HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
It is January 1st, time for the
FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day
of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST
Leave a comment and you can win a free copy of the book!
This month's feature author is:
Phil Little with
and their book:
(A Matt Cooper Novel)
COOPER FIND ELEVEN NUCLEAR DEVICES AND HIS FAITH BEFORE DISASTER
With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued
to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt
Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel Hell in a
Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his
adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas
flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from
top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and
uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change
his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism,
witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the
closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a
plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert
in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a
detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM,
and hundreds of others (www.westcoastdetectives.us). He draws on this experience in crafting the
tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his
duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile
Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the
subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about
Matt's adventures in his blog, http://detectivemattcooper.blogspot.com.
In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of
international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting
and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues
combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great
interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to
American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed
the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and
information that all Americans should know.
THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Thursday, 21 November 2002. 01:30.
A full moon. A glow seemed to rise from the sand, allowing them to
drive with their headlights off. The five Jeeps kept to 40 kph on the dark
road that wound southward between hills and wadis. In the third Jeep,
Major Skaff allowed himself the brief luxury of picking out Pegasus in
the sharp winter sky before he compulsively scanned the rocky terrain
for signs of Hezbollah fedayeen. He was leading this patrol to check out
rumors of increased activity near Shaaba Farms, the disputed area where
three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped two years before.
The ridge road ran from the town of Marjeyoun down to Qlaia’a
under the ominous gaze of Shqif Arnoun-the castle called “Beaufort” by
the Crusaders-to the west. Christians and Muslims had fought for this
ground for centuries, trading possession of the castle as their fortunes
rose and fell. In the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organization had
used the strategic placement of the castle to shell civilian
settlements in northern Israel.
That was when Skaff, then a young recruit of the Southern
Lebanese Army, had been a driver in a similar convoy, shortly before the
civil war broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1975. Traversing this
very ridge on a mission, he had come under fire from the castle. His
evasive driving had saved the convoy and drawn the attention of General
The intervening thirty years had been a generation of
unremitting war. Israel, tiring of mounting civilian casualties and the Lebanese
government’s refusal to expel the terrorists, invaded southern Lebanon
in 1982 and captured the castle. Eighteen years of occupation followed,
during which Skaff had risen through the SLA ranks while working openly
with the Israelis to keep the various Muslim factions at bay. When he
had started, Hezbollah did not exist. Now the radical Muslim army
controlled the south and dealt severely with the Christian resistance.
As the occupation had grown increasingly costly and casualties
mounted, the pressure increased for Israel to withdraw. When the SLA
collapsed in 2000, Israel destroyed what was left of the castle walls and
pulled back behind the Blue Line specified by the UN. The SLA
scattered. Thousands fled to Israel or went into hiding. Those who didn’t were
imprisoned and tried as enemy collaborators. As Hezbollah gained control
of the area, the anticipated slaughter of Christians didn’t
materialize. But any SLA militiamen emboldened to return were also imprisoned.
As he scanned the distant ruins of the castle in the moonlight,
Major Skaff reflected on change and constancy. Where PLO guns had once
rained death on Israel and Lebanese Christians, now tourists snapped
pictures and rushed home to post them on the Internet. And the same
General Antoine Lahd who had brought him up in the ranks and fought beside
him for decades had fled to Paris. Only a week ago he had opened a fancy
restaurant in Tel Aviv called Byblos. It had a nice ocean view.
True, Lahd had a death sentence hanging over him for treason and
war crimes, but so did Skaff. And so did many of the two thousand SLA
in Lebanese prisons.
But some things had not changed. Southern Lebanon was just as
dangerous for the men in these Jeeps as it had been when Skaff was
driving instead of commanding.
Skaff was drawn from his reflections by a dark shape ahead. At
the end of the ridge the road snaked through an outcropping of rock. He
had passed through it many times, always with reluctance. This night he
felt a peculiar sense of revulsion as he squinted at the misshapen lump
of stone looming before him.
He nudged his driver and nodded toward the rocks. Hassan nodded
back. He could feel it too. Skaff reached for the radio to signal the
lead Jeep. A lifetime of guerrilla fighting had convinced him that such
premonitions were not without merit. His transmission was brief, but
they were already entering the outcropping when he put the radio down.
Five seconds later a rocket hit the grille of the lead Jeep. The
explosion lit the rocks towering over them. He saw the silhouettes of
two men blow out on either side of the vehicle, which was tossed onto
the nose of the next Jeep. Hassan narrowly missed them, skidding left and
stopping next to the driver of the lead Jeep, who was lying half off
The two Jeeps behind slid sideways to a stop in the road as
machine gun bursts echoed from beyond the lead Jeep. Skaff was exposed to
the attack. He dove from his seat to the rear of the second Jeep,
between two men already returning fire with an Uzi and an M-16.
He rolled to his feet and yelled to the two back Jeeps,
motioning for them to form a double barricade with their vehicles, keeping the
men covered both in the front and the rear in case the attackers
attempted to sandwich them in the gap. Skaff turned back, confident that his
men needed no further direction. This mission called for
battle-hardened veterans, and he had personally selected the nineteen men who were
with him now. Every man among them had proved himself in years of combat.
Some even owed their life to his cool command in battle. Some had
returned the favor multiple times.
