Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Review: Brothers In Arms by Marcus Wynne

Book: Brothers In Arms by Marcus Wynne (362 pp.)

      In this novel we are reunited with characters from two of Wynne's earlier books: Dale Miller (from No Other Option) and Charley Payne (from Warrior In The Shadows). Miller and Payne happen to witness (and respond to) an assassination. Pulled together in the firefight, the two hire on to protect the principle that was the intended target of the assassination. But things are more than they seem when they realize their principle is the key to a terrorist plot. A plot, it turns out, to spread a deadly bio-weapon throughout the United States. Drafted by a government program called Dominance Rain into uncovering the purpose of the plot, the duo travel from the American heartland to Amsterdam, Athens, and back to Washington D.C. before the story is wrapped up. Of course the terror attack is thwarted, but it is the journey that is the story.

     As with Wynne's other books that I've read, this one has lots of good shooting action by someone who knows guns. In addition, we are treated to additional insights into field craft, and some examples of easy to make mistakes, in both executive protection and surveillance/tailing of targets. The reader is also offered a glimpse of the world of international terrorism before the "war on terror." It is easy to forget that pre-9/11, international terrorists freely walked in the streets of many European capitals and grand cities.

     While the Publisher's Weekly review of the book described the action as "over the top," I think it merely reflects the reviewers lack of knowledge of how terrorist and anti-terrorist activity was often conducted. We know that Mossad had no problem with gunning down PLO terrorists on the streets of Paris or other European cities.  Carlos "the Jackal" (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez) was infamous for his terrorism spree in the 1970s. Wikipedia notes, for instance:
      In 1973, Carlos conducted a failed PFLP assassination attempt on Joseph Sieff, a Jewish businessman and vice president of the British Zionist Federation. On 30 December, Carlos called on Sieff's home on Queen's Grove in St John's Wood and ordered the maid to take him to Sieff. Finding Sieff in the bathroom, in his bath, Carlos fired one bullet at Sieff from his Tokarev 7.62mm pistol, which bounced off Sieff just between his nose and upper lip and knocked him unconscious; the gun then jammed and Carlos fled. The attack was announced as retaliation for Mossad's assassination in Paris of Mohamed Boudia, a PFLP leader.

      Carlos admits responsibility for a failed bomb attack on the Bank Hapoalim in London and car bomb attacks on three French newspapers accused of pro-Israeli leanings. He claimed to be the grenade thrower at a Parisian restaurant in an attack that killed two and injured 30 as part of the 1974 French Embassy attack in The Hague. He later participated in two failed rocket propelled grenade attacks on El Al airplanes at Orly Airport near Paris on 13 and 17 January 1975. The second attack resulted in gunfighting with police at the airport and a seventeen-hour hostage situation involving hundreds of riot police and the French Interior Minister Michel Poniatowski. Carlos fled during the gunfight while the three other PFLP terrorists were allowed flight to Baghdad, Iraq.

     According to FBI agent Robert Scherrer, one MIR and one ERP member were arrested in Paraguay in June 1975. These two would have possessed Carlos's phone number in Paris. Paraguayan authorities would then have handed over the information to France.

      On 26 June 1975, Carlos's PFLP contact, Lebanon-born Michel Moukharbal, was captured and interrogated by the French domestic intelligence agency, the DST.[citation needed] When two unarmed agents of the DST interrogated Carlos at a Parisian house party, Moukharbal revealed Carlos's identity. Carlos then shot and killed the two agents and Moukharbal, fled the scene, and managed to escape via Brussels to Beirut.
      From Beirut, Carlos participated in the planning for the attack on the headquarters of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) in Vienna. On 21 December 1975, he led the six-person team (which included Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann) that attacked the meeting of OPEC leaders; they took more than 60 hostages and killed three: an Austrian policeman, an Iraqi OPEC employee and a member of the Libyan delegation. Carlos demanded that the Austrian authorities read a communiqué about the Palestinian cause on Austrian radio and television networks every two hours. To avoid the threatened execution of a hostage every 15 minutes, the Austrian government agreed and the communiqué was broadcast as demanded.

      On 22 December, the government provided the PFLP and 42 hostages an airplane and flew them to Algiers, as demanded for the hostages' release. Ex-Royal Navy pilot Neville Atkinson, at that time the personal pilot for Libya's leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, flew Carlos and a number of others, including Hans-Joachim Klein, a supporter of the imprisoned Red Army Faction and a member of the Revolutionary Cells, and Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann, from Algiers.[29] Atkinson flew the DC-9 to Tripoli, where more hostages were freed, before he returned to Algiers. The last hostages were freed there and some of the terrorists were granted asylum.
And some of you may remember the kidnapping of Gen. James Lee Dozier in December 1981 by the Italian Red Brigades Marxist terrorist group. Dozier was rescued by NOCS, an Italian special force, with assistance from the Intelligence Support Activity's Operation Winter Harvest, after 42 days of captivity. And, of course, we are treated almost weekly to drug cartels using automatic weapons to gun down rivals or enemies in Mexico. So, no, I don't think that the action is necessarily "over the top."

     All in all, if you are looking for something fast-paced to read, you can't go wrong with this book.

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