Daniela’s cover has been blown. Three years of intricately planned covert operations are at risk.
Langley decides the mission must proceed. The prize is immense and Daniela has worked her way close to al-Rashid. Despite the personal danger, she’s ordered back into the field. The mission is a “go.”
Girl With a Vengeance is the final book in the Daniela’s Story trilogy. The young Catalan girl journeys to war-torn north-eastern Syria. It’s a harsh and unforgiving no man’s land; yet al-Qaeda has ambitious plans for the ancient lands of Mesopotamia. Daniela’s target is the man who will define the future of the Middle East, and al-Qaeda’s future worldwide. He’s elusive and clever, but Daniela believes she has discovered his weakness.
She’s taken on some of the world’s most formidable terrorists, intelligence agencies, and spies—teaching them the new rules of espionage. Will she succeed? Or will dark forces prevail?
Read Chapter 2 of Girl With A Vengeance
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South Syria: Al-Tanf
The US military base at al-Tanf, known as “the 55 km area,” is also home to several Syrian rebel factions who spent years fighting alongside the allies against ISIS. With the British Army major’s forewarning, Daniela was not surprised by the elaborate procedures they took to transfer her clandestinely from the aircraft to a high security area at the base.
The quarters she was allocated were sparse but comfortable. Essentially, it was a large room with a bed and functional bathroom but no windows. They had prepared an adjoining room for a lengthy stay, with plentiful exercise equipment and a range of entertainment choices. There was a stack of CDs, which, she noticed, included several disks that would help her rehearse her cover story. And lots of music options.
Daniela understood the requirement for absolute secrecy and the need to wait until it was her time to go behind enemy lines, but she felt deflated. After spending so much time with O’Flaherty, she missed him already. It was also the feeling that he would soon be in action, while she had to bide her time waiting for orders.
“Sorry about the lockdown,” said a sergeant in her mid-thirties, wearing RAF desert combat fatigues. “And the cloak-and-dagger procedures. We will make your stay as comfortable as possible, ma’am.” Her voice was bright and cheery. “We’ve been fully briefed by London on your cover story.
“The basics are that you travelled from Spain to Syria through Turkey, as a tourist. During your stay in Turkey, you visited various archaeological sites, including Mount Nemrut in the south. From there, you continued into Syria—again as a legitimate traveller with an entry visa—crossing the border just south of Mardin. You proceeded to al-Hasakah, where you were met by two local men paid to drive you to a drop-off point here.” She pointed to a detailed map of north-eastern Syria.
“Your instructions are to wait at this destination—it’s a cheap but secure hotel. Don’t worry, it’s one of ours. I’ll come back to that in a minute. We couldn’t take the risk of letting you make the actual journey, so it will be up to you to become familiar with the details of your routing, as if you’d actually travelled it.” She gestured to the CDs and a pile of books and magazines. “These will help, but we did a few extra things to help authenticate your cover story.” She glanced at Daniela; it was a defensive look. It seemed to say that they were aware Daniela was a stickler for detail, but please trust them: they’d done this before—and were good at it.
“We’ve arranged a stand-in for you, ma’am, to make the actual journey through Turkey and Syria. She’s Syrian—a deep-cover friendly of ours. She’s solid; you can trust her completely. By the way, she’s almost your exact double. Don’t be startled when you meet her. I’ve seen photos; she’s quite convincing, actually. You’ll be doing the switch with her at the hotel. She’ll give you a full briefing about her journey from the north. It’s all a ruse, of course. I think you’ll be impressed by the degree of detail our team has been able to provide. Speaking of which, here’s your cell phone—in your real name, as we’ve been instructed. A good long-life battery and recharger. They will expect you to be carrying it but probably will confiscate it. Here’s your password. You’re loaded up with bogus emails and texts. Review them, please. We’re certain you’ll be interrogated intensively before you get anywhere close to the target. He’s likely to be very well protected.
“We’ve also loaded up photos that you would have taken along your way in Turkey. But none in Syria, as you are no longer posing as a tourist. As you’d expect, ma’am, our techies have done all the clever stuff—to authenticate your journey, I mean. The photos were taken in Turkey several days ago by one of our field officers. The techies have even thrown in a few selfies of you at the archaeological sites. They look really authentic.
“Oh, and here’s a used boarding pass for your journey from Barcelona to Istanbul, then onto Ankara—and the details of your aircraft. To be additionally convincing, I’d suggest you keep the boarding pass as a bookmark inside this novel you’ve been reading. In terms of timing, it may be just a few days or possibly weeks before we transport you to your hotel for the switch. We’ve been advised that you’re familiar with the drop-off area. I understand, ma’am, that you’ve been under deep cover several times before, so you know the drill. There’s a lot of coordination and security involved, as you’re aware. The precise timing will be dictated by Alpha’s arrival into the area. We’ll schedule you into the field and install you in the hotel before your doppelganger arrives.
“Then it’s just a question of waiting. You must be getting used to that by now.” She smiled a look of encouragement. “Your instructions will come from Jamal or one of his men. We don’t know when, but we’ll be monitoring your drop boxes.” She pointed to a table next to the military bed. “There’s a menu. Order whatever you like, anytime. Mostly Turkish and Syrian dishes, as you’d expect. Also, ma’am, we are not infallible. Please check through your cover story and let us know if there’s anything you’d like us to change. Here’s a pager: it’s old tech and has limited range. We find it’s a good way to ensure complete security. Buzz me anytime you like. I’m on duty twenty-four hours for the duration of your stay.
“Again, welcome to al-Tanf, ma’am. To compensate for being locked up in here, just bear in mind that there’s absolutely nothing to see out there.
“Just scrub desert.
“And a few jihadis.”
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