Nemesis: The Six Apostles.
"Who today still speaks of the extermination of the Armenians?" -- Adolf Hitler, 1939.
In the Greek tragedies Nemesis appears chiefly as the avenger of crime and the punisher of hubris . . . She was sometimes called Adrasteia, . . . meaning "one from whom there is no escape"; her epithet Erinys ("implacable") is specially applied to Demeter and the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele. -- Wikipedia.
17 July 1915
Aram Avakian’s father was herding his goats in the hills above their village at the base of the mountain that the Ottoman Empire called Musa Dagh but the Armenian Christians called Musa Mer when the Turkish gendarmes came, looking for a little diversion. Ordered to hide and be silent no matter what happened, little Aram hid under a large basket and listened as the Turks raped his mother, one after another. Aram could hear his mother moaning and weeping and the laughter of the gendarmes. When they were done, just before they bayoneted her, one of them asked, “Where’s your Christ to protect you now?”
When they were gone, Aram ran to find his father.
There were six villages of at least five thousand Armenians scattered around the base of Musa Mer and all had been ordered to evacuate and march to somewhere in the interior, away from the Mediterranean Sea. Having heard rumors of what happened to other Armenian Christians when given similar orders, most of the villagers decided to withdraw up the mountain, construct defensive positions and defy the order.
Some, about 60 families, decided they would be safer if they obeyed the order. They marched off with all that they could carry, and were never heard from again.
Between the six villages the Armenians had managed to hide about a hundred and twenty modern rifles and shotguns from the authorities when they had previously been ordered to give them up. In addition, they had perhaps another 350 out-dated flintlock muskets and old horse pistols.
The Armenians stripped out their homes and shops of every manner of provision and carried them up the mountainside. That took them one whole day. They immediately placed sharpshooters at key points and began digging trenches and constructing road blocks.
Arriving to find the Armenians gone, the Turkish Army was ordered up the mountain to round them up and kill all who resisted, which it would later turn out, had been the plan all along.
On 21 July, a force of 200 Turkish soldiers moved up Musa Dagh in expectation of an easy victory. After losing a number of casualties and a mountain howitzer, they retreated. The next attack consisted on 3,000 soldiers and a large number of gendarmes and Muslim irregulars and the Turks drove to within 400 yards of the Armenian camp. Only a deep ravine separated them from their prey. By this time night had fallen and the Turks settled in, expecting to finish the job in the morning.
In the darkness, having no other option, the Armenians took a page from the Bible and duplicated Gideon’s feat by infiltrating down and around the Turkish position until they had it surrounded. When they attacked, the startled Turks were first thrown into confusion, then panic. The Turkish soldiers and their irregular allies fled down the mountain, leaving their camp and considerable war material and food behind.
But they did not go away. A siege now began and by late August, starvation was stalking the Armenians on Musa Mer, which means “the mountain of Moses.” A runner was dispatched through the Turkish lines to the American consul at Allepo asking for neutral aid. He never arrived. A strong swimmer made it to Alexandretta harbor looking for blockading Allied warships. There were none.
Two large flags were made, one with a large red cross in the middle of it. The other read “Christians in distress: Rescue.” These were tied to tall trees, but this was the season of heavy rains and fog, so there was little chance they would be seen.
The Turks attacked again, and were repulsed again, barely. It was doubtful the Armenians would be able to resist another. Aram, weak with hunger and too young to fight, said many prayers for their deliverance. God heard him.
On the 53rd day of the siege, one of the Armenian lookouts spotted the French light cruiser Guichen offshore. Her lookouts had spotted the red cross banner. Guichen’s captain launched a shore party in boats to investigate, and under the protection of her big guns the Turks dared not intervene.
After linking up with the Armenians and learning their plight, the Guichen’s captain wirelessed his squadron commander on his flagship, the heavy cruiser Ste. Jean d’Arc. The admiral issued orders that that all available ships proceed to Musa Dagh to take on the survivors of the siege.
Aram Arkanian’s prayers were answered. Over 4,000 Armenian Christians were saved by four French ships of the admiral’s squadron and a nearby British man-of-war.
French sailors had to pry the captured Turkish Mauser rifle out of the hands of his father before they would let him on board the boat taking them to the Ste. Jean d’Arc.
“Never forget, Aram,” his father cautioned him as they watched from the Ste. Jean d’Arc’s stern railing as their ancestral home faded into the distance.
“No matter where we go and what God brings us in the future, never forget.” Aram didn’t.
Almost one century later.
The basement room was black, illuminated only by the flickering images of the wide-screen television. Six men sat in various relaxed postures, scattered between couches, easy chairs and bar stools.
One of them, with a tattoo on his right forearm of St. Joan of Arc, the patron saint of soldiers, in battle armor and brandishing a large flag, held the remote. Curiously, the flag Saint Joan waved was not that of the Fleur de Lis, nor the Cross of Lorraine but one bearing a simple red cross. An historian, not knowing the real story behind the tattoo, would have thought it an anachronism and in error. It was neither.
On the screen Joe O'Reilly entered a room and demanded, "Jesus Christ, Mick, where the HELL have you been?"
"Been workin'" muttered an exhausted Michael Collins, his head down on the desk.
"Workin' where?" Joe shot back. Sleepily, Collins begins to give orders.
"I want a file drawn up on every member of the British administration. Look through whatever you can find. Who's Who. Stubb's, Society columns. I want names, addresses, clubs, where they bank down to what they eat for breakfast. Keep it up to date. Add to it every week."
Michael Collins begins to rouse. "Tom?"
Tom Cullen answers, "Um?"
"Tom!" Collins gets up from the table.
