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Hassan’s Tale | Part 1 – The Mountains are Muslims Too


This story is a sequel to Pieces of a Dream, A Lion is Born, The Deal, and especially to Kill the Courier” and “Dispatch Wizard“. If you have not read those stories yet, please do so.

See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

March 22, 2010 – almost midnight
San Francisco, California

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Hassan retrieved the black leather briefcase from storage and hit the road. Speeding along Highway 101 south, pegging the car’s cruise control to just over the speed limit, he sipped green tea from a thermos and tried not to worry about what revelations Dr. Basim might have in store. He hoped Dr. Basim would be able to guide him. He had to find a way to get Sarkis to back off. Every conflict had a negotiating point.

His face felt swollen and sore, but the arm was the real problem. He could feel his pulse in the wound, throbbing with every heartbeat. He adjusted his seatbelt so that he could cradle his injured arm in it, using it like a sling.

He was glad that Muhammad had found his father unharmed. Insha’Allah the man would get treatment and recover his sense of self. What a frightening thing it must be not to be able to think clearly; not to be able to distinguish the real world from one’s inner nightmares. The very thought made Hassan shudder. SubhanAllah. Good health was such a gift, but everyone took it for granted until it was lost.

He wondered if Muhammad would be able to forgive his father. Was there anything harder in life than truly forgiving someone who had hurt you badly?

Hassan believed in his heart that forgiveness was the key to every happiness. It opened your lungs so you could breathe, and released your heart like a bird from a cage. Resentment, on the other hand, tightened your chest and narrowed your vision. It made your world smaller, and shrunk your capacity to love.

Though he knew this, and believed it, he still could not forgive Sarkis. The best he could do was to walk away. Reach accommodation of some sort, and let the man live his perverted, twisted life. Leave it to Allah to end Sarkis’ life when his qadar, his pre-ordained fate, called.

He took 152 east through the lightly forested foothills. The hills were dark now, silhouetted against the purple sky. Merging onto Interstate 5 south, he popped a disc into the CD player. It was a homemade compilation of Islamic nasheeds given to him by Fatimah, his Tuesday night class assistant – not my assistant anymore, he remembered. The class is hers now.

A haunting voice flowed from the player, singing:

I can find myself in the mountains
for the mountains are Muslims too
and they are my friends.
They avalanche, thundering “Allahu Akbar!”
Their rivers sing SubhanAllah.
Trees crowd the slopes like pilgrims,
praising in unison,
celebrating life.

Hassan looked up at the outline of the dark mountains on his right, marching westward like an army on the move. Muslims, all of them. The orange groves dotting the mountain slopes, the wisps of cloud in the night sky, the half-moon shining in the east like a heavenly child about to be born… How strange to think that all these things were Muslim in their nature – they obeyed the natural laws laid down by Allah, with no thought and no complaint – and yet so many of the people who lived upon this earth, and survived only by means of these natural elements, did not believe.

Traffic was light. Hassan was not an expert in counter-surveillance, but he’d known a few CS guys in Lebanon and had picked up the basics. He did his best to make sure he was not followed, running what the CS guys called a heat run. He pulled off the freeway at a scenic overlook called the Crow’s Nest and watched the cars pass. Shortly afterward he exited at a truck stop, where he bought a tuna salad sandwich, a small pack of cookies, and a bottle of ibuprofen, and made a mental note of any other cars around. Leaving the truck stop, he signaled right then quickly turned left, keeping an eye on the rear view mirror.

He downed four of the painkillers along with his meal, then entered the freeway heading in the wrong direction – north. One exit down the road he pulled off, circled around and drove southward very slowly in the right lane, forcing anyone following him to slow down or pass. Finally he exited the freeway one more time and parked at the side of the road for five minutes. Confident that he was not being tailed, he resumed his southward trip.

Such precautions were probably not necessary, since it would be easy to spot a tail on these straight stretches of I-5; but there was no harm in being safe.

The Tejon pass over the Tehachapi Mountains was dusted with snow. The mountains themselves were invisible in the dark, but the patches of snow shone with reflected moonlight and seemed to hang in the sky, luminous and strange. It was always queer to see snow in California, and it made Hassan feel as if he had been suddenly transported back to Lebanon. It was not a good feeling.

