"A plot to bomb the Monaco Grand Prix"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted February 27, 2015
Thriller Political | Thriller
Chilling violence on the border between Switzerland and
Italy sets the scene for a terrorist plot to bomb the
Carlo Grand Prix, the glitzy Formula One motor race.
SOVEREIGN ORDER posits that a growing surge of extremism
emerges among peaceful Arab immigrants to Northern Italy.
Sponsored by other countries which send willing
martyrs, the plot is aimed at the rich people attending
Katherine Price is a no-nonsense woman with a security
background, apparently a tourist like many other Americans
in the Principality of Monaco. Her fiancé John Cann has a
similar background. They meet a friend of John's, Sir
Robert Foster from Britain, who offers to include them in
his party at Prince Rainier's ball that evening. By
contrast the terrorist leader Rashid al-Nassef has been
occupied making bombs with plastic explosive and
instructing the first man he wants to wear one as a vest.
I'll just say that matters go from bad to worse, and all
the distraction of fast cars can't detract from the body
count and shock. If you're interested in reading about the
design of Formula One cars, and why they do not take off
when travelling at great speed, this book brings you such
details, as well as a potted history of motor racing in
Scotland. In place of some action, and to flesh out the
terrorist figure, the American characters recount
atrocities he participated in during past years. Then al-
Nassef recalls some more of his inglorious history. I
have liked a real attempt to understand ordinary people in
the Monte Carlo situation, but all we see is extreme
persons on both sides of the picture.
If you are into ominous thrillers in prominent locations,
this one will interest you, and anyone who likes an added
dimension to stories of motor racing could try James
Macomber's SOVEREIGN ORDER. Despite the strong central
lady, I didn't find this really a work for women, but
mechanics and thriller fans might get a kick out of the
Terrorists from all over the world. Sarin gas from Syrian
stockpiles. Innocents gathered for a revered sporting
all unaware of the horrific attack about to be launched.
“Sovereign Order”, is an international thriller about an
Iranian-sponosred WMD attack on Monaco and the 100,000
people in attendance at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The sublimely evil villain is Rashid al-Nassef, long
dead but actually living under Iranian protection, After
several years of chafing in his “velvet prison” he
the go-ahead to launch what will be the most destructive
horrific terrorist attack in history.
The assault is multi-leveled in both its substance and in
its actors. The “martyrs” who will execute the plan come
from many places; a Bosnian youth designated by al-Nassef
set off the first in a series of assaults, the young
woman whose fanaticism as a Christian leads her to seek
love of Mohammed, the tyrannical and abusive Albanian
and his wife and child who will effect the diversionary
explosion on the day of the race, the Scots lawyer
into Islam as a youth, and finally, al-Nassef himself who
will unleash the final act of horror that will leave the
Principality of Monaco unlivable for decades to come.
The novel features John Cann and Katherine Price, senior
partners in a Washington DC law firm with strong ties to
intelligence community — as do John and Katherine in
own pasts: John in the military sphere, Katherine in
civilian counter-terror. John is in all the books and
Katherine Price was introduced in the third Macomber
“A Grave Breach” where she ended up being the hero of
dual plots in that book. As intended but also by popular
demand, she and John have finally “gotten together” and
“Sovereign Order”, they travel to the Monaco Grand Prix
an engagement present from a principal of one of the
and find themselves at risk of losing everything when
face off against the horrific combined-WMD attack on the
“crown jewel of world formula racing”.
The young Bosnian was named Mirko Zubak. He had had not
been told what the
target was to be but he did know his act of martyrdom
would be by “sacred
explosion”. He’d done what preparation he could before
leaving Bosnia such
as paying off his debts and forgiving others their
him. But the suddenness of his call was disconcerting.
He’d expected, as was
the norm, to have days, perhaps more, prior to his act to
He’d put aside his cigarettes only the night before and
had declined to eat
anything then and this morning to purify himself as best
he could under this
accelerated plan. But the Imam had assured him that the
be known to Allah and his sacrifice accepted.
Zubak was determined to quietly and stoically accept the
orders of his
leader, Rashid al-Nassef, and the guidance of the Imam.