"Get me a list of the twelve best men in the Dublin division. Young. Without families."
"What for," asks Cullen.
"Christ," Collins realizes, "the 'Twelve Apostles'. Just do it, for fook's sake!"
"Joe, take a letter."
Collins' number two, Harry Boland enters, demanding "Where the hell have you been?"
Collins ignores him and begins dictating.
"'To whom it may concern. This is to inform you that any further collaboration with the forces of occupation will be punishable by death. You have been warned.' Signed, 'The Irish Republican Army.'"
Boland asks, incredulous, "Are you serious?"
"'Fraid so," answers Collins. Then he orders Joe, "Send one to every G-Man . . ."
Neeson was born for this role, thought Steve Avakian.
"Without them the Brits would have no system. They couldn't move. Imagine the Castle like an enclave where anyone, and I mean anyone, who collaborated knew he'd be shot. They couldn't move outside those fooking walls. THAT'S how serious I am."
Boland, now realizing how serious Collins is, offers, "There's only one problem."
"We'd have to do it."
"Yes," says Collins. "So, could you bear it?"
Avakian hit freeze on the DVD remote, and leaned over the bar to hit the alcove light switch.
"What's the big deal, Steve?" The man in the Lazy Boy brought it upright and stood. "We've got this damn movie memorized, you played it so often in Kabul."
"I just wanted to remind you of the thinking process behind the Anglo-Irish War because Collins was successful."
"Why?" asked Mark Volescu.
"Because of this." Steve handed out each of them a copy of a letter. "Read it, and then we'll talk."
It was dated over two years before.
"You've got us surrounded, you poor bastards."
Memo for the Record to the Next Congress
To: The Victors of the Recent National Elections
From: Your gun-owning constituents
Subject: The so-called "Gun Show Loophole"
Congratulations. You have just been swept into power. Enjoy the feeling.
But come January, the special interests who put you there are going to be banging on your door asking for various favors. Some of them are going to be demanding more gun control legislation, among them a law to close the so-called "gun show loophole."
Heretofore, the bumbling GOP has at least been able to fend off these attempts at our liberties, but those corrupt incompetents have now been justifiably swept from power for their other numerous political sins. Neither Presidential candidate mentioned the subject much during the campaign (for good reasons), but both are on record as supporting previous bills aimed at exerting complete federal control over the private sale of arms.
You call this "reasonable regulation."
We call it tyranny, for not even King George III was so grasping. But since you won the election, it will be your candidate who takes the oath and signs the bill. It may be assumed that the new president will sign such a bill if you place it before him. However, we do not address this memo to him. It is the darker angels of YOUR nature we are seeking to save you from, as I will explain below.
The hubris derived from your own smashing electoral victory may incline you to listen to those voices demanding that you seize the moment for more gun control. If I may, let me explain the possible personal, unintended consequences of such an act to you.
There are in your district, in your state and indeed all over the country, a great number of gun owners just like me. I suppose if you added us all up there at least a million or two of us.
Maybe more, maybe less, but once you get into numbers like that, what's a million more or less?
We are the 'cold, dead hands" types, the men and women who have sworn, as the old bumper sticker said, "When guns are outlawed, I'll be an outlaw." We have fought a political delaying action against the enemies of our traditional 2nd Amendment rights for decades now. Indeed, we have been shoved back from the free exercise of our historic firearms liberty for 70 plus years.
Now it is plain that we have lost the argument at the polls.
You feel a natural pride at having swept the GOP from the field. But you should know that in doing so you have removed any hope we ever had of successfully defending our right to armed self-defense in the political arena. You will also take up, and I'm certain you will pass, the Fairness Doctrine to shut up the talk radio hosts who have so bedeviled you these past twenty years. As well, you will pass an Amnesty Bill for illegal aliens, which you believe will make any further conservative success in national elections impossible. You are right on both counts. And, because you now have the votes, you will be successful. You will think you have a mandate for whatever you do. And yet . . .
Consider where this puts us. We will no longer have the possibility of stopping further attacks on our God-given liberties politically. We will not even be able to vent our frustration on talk radio. I'm sure you will also get around to "hate speech regulation" of the Internet. And in the middle of this you will try to disarm us by means of a "gun show loophole" bill, or a new tougher "assault weapons ban" or a ban on "assault weapons ammunition" and "armor piercing bullets" which will include simple hunting ammunition, or probably a combination of all three. Perhaps you will stealthily try to do these things by quietly having the ATF manipulate the regulatory process.
Quiet or not, we will notice.
You will do this because you think you can do it without political or personal retribution. I write you today to tell you that if you do so, you will be as wrong as you could possibly be.
You believe that if you pass a law backed by the threat of federal violence for non-compliance, that we will do what you order without resistance. You believe this because you are extrapolating our anticipated behavior from your own cowardice, You know that YOU would never do such a thing, so we won't either. This is a dangerous assumption on your part, perhaps fatally so. For if the discredited Republicans no longer protect us from you, then they no longer protect you from us, either.
You've got us surrounded, you poor bastards.
Remember that we consider our rights merely codified by the Constitution. They are, we sincerely believe, God-given and inalienable. Remember too that we are willing to die for our liberties rather than surrender them up meekly. Remember as well that men and women who are willing to die for their principles are most often willing to kill for them too.
What can this possibly have to do with you?
Well, it's like this. We have been doing a lot of thinking about what we would do if we ever found ourselves in this situation, and after considerable thought we have decided we agree with Bill Clinton. Back in 1999, when he was trying to pressure the Serbians into giving up Kosovo, then President Clinton expanded American rules of war to include -- as legitimate targets of deadly force -- the politicians and the news media that shaped and supported his enemy's war policy.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you force us into resistance by further circumscribing our rights -- by sending federal police to our doors to enforce your will -- can't those same Clintonian rules of engagement be applied to you?