This was only his fourth time returning to Los Angeles in the last sixteen years. The oversized, glittering city held many good memories, and some that were so terrible they overshadowed everything else. Driving down the mountain into L.A. felt like sinking into a great prison, or tumbling into a locked-up corner of his mind that he did not wish to revisit.

He made no stops. No detour to the old house, no pass by his old school or dojo. By 7am, as the sun rose in the east like a great yellow fist, Hassan was ringing Dr. Basim’s doorbell, messenger bag and briefcase in hand.

Dr. Basim answered the door and greeted Hassan with a warm hug and a handshake. There was something about his appearance – with his short stature, bald head fringed with curly white hair, and portly figure – that always reminded Hassan of a penguin. The blue jean shorts and preppy sweater vest only added to the comic effect.

Dr. Basim was not a man to be underestimated, however. He had once been the deputy director of the Lebanese intelligence services – the only Muslim to hold such a high rank before the civil war – and was now dean of the UCLA school of business. He was also an avid pottery collector who travelled all over the world collecting antique pieces. And he was the man who had helped Hassan set up his offshore corporation several years ago, as a means of concealing his wealth and identity.

Hassan had sometimes wondered if Dr. Basim was a CIA agent or asset, using the pottery thing as a cover. Basim played his cards close to his vest.

He also was not much of a Muslim. He drank wine, did not pray, and liked to play poker at the local Indian casino on the weekends. None of this was secret; Basim was quite open about his predilections, and liked to boast about the big game he’d won, or the bluff he’d pulled off.

But he’d been a lifelong friend of Hassan’s father, and had known Hassan’s assumed identity for years. He was like a second father, and Hassan trusted him implicitly.

Pulling away from the hug, Dr. Basim noticed Hassan’s cheek. “Shoo hatha, ibni?” he asked. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you later, Ammu” Hassan said, using the Arabic word for ‘paternal uncle’. “Do you have any coffee?”

“Of course.” Basim ushered him in the house. “Tafaddal.”

The large, Spanish-style house was stunningly decorated with some of the antique vases and urns that Dr. Basim had collected around the world. Hassan knew they must be worth a fortune, though it did seem to him that there were fewer pieces on display than the last time he’d been here. Maybe Dr. Basim had put the rest in storage for safekeeping.

Dr. Basim led Hassan to the breakfast nook in the kitchen. Morning light streamed through the window. A morning dove called softly outside, and a crow answered. Someone slammed a door and one of Basim’s dogs – he had two German Shepherds – barked from the backyard.

Hassan had spent many afternoons in this kitchen with Motaz, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches, or taking chess lessons from Dr. Basim.

“Sit,” Basim he said. “I’ll bring you coffee and breakfast. You must be hungry.”

“I have to admit, that sounds good.” Hassan said. Not a very Arab response, he knew – he was required by tradition to insist that Dr. Basim not trouble himself, at which point Basim would override his objections – but, having been raised in the USA, Hassan tended to dispense with such conventions.

“Nisreen went to an early class at the gym,” said Basim. “Jumba, Zimba, something like that. Some kind of dance.”

“How are Motaz and Dalya?” Hassan inquired. He sat at the small table and set the briefcase and messenger bag carefully at his feet.

There had been a time in Hassan’s childhood when he and Motaz had been great friends. They had learned to skateboard together, played stickball in the street, and defended each other from bullies.

Though Hassan’s family was Christian and Motaz’ was Muslim, and though Lebanon was embroiled in a bloody civil war between the two faiths, neither Hassan nor Motaz cared about that. Their fathers were childhood friends, and Hassan’s father was utterly ecumenical in his beliefs. As Hassan later learned, his father’s entire life had been dedicated to evangelizing the idea of racial and religious harmony in Lebanon.

As Hassan became increasingly involved in his martial arts and weapons training, however, he and Motaz drifted apart. Then everything shattered, with the deaths of Hassan’s mother, father and brother striking in succession like falling bombs. Hassan did not see his friend again until many years later, and by then Motaz had just been diagnosed with a degenerative disease called Freidreich’s ataxia. It caused muscle weakness, speech problems and curvature of the spine. In the last several years Motaz’s health had deteriorated rapidly. He was now confined to a wheelchair.