But even in the
face of al-Nassef’s undisguised annoyance, the young
insisted that he be allowed to make his videotape
testament. The camera was
set up and Zubak recited verses from the Koran, spoke of
nature of his act, extolled the virtues and necessity of
jihad and exhorted
others to follow his example. When he was finished, he
went to be fitted
with the instrument of his “sacred explosion”.
Given the asymmetric nature of terrorism, most “suicide
vests” are simple
devices made from readily available materials. A common
combination is hydrogen peroxide, often used as a
disinfectant or to bleach
hair, for example, and acetone, used in various products,
nail polish, for
one. Together they form an explosive compound called
acetone peroxide. While
its availability and economy are a positive, it is an
which can and often does explode while being compressed or
Less unstable and also widely used is a compound called
ammonal — ammonia
nitrate and coal or aluminum powder. It will not detonate
of its own accord
and needs an initiator (often a small quantity of acetone
peroxide) but it
too fits the needs and limitations of terrorist cells
lacking the resources
to obtain stronger, more sophisticated explosives.
For this project, though, al-Nassef had virtually
unlimited resources and so
the vest prepared for Mirko Zubak contained the much less
but far more sophisticated C4, a relatively stable plastic
the consistency of modeling clay which allows it to be
shaped as desired. In
this case, it was packed in rectangular shaped pockets
inside a thin nylon
vest. Five kilograms of it. Approximately 11 pounds. A
C4 also requires an initiator and in that respect as well
al-Nassef went top
shelf using a Belarus-made IED — not the “improvised
referred to so often in the present day but rather an
electrical detonator” that initiates the C4 within
milliseconds of being
activated. When that happens, the C4 decomposes into
gasses which expand at
over 25,000 feet per second and reach temperatures in
excess of 1,000
degrees. Normal atmospheric pressure on the human body is
pounds per square inch. The force of this blast in the
would be 1.5 tons per square inch.
Just after 10:00 AM, al-Nassef led Zubak to the target
along a slightly
different route than the one he had taken the day before.
As they came out
of the Quattro Marzo opposite the Piazza San Giovanni and
Zubak hesitated at the sight of two yellow school buses
parked along the Via
XX Settembre just in front of the church. The buses were
empty. That meant
the children were inside.
Al-Nassef had explained the plan to Zubak only minutes
before they left
Cottolengo. Zubak was to go up the stairs and into the
cathedral and go left
to where there was a souvenir shop by the replica of the
Holy Shroud. There
were frequently visitors standing and watching it but the
al-Nassef had given the young Bosnian for this particular
target was that it
struck a blow at what was essentially the soul of Torino.
questioned the propriety of an attack on Jesus whom Islam
revered as a
prophet if not as the Messiah. But al-Nassef had rejected
the concern by
recalling to him the Hadith prohibition on depictions of
the major prophets
and explaining that they were not striking the actual
Jesus, only an image —
one which was a replica in any event.
Looking across the piazza, Zubak shook his head. “Not the
children. I will
not meet Allah with that shame on me.”
Al-Nassef wondered if these objections were a sign that
the boy was losing
his nerve. He started to order the young man to proceed
but thought better
of it. He did not need to bring any attention to them and
a few more moments
would not matter. He nodded his assent.
After about ten minutes, the center doors at the top of
the stairs opened
and a procession of about eighty children accompanied by
teachers and aides
emerged. The adults herded the children together and began
to count and
arrange them prior to reboarding the buses.
Al-Nassef put his hand on Zubak’s shoulder and the young
man looked at him.
Al-Nassef nodded. The Bosnian returned the gesture, then
put his hand into
the pocket that contained the detonator and stepped off.
a little way back up the Quattro Marzo and around a corner
of the municipal
building and watched as Zubak crossed the piazza to the
The teachers had the children fairly well assembled,
crowded together in
pairs, holding hands, about to get on the buses. The
squeaks and squeals of
their young voices drowned out the other sounds in the
Zubak was still about ten meters from the bottom of the
steps to the
cathedral and right alongside the children when al-Nassef
duplicate detonator he had in his own pocket."
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