Excerpt of The Messenger by Daniel Silva
(Page 8 of 9)
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Fortunately we didnt come away completely empty-handed, Shamron said. The
watcher made off with Massoudis briefcase. Among other things it contained a
laptop computer. It seems Professor Ali Massoudi was more than just a talent
Shamron placed the file folder in front of Gabriel and, with a terse nod of
his head, instructed Gabriel to open the cover. Inside he found a stack of
surveillance photographs: St. Peters Square from a dozen different angles; the
façade and interior of the Basilica; Swiss Guards standing watch at the Arch of
Bells. It was clear the photos had not been taken by an ordinary tourist,
because the cameraman had been far less interested in the visual aesthetics of
the Vatican than the security measures surrounding it. There were several
snapshots of the barricades along the western edge of the square and the metal
detectors along Berninis Colonnadeand several more of the Vigilanza and
Carabinieri who patrolled the square during large gatherings, including
close-ups of their side arms. The final three photographs showed Pope Paul VII
greeting a crowd in St. Peters Square in his glass-enclosed popemobile. The
camera lens had been focused not on the Holy Father but on the plainclothes
Swiss Guards walking at his side. Gabriel viewed the photos a second time. Based
on the quality of the light and the clothing worn by the crowds of pilgrims, it
appeared that they had been taken on at least three separate occasions. Repeated
photographic surveillance of the same target, he knew, was a hallmark of a
serious al-Qaeda operation. He closed the file and held it out to Shamron, but
Shamron wouldnt accept it. Gabriel regarded the old mans face with the same
intensity hed studied the photographs. He could tell there was more bad news to
Technical found something else on Massoudis computer, Shamron said.
Instructions for accessing a numbered bank account in Zurichan account weve
known about for some time, because its received regular infusions of money from
something called the Committee to Liberate al-Quds. Al-Quds was the Arabic name
Whos behind it? Gabriel asked.
Saudi Arabia, said Shamron. To be more specific, the interior minister of
Saudi Arabia, Prince Nabil.
Inside the Office, Nabil was routinely referred to as the Prince of Darkness
for his hatred of Israel and the United States and his support of Islamic
militancy around the globe.
Nabil created the committee at the height of the second intifada, Shamron
continued. He raises the money himself and personally oversees the
distribution. We believe he has a hundred million dollars at his disposal, and
hes funneling it to some of the most violent terror groups in the world,
including elements of al-Qaeda.
Whos giving Nabil the money?
Unlike the other Saudi charities, the Committee for the Liberation of
al-Quds has a very small donor base. We think Nabil raises the money from a
handful of Saudi multimillionaires.
Shamron peered into his coffee for a moment. Charity, he said, his tone
disdainful. A lovely word, isnt it? But Saudi charity has always been a two
edged sword. The Muslim World League, the International Islamic Relief
Organization, the al-Haramayn Islamic Foundation, the Benevolence International
Foundationthey are to Saudi Arabia what the Comintern was to the old Soviet
Union. A means of propagating the faith. Islam. And not just any form of Islam.
Saudi Arabias puritanical brand of Islam. Wahhabism. The charities build
mosques and Islamic centers around the world and madrassas that churn out the
Wahhabi militants of tomorrow. And they also give money directly to the
terrorists, including our friends in Hamas. The engines of America run on Saudi
oil, but the networks of global Islamic terrorism run largely on Saudi money.
Excerpted from The Messenger, Copyright © 2006 Danile Silva. Reproduced with permission of the publishers, Penguin Putnam. Reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.