Oh, we could certainly defend ourselves by shooting back at the hapless instruments of your tyranny -- the sons and daughters of other Americans who happen to be in federal service.
But wouldn't it be wiser for us -- after the first, second or third time this happens -- to adopt Clinton's policy and go after the people who sent them? That is, to seek out the bureaucrats and politicians who decided to start the war? And, like Clinton, should we target the media talking heads and newspaper editors who clamored for it in the first place?
The advocates of citizen disarmament are probably willing to fight a war down to the last dead ATF agent, but are YOU willing to fight one past the first dead politician? And how many dead editors will it take to change an editorial board policy?
If you pass new gun control laws we will find out.
The president of course will be the safest personage in the country under this awful scenario. Killing a president, even if he signed such an unconstitutional law, would be tantamount to firing on Fort Sumter, a discrediting move no matter what the provocation.
But, one wonders, who would cry over a dead congressman or senator who voted to take people's liberty, property and lives? Especially after innocent victims of his predatory law-making were already littering the streets. You may recall the already lower-than-a-snake's-belly position in the polls that Congress currently holds.
Who indeed would mourn you, beyond your family, your mistress and a few lobbyists?
Also, it may be cold comfort, but we will make sure that your family remains behind to mourn you. We will do a far better job of protecting innocents than the federal government, perhaps because we don't own any Predator drones or F18s or Hellfire missiles or cluster bombs. You will get no terrorist outrages like Oklahoma City to easily discredit us - just remorseless and deadly accurate rifle bullets, one at a time. Those are OUR precision guided munitions.
Do you really think that in the long run that yours will be more effective than ours?
These are the uncomfortable questions that must be asked now rather than later. Unless, of course, you decide that discretion is the better part of valor and -- out of enlightened self-interest -- you refuse to meander down the bloody garden path toward civil war at the urging of the honey-tongued Sirens of "reasonable regulation" gun control.
It's always important for any card player to know the rules of the game before the deck is cut. By sweeping away the sorry GOP, and stacking the deck with the Fairness Doctrine and enfranchised illegals to toil on your political plantation, you will have changed the political rules fundamentally and, perhaps, forever.
Please understand that just because you can disenfranchise us, swamp us at the polls, silence us on the radio and Internet, despise us and ridicule us in the media, you still cannot take any more of our liberties without our acquiescence. And we do not, cannot and will not agree. We still get to vote with our rifles. You are welcome to believe that we are insane for adopting such a position, but even if you are right, we're still armed -- doesn't that just complicate your problem?
We are resigned to being a despised minority within our own country, as long as we are a despised and FEARED minority whose rights and property are respected.
You may kill us, but you cannot change our minds.
Kindly, for all our sakes, remember Bill Clinton's rules of engagement. A civil war is a two-way shooting gallery. Don't sign your own target.
Just so we're clear, the way you sign your own target is by voting for any bill which commands the government's seizure of power of the private, intrastate transfer of arms or for one banning the sales or possession of any kinds of heretofore legal weapons or ammunition, or for taxing them to death, or for any other combination of measures, official or unofficial which lead to the same things. Put your "Yea" on any of those, and when innocent Americans get killed by federal forces as a result, you will have placed the crosshairs over your own heart.
You have been warned.
If you want to curse anybody, curse Bill Clinton.
It was his idea.
Mark Volescu spoke first. "Man, you didn't write this."
Steve grinned, "No I didn't. But I did send it."
Steve told them the name of the author.
"He's dead, dude."
"Maybe. They never did find his body."
"Yeah," said Volescu, "but I've read most of his stuff and I never read this."
"Well, right after we got back and I was discharged, I got on some gun rights e-mail lists and one of them was his. Anyway, he sent out a letter like this early one morning and then sent out another one a few hours later saying it was for review only, and he didn't mean for it to get out, and to please destroy any copies. He said he wasn't sure he was going to send it. Well, he didn't. It was right there at the line of being a threat to a federal official, so I guess he was advised by his friends not to send it. I never saw or heard anything more about it."
"If an empty threat falls on deaf ears, was it ever really said?" paraphrased Nijima, who was the deep thinker of the team.
"Let me venture a wild-assed guess," offered Volsecu, "you didn't delete your copy."
Avakian looked at his former SF team member and grinned.
"You're quick, Speedo." Volescu just grunted. He hated that nickname.
Steve continued. "But when I heard he was dead, I changed it a bit, wrapped it around a dubbed copy of this scene from Michael Collins and sent it to every US Representative and Senator. It put them on notice. Like Michael Collins, I had warned them. I'm sure the FBI figured out a dead man wrote it, but they musta been scratchin' their heads how he mailed it from beyond the grave."
"Yeah, well I noticed it didn't stop 'em from passing anything," Volescu retorted sourly.
"No," admitted Avakian, "it didn't. Which is why they've got it coming now. There's way too many dead innocents on the ground now NOT to pay them back."
The men looked at one another. They loved Steve Avakian like a brother, and they knew now why they were here. They'd talked about it a hundred times on a theoretical level. And there had been worse laws since the Omnibus Crime Bill. People had died resisting them. There was a low intensity guerrilla conflict going on all over the country. The whole state of Alabama looked like it was going to war with the Feds because the administration had thrown the Constitution out the window and wouldn't let them run their own affairs.