Ironically, Hassan was Muslim by that time, while Motaz considered himself an agnostic. Dr. Basim and Tant Nisreen were not practicing Muslims and had never taught Motaz and Dalya even the basics of Islam. As for Dalya, she opened a wine bar, became wealthy, and joined the Church of Scientology. Lost children in the city of Lost Angels. To lose your health was bad enough, but to lose Islam on top of it… he felt so sad for Motaz.

“You know how it is,” said Dr. Basim as he began pulling breakfast ingredients out of the refrigerator. “Motaz is having a hard time. He’s back at the rehab center. Dalya’s business is thriving. She has three locations now. She and her boyfriend bought a new house.”

Hassan didn’t know what to say. Motaz’s illness was progressive and incurable. Hassan had not been back to see him as often as he should and he felt guilty about that. In part he had not visited because of the distance. There was also his need to minimize connections with the past – it was safest for everyone that way. And he had to admit that it made him deeply uncomfortable to see his friend –  who was almost exactly the same age as Hassan – slouched over in a wheelchair, his hair entirely white, and his hands trembling with palsy. It was depressing. Hassan knew that was a weak excuse. He constantly berated himself over it.

“I have something for you,” Basim said. He disappeared through the side door into the garage, and returned a moment later with a letter-sized wooden frame, which he handed to Hassan.

“I was going through some old boxes, throwing things out, and I found it,” said Basim.

It was a poem, hand-printed on what looked like cotton paper, and lovingly framed. Even if it had not been personally signed at the bottom, Hassan would have recognized his father’s poetry anywhere:

Sitting at the little table in Dr. Basim’s sunny kitchen, Hassan read his father’s poem with an ache in his heart, thinking of his father. There was so much he needed to say to him. So much he had to apologize for.


God brought us
to this land of white cliffs
and ancient cedars
at the heart of the world.
We have no kings:
only the green mountains
in shawls of white;
and the sea, plied by ships
like stars in the sky.
We thrived and toiled
in the sweet earth
that brings forth honey and milk.
Mount Lebanon, our mother
and refuge:
we were destined for you
when the world was made
and we will grow and die
in your arms
as long as our people exist.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Basim said. “It still makes me cry. Your father gave it to me as a birthday gift, but I think you should have it.”

Basim went to finish making breakfast and Hassan read the poem over again, remembering the many times he’d seen his father sitting in a brown leather armchair in his study, writing in a canvas-bound journal. Hassan had not respected or understood his father’s writings and philosophies back then. He felt the breath rising and falling in his chest like a tide, and wished he could speak to his father now, embrace him, and kiss the rough stubble of beard on his cheek. He would tell his father how proud he was of everything he had done in life, and that he should rest easy in his grave.

Dr. Basim returned with a plate of scrambled eggs with cheese and za’tar, buttered toast, a dish of sliced tomatoes and olives, and a mug of genuine Colombian roast coffee. It looked and smelled delicious.

“Your parents were heroes,” Dr. Basim said. “Your father did so much for Lebanon, and could have done so much more. But we are a short-sighted people. Yallah, kul. Eat your food.”

With a quick “Bismillah”, Hassan tucked right in.

He was anxious to learn what Dr. Basim had discovered about this so-called Crow, but this was the Arab way. Exchange pleasantries, catch up on family news, eat, and only then could you get to the nitty-gritty.

“So,” Dr. Basim said when Hassan was done. “There were rumors even back in the 1950’s that Antoine had revived the ancient cult of the assassins, but as Christians of course, not Muslims.”

Hassan knew that Dr. Basim was speaking of Antoine Haddad, one of the co-founders of the fascist Phalange militia, known in Arabic as the Kataeb. The Kataeb party had created a mythology in which all Lebanese Christians were descendants of the Phoenicians, and thus separate from and superior to Arabs. They wanted nothing to do with the pan-Arab sentiment sweeping the Arab nations. They preferred to teach their children French and collaborate with Israel against the Palestinians.

Though Haddad had never run for political office, he was said to be the puppet-master pulling the strings of all Lebanese presidents. The current president, Boulos Haddad, was Antoine’s son.

“Supposedly,” Basim continued, “Antoine was taking orphans and training them to kill. They had a secret camp in the mountains where the children were beaten mercilessly and brainwashed, turning them into sociopaths. They were taught to assassinate with knives, guns, poison and their hands. Then they were sent out into the world to eliminate the enemies of the Maronite people. Honestly, it sounded like a fairy tale and I never took it seriously.

