In The Name of Freedom

Chapter One

Tuesday 0900 Hours-Counter Terrorism Unit-FBI Headquarters-Washington, D.C.

He walked into the office looking like a lost soul who wasn't really sure he was in the right place, but it soon became evident to this young afican american soldier that he come to the only place that would help him.  He had a story to tell that captivated us all us and one that would lead us on an investigation that would remain with us for the rest of our lives.  Sergeant Leonard Thompson had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan with Army Special Forces.  He had been there for nearly two years, and had spent the past six months as a captive of Al Quada and Taliban forces in southeastern Afghanistan.  His story was one of disgust and disbelief, and of what appeared to be outright bigotry and prejudice.  He had been held captive with two other soldiers both Marines who had been brought to the installation some 2 months after he had first been captured.  He claimed that neither Marine would have anything to do with him, in fact they talked to each other as if he weren't in the same room.  When he suggested to them that they try to escape, they ignored him, and just went about their business like they knew they would be set free soon. 
He told Agent Workman that he was caught completely off guard by the behavior of the two Marines, thinking that since they were all Americans being held captive that they would naturally work together to escape.  Even if there was some anymosity due to their being from different branches of the service, surely it would be in their best interests to cast aside any petty jealousies or pride and work together.  However, he told Workman that never happened and they continued to ignore him right up until their rescue from the installation.  Eventually it became apparent to Thompson that the two were prejudiced against non whites, and what finally gave it away was the tattoos the two sported on their wrists, one of  a swazstika and the other the ss symbol of the German secret police during the third reich's reign of terror during World War II.  Thompson had seen those symbols before though never in person, but on news reports in Austin Texas from where he hailed, he knew they were the symbols worn by the white supremasists  back home.  Now he knew for sure he was not going to be able to enlist the help of the two soldiers, so he stopped trying and kept to himself.  It was almost like he was there as a prop or wall hanging, totally going unheard and unnoticed.
Workman inquired as to whether he told his story to the military intelligence officer during his debriefing.  Thompson told Workman he had, but it seem to fall on deaf ears, as though it had all been in his head, a sort of delusion from all the stress of being captured and threatened daily with the possibility of being executed.  Workman inquired as to why Thompson came to the FBI, and moreover the anti terrorism unit to tell his story instead of military intelligence here in the U.S.  He told Workman he didn't trust those guys, they would probably tell him it was all in his head like the officer in Afghanistan.  Workman assured Thompson that he would check into his story, but that there wasn't much he could do about the situation as it was a matter for the military to handle.  Thompson told Workman it was by no accident that he came to the Anti Terrorism Unit to tell his story.  The two Marines had told their rescuers that they had overheard a terrorist plot while in captivity that had something to do with an attack against the U.S.  When he was asked by his rescuers what if anything he had heard, he told them that he had heard nothing because there was no discussion to overhear.  Apparently it seemed that military intelligence believed the two Marines and not Thompson, so maybe that was why they brushed him off.  In any event he had no idea of what these two were up to, but he just had a bad feeling about the whole situation, and felt that by coming here he could at least feel that he had done all he could for his country.
Workman wasn't quite sure what to make of Thompson's story but felt strong enough about it to bring it to his superiors for their take on it.  He asked Thompson how long he was going to be in the Washington area before returning home to Austin.  Thompson told Workman he would only be in town for a day, that he was catching a flight home to Texas the next morning.  He gave Workman a number where he could be reached in Washington, and his home number in case he had left town and Workman needed to speak with him.
After Thompson left the office, Workman came into my office and discussed the interesting conversation he had just had with Thompson.  My name is Matt Turner and I am the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau's Anti Terrorism unit in Washington, D.C. , and Agent Workman works with me and two other agents here in Washington.  Naturally we have additional resources to draw on such as our cyberspace unit as well as the Bureau's forensics teams to assist us in our investigations.  Since the 911 attacks we have been extremely busy handling all types of tips received by the Bureau from concerned citizens reporting everything from seeing bomb making equipment in their neighbor's garage to suspicious persons of middle eastern descent hanging around their favorite watering hole.  There is no possible way for us to check into each and every tip, so we have to work smart and depend on local law enforcement agencies to assist us in checking into the validity of the tips.  To date there had only been two tips that actually panned out into something important and worthwhile in investigating.  In both cases the players involved were brought in for questioning and then released as there was no evidence to prove that they were in any way involved with any foreign terrorist group.
