When I sit down to write a novel, I don’t set out to predict the future.
Rather, I set out to write about worst case scenarios that could come to pass if our leaders are blind-sided by evil they ignore or misunderstand.
This was the case when I began writing my first novel, The Last Jihad
, in January 2001. That was a novel that opened with a group of Radical Islamic terrorists hijacking a jet plane and flying a kamikaze mission into an American city, an attack that sets into motion a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein.
That was also the case when in the fall of 2013 I began writing The Third Target,
the first installment in my latest series of political thrillers. After doing months of research, meeting with two former CIA directors, a former head of Israel’s Mossad, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Jordan, and numerous of military and intelligence experts, I set out to write a novel about a New York Times
reporter named J.B. Collins who hears a rumor that ISIS has captured a cache of chemical weapons from a military base in northern Syria.
As that novel, and the second in the series — The First Hostage
— unfold, Collins and two colleagues slip into hellish, war-torn Syria to track down and interview an ISIS operative to confirm the story. Along the way, Collins and his team not only discover that the terror group has these horrific weapons but that the leaders of ISIS hold to an End Times theology that is driving them to wage genocide against Christians, Jews and any Muslim that doesn’t follow their brand of Apocalyptic Islam to establish and expand their so-called Caliphate or Islamic kingdom.
That was fiction when I wrote it — but no longer. Unfortunately, this worst-case scenario appears to be coming to pass.
- Abu Ahmed told us about how the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIS) came to acquire some of the world’s most fearsome weapons, which were claimed as spoils of war from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces months before its creation.
- Roughly four months before the split between the Nusra Front and ISIS, in December 2012, dozens of Syrian jihadi fighters climbed a hill toward Regiment 111 — a large army base near the town of Darat Izza, in northern Syria. That town had been taken roughly five months earlier by a coalition of rebel groups. But while they had besieged Regiment 111 since the summer of 2012, they still had not succeeded in capturing the base from the troops loyal to President Assad.
- The weather had turned bad in winter, however, making it more difficult for the Syrian Air Force to hold off the rebels with airstrikes. Moreover, the base was huge, sprawling over almost 500 acres, and difficult to protect from all approaches.
- Syrian Army soldiers inside Regiment 111 successfully defended their base during the first rebel attack in early November 2012, killing 18 Nusra fighters in the process. But the cold December wind only fortified the rebels’ resolve. The base was a goldmine: home to guns, artillery, ammunition, and vehicles. And deep inside Regiment 111’s bunkers lay something even more valuable — a cache of chemical weapons….
- Within a day, the combined jihadi forces had broken through the lines of the Syrian Army. Shortly after, Regiment 111 was fully under jihadi control. They found large stocks of weapons, ammunition and, to their surprise, chemical agents. They were, according to Abu Ahmad, mainly barrels filled with chlorine, sarin, and mustard gas.
- What followed was the distribution of the war spoils. Everybody took some ammunition and weapons. But only the Nusra Front seized the chemical weapons. Abu Ahmad watched as the al Qaeda affiliate called in 10 large cargo trucks, loaded 15 containers with chlorine and sarin gas, and drove them away to an unknown destination. He did not see what happened to the mustard gas.
- Three months later, both the Syrian government and rebel groups reported an attack in Khan al-Assal, near Aleppo. The international media said that 26 people had been killed, among them 16 regime soldiers and 10 civilians. Both the Syrian regime and opposition claimed that chemical weapons had been used — and both accused the other of having carried out one of the first chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian war…..
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. Let us pray our leaders wake up to the true magnitude of the threat posed by ISIS and stop taking half-measures. It’s time to declare war on ISIS, take the gloves off, and do everything in our power — in close cooperation with our allies, especially those in the region — to end this scourge of evil once and for all.