Carter, Ball and Twigg had each taken a discharge at the same time as Avakian. Volescu followed with a general six months ago by framing himself as a security risk. You couldn't get out these days just by claiming you were a homosexual. "Don't ask, don't tell" had been junked by the new administration. Now it was "Hey, brag about it and you'll get promoted."
Nijima couldn't get released, his MOS was too sensitive, too needed. Consequently, Nijima was a deserter. There was a lot of that going around these days. CID was camped on his ex-wife's doorstep hoping he would surface there. Considering she was a faithless bitch who'd screwed around on "Nidge" when he was in Kandahar, it wasn't likely. But Nijima didn't mind them spying on her.
"Hell, Steve, you want us to help you kill the whole Congress?" This from Nijima.
"No," said Avakian, "just these people. They're in our AO. I don't want to have to operate in DC, it ain't home ground. These are close by." He handed the other five men a sheet with 78 names on it.
"There's more than congresscritters on here," observed Mike Ball.
"Yeah," explained Avakian, "there's TV talking heads, newspaper editors, U.S. Attorneys, supervisory federal policemen, and a grocery list of anti-gun politicians, local, state and national. I warned them too. Just notes, short and sweet: "You have been judged guilty of supporting, soliciting or assisting in the use of deadly force to impose a tyrannical scheme of gun control on the American people. Innocent Americans have died as a result. Renounce your opinions, quit your jobs, run and hide now and you can live. Continue with what you've been doing and you'll be killed as a legitimate target of war." And I signed it, 'The American Republican Army.'"
Steve looked around the room, then continued.
"Priority goes to the congressmen and senators who voted for the Omnibus Bill and Operation Clean Sweep. I didn't put just anybody on there. They are all there because they did some specific act or acts that carried out, or gave material assistance to, the unconstitutional operations of the administration. It's Clinton's ROE, applied to gun control."
Carter called out the name of a Hollywood actress, a real loud mouth who supported the regime with money and influence. "Hey, what's she on this list for?"
Avakian started to tell Carter about why he'd included her and Carter cut him off. "Yeah I know she's a commie bitch from Lesbos and she gave a lot of money to gun-control politicians, but what I meant was, why's she on OUR target list? She doesn't come from here."
Ball knew the answer to that one. "You don't watch 'Access Hollywood,' shithead. Her new girl-toy is from Lockwood and they got a love nest up by the ski resort. Right Steve?"
"You got it."
"She's hot," said Carter.
Ball, who had aced the LSAT and been accepted at Harvard Law, was mystified. "She's a lesbian, Mike, what does it matter to you that she's hot?"
"I know, but she's still hot. I want that job."
"Naw," said Nijima, "that's my job. I still haven't forgiven the bitch for raising money for the Taliban that time."
"Hell, Nidge," said Avakian, "we all want to kill her. We'll have to draw straws."
Twigg butted in. "How about we do it like some Agatha Christie novel? Like, we each shoot her at the same time with a different caliber of weapon? Let 'em try to figure that out."
They all jeered. "Agatha Christie?" groaned Avakian, "God, Twigg, you're a f-ckin' idiot." Nijima agreed and threw a couch cushion at him.
Willow ignored them and commented, "You know, you kill her and Hollywood's gonna empty out like a bunch of illegals out the back door of a bodega when somebody yells 'La Migra!' in the front. There won't be a Hollywood commie left to shop on Rodeo Drive. They'll all go to the south of France for the duration."
"That's what I had in mind, Willow," replied Avakian.
Twigg's nickname was "Willow," because his first name was Will. Not William, not Willie, just Will. Also, because he was short and gutsy like that little dwarf character in the movie. His career had shown that his daddy had chosen his name well. For Will Twigg embodied every meaning of that word, except last will and testament, and maybe they'd get around to that one of these days.
Somebody, a long time ago, had tried calling him "Twiggy." The little guy from north Alabama had walked up to the bigger man, said "I'm sorry you said that," and dumped the bigger man's ass in the dirt so fast that nobody quite knew how he'd done it.
He then apologized, and offered the man a hand up. He was a devout Christian, and he never, ever cursed. They'd mocked him for it at first, until they realized he couldn't be angered and he lived what he believed. There was no doubt he was brave and he'd proved it too many times to recall. A small, compact man, he was stealthy beyond belief in the field.
Once, during an FTX back at Bragg, he snuck up to the OPFOR commander, a full bird Colonel who'd sent his RTO on some dogrobber job. Twigg raised up out of the weeds about 20 feet away with his MILES equipped M-4 and announced very softly. "You are my prisoner, Sir." The officer started to swear up one side and down the other, and Twigg reproved him. "Sir, you don't have to be profane or vulgar just because you lost."
That was Willow all over. He'd picked up reading Agatha Christie when they had been in the rear at Kabul. He bought the complete paperback set in the market. Dog eared when he got them, he read the murder mysteries until the covers fell off. How the books ever made it to Afghanistan, Avakian had no clue. Neither did Twigg. It wasn't a terrible vice for an explosives instructor to have, Avakian guessed, but it still was weird. At least he didn't knit in his downtime like Volescu, or make grotesque madman sketches like Carter.
He glanced around the room. Counting me, there's six apostles, not twelve. And "Willow" Twigg is my Vinny Byrne. Vinny had been the youngest man on Collin's "squad." So devout a young Catholic boy that he went to Mass both before and after his hits, Vinny would always say as he approached the victim from close range, "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," just before he pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.
There was no doubt that the Twelve Apostles had struck terror into the heart of the British establishment in Ireland. It was Collins' assassination campaign that compelled the Brits to seek a truce. Steve Avakian intended to do the same to the people who were responsible for this war.
It would be his own Operation Nemesis.
"I have killed a man but I am not a murderer."
