Kidnapped 9 – Moving in

After our interesting, but very productive flight, we headed back to the hotel in the VW minibus. It was not in bad nick really, and by a stroke of luck turned out to have a synchro gear box. Now, without wishing to sound too much like what van magazine, this is VWs version of four wheel drive and could be very handy. Best we hang on to this little baby for a day or two. The lads dropped me and baby sitters off away from the Hotel and I walked back despite the rain so that we would arrive at different times. They parked the van up away from the hotel.

When I got back to the hotel the receptionist told me that an American had been to see me but had not left a message. I went up to my room and got out of my wet clothes. I sat down to watch the television only to discover that there had been a bit of bother in various parts of the city during the day. I took this to mean “Serious violence” What made me sit up, was that this included an apparent attack on police station in the waterside district where JR was being held. There was a gun battle between two factions (They call them cults) but the info was sketchy due to censorship. I dare say Cyclops would get more detailed info in London than we would here. Speak of the devil, my light viewing was interrupted by a phone call from Cyclops. The first thing he told me was that the signal from JRs mobile had moved and as far as he could tell was in the vicinity of O’Haras office. He also told me that Boris had rung him to say the shopping had arrived from the UK and that he and BF were going out to check out the weapon and to zero the sights. This means checking the sights for accuracy over certain distances so you be as accurate as possible. I told him about the local problems and that I was concerned about the local instability and that in view of the news about JRs phone we were going to local standby. In short we had the kit so were now in a position to think about an intervention or rescue.n

It was agreed that the ground force would meet after dinner. I gave the order that nobody was to shower at all from now on. I smelt more than a little aromatic already but I would have to stink. Cyclops would contact the others from a different line and pass the instructions. Cyclops also told me that O’Haras middle eastern mate was in fact a Lebanese “Businessman”, whose activities included furniture and the “Import and export” of luxury cars. He was a bit of a wheeler and dealer and Cyclops had given him the code name Arthur Daley. It had also been established that Arthur had a luxury flat in the centre of town and a mistress who lived there, the lucky little devil.

“Boss, can I ask you a question?” Asked Cyclops

“Of course you can, what is it?”

“Are you sure about going in? I am playing devils advocate here boss, but do you think it would be better to just cough up the money” Cyclops said. ” I am saying this because I have to be honest here and say I have a feeling that this is not as it all first seemed”

“I take you point Cyclops” I said “And up until last night I was not sure we would be doing the right thing, but as things unfold, I really think the margin for us to be had over or this going tits up is getting bigger and bigger. Our contact is in bed with Arthur who’s up to all sorts of naughtiness, and as things stand I would not be too shocked to find out that they are running the kidnappers”

“I just had to ask” He said

“Yeah I know I understand” I reassured him. Cyclops was right to question whether pro active was better than passive. In fact just talking it through like that reinforced my gut felling that we were dealing with a right dodgy outfit. In normal events I would strongly advise against any intervention or rescue attempts, because the most dangerous time in a kidnap situation is the snatch and the release. Any rescue has to be well thought out and executed by a well trained cohesive team. On the face of it if we coughed up the money and JR would be released. However I had doubts as to whether that would really happen in this case.

Why was I so unhappy just to pay up and go home? First off there was the discrepancies in the story about how he was kidnapped. We were told he had been in a vehicle and helped at an accident, when in fact he was guarding a boat. The there was the small question of why he was taken without an apparent fight. The guards I saw were well armed. JR is very experienced man and it is hard to see how, if armed, he could have been taken without a fire fight. Then there was the question of the sums of money. Originally O’Hara seemed happy when I talked of maybe able to stump up 10 grand but when they found JR had insurance the figure leapt to 150 K. Even by African standards that’s is a hell of a rate of inflation. Last but not least there was O’Hara’s dealings with Arthur Daley. Why would a Lebanese furniture dealer need such heavy security, and what the fuck was he doing acting as a go between for a bunch of West African kidnappers. Maybe he supplied the chairs they tied the captors to. Mind you, In this country that would be a lucrative market.

“Cyclops”

“Yes Boss”

“Make the travel arrangements back to London for the lads and two hostages I will travel back on jack as I am going going to see my sister”

“Everything is done we just needed to confirm the date and flight” He said. That’s what good about Cyclops, he takes care of the essential back room stuff so that the blokes on the ground don’t have to worry about it.

I rang O’Hara to see is there had been any developments. He was very friendly and relaxed.

“Hi Norman. I came by the hotel earlier but you were out”

“Oh it was you, the receptionist said somebody had been to see me. What time was that?”

