Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Streak - 41

It was getting up near closing time. Each couple had engaged in small talk about death and terrorism; the group had twice responded to Kyle's alarm and gone, one at a time, on discreet coke-snorting excursions to the rest rooms. A contented lull had descended upon the group when Evan noticed a breaking news graphic on the TV. He asked the bartender to shut off the Stones and turn up the volume.

"... a videotaped statement by the leader of the group. British authorities have verified the authenticity of the recording, although they won't say whether the group itself was previously known to them as a terrorist organization. Again, if you're just joining us, a terrorist organization by the name of – let me make sure I get this right – the United Mujahideen in Jihad Against the Decadent West–"


"Yes Christiane?"


"We have CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour on the phone with us–"

"I'm sorry, Mu–"

"I'm sorry Christiane, go ahead."

"Mujahideen United in Jihad Against the Decadent West."

"That's right. Thank you, Christiane–"


"We will be – sorry?"

"Mujahideen United for short. Mujahideen United."

"Mujahideen United. Got it. Thanks, Christiane. And I want to get your reaction after we play this video. OK, this video comes to us from Scotland Yard, where authorities have assured us of its authenticity. This is the leader of United, of Mujahideen United, Aatif al-Ghauth. Let's watch."

A choppy, grainy video settled into definition, picturing an imperious-seeming Arab man sitting on a large pillow in a room bedecked with tapestries and urns. He wore a white keffiyeh and matching robe; a long, salt-and-pepper beard; and Buddy Holly glasses. He raised his finger in an admonishing gesture and spoke in faintly British-sounding English.

"This is a message to the devils of the West," he said. "It is true. We have killed your Mick Jagger."

He clasped his hands in his lap and stared fixedly at the camera for a moment, savoring the impact of his words.

"And we will kill more of your false idols, insha'Allah. Your most beloved role-players of Hollywood film, for example! And the exalted personages of your real television, of American Survivor, of Eight Plus Eight is Enough, of The Impossible Race." He raised his finger again, angrily this time. "Of Help Me Get Out Because I Am a Celebrity! Your infamous cooks, with their temples to gluttony in the most sinful of cities of sin. Your drivers of racing cars. Of racing motorbikes. Your models of sexually provocative shoes. Your overgrown boys who amass their fortunes in games of balls. We will strike in ways cunning and many. We will not abandon our jihad until you" – here he pointed directly at the camera – "abandon your idolatry."

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