Wednesday 30, August
Kutupalong Refugee Camp
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
“The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable — what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The usual power and athletic vibrancy of the body had slumped into a despondent stoop; the dark brown hair was tousled and damp; the appealing features with prominent cheekbones and well-defined chin were obscured by days of unshaven stubble; and the usual empathetic honesty that glowed in the eyes had faded into a gloom blurred by another humanitarian crisis. Despite being easy-going by nature, Mike Walker had never managed to contain his feelings of incomprehensible outrage whenever confronted by humanity’s emotional detachment from the barbarity being perpetrated daily against millions of innocent people.
Emotional detachment from the plight of others — easily achieved by simply looking the other way — always favoured the perpetrators rather than the victims who were reduced to being inconsequential nonentities; were persecuted and denied legal and human rights; were starving, sick, and dying; were victims of Apartheid policies with racial segregations inclusive of political and economic discrimination; were harassed, internally displaced, or forcibly deported; were imprisoned, tortured, or simply “disappeared”; were enslaved, exploited, or trafficked; and were ultimately the victims of mindless massacres that defied the comprehension of anyone even remotely humane.
As a freelance war correspondent covering conflicts for over a decade, Walker was no stranger to humanity’s capacity for ethno-religious hatred and brutality as had once again become evident. The Katupalong camp — just another of the more the 140 camps around the world currently harbouring a record number of over 65,000,000 refugees stripped of their past and without any hope for the future — started out as a refuge in 1991 following the influx of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from neighbouring Myanmar (formerly Burma) where military forces had launched a campaign dubbed “Operation Clean up and Beautiful Nation.” That still ongoing task of “cleaning up and beautifying” Myanmar by ridding it of Rohingya “pests,” had intensified to the extent of becoming a full scale genocide that prompted Walker’s visit to the region.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 723,000 Rohingya Muslim men, women, and children had so far fled to Bangladesh with estimates of at least 18,000 women and girls raped, 116,000 beaten, and 36,000 thrown into fires. Those who suffered most were the women and girls who bore the mental scars of shocking sexual violence, pregnancy as a result of rape, and the duress of a forced hazardous journey.
Equally appalling for Walker was the high number of unaccompanied children who had either lost their parents or were in some cases brought over by extended family or friends. Walker’s outrage was still simmering as he and his companion set off on the drive back to Myanmar. He had no illusions about the horrendous crimes yet to be encountered; the regular reminders — that irrespective of any optimistic declarations about mankind owing “the child the best it has to give” — mankind had so far failed miserably to do so; and that further unforeseen hazards ahead would have to be overcome.
There was also the ever-present threat from Myanmar’s intelligence services whose fanatical dedication to preserving the Union had combined with the military leadership’s intention to impose a ruthless stranglehold on the population. In pursuit of its main objectives for stability, unity and sovereignty, Myanmar’s government relied on mass surveillance, arbitrary detentions, and indiscriminate torture: three possibilities constantly faced by journalists.
Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert
North of Al Hudaydah on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast
Despite the shortage of rainfall during the summer months from June to September when temperatures reached 40ºC, there was still sufficient moisture coming from the thick Red Sea fogs to sustain the native flora and fauna that had so far managed to survive the lack of wildlife conservation and environmental protection. Further inland, however, most of the Arabian Peninsula consisted of desert where this morning Arabian darkling beetles were busy burrowing into the sand for some respite from the heat of the blazing sun; overhead, sharp-eyed lappet-faced vultures soared effortlessly on rising columns of warm air in search of scarce sustenance; and the low-pitched squeaking sound of singing sand dunes was being marred by the lamentable whimpering of a dusky, unshaven, and perspiring Colombian mercenary in sweat soaked battle fatigues.