“About 3ish”

“You must have just missed me I lied, I was invited on a pleasure flight with some scuba divers who are in the hotel”

“Yes the receptionist told me, how was the trip?”

“OK but once you’ve seen one bit of mangrove close up you’ve seen it all”

He laughed in a good natured way.

“I am sorry, but I have no further news from this side” He said

“That’s OK, In didn’t really expect any until the money is sorted” I said

“Well, thats really why I came by the hotel, you to kindda touch base and to see how are things going with the money?” He explained

“Its going well. All the arrangements are in place and I expect to be able to make funds available in the next 24 to 48 hours”

“That’s really good news, shame it is not a bit quicker, but hey, at least we can tell these goons that the money is on the way. Do you think I could stop by the hotel later and give you details of where the money needs to be paid?”.

“Yeah I don’t see why not, I will be eating early I am pretty tired and the heat is getting to me, so I don’t feel so great”

“Yeah, Africa can be a bitch if you aint used to the heat and humidity. You Brits don’t get much heat do you? Must be pretty hard for you here on your own. Do you want me to see if I can arrange some company for you? I have a contact who could arrange some stress relief for you. They are white or Middle eastern and very pretty, not like the locals”

“Thanks, but I am OK”

“You sure?……They are very willing to please you know and I mean very very willing, and very sexy……..Well if you change your mind just let me know.

“I will”

“OK right, I will see you in about half an hour or so, is that OK”

“Yeah fine I’ll see you then”

I saw O’Hara in the bar. I wanted to look hot and under the weather so I went for brisk walk round the hotel grounds to get myself looking ill at ease, actually it was more of a run and when I got back I was hot, sweaty and dishevelled. When I met O’Hara it looked like he had done the same thing, because he was sweating like a pig and looking very odd. He kept talking really quickly and sniffing. We was acting really weird. He could have done a couple of lines of coke but I think he was just under pressure and was just keeping the lid on things. He furtively gave me a piece of paper with the bank details where the money had to be paid. It was a numbered account belonging to Arthur Daley. Apparently we paid the intermediary and he paid the cash to the kidnappers. More like we paid him and he gave them a cut. The paper was crumpled and I could see the indents of written notes on it. I folded it carefully and put it to one side.

O’Hara visibly relaxed and started to loosen up. So much so in fact, that I was forced to spend another cosy evening with him, which was not what I had bargained for, but it was handy. To be fair once he got his finger out of his arse and had a few drinks he was quite good company, but that doesn’t mean I liked him anymore than I did to start with. This is one of the few countries where Guinness is brewed outside Ireland. It is pretty good although not really Guinness. O’Hara having had a few drinks, relaxed and started yaking a bit. He told me he had been in the Military but left our the bit about being a cop or that his dad worked for the CIA.

I asked about family etc and he sort of avoided the question to start with, but eventually eluded to being married and having kids etc back in the states. He said that his wife used to work for the government, he didn’t say doing what, and is now working as or for a diamond dealer. The more he relaxed the more he talked. It would seem she was doing well, and they had recently bought a new house out of town, but of course kept the apartment on in town – as you do! He showed me a photo of a very large elegant house with a Range Rover what looked like a Lexus outside. Clearly I am in the wrong business and Diamonds are a girls best friend. Mind you there are diamonds and there are Conflict Diamonds. Bought cheap and illegally in countries wishing to finance wars sold on at just under the going market rates. Well dodgy, but there are big bucks to be made. Could it be that this was the real business going on here? It would be more profitable for Arthur Daley than selling furniture and would certainly explain the security.

O’Hara was clearly getting a reasonable deal from the oil company in terms of car and house locally, but I wondered what kind of salary he got. Now then, although his missus might be quite legitimate, I had no doubts now that he was about as straight as a hair grip and any doubt was kicked into touch after he mentioned that he had a place in the Bahamas and one in the mountains near Steamboat Colorado. This is as well as his house and apartment! He also talked of a boat and a couple of Jeeps and something else. He clearly like the good things in life and unless he had won the lottery he had to be getting his money from somewhere to pay for the lifestyle. Of course, he could have been bullshitting, but I got the impression that for the first time since we had crossed, he was actually telling me the truth. When we parted he was slightly pissed. Not ratted, but happy pissed and I think he considered me his new best mate and had given me an invite to visit Steam Boat for some skiing.