“But then odd things began to happen. During the 1958 Muslim insurrection, three of the rebellion’s leaders died mysteriously. One shot himself while cleaning his gun; another had a heart attack at the age of 30; and another drowned in his swimming pool. During the Six-Day War with Israel, a Muslim leader who was pushing for Lebanon to join the Arab armies suddenly disappeared. These strange happenings were not confined to political enemies. At one point Haddad was trying to buy a large parcel of land near Baabda to build a commercial complex, but the Druze owner would not sell. The man fell into his own well. Even some Maronites fell to these invisible grim reapers. The victims all had one thing in common: they were personal, political or military rivals of Antoine Haddad.”

“I’ve never heard of this,” Hassan said.

“That’s the point,” Dr. Basim said. “These assassins were said to kill so covertly that no one knew they existed. And no one would speak aloud about such things. Certainly not me. I was a Muslim in a majority Christian government, in a country polarized along religious lines. When the war started, I took my family and left.”

“Okay.” Hassan nodded his head. “But you didn’t call me here to tell me some unsubstantiated stories.”

“No,” Dr. Basim said. “I called in some big favors with my old contacts. I called in all my markers. I’m not saying that you owe me, I’m saying that I am highly confident of the accuracy of this information. It’s what we would have called in the old days, ‘actionable intel’.”

“And I’m grateful,” Hassan said. He rubbed his uninjured cheek, then ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “I have a feeling I’m not going to want to hear this. But go ahead. Give it to me.”

“Hassan, I know I don’t have to say this, but you did not hear this from me. I’ll give you the intel, and then you forget that my name was ever connected with this information. I have a family to think about.”

“I understand, Ammu,” Hassan said.

Dr. Basim nodded, then rested one elbow on the table, his hand covering his mouth. After a moment he removed his hand and said, “The assassin’s cult is real. They have more members than I guessed, and for the last sixty years they have been behind the deaths of key figures in Lebanon and beyond. They were loyal to Antoine Haddad, and are now sworn to Boulos. They call themselves the Kopis” – Dr. Basim lowered his voice almost to a whisper – “after a type of sword used by the ancient Phoenicians.”

Hassan sat back in his chair. He didn’t like where this was going. He could feel his pulse picking up. He wanted to object and say that this sounded like the plot of a Robert Ludlum novel, but he knew that Dr. Basim was not easily fooled, and was not prone to flights of fancy.

He stroked his goatee – avoiding the injured side of his face – and smoothed his eyebrows with his fingers.

“And the Crow?” he said.

“Shhhh, quietly please,” Dr. Basim said. “Don’t say that name again. And certainly never say it over the phone. He is real. He’s one of the Kopis, young but highly ranked within the organization. He is said to have killed literally hundreds of men, women and children. He’s a monster. A soulless torturer. My source compared him to Dr. Mengele. I could get no other information about his identity or background, except that within the Kopis organization he is known as Mr. Green. Now it’s your turn. Where did you hear that man’s name?”

Hassan told Dr. Basim about meeting Sarkis, and the encounter with the Armenian in the alley.

Ya khabar iswid,” Basim breathed when Hassan was done. “Well. You can’t go back to San Francisco, that’s for certain. You have resources. Leave now. Go someplace far away. I can manage your investments in your absence. Do you still have the alternate identity documents your mother left you? Have you kept them up to date?”

Hassan gazed wearily at his father’s framed poem, sitting on the table beside his plate. He was tired of running from evil men.

“My people,” he said. “The Maronites, I mean. We fled one persecutor after another, until we ended up in Lebanon, sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. We made our stand there. It’s unfortunate that we chose bad leadership and a twisted ideology. But my point is that we recognized that there was no place left to run, and that Lebanon was home forever. I’m not saying that San Francisco is forever, but it’s my home, and it’s where I make my stand.”

“A good soldier knows when it’s time to retreat,” Basim said.

Hassan shook his head. “Do you remember the chess lessons you used to give me and Motaz?” he asked.

“Of course,” Basim said.

“You said that the chess grandmasters – the Bobby Fischers of the world – never retreat. They press forward, make sacrifices, and commit everything they have to a single-minded, apparently reckless but calculated attack. And if they’re clever and creative enough, they break through and topple the enemy’s king.”

