Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chapter 5

Landing in New Delhi

The company LearJet landed on time at Indira Ghandi International Airport and taxied toward a private hangar near the end of the runway. It had barely come to a full stop when a small Shell Oil tanker truck came slowly rolling toward the plane. Jace Marshall looked out the porthole window for the limo which the Director had informed him would be there waiting. Hhmm. Looked like a no show on the limo. He would have to hoof-it to the taxi stand after all. The co-pilot opened the door and let down the ramp to offload, while the captain supervised the refueling and inspected the aircraft.

Jace grabbed his brand new suitcase of clothes and necessaries that someone at the C.I.A. had furnished him for the trip and also the briefcase which he found on the plane with his initials engraved in the handgrip. “Nice touch. What is this, my birthday?” he muttered to himself. Jace stood-up and bumped his head on the interior ceiling. He wasn’t going to stick-out like a sore thumb in northern India, was he?

Meeting Raahi

As he stepped out of the plane and looked ahead toward the hangar, a yellow Tuk-Tuk (taxi) trailing blue smoke from burning oil from it’s exhaust roared up and stopped.  The small brown driver got out, put his hands together, prayerfully, bowed and said, “Namaste. Mr. Marshall. I am Raahi Vineet, which means “knowledgeable traveler” in your language. My last name is unimportant. Please call me Raahi. May I help you with your luggage?”

Jace returned the gesture with the appropriate, “Namaste, Raahi, please call me Jace. I prefer to carry my bags with me, if you don’t mind. By the way, that’s a great name for a taxi driver.”

“I believe it was my destiny to be a taxi driver in this life because I was named so. I can take you anywhere you like and answer any questions you have. I am a good taxi driver.“, Raahi replied.

Jace got into the back seat with his luggage and Raahi closed his door, got into the driver’s seat and sped away toward the private area of customs reserved only for special visitors. It had all been arranged. Without much delay, Jace was en-route to the “company store“, as they called the local office of the C.I.A. It was time to meet with the lone survivor, a Miss Jagrati Malhotra.

At the Company Store

The local agents had picked-up the young lady at her residence and drove her to the company store. She was only being interviewed and was not under suspicion of anything. She was just a sweet, but educated kid who ran late to work one day caring for her elderly grandmother. It seems her good deed was a positive thing for her Karma and kept her from harm the day of the explosion.

As Jace and Raahi came into the office, Jace could see young Jagrati and her grandmother were quietly having tea. He spoke to the agent in charge. “How is she holding up?” he asked, nodding to the young lady.

“I’m A.I.C. Sachigian and you are Marshall?” It sounded an awful lot like attitude to Jace.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’m sorry if my manners are a bit rusty, but I’ve been on a plane all night and this is not my deal. I asked to be rotated out of the Middle East desk at Langley and was looking forward to some rest. Now I’m here. So can you cut me some slack? We’re all on the same team here.” Jace fired back.

“Yeah, sure. I guess so.” Turning toward the ladies in question, A.I.C. Sachigian answered, “Well, the young girl is very upset that she is the only survivor and that all her friends were lost in the explosion. Now she’s out of a job, too and worried she can’t find another one to support herself or her ailing grandmother.”

“Mind if I talk with her? Does she speak English?”

“Sure, go ahead. I told her you were coming just to talk.”

Jace and Raahi walked toward Jagrati and her grandmother. Jace didn’t know what Raahi’s function was other than taxi driver, so he turned and asked him to wait in the chairs at the front of the office. Raahi complied.

Witness Interview

Jace walked slowly over to the table and asked the ladies for permission to sit down with them. They acknowledged with a slight nod, unsure about what was going to happen next. “My name is Jace Marshall and I’d like to ask you some questions about what happened yesterday. Is that all right?”

Again, Jagrati nodded.

Jace already had most of the information about her initial questioning in his head from the fax he received on the plane. All the usual background stuff. The who, what, where, when and why stuff that is a routine part of gathering information. What he wanted to know was why was this particular floor of the entire building singled out for destruction. What was Elect-Co doing on the seventh floor of that building to cause someone to want it destroyed? Jace began.