I practiced a few ski turns on the way back to my room in preparation for a ski holiday I would never take in Steam boat. Just before 11pm we were altogether and there was a real air of anticipation. The surveillance team reported that O’Hara had stayed at home most of the day until late afternoon, when he drove to the Arabs house. He stayed about 90 minutes and left with a very attractive young woman. He went to his office for about 10 minutes and then home with her. He had left her there and came to see me at the hotel before going home again. Digital photos of the woman had been sent to Cyclops to see if he could come up with something. She was probably a Eastern European working girl but you never know.

I told everyone we were going in. The atmosphere immediately changed and we ceased been a group of blokes and became a military team. This is what we do. This is why we were here.

It was going to be a busy 36 hours, but at the end of it we would have two extra . We were not going to gate crash the party, because we couldn’t. We were playing a very dangerous game away from home. We would have to be more clandestine. It was a case of “slowly slowly catchy monkey”. A long time ago, a great tactician told me that people are so scared of Cancer because it is so quite and deadly. It is in there for months, years, moving in , getting bigger and stronger without you knowing, with no warning it will take over your body and become your master. Even if it doesn’t kill you immediately, it will dominate the rest if your life and for ever after you will be its servant. So, like a cancer, we were going to infiltrate the captors compound and when the time was right, quietly and ruthlessly take control.

We had weapons which you might not consider modern or very practical but they are totally silent and very very deadly. It was very dark with no moon due to the heavy rain which is a great advantage plus the rain would keep most sane people inside and if it were to persist would cover any noise of vehicle or boats we make as we moved into the location.

I outlined the basic plan of attack. It was simple. There would be three teams of two men who would actually take part in the assault. Team 1. Was a two man advance party and they would move in tonight from the river. Their job would be to keep the compound under observation and make certain preparations before the rescue tomorrow. They would keep us briefed of any movements and to fine tune the attack plan if necessary. Team 2 & 3 would move in from the flanks the next evening under the cover of darkness under the guidance and direction of team 1. Team 2 &3 would be responsible for disabling vehicles and boats. It would be these two teams that would actually enter the building to extract JR and the Belgian. Team 1 would provide covering support and deal with any enemy support that may come into the area. Extraction from the zone after the rescue would be by boat and or vehicle depending on circumstances. We have all done this type of thing before and we know what is expected and that things often don’t go quite according to plan. It is for this reason the plan is kept brief and fluid.

It was now time to check the kit, which was done in almost total silence under the watchful eye of Boris. That done it was time to acquire a Toyota 4X4 Pickup which along with the VW minivan would be our land transport.

The RIB was to be piloted by Benny the Boat. Ex Royal Marine and SBS there is not much Benny doesn’t know about boats and this kind of deployment. He is a witty bloke and very cool in a crisis. Somebody said that Benny could navigate a log into the jaws of hell without breaking into a sweat. I reckon they are right.would drop the two AP men and then hole up and monitor any radio traffic should there be any from the bad guys over the next 24 hours. The two blokes who would make up the advance party have done this more than a few times before. Quiet and reserved they tend not to say much and border on being unsociable. They slip into their Observation Positions (OP) under the cover of darkness and unleash hell on their unsuspecting targets with a quiet cold clinical precision.

Scouse Git was the man to get us the Toyota. I reminded him I wanted the whole jam jar not just the fucking wheels and radio. Being an accomplished car thief is only half his skill. He is very good driver and very accomplished off road. presummably from trying to escape the old bill in scouse land.

A little before midnight we were ready to get Benny and the advance party to the boat so that they could be deployed to their bug infested OP. Time for the final briefing session and kit check.

That done we were ready. Everyone was quiet and the aura of the assembled men was steady and resolved.

“Right Lads has anyone got any questions?”

“No sir” was the response

And then it was time.

It is this moment that bonds.

It is this moment when the poetic would call us “brothers in arms”.

But really it is the time when we all know we might not see one or all of us alive again.

“Time to go lads. Be lucky””And you boss”

We all stood up and shook hands.

The dogs of war were ready to slip the leash.

4 Responses to “Kidnapped 9 – Moving in”

  1. dl says:

    Just spent a fascinating hour or so catching up with the episodes I’d missed in this tale. Keep it coming!

    Cheers,
    D.

  2. Absolutely riveting Norman.
    I am on the edge of my seat, glued, ready for the next installment!!!
    Love it!!

    x

  3. Hooray – you’re back! No time to read now, but will look forward to catching up with your adventures over the weekend! Hope you had good hols.
    SG

  4. Uncle says:

    Hello everyone. Sorry I have been a little slack at keeping up with the comments. I have had a couple of jobs on since my holidays and the bloody phone and internet people are still convinced I have met the grim reaper. Bastards.

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