Dr. Basim slapped the table top. “This is your life Hassan, not a game!”

“You always said that chess was a metaphor for life. Your description of the way the grandmasters play, you know what it reminds me of? The battle of Badr.”

Dr. Basim sighed. “When you say such things, it makes me wish you had not become Muslim. Did you hear what I said about that – killer? To go against a man like that is insanity.”

“Insanity’ describes my life pretty accurately,” Hassan pointed out. “And Islam saved me in every way that matters. Anyway, I’m not trying to win. I’m only playing for a stalemate.”

“There’s something else,” Hassan continued. “A secret weapon.” He lifted the small black briefcase and set it on the table. “I want your opinion on this.”

Opening the case,  he turned it to face Dr. Basim.

Hassan knew very well that the briefcase contained exactly three items: a journal bound in red leather; an aged photo album; and an unlabeled cassette reel of the kind used in early reel-to-reel players.

He watched as Basim opened the photo album and browsed the contents. A moment later the older man’s breath caught in his throat and he closed the album, a look of horror on his face. Setting it down, he opened the red leather journal and flipped through the pages. His eyes grew wide. Finally he sat back in his chair and stared at Hassan, dumbfounded.

“My God, Hassan,” he breathed. “This is the Red Book. I heard a rumor that this existed. You could bring down three governments with these things.” He picked up the cassette reel and turned it over in his hands. “What about this?” he said. “What’s on it?”

Hassan smiled, taking pleasure in Dr. Basim’s amazed reaction. Basim was such an old fox. Hassan had never been able to surprise him, in chess or in life – until now.

“It’s the meeting,” Hassan said.

“What meeting?”

The meeting. The Tripoli Conclave. Haddad, Truman, Ben-Gurion and -“

“No!” Dr. Basim interjected. He looked aghast, and he dropped the reel back into the briefcase as if it had burned his fingers. “That’s impossible. That meeting is a myth. A conspiracy theory invented in Arab coffee shops.”

“Clearly not,” Hassan said. “Antoine recorded every meeting he ever had. He was like Nixon in that way. I’m sure you know that. Do you have a reel-to-reel player? Play it if you like.”

“No no no,” Basim said hurriedly.

“Do you think I could threaten Haddad with it?” Hassan asked. “Get them to back off?”

“Be realistic, Hassan. If they knew you had this, they would stop at nothing, laa shakk. They would kill you and everyone you know.”

“What do you think I should do then?”

Shuf ya habibi. These items are too dangerous to keep. Let us burn them in the fireplace right now. Then you disappear. Go to Mexico, Indonesia, India. Somewhere big and crowded. If you have any cash left, leave it with me for safekeeping and I will find a way to get it to you wherever you go.”

Hassan shook his head. He’d hoped for more than this. “And what about happiness?” he said. “There’s someone I care about in San Francisco.”

Basim raised his eyebrows. “A girl?”

“Yes. A Palestinian girl named Jamilah. She’s… strong. Intelligent like my dad, but stubborn like my mom.”

Basim gazed at him. “We are Lebanese,” he said. “It is said that to be Palestinian is to be born with a broken heart; while to be Lebanese is to be born in the white bosom of the world, then to dash your own heart on the rocks. Better to break her heart now than later.”

Hassan shook his head. “I don’t believe in that kind of fatalism.”

“Leave the briefcase with me at least. I will destroy the items.”

“No.” Hassan stood, his mind made up. “I might need them. Thank you for everything, Ammu. Jazak Allah khayr.” He embraced Dr. Basim tightly, and wondered if he would ever see the man again.


Sarkis simultaneously seethed and cowered as the assassin known as the Crow sat at the head of the table in the consulate’s small conference room. Who did this young man think he was to claim Sarkis’ prime position? Sarkis was a Haddad, while this man was nothing but a trigger puller and torturer. To make matters worse, the Crow had dispatched one of Sarkis’ consulate guards to a local wine shop to buy two bottles of expensive Napa Valley wine, on the consulate’s dime. He sat there sipping Cabernet Sauvignon and perusing a folder that the Armenian, Emil Dadurian, had prepared.

Sarkis wished he could put a bullet in the assassin’s arrogant head. Yet he said nothing.