“Would either of you like your tea warmed a bit?”

“No sir, we are both fine. We do not wish to be bothersome.”

“It’s no trouble, really.“ They nod again in the negative and Jace begins the questions,  “Jacgrati, what is your job at Elect-Co?”

“It is a very easy job, sir. We just sit at our computer terminals and ~ how do you say it? Surf the internet.”

“Are you searching for anything special or different?”

“Yes. We are seeking internet pages that have advertisements for America’s presidential candidates.”

“Do you have a favorite candidate?

“No sir. We are not allowed to choose. We must find only pages for the Democrat candidate, Baligh Husan al Din. Sometimes when we click with our mouse cursor on his opponent‘s advertisements, we have discovered that an advertisement for Mr. Baligh al Din will very oftentimes appear on the same page. Since we get paid for every time we find an advertisement, we have found this to be a very useable shortcut for adding to our wages.” Jacgrati begins to cry again. “I was quite successful at this job and was earning very good wages, but now I can earn nothing and will have to suffer trying to find another job.”

This was an odd way to earn a living - surfing the internet and clicking on political advertisements. How does that work?

“Tell me how your pay was arranged?” Jace asked.

“It was very easy to keep score for ourselves. That way we could not be cheated out of our due earnings. We click on the Internet advertisements for Mr. al Din and go to another web page which asks for donations to his campaign. We have many lists of people who wish to voluntarily donate money and their credit card numbers, so we provide this service for those people because they do not have internet services. When we complete donations for an entire page of people, we earn $25.00 in American money or one U.S. dollar for every name more than one page. We get paid every night before we go home, but I sometimes work later because my grandmother has special times that she must do certain things and I am always late for work. My employer didn’t mind my being tardy, sometimes because I was so successful at my work.”

Jace was impressed with this young lady. “I’m happy that you were so successful at your work. Can you tell me how much each person donated to Mr. al Din for his campaign?”

“The amount of each donation was always the same. $2300.00 U.S. Dollars each.”

“And you had lists of these names and credit card numbers?”

“Yes sir. We started out with three pages per day and could get more when we needed them and if time would allow it.”

“Jacgrati, Do you know how many people worked at Elect-Co?”

“I do not know exactly, but my friend, counted 700 computers at one time and we had three shifts of people working all the time - twenty-four hours in a day. I think they added some more computers for the next floor on top of us, but I do not know anyone who works on that floor.”

“Do you have any of those lists that I could see?”

“No sir. We are not allowed to take them out of the building because we have to sign for them when we get them from our supervisor and our supervisor signs when we return them all checked-off before we can get paid.”

“I see. Well, I guess that is that.” Without those pages, Jace would have no evidence. This was clearly a violation of Federal campaign fund raising laws as far as he could tell from this conversation, but without the names to double check on, and the building and everything in it, blown up, there was no chance at finding anything further.

“Jacqrati, are you absolutely certain that no pages ever left the facility?”

“Yes, sir. I’m certain.” She thought for a moment. She seemed puzzled because she wasn’t sure how to address the issue.  She was sure it would get someone into trouble. Then she spoke again, “Mr. Marshall? I do not want to get someone into trouble, but I suppose it won’t matter now that he is dead. I heard of a boy who managed to steal a page from the supervisor’s desk after he had turned it in. He was using his computer at home to purchase things using the credit card numbers from the page. His family is very poor.”

What a break. If he could, somehow get a hold of that page, he could verify if the girl’s story were true. He could also verify if the credit card holders actually knew what their credit cards were being used for. With that many computer operators and that many credit card holders, this scam was sure to top the list of biggest of all time. That's not to mention violations of several campaign contributions laws. This had probably been going on ever since al Din announced his candidacy. The maximum individual contribution is $2300.00 for the primary and another $2300.00 for the presidential election campaigns.  Are there this many Americans with high limit credit cards? He questioned. No wonder this guy could raise money so fast for his campaign advertising and travel expenses while big contributions stayed under the radar.

He had to phone this one into the director. But first, he had to take a little ride. “Raahi, are you ready to go for a little drive?”

>>>> Next: Chapter 6 >>

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