Collateral Damage

by Andrew Han

Preface

Inspired by Scorsese's The Departed, this story is based on an Arabic-American named Muhammad al-Farsi who was wrongly framed for a failed terrorist attack aimed at the White House. He is then forced to join the FBI as an undercover mole and is sent to ISIS intel facilities to steal whatever information he can. However, al-Farsi isn't the only one who's acting as an undercover mole, and the interaction between the two is, for lack of a better word, awkward.


FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C.

The chattery FBI agents were once again babbling to each other about the possibility of invading Canada in order to steal valuable ores of uranium beneath its core.

Agent Mitchell: "Think we can snatch a good 100 pounds?"

Agent Shanks: "Why are you asking me that expecting an answer? What am I, the genie?"

Agent Connelly: "Better question: Why are we thinking of invading Canada just because we want nukes?"

Agent Shanks: "Even better question: Who gave you the right to suddenly act like a smartass?"

Agent Connelly: "Shanks, you better shut up before I f-"

Their conversations were forcefully put to a halt when Director of the FBI, James Comey, rounded up his loquacious minions.

"Alright, agents," he exclaimed. 'I need your attention for a minute, we have important news so listen very carefully.'

"As we all know, we're fighting ISIS by trying to use a chainsaw to cut steel, it's not working out. So we've sent a very young, courageous man by the name of Muhammad al-Farsi to infiltrate their strongholds and gather whatever we can get in order to smoke these Muslim dogs and give them mental rabies."

The same agent who opposed the infiltration of Canada, Connelly, immediately objected.

"Sir, just saying, but rabies doesn't work like that because we'll also need to be contracted with ra-"

"Connelly, every single time I'm talking about important things, you start transforming into Sanjay Gupta and rant off about inconsequential details. One more interruption and you're staying another hour." A bundle of snickers were heard before Comey signalled a hand motion to silence the laughers.

"Anyways, you know what I said before McConnelly interrupted me. I need all of you to report to the SIOC (Strategic Information & Operations Center) and pull up some intel on ISIS forts IRONBARS and SOULHEART. Make sure we also get in contact with al-Farsi."

Like usual, most of the agents, as disorganized and laid-back as they can be, weren't bothering to leave promptly and lazed out of the briefing room. Except for one. He was sitting in the corner, taking precise notes of everything that had been mentioned. They were being written in Arabic.

Director Comey noticed, but he never took a hint. "Agent Ahmed, I know this is your second day here, but you should know when to get going with your team."

'Yes, sir,' was Ahmed's sharply Arabic-accented response before rushing out.

.........................................................

Somewhere near al-Raqqah, Syria, Muhammad al-Farsi was waiting in front of the recruitment line. He faced a rustic building which resembled an enlarged sand castle, which the FBI codenamed SOULHEART.

In front and behind al-Farsi were his former fellow countrymen, most of whom were dressed modestly. He even spotted a teenager who looked like he hasn't washed in weeks, if not months. It seemed as though everyone's souls were indeed crushed, and that joining ISIS if it could get them a place to live and a sufficient supply of food seemed to be the only way.

Al-Farsi foresaw the extreme risks he was taking and certainly wasn't unaware of his defiance against the slim odds. In fact, he didn't even decide to accept what was basically a suicide mission.

He could remember everything. Everything that had been said to him. Everything that he said to them. The putrid stench of the interrogation room. How his wrists How the guy interrogating him was brandishing a cattle prod. He couldn't help but snicker a little about that detail.

......

2 years ago, in the Interrogation Room, FBI Headquarters

'Well? Are you just going to sit there and say nothing? Well buddy, I ain't gonna let you be silent, ya know. Know what this is? A cattle prod. You'll be zapped into ashes when you try to crash this interview. Just admit you did it. You'll make your life and my life easier. Instead of going to jail, you'll just be enlisted in the FBI Intelligence program.' A rather stout, old-looking man menacingly spat.

'Answer the following questions that I ask in complete honesty. Believe me, I don't want to have to use this thing unless you don't comply.

'As you already know, there has been a plot to destroy the White House. Do you know about that?'

'Yes, sir. I do know that.' Al-Farsi responded, doing his best to not look intimidated by the maliciously energetic man.

'What role did you play in this entire plot?' The man asked with a far fiercer tone.

