Chapter 8 (OneThreeThirteen) Part 2
WITHIN UBAID AHMAR’s inner circle he was secretly nicknamed, The Little Bloody Killer, by his own lieutenants. Today he sauntered effortlessly down Forty-Second Street in Lower Manhattan on the eleventh day of September.
He was returning to his luxurious two bedroom, high-rise, rental about half a mile from the famous or infamous World Trade Center, which blind Sheik Omar Rochman had tried, unsuccessfully, to have blown up in 1993.
He wore a traditional navy blue pin striped suit with his normally heavy beard gone. Clean shaven and in western dress, he looked like any other International businessman who’d come to New York to conduct business on Wall Street.
As he approached the lower Manhattan apartment building, Roger the building’s amiable doorman for the past three years greeted him with a familiar, “Good morning Mr. Ahmar. Beautiful fall morning we’re having. Can I help you with your bags, Mr. Ahmar?”
Ubaid’s right eyebrow twitched just slightly in annoyance at Roger’s flat tonal Brooklyn accent, remembering the countless hours he’d spent perfecting his English.
“Good Morning to you also, Roger,” he said mockingly within himself. But, I think I can handle these bags all by myself, he replied raising the two small bags he carried. The only thing heavy about these, my dear man, is the price.” Then he smiled reassuringly at Roger the American doorman from Brooklyn.
Roger nodded in agreement. He had spotted Mr. Ahmar or rather, he’d spotted the two pale turquoise blue signature Tiffany bags, about half a block away and thought to himself, “Idiot! What man in his right mind – especially one in his mid-forties — For Mr. Ubaid Ahmar had to be about that – had balls enough to walk down a busy New York street with two Tiffany bags in plain sight. No body, thought Roger. Unless that man is either crazy or he’s someone you don’t mess with. Someone who’s likely to kill you.”
But no matter, he knew an opportunity when he saw one. “Smile, he reminded himself, and offer to take the bags.” Roger knew full well that Ahmar would never turn such treasures over to a lowly doorman like him. What was more likely to happen was that Ahmar would remember his offer of service and tip him royally the next time.
Ubaid Ahmar al-Zawahiri, a soldier since his early twenties, entered the lobby of the Lower Manhattan apartment building completely aware of the doorman’s lack of intimidation concerning his physical appearance. Instead of being insulted by this, he’d learned over the years to use his lack of unimposing stature to his advantage. He’d used it before in situation similar to this where raising someone’s suspicions would jeopardize the mission.
Big muscular security men, soldiers, and types like Roger the doorman often underestimated him. He was short, only about five six, and his pudgy looking body gave no sign of the rigorous martial arts exercises he endured each day nor of his skill at killing.
As his eyes adjusted to the light inside the building, he noted with even more disdain the simulated warmth given off by the bronze colored marble walls that adorned the building’s interior. They reminded him of everything western. They were fake. Just as fake as the smiles and pats on the back extended to the Arab peoples in exchange for Arab oil. Somehow, those fake smiles never materialized into genuine concern.
He also noted that the lobby was as neat as a pin due to the efforts of the elderly Muslim woman who worked there part time supplementing her Social Security income. Also, there were fresh cut flowers on the receptionist’s desk, which meant the receptionist and the manager had had sex in one of vacant apartments, yesterday. He always sent flowers the next day.
He stopped at the desk and inquired of any messages and to remind her that he and his companions would be leaving today, shortly before lunch.
As Ahmar waited for the elevator, he noted the elevator’s golden doors were so highly polished, that he could see his reflection in them. He frowned at the mockery of his image for he abhorred western dress. It had no traditions behind it as with white Arab robes.
The doors parted and out stepped two young American women dressed, or rather partially dressed, in pieces of cloth that barely covered their bodies.
In his country they would have been stoned for even thinking of leaving their homes dressed in such a manner and unescorted by either their fathers or brothers.
But what else could one expect in such a country where everything was done as a feast for the eyes and not for the glory of Allah.
Ahmar stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the eightieth floor. As he rode the elevator up, he thought of Atta, Benjamin, and the others. He checked his watch.
AHMAR STEPPED FROM THE elevator and walked the few paces down the richly carpeted hallway to the apartment he’d rented a few months earlier in the year.
Inside the apartment Louis Vuitton luggage was stacked neatly by the door, and two men of Saudi descent, also in western dress, stood vigil by the living room’s large picture windows, which offered a panoramic view of the Twin Towers and the East River beyond.
Before taking his place at the window with the others, he placed the two pale blue Tiffany bags in one of the Louis Vuitton suitcases. The one with his initials. The diamond and ruby encrusted bangles within were gifts for his wives. He then went into the living room and poured himself a glass of Chivas Regal. One suitcase contained an entire case of it.
Swallowing a large gulp of the prized Chivas, he joined the two men at the window. Ahmar scanned the morning sky with naked eyes feeling no need for the pair of binoculars sitting harmlessly on the leaded glass coffee table. The two other men continued searching the New York skyline while Ahmar concentrated on The Towers.
He was thinking what an incredible stroke of luck it was to have such a clear blue sky. It was almost the color of the Tiffany bags, he thought, when his cell phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line asked, “Where are you?”
“Standing at the windows, he answered. Everything is going as planned. We should see them any minute now. Will you stay on? I can describe everything for you.”
“No. No need. I feel the need to pray for the souls of our dear brethren. They have truly sacrificed their all.”
The person on the other end of the line hung up without saying anything more, as was his way, and Ahmar fell strangely quiet for a few seconds wondering what it must be like knowing you’re going to die.
“Ahmar?” called one of the other men, noting their companion’s far away look. Ubaid Ahmar responded by snapping out of his daze and taking his place at the windows and waited.
At 8:46 eastern standard time they spotted what they were searching for — a plane. Excitement filled the room.
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