He had been taken by surprise, disarmed, and with a Glock 9mm automatic pointing at his head, forced to kneel in the sand by Stuart Maclean, a wiry, red-haired Scotsman. On realising that begging for his life would be to no avail, the Colombian desperately sought divine intervention with a shaking hand on heart and pleading squint towards the blinding blueness of the sunlit sky. The gods, however, were not in a forgiving mood. They granted the weatherbeaten wretch only enough time for a hurried prayer and one final loving thought of his wife and two children before presiding over his swift deliverance from this life to the next. The full metal jacket bullet fired from Maclean’s automatic shattered the desert’s tranquility and blew the back of his head away. “Bas no Beatha,” Maclean proclaimed with heartfelt jubilation in Scots Gaelic. He paused momentarily to contemplate the spattered blood and brain tissue that was already starting to sizzle and shrivel on the burning hot sand. He figured the corpse would not be around for long. Vigilant vultures would soon spot it and with ravenous haste clean it to the bone. Maclean’s nonchalant lack of compassion was the consequence of many years exposure to death and destruction. Apart from believing that his actions were always justified in the struggle between good and evil, Maclean in all his time as a soldier and mercenary had never paused to wonder why it was that those entrusted with protecting human life, were also the ones most responsible for ending it.
He wiped the beads of sweat that were rolling down his face with a shirt sleeve and holstered the automatic. Bending down to reach into the dead Latino’s rear pocket, he removed a wad of $100 bills which he pocketed before ambling back to the open top desert patrol vehicle. The hour plus journey back across the border to Jizan in the south-west corner of Saudi Arabia would be the first stage of his return to the UK where he was urgently needed to prevent any further revelatory and negative reports about Myanmar by an English war correspondent. The options for doing so included blackmail, intimidation, or if necessary, some more drastic course of action.
Maclean was already familiar with the persuasiveness of blackmail: a word derived from the Scots “mail” which in Scots English used to mean “tax” or “rent.” In ancient times, farmers living along Scotland’s border were in constant danger of being robbed by criminal gangs. As they lacked the means to defend themselves, the poor peasant farmers made payments in exchange for immunity from attack and plunder. Such extortion became known as “blackmail,” meaning “black tax” or “black rent.” While Maclean appreciated the potential of blackmail as an effective weapon for coercion, past experience and an unforgiving gut instinct had taught him that the only sure-fire way to get rid of troublesome people was to snuff them out completely.
Itus Close Protection,
Victoria Street, London, England
While Frank Jepson may have enjoyed the patient and ritualistic art of loading, tamping, and lighting his briar bulldog pipe, his main fondness for pipe smoking was its persuasive ability to slow down life’s pace, to aid relaxation, and to encourage thoughtful reflection on what needed to be done as was now the case. In between satisfying puffs, Jepson listed the equipment required for another surveillance operation requested by Derek Newton, owner of the private military and security company (PMSC), Direct Global Action (DGA). The first priority for Jepson’s operatives was to locate the target’s place of residence, become familiar with the neighbourhood, and note the presence and position of any building or street CCTV cameras. Gaining unobserved access to the residence was essential for a successful operation which would require the covert installation of wireless pinhole spy cameras and microphones. Other equipment requirements included optical zoom cameras, high power zoom binoculars, an audio recorder for keeping an audio log of surveillance activities as they unfolded, a GPS tracking device for the target’s car to provide DGA with a map track of the target’s movements, and several inconspicuous rental motor vehicles.
Apart from dropping by earlier this morning to pick up the photos from the last and just completed two-week surveillance operation, Newton had also asked Jepson to undertake a full background check with monitoring of Mike Walker, a London-based freelance journalist currently reporting on the conflict in Myanmar.
Newton and Jepson became friends in the mid 1980s when their service with the Special Air Service (SAS) happened to coincide. After leaving the SAS, Newton worked for a UK-based PMSC before some years later establishing his own company, DGA which like other PMSCs provided a wide range of services previously performed by national military forces including direct combat, intelligence gathering, training, security in conflict zones, consulting and planning, maintenance and technical assistance, operational and logistical support, and post-conflict reconstruction.
When Jepson — a soft spoken and methodical man lacking Newton’s brash disposition — left the SAS in 1989, he decided against accepting Newton’s tempting offer to join DGA and had instead set up his own company, Itus Close Protection. In Greek mythology Itus was initially a mere mortal whose swordsmanship and admiration for Apollo led him to becoming Apollo’s protector against the jealousy and ill will of other gods with the result that Itus himself was eventually deified to thereafter stand up for, and protect vulnerable people.
