Some years ago, Maryland insurance broker Tom Clancy spotted a news story about a Soviet submarine that cut loose and headed west. That prompted Clancy, a naval historian of sorts, to write The Hunt for Red October, about how the defection might have gone down.
Preston Fleming, a veteran of “11 years of government service in places like Beirut, Cairo, Tunis, Jeddah, and Amman,” noticed the original Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza. That prompted the vision of an Intifada in the United States. In Fleming’s Root and Branch, the stateside Intifada gears up after an electromagnetic pulse attack by Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, but the EMP assault gets no description until 70 pages into the narrative.
From the Canadian border to Connecticut, there was no electricity, natural gas, no drinking water, and no sewer treatment. EMP impaired telephone circuits, cellphone towers, computers and vehicle electronics, so there was no gas at the pumps, no food in stores, no cash at ATMs, and no meds at hospitals. This was an ideal atmosphere for “the looting, the rioting, the home invasions, the gun battles between criminals and neighborhood militias, and the total breakdown of social order.”
This disturbs Roger Zorn, American-born owner of a French security company, and long aware of jihadist terror in France. At one point, “the intifada had spread by now to twice as many American cities while Islamist-inspired terror attacks had grown increasingly sophisticated.” The jihadi explosive devices had “morphed from car bombs to bicycle and motorcycle bombs, truck bombs, and even explosive-laden boat bombs.” Shootings had progressed from “random snipings to sophisticated assassinations against law enforcement officers and National Guard troops.”
In some cities Zorn finds “no-go zones where police dared not enter.” There the jihadis gain allies in the form of groups such as Antifa, modeled after 70s leftist radicals like the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof Gang. Zorn, in his early 60s, recalls the days when leftists were making common cause with Middle Eastern terrorists. “Now a new generation seemed to be doing the same in America,” with graffiti in the no-go zones reading, “No Justice No Peace,” in company with “Death to the Infidel,” and “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet.” This is the same leftist-Islamic alliance Jamie Glazov charted in United in Hate.
As Zorn’s former CIA colleague Patrick Craven explains, four million Muslims reside in the United States, and half want to be governed under sharia law and accept violence against anyone who opposes it. Two of every three Muslims consider Islam to be at war with America, and nearly half consider it the duty of every Muslim to wage jihad against the United States. White House lawyer Margaret Slattery questions the numbers, but Zorn still has an eye for the classy redhead.
Zorn’s firm deploys a system called Triage, with three risk categories gauging propensity for political violence. Questions include: “Do you consider yourself a Muslim first or an American first?” and whether a Muslim supports punishment for those who insult Islam or sharia law. Triage “works far better against jihadists than polygraphs do because the latter have difficulty catching deception from subjects whose culture condones lying to outsiders.” But there’s a problem.
Zorn catches wind that the Department of Homeland Security is rigging the Triage scores to deport massive numbers of Muslim and make others disappear by creative means. Zorn must decide whether to sell his company to another DHS contractor or blow the whistle and bring down the wrath of the American security establishment. For some readers, Fleming’s quest for Indifada realism will be of greater interest.
The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle is shaping up as a no-go zone or at least a no-police zone. That incubator of violence could inspire zones in other cities, with rallying cries of “Death to Infidels” along with “No Justice No Peace.” Still, in a novel replete with epigraphs and footnotes, Preston missed a chance to ratchet up the realism.
Readers might imagine, for example, an American Intifada under a president who refuses to link Islam with terrorism, and calls a terrorist mass murder on an American military base a case of “workplace violence.” Image an American Intifada under a president who says the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
Imagine an Intifada under a president who ships planeloads of cash to Iran, one of the nations behind the EMP attacks in Root and Branch. What would such a president say about Zorn’s Triage system? Imagine Zorn and Craven contending with a CIA director who voted for the Stalinist Gus Hall.
Truth does tend to be stranger than fiction. On other hand, as it stands, Root and Branch shows what can happen in America when radical Islam joins forces with the radical left.