The only other people in the room were Emil and another of Sarkis’ operatives, a young Maronite by the name of Pierre. A curly-haired blonde, he had served in the Maghaweer – the Lebanese Commando Regiment – and was the son of an influential member of parliament. Consulate postings to cities like San Francisco were highly coveted. Though Pierre’s appointment to this post was perhaps due to nepotism, he had proved himself to be an effective intelligence agent.

“So,” the Crow said, addressing his comments to Sarkis. “Like a child, you rushed in blindly, botched the operation and alerted the target.”

Sarkis flushed. “It was Emil,” he said, gesturing to the Armenian on his left. From the corner of his eye he could see Emil glaring at him angrily. No matter. The man would be dead soon enough.

“A commander is responsible for the actions of his men,” the Crow said coolly, still studying the file. “I see you obtained some intelligence at least. These records are from Hassan Amir’s employer? Who obtained this?”

“Me again,” Emil said. “I broke into their company offices last night and copied the employee records. I left no trace.”

“After the cops found the car in the alley and freed you from the trunk,” Pierre said teasingly.

Emil cleared his throat. “Yes. After that.”

“You’d still be locked up if you didn’t have diplomatic immunity.” Pierre lowered his voice for dramatic effect. “In the belly of the beast. Convict Dadurian, l’homme le plus dangereux à San Francisco…” Pierre’s voice trailed away as the Crow stared at him icily.

“What did you find in the company office?” the Crow asked, directing his question to Emil.

“There’s no employment file for Hassan Amir.”

“Could he be working under a different name?”

“It’s possible,” Emil conceded. “But I don’t know what it might be. Our tech guy hacked into the Department of Motor Vehicles database and is checking the other employee names now, to get their addresses and photos.”

Sarkis spoke up, attempting to wrest control of the meeting from his insolent underlings. He’d been too lax with these fools lately.

“I’ve had a man posted outside the company offices since 6 am,” Sarkis said. “He has photographed everyone who entered. This Hassan Amir character has not appeared, but we’ll find him. He’s pedaling around on a bicycle, for Christ’s sake. He’s a loser.” Sarkis realized that some of his hatred for Simon was leeching into his words. He must keep a tighter rein on his emotions in front of the Crow. The assassin was infuriatingly arrogant, but Sarkis knew the man was as lethal as a pit viper.

“This loser,” the Crow said coolly, looking up from the file he had been studying, “disarmed your best operative and stuffed him in the trunk of his own car.”

Sarkis dismissed the statement with a wave of his hand. “Perhaps he has some skills,” he conceded. “But he has no background in intelligence.”

“You know him?” the Crow said, raising one eyebrow.

Sarkis suddenly remembered Boulos’ instructions to not to reveal Simon’s true identity. “Of course not,” he said. “He simply struck me as a fool. How could he have any formal training?”

He loosened his tie as the Crow stared at him.

“Yes, well,” the Crow said finally. He went back to studying the file. “What about the homeless Negro?” he said after a moment.

“Who?” Sarkis was baffled.

The Crow looked up with eyes like frozen limes. There was a predatory yet emotionless air to him. Sarkis had heard the stories of how this man tortured people for days on end, doing it only for pleasure. He resisted the urge to shiver.

“The report,” said the Crow, “indicates that Amir was protecting a homeless Negro. Who is he?”

“We don’t know sir,” Emil responded.

“You state here – “ the Crow ran a finger through the text of the report – “that the Negro appeared to be injured. Where would a homeless man be taken for treatment?”

“Probably San Francisco General Hospital, sir,” Emil responded.

The Crow nodded. “I’ll take it from here. I will need a few items.” He jotted some notes on a yellow legal pad, tore the sheet and handed it to Sarkis. “Bring these to my hotel in two hours.”

Sarkis felt like exploding. Now he was to be the assassin’s errand boy? He would do as he was told for now. But he was a Haddad. One day he would be president of Lebanon, and then everything would change. He would butcher all his enemies one by one and discard their bodies like trash, and this Crow would die unknown and unremembered.

“One last thing,” the Crow said. “How many employees does Hammerhead Courier have?”

“Forty,” said Emil. “Including bikers, drivers, dispatch, customer service and admin staff.”

“How many are Muslim?”

“Five. Hassan Amir, Jamilah Al-Husayni, Muhammad Saleh, and the owner Adel At-Turki and his daughter Sahar.”

