He looked at his watch again, three twenty-eight; he nodded to the driver to make the final run in from their side street. The teams in Manchester attacking the same organisation’s base in Salford Quays, two sets of offices and the studios, would be simultaneous. More complex, more volunteers, but similar modus operandi; oh yes, he was western educated, hence his hatred of their decadence. He had originally been tasked to lead the force attacking the main office on the waterfront, twenty of them, with two vans packed full of explosives with a similar team, but of sixteen, assaulting the second set of offices adjacent, a further sixteen the nearby studios.
Their instructions were to bring the organisation to its knees, intimidate other western media into silence, and strike at the heart of the British establishment.
Three-thirty, they were pulling up now at the intersection of Langham Place and Langham Street, the “leave behind” charge would go off in ten minutes, long enough for everything else to be well underway, taking out security people, escapees from the building, so-called good Samaritans. They were racing for the front door, through it; the first four of the advance party already there shooting, putting explosives in the lifts, sending them up and down with thirty second fuses. He paused to look behind: the team outside were planting charges to blow the obstacles, the final van would be here in two minutes. The lobby door bombs were set to blow in one minute just as the obstacles were demolished, all to plan, blood and bodies in reception, footsteps racing up the stairs, the sound of explosions in his ears as the charges in the lifts, front doors and outside went off, automatic weapon fire, screaming, bodies falling on the stairs and landings, hell on earth. One of the new men was stopped on the second landing, throwing up, first time, he kicked him, pushed him on, shouting to him to shoot at a group of people in the corridor, keep him moving, no time to think, to freeze.
Sixth floor landing, his phone goes, it’s the reception area team leader reporting all lifts disabled, the van in position, have shot two unarmed police outside, alarms and sirens starting up around them, have brought in the spare ammunition and explosives. Somebody comes onto the landing below him, he fires, they fall, others, not in view, retreat.
Seventh floor, five of the team leave the landing to start clearing operations, more gunfire, grenade explosions, screaming. He and the other four enter the eighth floor, people milling around, dropping, running, others coming out of meeting rooms, offices, fleeing, falling, some of his men are exultant, laughing, firing, reloading, he shouts at them to stop wasting ammunition, semi-automatic only, they’ll need every round they carry, round up the younger women, shoot the rest. Some are running, others trying to surrender. It makes no difference.
Half of the top floor cleared now, he details two of the men to the roof, some will be hiding there, trying to get away, make them jump for it he shouts, then engage any security forces arriving, hold them back. Some have shut themselves away in offices, meeting and store rooms, but such impediments present little challenge to determined armed men.
A large explosion, the first van bomb has detonated; he looks out of a window.
Flames, carnage, shattered glass and twisted metal everywhere, other vehicles thrown across the road, bodies clearly visible, some trying to move; back to work, no, observe, don’t lose control, more police arriving, sealing off the road.
He starts to call the other teams for updates, leave the other two on my floor to finish the job, their weapons still firing, though now more disciplined.
Sam, at the corner of Great Portland Street and Langham Street, heard the initial explosions and bursts of gunfire ahead of him; as he was heading into the latter for another pass of Broadcasting House. He instinctively started to run towards the sounds, his hands reaching for the SigSauer 9mm and silencer in his jacket pockets; he always travelled armed in the outside these days, he felt naked and vulnerable if he didn’t.
Twenty rounds including the spare magazine, that’s all, silencer screwed on now in the hoody’s front pouch pocket, people running his way, screaming for him to get away, he ignored them, shouting “Police”.
Within seconds he is nearing the Langham Street side of the BBC building, four men appear to have broken down a fire escape door, entering, carrying automatic rifles, Asian looking. One catches sight of him, starts to raise his weapon. Instinct again, thirty yards say, two shots to the chest, the man goes down, his weapon spewing on the floor, another turns, two are already inside the building, climbing the stairs, Sam shoots him as well, the man’s heavy pack falling loose into the street. What to do now?
The adrenalin was saying follow them in, you can deal with them. More gunfire to his left and from the building ahead, explosions too, alarms everywhere, the sound of police sirens in the distance, checking him, causing him to think. This place will be crawling with police in seconds; it sounds like a real battle… You’re out of your depth, get away, call Helena, him. Martha’s voice it was, get away, come home to us… He turns, hesitates, picks up one of the fallen assault rifles, some spare magazines, turns back again and heads into the building, people in there need him, the enemy are here, must be dealt with, for me… Narin’s voice now.
Andy Bowson was on the way to the coffee machine when the first call came in. By the time he had returned the whole place was in uproar, a live feed from the newsroom of Broadcasting House registering the shock of explosions, people shouting, milling about, the camera just rolling on remorselessly, the producers hooked on their central role in the developing drama, torn between flight and film. His own offices were in ferment, phones ringing, people dialling out, others spilling out of meeting rooms, jostling with one another to see the television screens. A huge explosion, the camera shaking, then they heard it, gunfire within the news room now, what sounded like grenade explosions, an armed man with what looked like an AK47 ran into view, firing left, right, ahead. He could see still and writhing forms on the floor, others bent below desks or fleeing.
The chief was at the Home Office, Dager up country, he found himself shouting, “Everyone who’s firearms qualified stand to at the armoury for weapons and body armour, then head for the vehicles.” That’s it; get them focused on doing something. He dialled the Command head, “Boss, Bowson here, Broadcasting House is under attack, armed men inside shooting, explosions. We’re getting ready to go but I need your authority.”
“Do it, I’ll take command from here until we can get organised,” he paused, someone was talking in his ear, “Andy, there’s another attack underway at the BBC’s offices in Manchester, that’s all I know I’m afraid. By the time you get there we’ll have established a chain of command. Somebody’ll call you then, but take orders from the senior officer on the spot until you hear from me.”
He got into the van, George beside him, struggling into his Kevlar vest, the vehicle was screeching out into the street, ten, fifteen minutes at this time of day. Just when they thought they were starting to get on top of things…
Al-Benazzi and his men were in danger of becoming bewildered by the size of the building, the number of people there, the plethora of stairwells and exits. They were quickly using their pack explosives up, hadn’t been able to carry enough. The top two floors and the roof were cleared, a couple of dozen female hostages taken so far, locked in a meeting room. His problem was avoiding tripping over the bodies and upturned furniture as he headed up to the roof. He could hear the helicopter overhead, well they had a surprise for them: a shoulder-launched SAM, an old Russian model, but should be sufficient. He hefted it, crouched on the steps just below the roof, locating the target, he could hardly be seen, yes, the target had been acquired; it was only six hundred metres away, no time for evasive action. Two seconds later it was a flaming fireball dropping onto the roof of the Langham Hotel along the street, his comrades on the roof were whooping like Yankees, celebrating. He shouted to them to lie down, stop exposing themselves, but that would keep them away for a while; they wouldn’t know it was his only missile.
He headed back down to the sixth floor, leaving just one brother on the top floor guarding the hostages and one more on the seventh. The rest would work their ways down floor by floor, wing by wing, until they met the other teams coming up. The helicopter was a stroke of luck, it would keep the infidel back long enough for them to finish securing control of the building. He and one other comrade headed for the newsroom: that was the highest priority now that the Director-General and most of the other directors were dead. He had dealt with the former personally as he cowered under his desk.
© 1642again 2018