Amazed at the speed in which the horses reached in such a short amount of space, Jenna felt the smooth and even gait of her steed beneath her as it fell into place toward the rear of their column. Bear, as usual, led them, taking a front position two horse-lengths behind their Kurdish guide. As they set out, Jenna heard his name as Mo, and in quiet tones she’d heard Chaz and the Breeze speculating if Mo was short for Mohammad or simply because their little guide was named after Moe of the Three Stooges. He did after all, resemble Moe Howard, third member of the Stooges crew, but whether he would know that, Jenna did not intend to find out by offending the man.
DeBreeze, Chaz, and the two Mossad agents, Daniel and Simon, rode in a tight cluster some distance behind Bear and Mo, and the three mercs and Mako took up the rear formation. Jenna had been on patrol with the often quiet and speculative Mako Long Soldier, a Lakota Marine, who hailed from Pine Ridge. The tall, lean Native with the long locks of raven hair, often fell back so that he could per-form scouting duties, which he was extremely good at. He carried an assortment of throwing knives strapped to various places on his body, but his weapon of choice was the Oneida Eagle compound bow, which he was an expert shot with. Mako prided himself with being one of the most silent, deadliest killers of all the US forces serving in the country. And he preferred to do his hunting alone.
As she gripped her reins, Jenna glanced back, and sure enough the Lakota bowman was nowhere to be seen. He had fallen behind the three mercs to keep an eye on their six.
Three miles later and still riding in the darkness, Jenna slowed her horse to walk in order to prevent the steed from running his nose up the hind end of the clustered horses in front of her. Bear had held up a fist and pumped the air with it to indicate the slower pace. Like a fine-tuned unit, all of the riders automatically reined in their mounts and following Mo, they entered into a valley, a mountain range not too far ahead of them. Jenna assumed that was their intended goal. So far, she had heard no pursuit as she’d constantly glanced behind them to see if Mako had ever caught up with them. The three mercs seemed unaware that their riding companion had peeled off from the rear formation some miles back, and so Jenna figured if they were being followed, they would have been more alert and concerned. As it was, the French mercs appeared to be oblivious that the Lakota had fallen back. If the horsemen who had spotted them back in the ravine were on their trail, either Mako was dealing with them, or he would soon appear to let them know they were being followed.
She smiled and felt somewhat at ease as she listened to the quiet banter of Chaz and the Breeze a few feet in front of her. She did not take offense that Chaz was doubting her ability to succeed with their mission, for he gave Johnny a good dose of his reasoning as he talked, “France, Germany, England, Spain, and the Netherlands have wasted millions of dollars on their own re-radicalization programs. Each of those countries have had their fair share of misguided kids trekking off to the battlefields of Syria and Afghanistan, each one brain-wash-ed into going off all jihadi on their enemies, and then coming back to consider their own countrymen the enemy. Millions of dollars have been wasted, for even their Tone-Down-The-Terrorists programs in their prison systems do not work.”
The Breeze said, “As if our own programs change anything in their clouded minds. Look at the dozens of Gitmo prisoners who reengage in terrorism after they’re released. A declassified intelligence report revealed that recidivism among detainees resulted in 130 of the 729 reengaging in terrorism. The place houses the most dangerous Islamic terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds. For the past 17 years, insurgents transferred to countries with conflicts pose an increased risk. Recidivism among freed jihadists include dozens who have rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen. Mullah Abdul Rauf established the Islamic State in Syria and Afghanistan. Sabir Lahmar, was arrested in France as part of a terrorist cell that operated an ISIS recruiting network. Obama released Lahmar even though his Department of Defense told him he had links to multiple terrorist plot and he plotted with Al Qaeda to attack the US Embassy in Sarajevo.”
“Hell,” Chaz harshly whispered, “a few months ago, the DOD re-leased an Al Qaeda operative classified as a forever prisoner because he was considered too dangerous to be freed. Said Salih Nashir has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Attash and trained in Afghanistan to attack US forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the US! And just a few years ago, the Military parole board denied the Yemeni’s release, determining that he poses a significant threat to the security of the US! Who the hell is releasing these time bombs?”
The Breeze said, “Someone who is not on our side, that’s for sure. Still, I can see the potential in Mac’s mission. Although it would be a miracle to change the mind-set of bin Laden’s grandchild, it would surely save a few fricking lives in the future, don’t you think?”
Chaz clucked to Razz straying too far up the side of the ravine for his comfort, and as the shepherd obediently returned to his side, he said, “Nothing a well-placed bullet wouldn’t do. If one shot could save a thousand lives, why not take it?”