'I-I am being framed, sir. I'm not lying, I swear to Allah.'

At that moment, al-Farsi was nervous enough to stammer when giving his answer back. Instead of managing to assuage the man's suspicions, he instead boosted them.

'I even warned you to not lie. I'll give you another opportunity to save yourself from being zapped. You were the primary conspirator, correct?' The interrogator's voice was raised noticeably higher, and al-Farsi began to wince.

    He had two choices: lie and be forced in the program, or tell the truth, get zapped by the cattle prod until he falsely confesses, and still be locked up.

    'I did it.'

...

Alas, he was next in line. 'Name?' asked the recruiter.

'Muhammad al-Farsi, sir.'

'Where do you come from?'

'I come from Aleppo. My family was killed there, and I have nowhere to go.' The recruiter hastily scribbled al-Farsi's name and reason for wanting to join.

'Do you have experience fighting?'

'Yes.'

'Get your supplies in the room over there. You will know where you will be dispatched in a couple days of notice. Next!'

......

1 day later in the FBI Headquarters...

Back in the FBI Headquarters, Director Comey was having a talk with Ahmed.

'Ahmed, as you might already know, we are technically in a state of war with ISIS. We need to infiltrate their lines and gain whatever intel we can, and you look like the perfect person to do so: you're Arabic, so you'll blend right in; you seem to be able to take notes often and listen carefully. In a couple of days, I will be dispatching you to SOULHEART alongside al-Farsi.'

'As you wish.'

......

3 days later, in Aleppo, Syria

Al-Farsi was told by Comey that he should not kill any American soldiers if he was told to go to war, and that his main priority should be to sneak off to SOULHEART and steal all their intel if he can. Unfortunately, he was forced to divert from his original mission.

The battlefield was enough to discourage just about anyone in this world from fighting. Bodies of Americans and Arabs alike were scattered across the sand. Fires from grenades and Molotov cocktails scorched the sand, and smoke clogged the windpipes of the soldiers.

While intentionally misfiring so that he wouldn't hit anyone, he spotted a man in ragged clothes, avoiding the gunfire as if it were the problems he had to face in his worthless life. While al-Farsi valued the missions given to him by his superiors, he valued human life even more, knowing the horrific things that people of his former homeland had to go through. However, a stray bullet struck his torso, and the man fell.

Al-Farsi turned to his 'comrades', who were too caught up in the action in front of them. 'I see a wounded man. I must go help him.' Then, he ran to help the man up.

All but one returned to the battle exchanging shots. The other carefully watched al-Farsi to make sure he wouldn't desert.

Al-Farsi took the wounded man to a faraway place and let him rest.

'Are you alright? Should I get you to a hospital?' al-Farsi asked. Immediately after asking the question, al-Farsi cursed himself for asking such a stupid and obvious question. The man responded, 'My name is Ahmed...' The man shortly passed out. He took the man and carried him to a very run-down but still operational medical clinic. He then returned to battle, still pretending to participate.

Al-Farsi had a good chance to take a good look at the wounded man while returning to combat. He was rather short compared to everyone else, at around a height of 5'7''. He definitely didn't look like the kind of person who would enter combat, as he was lighter than the average person and visually looked slightly malnourished.

The fighter who went to scrutinize al-Farsi noticed that he was missing every single shot, and eventually told him that maybe combat wasn't al-Farsi's specialty.

Al-Farsi was sent to the intel department in SOULHEART, where he was in charge of gathering intel. Despite the temperature being overbearingly hot, the entire building almost completely lacked warmth. Sounds of typing and radar beeping resonated in the room.

Shortly after he entered, he heard a commotion going on. 'Look, it says that our data has been breached by an unknown source!'

'It must have been the Americans! They have implanted an undercover mole in our fort! I want you to go up to every recruit and interrogate them. One of us doesn't belong here, and we must act quickly in order to eliminate this person.'

As al-Farsi was brought to his own desk, he noticed that there was another desk next to his. It had a picture of someone by the name of Ahmed. On the desk, there were notes that were written in Arabic. He silently gasped in shock. The very man he protected and saved turned out to be one of the biggest enemies he would ever meet.

He read through the notes. They seemed to be about some sort of meeting. He could find the words 'Comey', 'mole', and 'al-Farsi'. This was it. This had to be it. Ahmed was the one who managed to break through the FBI and somehow gained access to the plans of the FBI.

