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  • Deadly Prelude - a work of fiction based on facts.

    Mr. Green, the CIA station chief was uncomfortable. He knew the meeting was a big deal. He knew that the results of the meeting could either send him to the top levels of his career in “the company” or it could screw him forever. He had been summoned to a clandestine meeting with a very important crown prince of the Saudi royal house. Prince Amir was a shadowy figure in King Abdullah’s court. The CIA knew little of him. Arabs trembled when his name was spoken.

    Green was accompanied by two of his men. They were armed with AR-15’s. Prince Amir’s motorcade arrived late. A limo, and two black SUV’s pulled into the abandoned hanger on the edge of the Riyadh airport. Ten men, all with AK-47’s, disembarked and surrounded the prince’s car. His chauffeur opened the door. Prince Amir stepped out.

    The prince did not smile nor did he offer his hand in friendship. A bead of sweat trickled down Green’s spinal column. Green retracted his hand.

    “You know who I am?” the prince asked.

    “Yes. You are Prince _.”

    The prince cut Green off. “I have a message for your President Clinton. You have overstayed your welcome in Saudi Arabia. You must remove your troops from Islam’s holiest land. We have pleaded with the previous administration, but without success. Mr. Bush has told us that we must speak to the new president. We have done so. We were discreet and very patient but we have become tired of waiting.”

    Green said, “We need more time. I am sure tha_.”

    The crown prince cut Green short again. He held up his index finger to silence Green.

    “There is no more time. The dogs of war has been unleashed. What time do you have?”

    Green looked at his watch. It was a little after 3 am, Riyadh time. “0303.” Green reported.

    The prince’s face assumed an air of malevolent determination. “TWA Flight 800 is about to take off from John F. Kennedy airport. It has 230 souls aboard, including some very bright high school students. The Boeing 747-131, tail number N93119, has a scheduled layover in Paris before continuing on to Rome.”

    Green wasn’t sure of what he was hearing. His face wore the look of perplexity.

    “The plane will not leave American air space. Your politicians have made fools of the His Highness and the royal family. You have refused to remove your troops. You have reneged on your promises. You have embarrassed us. You will pay the price for your arrogance.” The prince turned to walk away.

    A half a world away, TWA Flight 800 had left the terminal and was taxying to the end of the runway, preparing for takeoff. The 16 French Club members of Montoursville High School were giddy with excitement. They were practicing their French in anticipation of reaching France. Other passengers were just pleased that the plane was finally on its way after an hour delay. It was 8:04 pm EDT. In a few minutes they would be airborne and heading over the North Atlantic.

    Green moved toward the prince brusquely. The armed men raised their weapons at the ready. “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” Green demanded.

    The prince sneered. “Now, your government will be embarrassed. The dogs of war have been unleashed.”

    The prince’s entourage speed away. Green ran to his car and made a priority call to his boss and to the Ambassador. He was frantic.

    The calls were routed through a maze of bureaucracy at the CIA, and the State Department. Eventually the message reached the White House. But the plane was already in the air. The weather was near perfect. The sun was hanging low in the west behind the plane. The pilot acknowledged his last instructions to climb to a cruising altitude of 15,000 feet heading east.

    A senior advisor to the president said the Saudis would never carry out such a threat. He voted to call their bluff.

    At approximately 8:31 pm EDT on July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York. Some witnesses claimed to have seen a missile streaking skyward just before the explosion. Ultimately, amid controversy, the incident was ruled an accident. NTSB investigators suspected an electrical spark in a partially empty fuselage fuel tank caused the explosion.

    The terrorists attacks continued with a deadly crescendo on September 11, 2001. In August 2003, under the George W. Bush Administration, U. S. troops were withdrawn from Saudi Arabia. In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.

    Photo: WikiMedia Commons - 23:42, 13 January 2006 Skybunny 747x528 (69704 bytes) (This photograph is part of the National Transportation Safety Board accident report for TWA Flight 800. The date on the photograph shows as May 20, 1997. It is figure 29 of the report, which is described as: A photograph of the large three-dimensional rec)

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