Excerpt from The Messenger by Daniel Silva, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Messenger

by Daniel Silva

The Messenger
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2006, 352 pages
    Jul 2007, 500 pages

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Print Excerpt

Gabriel winced.

“Fortunately we didn’t come away completely empty-handed,” Shamron said. “The watcher made off with Massoudi’s briefcase. Among other things it contained a laptop computer. It seems Professor Ali Massoudi was more than just a talent spotter.”

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. Peter’s 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 Bernini’s Colonnade—and 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. Peter’s 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 wouldn’t accept it. Gabriel regarded the old man’s face with the same intensity he’d studied the photographs. He could tell there was more bad news to come.

“Technical found something else on Massoudi’s computer,” Shamron said. “Instructions for accessing a numbered bank account in Zurich—an account we’ve known about for some time, because it’s received regular infusions of money from something called the Committee to Liberate al-Quds.” Al-Quds was the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

“Who’s 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 he’s funneling it to some of the most violent terror groups in the world, including elements of al-Qaeda.”

“Who’s 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, isn’t 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 Foundation—they 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 Arabia’s 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.

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