Black Sunday Read online
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Praise for Black Sunday
“Could this really happen? This is the question you continually ask yourself as you tiptoe through this thriller.”
—Chicago Daily News
“Action-packed, crisp, fast-paced, timely ... a first-class plot told in a first-class fashion.”—The Associated Press
“All too realistic ... with a shattering climax.”
“Suspenseful and relentless action... an exciting thriller.”
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Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Bantam, Dutton, and New American Library editions.
First Signet Printing, February 2001
Copyright © Thomas Harris, 1975
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eISBN : 978-1-101-10090-5
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For my mother,
Polly Coleman Harris
NIGHT FELL AS THE AIRPORT taxi rattled along the six miles of coastal road into Beirut. From the backseat, Dahlia Iyad watched the Mediterranean surf fade from white to gray in the last light. She was thinking about the American. She would have to answer many questions about him.
The taxi turned onto the Rue Verdun and threaded its way into the heart of the city, the Sabra district, filled with many of the refugees from Palestine. The driver needed no instructions. He scanned his rearview mirror closely, then turned off his lights and pulled into a small courtyard near the Rue Jeb el-Nakhel. The courtyard was pitch dark. Dahlia could hear distant traffic sounds and the ticking of the motor as it cooled. A minute passed.
The taxi rocked as the four doors were snatched open and a powerful flashlight blinded the driver. Dahlia could smell the oil on the pistol held an inch from her eye.
The man with the flashlight came to the rear door of the taxi, and the pistol was withdrawn.
“Djinniy,” she said softly.
“Get out and follow me.” He ran the Arabic words together in the accent of the Jabal.
A hard tribunal waited for Dahlia Iyad in the quiet room in Beirut. Hafez Najeer, head of Al Fatah’s elite Jihaz al-Rasd (RASD) field intelligence unit, sat at a desk leaning his head back against the wall. He was a tall man with a small head. His subordinates secretly called him “The Praying Mantis.” To hold his full attention was to feel sick and frightened.
Najeer was the commander of Black September. He did not believe in the concept of a “Middle East situation.” The restoration of Palestine to the Arabs would not have elated him. He believed in holocaust, the fire that purifies. So did Dahlia lyad.
And so did the other two men in the room: Abu Ali, who controlled the Black September assassination squads in Italy and France, and Muhammad Fasil, ordnance expert and architect of the attack on the Olympic Village at Munich. Both were members of RASD, the brains of Black September. Their position was not acknowledged by the larger Palestinian guerrilla movement, for Black September lives within Al Fatah as desire lives in the body.
It was these three men who decided that Black September would strike within the United States. More than fifty plans had been conceived and discarded. Meanwhile, U.S. munitions continued to pour onto the Israeli docks at Haifa.
Suddenly a solution had come, and now, if Najeer gave his final approval, the mission would be in the hands of this young woman.
She tossed her djellaba on a chair and faced them. “Good evening, comrades.”
“Welcome, Comrade Dahlia,” Najeer said. He had not risen when she entered the room. Nor had the other two. Her appearance had changed during her year in the United States. She was chic in her pantsuit and a little disarming.
“The American is ready,” she said. “I am satisfied that he will go through with it. He lives for it.”
“How stable is he?” Najeer seemed to be staring into her skull.
“Stable enough. I support him. He depends on me.”
“I understand that from your reports, but code is clumsy. There are questions. Ali?”
Abu Ali looked at Dahlia carefully. She remembered him from his psychology lectures at the American University of Beirut.
“The American always appears rational?” he asked.
“But you believe him to be insane?”
“Sanity and apparent rationality are not the same, comrade.”
“Is his dependency on you increasing? Does he have periods of hostility toward you?”
“Sometimes he is hostile, but not as often now.”