By Arthur Levine
A thin young man in a dirty khaki colored raincoat and badly scuffed faded brown shoe pushed his way through the crowd propelling a baby carriage in front of him like a weapon. He was sweating profusely.
“Get out of my way,” he shouted. “I have to get through, get away, move out of my way damn people. It’s your fault,” he cursed in a hoarse voice. The smell of liqueur reeked from his breath as he continued up an entrance ramp spewing saliva and curses.
The two security guards lounging against the railing on the far wall of the entry way started to run toward him to see what the commotion was about yelling, “Stop, stay where you are. Don’t move.”
The thin young man hunched over the baby carriage, screamed, “Allah Akbar—God is great,” and the bomb went off.
The bomb blast killed twenty-one children and their parents lined up for a free ride on an in store miniature railroad train all decked out in Christmas tinsel glitter and plastic sugar canes. Another sixty-two, many of whom were children, were injured as the blast slammed its way full of shrapnel and nails to the fourth floor atrium. The sheer force of the bomb blew a five-foot wide hole in the roof as acrid black smoke forced its way out into a cold rainy night at the Bangles and Bows Toy Store in New York City. The stench of blood and burning flesh was everywhere.
It was the first suicide bomb detonated in New York City by a homegrown terrorist, and things would never be the same.
You could see it in the eyes of the people. Fear griped the inhabitants of the City of New York and the Nation as a wave of copycat bombings took place in retail department stores, malls, sports arenas, railroad and bus terminals, and anywhere else these terrorists could strike terror into the hearts of the people.
The first attacks were designed to scare the population, and convince them that no one was safe and nobody was sacred, not even the children. Sometimes the bomber blew himself up with the bomb and sometimes a remote triggering devise was used, but in all the cases where a suicide bomber caused the explosion, the police and the Federal Bureau of Arrests (FBA) had determined that the terrorists were homegrown natives and citizens of the USA. It was almost too much to fathom. Someone crying, “Allah Akbar—God is great,” was enough to send people running in fear and crowds panic as they pushed to get out of whatever venue they were at. The first thing you checked when you went to a show or a movie was the exits.
Who were these horrible ingrates that hated this Country so that they would sacrifice themselves to kill innocent strangers and children? What have we done to create such hatred for our Country by people who grew up and lived here? How can we fight terrorists who don’t even value their own lives? Who would be next on the terrorists list? Where and when would they strike again? Did they all belong to one terrorist network or were they working in cells, or alone as self radicalized extremists? How did they communicate with each other if they did? Who or what organization was teaching them how to make bombs? Who was in charge? Someone was masterminding this. All these bombings couldn’t be happening independently of each other.
John Stamper, the assistant head of the FBA in New York, had a nervous habit of stroking hid nose with the first finger of his right hand and he was stroking away like crazy.
Suddenly John slammed his fists on his desk and shouted half out loud, “Too many questions.” A brass based pen stand clattered to the floor. It was a Christmas present from the head of the FBA in Washington. When he bent down to pick it up he noticed the base had cracked and the pen no longer fit properly in the holder. That’s how he felt, cracked and not a proper fit for the task at hand.