Within little more than a few years, Itus was providing anything from a single bodyguard to full close protection teams experienced in evasive and defensive driving; in recognising and responding to any risk or threat; and in tactics and techniques that helped mitigate potential ambush, attack, or hijack. Itus also provided luxury armoured vehicles, counter-surveillance services, and residential security teams with dog and mobile security patrols if required.
Not long after establishing his company, Jepson also began carrying out work for Newton and had since increasingly undertaken more covert, complex, and lucrative operations. Though Jepson was with reluctance tolerant of Newton’s questionable business connections with the Israeli government, he had neither forgotten nor forgiven Israel’s breaking of an arms embargo during the Falklands War by supplying Argentina’s military dictatorship with much needed equipment including air-to-air missiles and Skyhawk fighter jets that were used during the conflict to sink four British warships and kill dozens of military personnel. Israel’s decision to do so was said to have been taken by its then Prime Minister Menachem Begin — the former commander of Irgun, the Zionist paramilitary terrorist organisation responsible for the July 1946 bombing of the British administrative headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel which killed 91 people and injured 46 consisting of various nationalities — as revenge for Britain’s crackdown on the Jewish Irgun during the British mandate of Palestine.
Newton’s latest request was due to concern over journalist Walker’s stated intention of investigating rumours of possible British PMSC involvement in Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. He had asked Jepson to find out if Walker had any skeletons in the closet which could be used to make him “shut the fuck up.” Failing that, Newton’s Plan B was to have his trusted troubleshooter, Stuart Maclean, arrange for some kind of serious or fatal “accident” with sufficient credibility to satisfy any ensuing police investigation.
While Newton had in theory agreed with Jepson’s suggestion that it might be better for such an “accident” to occur while Walker was overseas, he pointed out that as there was no way of knowing when Walker’s next trip abroad would occur, they could not in the meantime risk having him reveal information that might jeopardise the bid that Newton was about to make for another multimillion pound Middle East contract. It was therefore imperative that immediate steps be taken to prevent any adverse publicity about DGA’s involvement in Myanmar because the winning tender for the contract was due to be decided by November 15.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street, London, England
Derek Newton was resolute as he strode with a seasoned “dig your heels” military gait along King Charles Street towards the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The cocksure sound of metal-edged heels clacking on the pavement was a testament to the brashness of a man who had come a long way since those bygone days of cringing poverty as a Nottingham coal miner’s son. As the youngest of the family’s four children, Newton had been last in line for threadbare hand-me-down clothes as well as any of life’s other bare necessities or treats. He often recalled how the only item that was not in short supply at that time was the free coal allocation — stored in the family’s only bathtub — to which coal miners were entitled.
Newton’s deprived childhood had nurtured the self-destructive envy, resentment, and driving force behind his compulsion for unrelenting pursuit of wealth above all else. His only regret was that his father had died from black lung — coal worker's pneumoconiosis — before seeing how successful and wealthy the runt of that uncaring working class family had become.
The FCO’s main 1868 building — boasting the magnificent Durbar Court with its tiled, mosaicked expanse, the Grand Staircase crowned by a dome adorned with female figures representing different countries, and the historic Locarno Suite which served as the nation’s drawing room for conference, ministerial, and government functions — was home to one of Britain’s most famous institutions. It was reminiscent of the days when Great Britain as a colonial power was in fact great, had an empire, inspired awe, and there was still some element of truth to the patriotically chorused song “Rule, Britannia” which when accompanied by military pomp and circumstance evoked a national pride that grew from the colonial exploitation and enslavement of others who were not as well — if at all — trained and suitably armed to resist the degradation, misery, and injustice of being colonised.