When the war began in 1914 (Soghomon Tehlirian) said, Armenian soldiers, including his brother, were recruited into the Turkish army. Early in 1915, however, most were stripped of all arms and employed as pack animals to transport army supplies, after which they were shot. In the villages posters announced that everyone had to surrender arms, but the Muslims were allowed to keep theirs while Armenians, when they complied, were charged as revolutionaries and tortured. Churches were desecrated and Christian symbols defiled. But these were only the initial moves by the Turkish authorities. In May came news that all Armenian schools had to be closed and the teachers, together with the community leaders, were sent to special camps. Shortly thereafter rumors spread that those who were taken away had already been killed. They had been given the alternative of renouncing Christianity, converting to Islam, and assuming Turkish names, but none had. In the months that followed only a small number of Armenians converted, for survival and to protect their families. At the beginning of June an order came . . . that the entire Armenian population should prepare to leave Erzinga. Money and other valuables had to be delivered to the Turkish authorities for safekeeping. Three days later the Armenian population of around twenty thousand was led from the town early in the morning. They were not permitted to take goods and personal belongings . . . The deportees were formed into a long caravan of five or six columns. . . Turkish soldiers and gendarmes were present on all sides. Everyone was very tired . . . On the very first day, members of Tehlirian's family were killed. . . Several gendarmes dragged his sister off and raped her, while another split his brother's head with an ax. His mother lay dead nearby, killed, he thought, by a bullet. . . Tehlirian suddenly felt a blow to his head and fell unconscious. He didn't know how long he lay there -- one or two days, he thought. When he awoke it was dark, and he felt a great weight on his body. To his horror he discovered that the burden was his brother's corpse. Tehlirian struggled until he was able to push his brother's body aside and stand up. Despite the darkness he could see corpses all around him, and he realized that the entire caravan had been killed. He was the sole survivor, left for dead by the Turks." -- A Crime of Vengeance: An Armenian Struggle for Justice by Edward Alexander, Free Press, 1991, p. 70
The Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Pashas of the old Ottoman Empire in 1915 killed between a million and a million and a half Armenian Christians. It was characterized by the use of massacres and deportations involving forced marches without food or water designed to lead to the death of the deportees. Although condemned to death by the Turkish government that replaced them, most of the plotters -- who had killed no one themselves, merely having ordered it done -- escaped at the end of the war and settled down into comfortable lives in places like Germany.
To deliver justice upon them, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation crafted Operation Nemesis, a covert operation in the 1920s to assassinate these Turkish masterminds of the Genocide. It was named after the Greek goddess of divine retribution, Nemesis.
Hundreds of the guilty mass murderers were hunted down and executed by the assassins of the ARF in the 1920s. All this Steve Avakian knew by heart. When he was sixteen, his dad had handed him a book called 'A Crime of Vengeance', by Edward Alexander.
"You need to know where you came from," he told Steve. "Read this and we'll talk."
Now all eyes turned to the doorway through which entered a shy, nervous young man -- the accused Soghomon Tehlirian, seen for the first time by representatives of the world press. Clad in a black suit, he calmly walked to his place at the defense table. slight of figure and with slender features, the youth, though pale, seemed in control of himself. Now and then he looked around with what the press would call "the eyes of a fanatic," but his demeanor was gentle and restrained. . . The accused was then informed of the official charge against him:
"The alleged student of mechanical engineering, Soghomon Tehlirian . . . born on April 2, 1897, in Pakaritch, Turkey, a Turkish citizen, Armenian Protestant . . . is charged with intentionally having killed the former Turkish Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha in Charlottenburg on March 15, 1921, and of having carried out the killing with premeditation. . ."
Judge Lehmberg instructed the interpreters to inform the accused the contents . . . of the official charge. . . when the interpreters had finished, Judge Lehmberg turned to the accused: "How do you plead? Would you say yes or no to this accusation?"
"No." Defense Attorney von Gordon intervened and asked the court: "I request to ask the accused how he does not regard himself as guilty."
"I do not regard myself as guilty because my conscience is at peace." Judge Lehmberg immediately pursued that with a question. . . "How is your conscience at peace?"
"I have killed a man but I am not a murderer." -- A Crime of Vengeance, pp. 66-67
"Do you understand the difference?" his father had asked him. Steve was quiet for a moment. Finally he said, "Yeah, Dad, I get it. But how come no one ever talks about this?" he held up the slim hardback. "I've never heard of it before, except for stuff I overheard you and grandpa talk about before he died, stories about great grandpa Aram, and I didn't really understand that. They sure don't teach it in school."
"Well, your Grandpa wanted to tell you when you were little, but your mother wouldn't have any of it. She made me swear not to 'traumatize' you. But you're sixteen now. You've got a right to know. A right and a duty."
"Yes, son, a duty. The Jews weren't the first people to say, 'Never again.' We Armenians were. Hitler used our genocide as a pattern for theirs. And some Jews used the book “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” as an inspiration for last-ditch resistance. Armenians were prominent in the fight against Nazism, and Armenian peasants in the Balkan countries and in Russia hid Jews. You see, they knew what it was like. And I want your promise that you'll never stand by and watch innocent people victimized by a government – any government, even our own. We Armenians have a duty to see that it never happens again, no matter what country we live in."
Steve Avakian had promised. But he never thought America could become such a country. He had grown up, joined the army, and seen how the rest of the world worked, and through it all he'd never thought that the American government could ever become that corrupt, that murderous, to its own people. He no longer thought that.
"So," said Volescu, "you got more than a list of names?"