As al-Farsi excused himself to the bathroom with the notes stuffed into his pocket, he whipped out his phone and took a picture of the notes. He then sent the picture to Director Comey with the message: 'Ahmed has been undercover the whole time and compromised your plans.' Then he sent the message, and destroyed the notes. Each shred was punctured by a sharp tearing sound.

When his work was done, a voice from the adjacent stall emerged. 'What in Allah's name is going on there?'

Choosing not to answer, al-Farsi briskly flushed the remnants of possibly one of the most important documents in this war. He then whispered to himself, 'Allah, thank you for giving me the strength to let me sacrifice myself for the good of the country I have sworn to defend.' Afterwards, ignoring all questions hurled at him, he rushed out of the toilet and sat in his new desk.

An injured Ahmed walked in and went to his desk. He suddenly recoiled in surprise. 'Where are my notes? I swear they were here 5 minutes ago.'

The man who was in the bathroom with al-Farsi bolted out and confronted Ahmed. His finger was implicating al-Farsi in all of this. 'Sir, I heard him tear up paper and a flush. I even heard what appeared to be a camera flash. It's most likely he was the one that took your notes, tore them up, and is responsible for the leakage of our fort.'

    Ahmed simply responded, 'Restrain him.' A group of 3 people battered the mole until he was not strong enough to fight back. Ahmed, crippled from the earlier battle, slowly and shakily pulled out a handgun. 'You.' he muttered coldly. 'The only way you will survive is by answering my question right now. Tell me this: where are you from, and who sent you?'

    'Never...' was the weak but defiant answer from al-Farsi. Immediately, Ahmed cocked the gun and fired at al-Farsi's leg. A sharp cry of pain resonated throughout the room.

    Undaunted by the blood gushing from the wound, Ahmed pointed his gun at al-Farsi's other leg, and pulled the trigger. Another gunshot followed by another scream.

    'I will give you one more chance. Where do you come from, and who sent you?' Al-Farsi didn't hesitate to spit at Ahmed's face and smirk on his face. Overcome by sheer ire, Ahmed aimed at al-Farsi's head and was prepared to finish him off once and for all. He fired, and the bullet hit al-Farsi's chest, penetrating the walls of his heart.

'The mole is finally gone. We can get back to work .'

As soon as Ahmed and his goons turned their backs, however, they heard a faint, but chilling chuckle. Al-Farsi, still clutching onto the slippery cliff of life, held an incendiary grenade in his hands.

'Looks like I have the last laugh.' was the perish song heard by everyone in the room, as before anyone had time to react, the grenade was activated, utterly flattening the building itself.

......

FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C., 5 minutes after al-Farsi's death

    Director Comey had just received the phone message from al-Farsi, and read through it carefully, as to imbibe whatever information the message contained. 5 seconds into reading the message, his expression had transformed from one of anticipation to one of shock. 'So those notes that he was writing...it was all to report on our activities...the son of a bitch,' he muttered. In the SIOC, Agent Mitchell called out to Comey about what had happened to al-Farsi.

    'Sir, based on the microphone we had installed in al-Farsi's clothes, the live feed contained 3 gunshots and Arabic. We then heard what happened to be an explosion.' Comey himself was given Mitchell's headphones, and listened the audio regarding al-Farsi's ordeal and ultimate sacrifice. Afterwards, he slowly removed the headphones and rounded up everyone in the room, overcome by emotion.

    'Everyone,' he proclaimed. 'It appears that Agent Ahmed was an enemy who had managed to infiltrate our lines. He was this close to compromising everything we had in mind for this operation. But al-Farsi, the new guy, saved our asses and sacrificed himself just so that this operation could be a success. He blew up SOULHEART, the center of communications of ISIS. Now it's just a matter of time before IRONBARS and the other forts are taken over.

    'Now I don't know about any of you, but this right there is what you call patriotism. The poor bastard was forced to do this shit. And guess what? He says 'I'm still going to serve my country', and grabs the bull by its horns.'

Comey's reservoir threatened to leak water. 'It is only right we honor him the same way he honored his country. He may have died the death a criminal would have deserved, but he died a hero. Who knows if he was even responsible for what could have turned into a White House bombing. If he wasn't, then God bless his innocent soul.'

    Everyone gave a moment of silence.

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