re a dick’ said Mahmoud reflexively. ‘You’ll pay too much’
‘Fuck you’ retorted Bilal. ‘You haven’t even seen what I’m lookin’ at.’
He put the phone on the table and the others flicked through the details, looking at the pictures.
‘Looks neat bro’ said Ibby. ‘You need to change the rims though. My cousin can hook you up.’
‘It’s too much car for you’ Mahmoud went on. ‘You can’t even control that kinda power.’
‘Piss off’ said Bilal. ‘You haven’t even got your Ls, and I beat you on Grand Turismo every time.’
‘Asshole’ said Mahmoud. ‘It’s not the same.’
‘Fuck you’ returned Bilal. ‘Even my sister can beat your high score’