"Yeah," replied Steve Avakian, "I do." He started handing out files. "My thought was to do the Senators and Congressman first, all within 24 hours. We begin on a holiday when they're all back in their home districts. Then we work our way down the second tier and see how far we get."
He paused. "You in?"
Surprisingly, Twigg was the first to reply, "Yeah, I'm in." And then he said simply, by way of explanation, "I took an oath."
They all nodded. So he had. So had they all. One by one they all committed, until only Nijima was left.
"Nidge?" prompted Avakian.
Nijima, his eyes closed, faked a snore, then an elaborate awakening. "Huh? Oh, yeah, what was you wanted me to do? Kill a bunch of evil Death Eaters, lesbian traitoresses, crooked government lawyers, pasty faced killer bureaucrats and panty waist editorial apologists, right? What's not to like?"
They all laughed.
Nidge continued, "Steve, it wounds me that you even thought you had to ask. I took an oath too, you know."
"Right," replied Avakian. "Sorry."
"So," said Volescu, who besides being a champion knitter held a PhD in International Relations, "do we tell them who we are? Or are we just going to be anonymous?"
"I made up some death cards on my home computer. Printed them on card stock. What do you think?" He handed each team member a card.
"What a babe!" offered Volescu.
"Yeah," said Carter,"forget that lezzy bitch, this hottie has WINGS. I want a date with HER. What's her name?"
Steve Avakian smiled.
"Her name," he answered, "is Nemesis."
Thirteen days later
The problem was, being in a ski resort area where the rich, famous and well-connected came to play, they were suffering from an embarrassment of riches themselves – too many juicy targets. Though many of them owned property in the team’s area of operations, once Nemesis began killing these members of the regime, the rest would scurry beyond reach into their green zones far away.
It also made sense to do the toughest jobs first. Three of these hard targets were selected and both for target availability and for maximum impact it had been decided to do them simultaneously if possible. Normally, the smallest formation they would have worked in was two teams of three, each with two operators to do the work and a “guardian angel” to watch over them. A third target made that impossible. And what of all those other worthies who would flee when the first shot was fired?
Looking at the topo map, it was Carter who solved the three-job problem.
As far as reaching out and touching the refugees, it was Nijima who provided the idea and Willow the means to execute it.
“You’re not the only one who’s read up on Irish history, Steve,” Nijima had said after he told them his idea.
“The problem is,” Avakian replied, “we don’t have access to enough explosives to do what you propose.”
“Aw, I dunno,” drawled Willow, “Why don’t you leave that to me? I think I got a way to spread out what little we can get and make it all happen. It won’t be a loaves and fishes miracle, but it’ll work.”
Avakian was skeptical. “How’s that?”
So Willow told him, in detail.
“That’s brilliant!” said Steve. The rest of the team nodded their heads with approval. Nijima walked over and slapped him on the shoulder. “Outstanding, man, outstanding.”
“Shucks,” responded Willow modestly, “Taint nothin’ more than they taught us way back when – ‘take what the enemy gives you and use it against him.’”
And now, almost two weeks later, they were ready.
The prey were walking carefully these days, what with all the random killings going on all over the country. They thought they were prudent, they thought they were safe. Especially here in snow country, far away from the battlegrounds of the coasts.
It was true that they had made themselves hard targets. Their homes had been hardened with what the experts represented as bullet-proof glass and fool-proof security systems. Fences, gates and doors had been strengthened and armed bodyguards hired. They WERE hard targets.
It was just that they were wrong about everything else. For Nemesis was coming to visit.
Stealing the propane company service truck two states away and repainting it in local colors had been tougher than stealing the recoilless rifle and its ammunition from the ski lodge.
It is a little known fact that the U.S. Army has for the past sixty years or so loaned light artillery on a semi-permanent basis to the private companies who operate ski slopes. They do this for avalanche control purposes.
Most often these are recoilless rifles of 106mm caliber. Off season, they are kept under strict lock and key. Security precautions when they are being used are equally tough. To the team, beneficiaries of some of the United States government’s best criminal training, it was easy as pie to lift the weapon, tripod and six rounds of high explosive ammo, along with a box of the special fifty caliber rounds for the spotting rifle mounted parallel to the recoilless that have the same ballistics as the main round.
The M40A1 106mm recoilless rifle is not really 106mm, but rather 105mm. The Army added the extra millimeter to distinguish the rounds of the M40 from an earlier, unsuccessful recoilless rifle design of 105mm bore. It measures over 11 feet long and weighs almost 300 pounds. The M40 fires a 29 pound round at 1870 feet per second. Its maximum effective range for aimed shots is 2 kilometers. For area fire it is almost eight klicks.
Now, the entire assembly was mounted on the ass-end of a long-bed pickup truck under a tarp, and the truck was backed up, sitting perched as far out as it could go on the rim of Lover’s Leap, a promontory that was just about equidistant from, and had line-of-sight to, the mountain retreats of a certain hollywood star with treasonous tendencies and a sitting United States Senator who had violated his oath by supporting Operation Clean Sweep. This was the spot that Carter had identified on the topo map.
It was ten minutes until two o’clock on a Sunday morning. The tarp was pulled off. The parking brake was set, the wheels were chocked and the springs were jammed with steel shims to keep the vehicle bed from shifting as the long barrel swung from target to target. Each estate was well lit, making targeting simple.
Both targets were abed and asleep. The star had someone in her bed. The Senator did not.
“What about the girl-toy, isn’t she an innocent?” Willow had asked. Nijima had an answer for that.
“They met at the Taliban fundraiser, Will,” Nidge said harshly. “She also signed the celebrity petition for the ban. They’re both domestic enemies.”
Willow had shrugged. “OK, just makin’ sure.”