The German historian Jürgen Osterhammel — in his 1997 book Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview — noted that by “rejecting cultural compromises with the colonised population, the colonisers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule.” The abhorrent perception of superiority by Europeans who regarded dark-skinned people as inferior, backward, and uncivilised, initially stemmed from the eighteenth century self-absolving need to justify slavery and subsequently served as the rationale for the colonial oppression of the sub-human species which Cecil Rhodes — British businessman, diamond mining magnate, and politician who seized control of what are now Zimbabwe and South Africa — described as “the most despicable specimens of human beings.” Following the Slavery Abolition Act which took effect on August 1 in 1834 and ended slavery in most British colonies — by freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, South Africa, and a smaller number in Canada — the British government paid some £20 million (equivalent to about £300 million today) in compensation. It was not, however, to the victims of slavery or their descendants who were compensated, but the slave owners who included some of Britain’s wealthiest businessmen. Such payments continued for 182 years and did not end until 2015 so that British tax-paying descendants of slaves have been conceivably contributing towards the compensation paid to those responsible for the enslavement of their forefathers.
Newton’s present cause for anxiety, Mike Walker, had in the past suggested in one of his articles that such compensation payments were perhaps in some respects analogous to the US government giving to Israel billions of American taxpayer dollars in military aid to help it “defend itself” while ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians and stealing not only their land, but also the natural resources. Such unstinting American generosity appears to be motivated by blatant and biased racial considerations. During the heyday of colonisation, cruel Portuguese exploitation in present-day African countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique never came close to being as barbaric as Belgium’s rape of the Congo where it was estimated that Belgium’s King Leopold was responsible for the enslavement and massacre of well over half of the total population of some 30 million Congolese through starvation, disease and overwork. Because those victims were “inferior” black Africans, they were subsequently deemed undeserving of the “holocaust” memorials, museums, and annual remembrance days — accompanied by the hypocritical Western media fanfare — that they would have otherwise received had they been white, sanctified, and superior European Christians, or even more superior Jews deserving of the divine preference that led to them being “chosen” by God Himself who apparently in his impartial and infinite wisdom promised them a Palestine cleansed of indigenous Palestinians.
And yet it was from millions of those inferior African, Arab, Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers that British and French forces sought help while fighting in Europe and several other ancillary theatres of the First World War. The contribution to the allied war effort by soldiers from the colonies, however, had more often than not been downplayed, disregarded, or deliberately forgotten. It is for instance doubtful that many present day Europeans — Newton included — are actually aware of the sacrifices made by the 2,500,000 Muslims (4,000,000 counting labourers) who travelled to the chill of an unfriendly Europe to fight for the allies during the First World War. The reality of that fact prompted the German sociologist Max Weber in 1917 to note “today on the Western Front, there stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Strange how those who regard themselves as being civilised and superior are incapable of living up to the pretensions of their professed civilised superiority.
As a result of exposure to such white supremacist, xenophobic rationale, and military indoctrination with a barely subtle insinuation of non-white inferiority, Newton had become a commendably committed racist with a mindset in keeping with those of most members of Western armed forces. Racist sentiments were also regrettably prevalent — despite pious and self-deluding claims to the contrary — amongst a substantial number of Whites who fantasied about their superiority with claims that included belonging to either a “master race” or “God-chosen people.”
The basis for such delusional assumptions regarding racial supremacy, however, appear to have been challenged with continuing DNA advances aiding research into human origins. One such example according to London’s Natural History Museum, concerned the ancient DNA from Cheddar Man — a Mesolithic skeleton discovered in 1903 at Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset — which had helped scientists to create a portrait of one of the oldest modern humans in Britain. Cheddar Man lived around 10,000 years ago and was the oldest almost complete skeleton of the Homo sapiens species ever found in Britain. The new research into the ancient DNA extracted from the skeleton showed that some of the earliest modern human inhabitants of Britain may not have looked as would be expected . . . Cheddar Man had the genetic markers of skin pigmentation usually associated with sub-Saharan Africa. That revelation — contradicting the white supremacist belief that medieval Europe was the last cultural space of pure white history devoid of coloured people — was consistent with a number of other Mesolithic human remains discovered throughout Europe. The suggestion that Cheddar Man was probably dark-skinned seriously challenged the premise of racists who believed that white people, European Christians — often lacking the cultural competence to impartially comprehend and appreciate racial differences — were infinitely superior to non-white peoples and consequently deserving of special consideration and privileged dominance.