“Very well,” the Crow said, “Let us learn all we can about all five. I want eyes on their home addresses, and I want to establish their current locations.”

“We don’t have the manpower for that,” Sarkis objected.

The Crow nodded. “Very well. Forget about trying to locate them. Just put eyes on their addresses. I want to know the moment one of them is spotted. If Amir is not available I will settle for his friends, for now.”

Next:  Hassan’s Tale, Part 2 – Bound for Canaan Land

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including,, and He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.



  1. hassanzawahir

    April 16, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    Plot starts to build, Interesting.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 16, 2014 at 1:28 AM

      Ma-sha-Allah, fast reader! It was just posted 15 minutes ago. :-)

      • hassanzawahir

        April 16, 2014 at 4:11 AM

        I was thinking about the sequel before i fell asleep lat night, checked at fajr “no” and then i checked immediately after arriving to the office :D

  2. Shurufa

    April 16, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    whoa. This is ought to be a novel. I would buy it. Great job brother, mA. :)

  3. iffat sharif

    April 16, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    Oh my Allah !! THIS IS SOOO EXCITING!! First of all Alhamdolillah this part has 10 chapters..that means it will run for a long time !! :) and secondly,this story is like more than ma’sha Allah !! I never thought a thriller can be so beautiful just bcoz of the Islamic content :) What’s the name of this novel as a whole ??

  4. talibeilm

    April 16, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger! :O The suspense is getting unbearable! Once again, barakallahu feek Br. Wael!

  5. SnJannah

    April 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Hassan story is the most suspense of all!! =D thanks author for the nice read. :))

  6. Safa

    April 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Amazing. The pace, the suspense, the detailed imagery… Jazakumu Allahu khairan.

  7. Khalida

    April 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum,
    I’m so scared for Hassan and the other couriers!!! But I love Hassan’s determination and courage in facing his challenge.
    Knowing that you will have this published this in shaa ALLAH, I noticed just two mistakes as I was reading, 1. “and kiss his the rough stubble of beard on his cheek”; 2. “‘No!’ Dr. Mustafa (Dr. Basim?)interjected.”
    I can’t wait for the next chapter. BaarakALLAHu feek.

    • Khalida

      April 16, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      you will have this published in shaa ALLAH****

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 16, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Khalida, wa alaykum as-salam, thank you for the corrections! I appreciate it.

  8. Samia

    April 16, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Good read!
    Makes wednesdays special :D

  9. Wael Abdelgawad

    April 16, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Jazakum Alllah khayr everyone for your kind comments. It’s hard sometimes finding time to write between all the usual obligations of family, work, etc, but your encouragement keeps me going.

  10. Amina Malik

    April 16, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    I too have always wanted to ask you, what is the name of this novel as a whole?

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 16, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      I haven’t chosen one. Maybe I should run a poll, or have a contest to choose a name? :-)

  11. Salma

    April 17, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Really enjoying reading this story. Always look forward to the next episode.

  12. Sulayma

    April 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum Br. Wael, Masha’Allah an incredible piece once again. The suspense is unbearable, but that’s exactly what will keep us coming back for more.
    I’m currently in editing mode as I’m reviewing another friend’s story, so I hope you don’t mind me just pointing out one very small misspelling. Haddad’s name was spelled as Hadded here: “Though Hadded had never run for political office…”

    Barak Allahu feik for your work and efforts.

  13. Hamayoun

    April 17, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    It really is like a Ludlum novel!

  14. Grey Crayon

    April 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Jazak Allahu Khair Brother, I don’t want this story to end.

  15. Asiyah

    April 19, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    I really don’t want this story to end. Maa shaa Allah!

  16. Gabriella

    April 20, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Wow this is crazy!! I hope Hassan comes back before the partridge can do any damage to the others. Is this based on true events? And are those assassins real? They sound like the winter soldier! Also when will we get to see what happens to Alice and Mohammad and his father?

  17. Sarah B.

    May 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Excellent start to Hassan’s story masha’Allah!

  18. shehudankwarai

    October 6, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    بركاء دا صلاح. نسأل الله أن يتقبل كل ما تبذلونه من التضحية، وله يبارك ش وأحبائهم اور مع الرحمة وسنوات جيدة في المستقبل. أمين.

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