Under normal circumstances after listening to Workman's account of his meeting with Thompson I would have turned the case over to either military intelligence, or the  Naval Investigative Service for further action.  However, not only did something intrigue me about this young soldier's story, but I had received a call earlier from Colonel Waters at the Pentagon advising me to make my unit available to assist in a missing persons case involving two returning Marines from Afghanistan.  What if the two cases were connected, what if the missing soldiers were the two Thompson had told Workman about.  That would be one hell of a coincidence for sure, if it was the two who were missing, there just might be something to Thompson's story.  In any event it was enough at this point to spark my curiousity to learn more.  I informed Workman of my earlier phone conversation with Waters and that I was just waiting for a call from JAG to coordinate the search efforts for the two missing Marines.  I also had requested photos and dossiers on both of them.  I wanted to have as much information as possible that might help to determine what happened to the two, or where they might have gone.  They were supposed to check in with Colonel Boyle at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and in fact Boyle had sent an escort to meet them at the airport and bring them to Fort Bragg, but apparently the two never made contact with their escorts.
I asked Workman if Thompson had said anything about the two Marines coming back to the States on the same flight with him.  He said that Thompson said they all were on the same flight which originated in Wiesbotten, Germany and landed at Washington National.  He claimed he last saw them in the baggage terminal awaiting their luggage, as he left the terminal and headed here.  In fact Thompson said he saw the escort from Fort Bragg waiting outside the terminal he presumed for the two returning Marines. 
This left some burning questions like why didn't the two meet their escorts, and had the commanding officer at Fort Bragg listed them as missing.  The answer to the first question would no likely be answered until a full scale investigation had been completed.  As far as the second we had to presume since I received a call from Colonel Waters earlier that morning was yes he had.  However, I couldn't help but wonder why I hadn't gotten a call from NIS or the Judge Advocate General's office or JAG as it was commonly referred to.  All we could do now was wait to hear back from Colonel Waters as to how we would proceed with the investigation and just what part he wanted my team to play in the investigation.  Workman used the down time to transfer his interview with Thompson to a disc, so I could hear the entire interview for myself.  He thought I would find it rather interesting to say the least.  I inquired as to whether he gave him the names of the two Marines so we could perform a cursory background check on the two while we waited for a call from Waters, but Thompson only had the last names of the two, and nothing more.  There names were Corporal Jensen, and a PFC Seeley, no first names nor the unit they had been serving with in Afghanistan.  Not enough to run any type of check on, we had to wait for Colonel Waters and see if we could acertain any more details about the two in order to run them through the system.
It was nearly noon by the time Colonel Waters called back.  He had set up a meeting between us, JAG and NIS for later that afternoon at JAG Headquarters in Langley Viriginia to discuss the matter and determine who was going to head up the investigation, and what part each of us would play in the subsequent investigation.  It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to go through just for two missing Marines, who more than likely just went off on a toot after being held captive for months and then spending two weeks at a U.S. military field hospital being poked and prodded at.  Workman and I decided to brief our other two team members Agents McQuin and Jones as to what was going on, and get their take on the situation, and listen to Thompson's interview which was now queued up on my computer.  We listened to the entire interview which lasted nearly an hour, and we all were aghast at how the two Marines had ignored Thompson's pleas to assist him in an escape plan and attempt.  We also couldn't fathom how these two even got into the Marines, much less assigned to active duty given their contempt for minorities.  Over 90 percent of the men and women serving in the armed forces were minorities due to the lack of employment opportunities available in the private sector over the years.  Either someone dropped the ball in recruiting, or there was something else going on here that we were not yet aware of. 
Whatever was going on we weren't going to discover anything more about either the two marines or about what had transpired in Afghanistan without access to not only their military files, but the freedom to speak with their commanding officers and other soldiers who interacted with them during their tour of duty.  The only way we could do that would be with the cooperation of the JAG's office and NIS.  I was hopeful that as in the past both those agencies would be cooperative in assisting us in our investigation of the entire situation.  The last thing I wanted to do was step on any toes or try to undermine anyone's authority or egess in trying to take over the investigation.  This definitely had to be a team effort, with each agency dedicating time, sharing information and manpower, or it was going to be difficult to complete a competent investigation.  Since there might be some terrorist threat linked to the situation, I was hoping that the other agencies would allow us to head the investigation, and full access and disclosure to their files.

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Novel / Novella
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