Following his arrival in good time for the midday appointment, Newton was in due course ushered into the office of a self-assured but nonetheless noticeably genteel Permanent Secretary (PS) who headed the Department for Overseas Security Affairs. After the customary exchange of obligingly polite banter, Newton passed the PS a plastic presentation folder containing DGA’s bid for the Middle East security contract which the PS took a good ten minutes to read in complete silence before casually dropping it back on the red leather desktop.
“Thorough and detailed,” he said, adding that it would certainly receive “serious consideration.”
More than fucking serious, Newton thought, as his eyes narrowed and he reached down for the £900 bulletproof briefcase/notebook bag that could also be opened up to serve as a protective Multi-Threat Shield. Then with an air of deliberate and menacing preciseness, he took out an A4 manilla envelope which for effect he slid slowly across the desk with his left hand so as to show off his £60,000 Cosmograph Daytona watch. He revelled in flaunting his wealth which to his sadly warped way of thinking countered the status of those others who were better educated, cultured, and more illustrious than himself.
“And in the meantime, sir,” he smirked along with sarcastic emphasis on the word sir, “you might like to seriously consider this!” He then casually sat back, crossed his legs, and hawk-eyed his quarry with a predatory intent loaded with loathing and contempt.
“What have we here,” a somewhat bemused PS purred in good humour as he opened the envelope to find half a dozen colour photographs which struck him like a thunderbolt. They were of himself having sex with a slim, blond-haired young man who was, to be more precise, one of those rent boys otherwise known as twinks. Sheer panic engulfed the PS and quickened the pace of his thumping of heartbeat. He felt a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach; the burn of blushing cheeks; and the uncontrollable trembling of hands. The realisation that his preference for young men had been uncovered, shook him to the very core. After years of living wretchedly with the fear of being exposed as a homosexual, the possibility of that actually occurring had suddenly become an inescapable probability. What would his family think? How would his colleagues react? And where would he find another position with the same prestige and salary? The calamitous possibilities threatening the beleaguered PS appeared endless.
While being gay as a member of government or the civil service had gradually become more acceptable following the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which decriminalised private homosexual acts between two men aged 21 or over; while “Turing’s Law” — Alan Turing was the Bletchley Park computer scientist who after being prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts accepted chemical castration treatment as an alternative to imprisonment — was recently passed posthumously pardoning men convicted of those now abolished offences; and while this was followed by the UK Government’s announcement of its intention to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality, the fact remained that many in government and the civil service were still gripped by the fear of being “outed” for their alternative sexuality — described by Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas in his poem Two Loves as “the love that dare not speak its name” — which might shock family and friends, and negatively affect their careers.
Though the PS like most people was comfortable with his natural sexuality during infancy, he was subsequently conditioned by influences that included the education received, the cultural system within which he was raised, and the emotional environment within the family. Consequently every time he was exposed to either repressive opinions as part of his education or experienced “negative” conditioning, he endured feelings of guilt, shame, and fear that had the emotional effect of leaving him desolate and vulnerable. It was precisely such vulnerability that Newton intended exploiting to blackmail the PS into awarding the contract to DGA.
Finally, after what seemed like an age of befuddled and panicked reflection, the PS regained sufficient composure to rise from his chair and deliver a relatively feeble response that failed to convey his intention of showing righteous indignation.
“Outrageous blackmail,” he spluttered.
“Not at all,” Newton calmly mitigated, “just a business arrangement.”
“Call it what you like. It’s still bloody blackmail!”
“I understand your anger. But you’ll be well rewarded.”
The dumbfounded PS, now being additionally offered a bribe as well as being threatened with exposure of his homosexuality, could only gape with utter red-faced disbelief. Newton, on the other hand, brimming with confident certainty that the crude threat of the photos had achieved its purpose, decided there was nothing further to be gained at this stage from prolonging his visit. He picked up his briefcase, rose from his chair, and with a parting “I’ll be in touch,” you fucking faggot, took his leave from a once poised PS who now resembled some traumatised prey about to be devoured by pack of scavenging, howling, and hungry hyaenas.