“And are we sure about the rest of innocents? The maids and so on?” Ball asked.
Carter answered that one. He had done the recon of the sites with a powerful spotting scope and a Simrad laser range finder from the vantage point of Lover’s Leap.
“If the intel we got from open sources is right, and I’m sure it is, her bedroom is second-floor northwest corner, so the rounds, if we put them on target, are going to penetrate wall and window facing us and blow out the adjoining wall at an angle away from the other rooms. The Senator’s bedroom is north-east on the third floor, giving us a similar oblique shot. Because the outer walls at that end of the house are brick, I don’t expect the rounds to blow out the adjoining wall but rather to be contained in the room. Better Homes and Gardens had a photo showing the bedroom with a stone fire place and chimney on the opposite wall in the bedroom which should help to contain the blast to the Senator’s personal discomfort. In any case, the hired help are all on the lower floors. If we hit it dead-on, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“That recoilless is going is going to light up the night,” Volescu cautioned. “We’re going to have to make, what, two shots minimum on the first target, shift, and fire two more? That doesn’t count the spotting rounds. And that position is visible from lots of places across the valley and surrounding ridges. There aren’t that many routes by which we can exfil. What if some sheriff’s deputy on patrol gets there before we can boogie?”
“Don’t worry, Vol,” said Avakian, “Willow’s going to make sure that they have plenty more to look at, and worry about. My bet is, nobody will be able to pick out the recoilless from everything else that’s going to be happening.”
The British are, of course, a people well practised down the centuries in the use of fire as an instrument of terror. It has been said that they reached the peak of perfection in this art in Ireland after the Rising of 1798, but I do not think this is correct. Surely they excelled in the war for the conquest of South Africa, when they failed to defeat in the field a handful of Boer riflemen, but succeeded in forcing their surrender by the mass burnings of Boer homesteads and the imprisonment, under appalling conditions, of Boer women and children, many thousands of whom died. So in 1920 and 1921, the British would use against the Irish the instrument which was so successful against the Boers, previous generations of the Irish and other subject races. There was, however, one all important factor which the British evidently forgot to take into consideration. While the South Africans had no British Loyalists’ homes which could be destroyed as reprisals, Ireland was studded with castles, mansions and residences of the British Ascendancy who had made their homes here. The West Cork Brigade was slow to commence a campaign of counter-burnings, but eventually action was taken. A note was sent to the British Military Commander in west Cork, informing him that for every Republican home destroyed from that date, the homes of two British Loyalists would be burned to the ground.
The British ignored this threat and two nights afterwards burned out a small farmhouse and labourer’s cottage. The following night the I.R.A. burned out four large Loyalists’ residences in the same neighbourhood. The British countered by burning four farmhouses and we promptly burned out the eight largest Loyalists’ homes in that vicinity. And so the British terror and the I.R.A. counter-terror went on. Castles, mansions and residences were sent up in flames by the I.R.A. immediately after the British fire gangs had razed the homes of Irish Republicans. Our people were suffering in this competition of terror, but the British loyalists were paying dearly, the demense walls were tumbling and the British Ascendancy was being destroyed. Our only fear was that, as time went on, there would be no more Loyalists’ homes to destroy, for we intended to go on to the bitter end. . .
Very soon after our campaign of counter-burnings commenced an outcry arose from the British Loyalists themselves, demanding that the British forces should cease destroying Republican homes, as otherwise they too would be treated likewise. . . British peers in their House of Lords and members of the House of Commons, dyed in the wool Imperialists, who would gladly have destroyed the home of every Irish Nationalist, echoed those appeals. . . This outcry had its effect, and although British burnings were never officially called off, they were slowed down considerably and even halted for a time. Once again the British had reacted to the only sure method of meeting their terrorism, an effective counter-terror. – Tom Barry, Guerrilla Days in Ireland: A Personal Account of the Anglo-Irish War, pp. 116-117.
It was Willow who had worked the hardest to set up the multiple strikes. He thought of it as preparing the broad canvas upon which the other team members would sketch in their smaller, but more vital, contributions.
For all of their various locations and security precautions, there was one thing that all of the targets' homesteads had in common: they were all heated by propane storage tanks, some underground and some above, but all of them filled and serviced regularly by the MountainWest Corporation, known as MoWesCo.
With the stolen gas service truck repainted in MoWesCo colors and Will Twigg dressed in a company uniform, the demolitions expert paid a “pre-season inspection visit” to 15 vacation properties belonging to regime supporters. At the estates where security guards or house sitters watched over the property, this was accepted as perfectly normal. At each property, Willow installed a new “leak warning system,” as he explained it to those who maintained residence there, instructing them on the necessity to evacuate the premises without delay if, in the wildly unlikely event, they ever heard it. He reinforced this message with graphic photographs of previous propane tank explosions he had downloaded from the Internet at the public library in Cantor (where there were no surveillance cameras), neatly displayed in a MoWesCo three-ring binder he’d picked up at a thrift store in Lockwood. The guards and house-sitters were suitably impressed at this extra precaution taken for their safety.
Of course, Willow explained, there would be no charge for this new company service.
Now despite what you have seen in Hollywood action fakeries, propane contained in well-maintained tanks is actually rather hard to detonate with both reliability and maximum effect. The best way is to suddenly compromise the tank so that the gas leaks out rapidly into a cloud and then detonate the cloud with a second charge in a low-order fuel-air explosion. This takes knowledge and experience. Willow had both.
It took him three long days, shuttling about on county roads, to install the very visible alarms and the invisible demolitions and their triggering mechanisms. Nowhere did anyone question him about what he was doing. He, like them, was hired help, unimportant and eminently ignorable.
