“THE DEPOSIT HAS ALREADY BEEN credited,” Faisal al Nasi listened. “You can go on with the plan. Your family will be well taken care of if you die from this.”
“Allahu Akhubar,” Faisal said to the caller.
“Assalaam Aleikum, Faisal.”
“Wa Aleikum salaam,” he said as the caller hung up.
Faisal checked his luggage again. It was a camera, specially made to accommodate his customised Berretta pistol and a press pass. He was the phantom representative of the phantom Independent News newspaper at the prime minister’s conference in the afternoon.
At exactly two o’clock, the prime minister, campaigning for the presidency, entered the Hilton Hotel’s Tsavo Ballroom right on schedule.
He walked to the bouquet of microphones at the podium, leaned toward the microphones, and his voice boomed out over the expectant silence.
“Every day I see this country try to rise on shaky legs—burdened by debt and poverty, death and violence, rife with graft and corruption—I convince myself that we need a leader.
“Today, we pay for the sins of our fathers—stealing from public coffers, political assassinations, tribal clashes and masterminded post-election chaos, graft (Anglo-leasing, Goldenberg, Grand Regency) and other scandals.
“My family has been connected to such crimes, I don’t deny or confirm it, but I am on this alone. I can’t be guilty of my family’s sins and crimes. That is why I insist I am the man this country needs.
“It is time for a new era. Brothers and sisters, we’ve suffered enough from our past sins. Enough is enough. The blood of our people that has been shed so far is sacrifice enough.”
The Prime Minister let his pain ring out. He knew how it looked on camera—the determined face of reform and liberation for the third republic.
“The blood of our people—men, women and children, victims of post-poll chaos, political figures who were assassinated, and police officers who die in the course of their duty trying to maintain law and order in a seemingly lawless society. We may forget them, but not their sacrifice.”
Reporters clung to their cameras and notebooks as though their lives depended on them. There were other presidential candidates, but only the Prime Minister had the country by the spell. They ridiculed and lambasted him in the press, but he knew he was the president the country needed.
“While we put an end to one chapter of our history, let’s do it once and for all. Blood is the tincture of true sacrifice, and that’s what our people have done. So, let’s not let their sacrifices go unyielded.”
At the forest of the press, Faisal knew that his time had come. He was not to waste it. He reached for his concealed gun, retrieved it and pointed it at the prime minister.
Faisal fired. Twice. The prime minister went down a moment before he fired again.
Faisal never knew whether his mission was accomplished.
That evening, the news was abuzz with the failed assassination attempt. As the prime minister watched the news at his official residence, his mind went back to the fateful afternoon.
His bodyguards had pulled him down behind the podium, right on cue, as cries erupted from the crowd. Pandemonium had ruled for a breath.
It had gone well. Just as planned.
The shooter had been shot by the premier’s security detail. Died instantly. It had not been difficult to convince Faisal that he was doing it for the glory of Islam and Allah.
After all, his was among ‘the blood of our people’ shed for the country’s liberation.