Skaff scanned the forward battle to account for the remaining
eleven men, his position shielded by the lead Jeep transfixed on the
grille of the second. To the left, Hassan was pulling the driver of the
first Jeep to safety. The other two men from Skaff’s Jeep were covering
him with sporadic fire from their Uzis. Ahead, the driver of the second
Jeep was placing a case of grenades handy to his partner, who had fitted
his M-16 with a grenade launcher and was set up in the backseat. Skaff
was standing beside the other two passengers in the second Jeep. That
left the three passengers from the lead Jeep.
He spotted Saif on the right. He had been thrown clear onto the
sand without apparent injury. He was crouched behind a boulder,
occasionally returning fire with his Desert Eagle .50-caliber side arm.
Failing to sight the other two, he shouted to the driver, who had acquired an
He nodded forward. Skaff crawled over the middle of the jeep to
the hood. Sayyed was wedged between the lead Jeep and the grille of the
second Jeep, most likely dead. Rafik was lying on the hood of the
second Jeep. Skaff checked for a pulse. Nothing. He closed Rafik’s eyes and
whispered a short prayer. Skaff couldn’t play favorites with his men,
but this loss was harder than any other would have been. At nineteen,
Rafik had already spent four years with Skaff, rarely more than fifty
yards from his side. Four years of relentless, driven hate. Skaff had been
Rafik’s ticket for revenge. Perhaps now he had found the peace revenge
had not been able to bring him.
Skaff was crawling back to get a weapon when the second rocket
hit the bottom of the lead Jeep. The gas tank exploded, sending most of
the shrapnel back toward the attackers. The force of the blast threw
the second Jeep back five feet, knocking over the two shooters behind.
The grenade launcher and the man with it fell into the front seat. The
driver was standing to the side. He returned fire with the Uzi.
Skaff helped reposition the grenade launcher and crawled out of
the Jeep. The two in back were already firing again. He scanned the
area and then dove toward the two Jeeps in the rear. Of the eight men
between the jeeps, one had taken a round in the right shoulder but was
still firing left-handed, propped against a door. Three were facing the
rear but indicated they hadn’t seen any action, yet. Two were covering the
walls on either side with M-16s, but also hadn’t seen action. The final
two had grenade launchers on their M-16s. They waited until they saw
several volleys of tracer bullets originating from a single location.
Then they fired three seconds apart at the source. The machine gun fire
stopped. Skaff slapped them on the back. Perhaps they would get out of
this thing alive.
Then a rocket hit Skaff’s Jeep. Hassan was behind a curtain of
stone, firing with an Uzi, having propped the injured driver in a cleft
in the rock. But the other two were using the Jeep for cover. One
tumbled backward, clear of the Jeep. The other was knocked down as the Jeep
rolled over, pinning his leg under it. Skaff ran through a volley of
automatic weapons fire and pulled the first man to his feet. They raced
to the Jeep, joined by Hassan, and rocked it back over. Then they
dragged the injured man to safety next to the injured driver.
Skaff felt a shudder of unease ripple through the
adrenaline-laced focus that always came over him in combat. If this kept up, the
whole team would be shredded before they had used half their ammo. He
grabbed Hassan’s arm and yelled into his ear over the din.
“We have to take out that rocket launcher or we don’t get out of
here. Take those three and circle around.” Hassan nodded and stepped
away but Skaff grabbed his arm. “Take a radio.”
He let go, and Hassan ran to the rear while the others laid down
covering fire. Skaff used the opportunity to race to the front two
Jeeps and get the four there away from the vehicles and behind the cover of
the rocks. As they ran for cover, another rocket hit the top of the
lead Jeep, sending fragments of the grille and fenders flying in all
directions. Skaff ran through the explosion back to the rock curtain. When
he fell against a boulder the injured man pointed at Skaff’s leg. He
looked down and saw that his left trouser leg was slashed in three places.
Blood was seeping down to his boots. He looked around to see how the
others had fared.
Saif seemed to have been hit in the arm by something. He was now
firing the Eagle while holding his upper arm with the other hand. The
other four seemed to have escaped unscathed. Skaff’s radio had not
survived the rocket. He nodded to the man next to him, who wielded an Uzi
while he made it to the two back Jeeps, getting an Uzi and a radio. He
turned it up all the way and slung it over his shoulder. Then he began
firing at the source of tracers beyond the rubble of the Jeeps.
Looking for some encouragement, Skaff probed his memory. In
almost three decades of fighting, he didn’t recall anything quite as dire
as the current circumstance. He had two confirmed dead, one unconscious,
three wounded but still firing. Almost a third of the force. The
numbers were bound to increase as long as that rocket launcher was working.
His calculations were interrupted by Hassan’s voice squawking through
“We got the rocket launcher, but I think they have another on
the left. And now we’re pinned down, so we’re going nowhere.”
The last word was drowned out by a rocket blast on the rock
curtain above the injured men. Skaff doubted he could get a team around the
other side. Even if he did, the enemy would be expecting them. No way
around. No way through. He scanned the sheer rock walls on either side.
No way over. The fedayeen had chosen their positions well and appeared
to have ample men, weapons, and ammo. It seemed likely that most of
this team would share the fate of Rafik and Sayyed. Probably all. The
thought sickened Skaff, turning the adrenaline in his veins to bile in his
There was one last hope, but it might be too late. He selected
another frequency on the radio and shouted over the gunfire, “Lehafil
Levanon Sanctzia. Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. (Activate Lebanon