Once outside, Newton walked to and along Whitehall — the stately thoroughfare renowned for being at the heart of the British Government — past Downing Street, the Horse Guards Parade, and to the carpark near Trafalgar Square where he had left his Security Plus BMW X5 with special steel and shatter-proof glass capable of withstanding attacks from AK-47 assault rifles.
Driving the BMW was for Newton almost as satisfying as spending time with the mesmerising Julie because apart from triggering a sense of excitement — and irrespective of any traffic congestion or adverse weather conditions — the vehicle’s plush interior and acoustic comfort provided its occupants with a secure and privileged feeling of detachment from the outside world. Newton’s scheduled meeting with Julie in Bayswater was standard practice whenever he came to London.
As was to be expected, Julie’s welcome was effusive and with beguiling cash register eyes she led Newton into the lounge, helped remove his jacket, loosened his tie, and sat him down on the couch. She then went to the kitchen and returned with two chilled crystal flutes and a bottle of 2011 Rosé Vintage Champagne neatly nestled in an Art Deco ice bucket. She expertly popped the cork, slowly filled the flutes, and snuggled up against him with flutes in hand. After the ritual clinking of crystal and sips of the bubbly wine she put her flute on the table, reached for his crotch and with an enticing smile started to slowly and theatrically unzip his trousers.
Julie was a hyper-attractive, high-class, £2,000 a session vivacious brunette hooker whose lowkey chic could comfortably comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code at Ascot, or grace any high society garden party. It was conceivable that her ability to unobtrusively blend in with the fashionable elite was simply because irrespective their haughty airs, graces, and presumption of superiority to the hoi polloi, for them, prostitution was an integral part of their own lives with many of them having already sold the integrity of their cloaked souls, if not the vice or virtue of their naked bodies.
Apart from her well-proportioned seductive attributes being on offer, Julie’s hospitality was also notable for sumptuous canapés from Harrods department store, background sounds of nature music for relaxation, organic aromatherapy calming candles, a selection of fruit flavoured lickable massage oils, a wide range of sex-related paraphernalia, and most essential of all, a portable electronic card reader for accepting payment by debit or credit card.
Newton’s need for Julie’s sensual services could be explained by his failure to recognise that most women were put off by his annoying tendency to constantly prove himself; to be brash to the extent of confrontational insolence; to be unable to inspire camaraderie from or amongst others; to be competitive to the point of always having to win; to be cynical in his belief that everyone and everything had a price which he could afford; and to having been imbued with the SAS regimental motto of “Who Dares, Wins” which he mistook to mean that being audacious and overbearing entitled him to grab them “by the pussy,” a salacious sentiment he happened to share with that other sexist moron, US President Donald Trump.
Apart from his insensitivity towards others, Newton’s prospects of impressing women were further hindered by his also being an intellectually uninspiring and physically unattractive grey-haired man with unsympathetic cold blue eyes set in a thin sallow face. Consequently despite his wealth and impressive collection of must-have status symbols, most of his sexual “conquests” were with women who were either aesthetically undemanding, or sex trade professionals. So today after spending more than three hours being lasciviously de-stressed and pleasured to the extent of prostration by his close encounter with Julie’s lusty loins, Newton showered, dressed, and bade her farewell with a shagged out grin and a swift swipe of his exclusive black credit card.
As he set off on the more than two-hour drive back home to Hereford in Herefordshire, Newton failed to appreciate the sheer hypocrisy of just having paid for sex at a time when he was trying to blackmail a Foreign Office official for paying for the services of a rent boy. His euphoric state of postcoital bliss, however, was partly marred by niggling thoughts about Mike Walker’s reports which could prove at least problematic if not catastrophic. He determined to have a word with his Israeli embassy contact to see if anything could be done. By weaponising the concept of anti-Semitism, the Israelis had become the ultimate experts in the suppression of adverse criticism.