Now, at six minutes to H-Hour, Will Twigg pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and pushed a speed-dial number. In fifteen houses spread out over almost twenty-two square miles, alarms began to sound, and frightened people tumbled out of bed, and fled the premises as fast as they could go.
Willow gave them five minutes, and speed-dialed another number. You could hear, with various sound levels, the reports of the cutting charges. When the first ignition charge went off with a distant flash and boom, the recoilless, with Steve Avakian as gunner and Will Twigg as loader, fired the first spotting round at the Senator’s house 1600 meters distant.
Normally, in avalanche work, the 106s were fired from enclosures by remote control since there had been a few cases of deadly in-tube detonations which had occurred thanks to defective, over-age ammunition. Here, the team would not have time to use such protection. The rounds had to be fired as swiftly as possible to catch the targets in their beds. That meant risk. Steve Avakian had briefed them all of the dangers and asked for volunteers. To a man, they all were willing. Steve chose Willow because the firing of the recoilless had to be closely coordinated with the detonation of Twigg’s charges anyway. Nidge was in overwatch back where the access to Lover’s Leap met the county highway.
Spotting rounds have an incendiary composition in the projectile so that when it slams into the target the gunner can see the flash and know that he can fire the main charge and hit within a foot or two. If, that is, everything works right. The spotting round struck the bricks on the outside wall about six feet above Senator Richland Hamilton’s head, glancing away without much penetration because of the angle, but waking him from an erotic dream involving the First Lady of the United States.
“What the hell?!?” he exclaimed as he rolled out of bed, naked as the day his mother brought him into the world.
Avakian immediately held up his left hand to warn Willow, closed his eyes to preserve his night vision and fired the main gun. Even with double hearing protection the explosion of hot gasses out the back of the recoilless was painful to the hearing of both men and the concussion slammed at the air in their lungs. The flash would have blinded them had they not had their eyes shut. The broad blast cone blew the windows out of the pickup truck and inside the seat covers and dash began to burn.
A 106 round, even at 1870 feet per second, takes a bit to reach a target that is a kilometer and a half away. Had it been daylight and if Senator Hamilton had possessed x-ray vision, he might have seen death approaching.
As it wasn’t and he couldn’t, Richland Hamilton was still wondering what to do, and bemused by his erection, when the high explosive blew in his bedroom wall and tore off the top of his head, as well as other body parts. The second round that followed, struck the wall four feet to the left and lower down and deposited his mutilated body out the opposite wall’s window and left it hanging upside down in a tall pine tree.
This would later complicate the county medical examiner’s job.
All things being more or less equal, the distance between Senator Hamilton’s death and the sleeping ears of Daisy O’Connell was a little over 2 kilometers. The crack of the spotting round didn’t wake her up. The reverberating “boom . . . BOOM!” of the first round did, despite the sleeping pill she had taken. By the time the second round blew the remains of Richland Hamilton out his window, both she and Felicia were moving toward their own double-reinforced bullet-resistant window.
As the big recoilless rifle swung toward them in the darkness beyond the illumination of the lodge’s exterior lights, they stared out the window toward the fires that were licking out from the holes in Senator Hamilton’s bedroom walls.
Steve Avakian saw them through the sight in the reflected yard lights. Fearing they might figure out what was about to happen to them and knowing that the range was almost identical to his first two shots, he dispensed with the spotting round.
Up went his left hand, he closed his eyes, and pulled the trigger. The backblast flash got Felicia’s attention, and she pointed, exclaiming “What was tha . . .”
The 106 projectile hit the “bullet-proof” window’s bottom ledge, about four feet to the couple’s left.
Given the angle and the proximity of the explosion, there was no need for a second shot.
Which was a good thing, because the cab of the pickup was now well enveloped in flames. So, too, was much of the nearby brush. There was nothing to do but leave, which they did, driving away in the propane company truck down the road with flames on both sides. They paused only long enough to pick up Nijima at the junction, and then they proceeded as if nothing had happened, and drove to the rally point.
Carter, Ball and Volescu had the easiest assignment. Congressman Haynes’ chalet was further down the ridge from two of Willow’s propane jobs. When the warning horns began to sound, they woke up the Congressman and his wife, who came out on their back deck just in time to see both estates blown to smithereens. At that moment, Volescu, who was sitting in a hide with Ball as his spotter about 725 meters away, put a .338 Lapua Magnum bullet just above his sternum. His wife was convinced that a piece of shrapnel from one of the nearby explosions must have killed her husband. The coroner didn’t think so, and the autopsy proved his suspicions had been correct.
By the next morning, two newspaper editors, another congressman and three supervisory employees of the ATF and FBI were dead. People identified with the administration, gun control and especially Operation Clean Sweep continued to die with regularity over a period of about five weeks. By that time, everyone on Steve Avakian’s list was dead or had fled the team’s area of operations.
At two that afternoon, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation flew in to get a personal briefing on the death of Senator Hamilton. At 4:52PM, while he was touring the senator’s ravaged estate with a bevy of press, someone shot the Director through his body armor with a .50 caliber Barrett bolt-action rifle from 1205 meters away.
Even experts said it was an impossible shot.
He died at the Lockwood City Hospital two hours later.
It took the FBI two days to find the sniper’s hide. As with the other crime scenes, there was little forensic evidence to identify the perpetrators.
His killer was never identified, and in time the Director became just another statistic of the latest American civil war that the administration he served had done its best to start.
The only thing that tied all the cases together was an image found at, or mailed to, the address of each victim.
It was a death card with the classical painting of a Greek goddess on it -- Nemesis, the avenger of crime and the punisher of hubris.