“Islam is evil!”, Paul exclaimed.
I met him at madam white’s restaurant, located at a secluded street in one of the Enugu sub-urbs. He and some other people had just listened to a broadcast on TV about a recent Boko-haram attack in the north. The attack claimed 78 lives. What annoyed Paul the most, was that these people, including women and children were mainly Igbos.
“This people have killed the Igbo people too much”. He still thought I was Igbo.
As we walked past a small hausa community on the off-street, Paul pointed at the men trading Ice-fish.
“These people live in our towns peacefully; but they don’t treat us the same way, back there. If I should have an AK, none of these people would be living; not after I might have sprayed them a bag-full of bullets. Bastards”. Paul said furiously.
No need to ask him what he would do if I was muslim. He would spray me bullets.
“Its their non-sense religion. The religion naturally provokes hatred for people of other identities. I mean over here, many people don’t even know there are other religions apart from Christianity. In fact they call mosques, ‘church ndi aboki’-aboki church. Nobody cares what you believe; but over there, the reverse is the case”.
I wanted to explain everything to him, but I couldn’t. I wanted to tell him all the things my father told me about the various misconceptions about Islam, and the truth about everything. Islam doesn’t support terrorism, I wanted to tell him. But I also guessed, that was risky. It might arouse his suspicion. For one reason, he had found an aboki at my residence before. There is no doubt he would ask, what is it I had with Hausa people?
“We are striking 9am tomorrow”, Bash said, as he brought down some parcels from the ceiling.
He had padlocked the door from outside, and came in through the window. Even the neighbors would think we were gone for lectures. Bash had easily been passed for a student. They call him my brother, “John’s brother”, they say.
There are no much people living in the detached compound; only three tenants in all. So it hadn’t been hard, not attracting suspicions all this while. Moreover they thought we were just overseas-bred Igbo boys, who didn’t understand the language.
“I visited the street today. Our mission is very easy. The restaurant you guys normally use, is on the same street with the crusade ground”. He was talking about Obuma street.
The street is very quiet. All the houses there are, on the street, are on the left adjacent part. The other hand is made up, mainly of bushes. There is also a local football field on that hand, it is where the crusade is to be held.
“The restaurant; that is…”, he was scratching his head.
“Madam white”, I helped him.
“Is directly opposite the crusade ground. So you will just invite him for breakfast. Or may be you tell him you are, at the crusade, so he can meet you”.
“Paul is catholic, he wouldn’t accept being at the crusade; Its a Deeper Life Church Program. And the restaurant; do you plan, he would be a victim of the bomb too? Is that feasible?”. I was helping him with the rifles, shining and dropping them before him to test their state of readiness. He cracked one.
“No. His assassination is modeled after an old mission we have had. So don’t worry, everything is mapped out. There is a 5 storey building on that same street; you will snipe from there. The good thing is that an Igbo ally to Al-saif lives in the building; on the 3rd floor. You saw him that day in the meeting. He would be traveling with his family this evening. He would introduce you to his neighbors, behind his family, as his nephew. Easy, isn’t it?”.
The plan was excellent. Bash had parked some cars fully stocked with automatic explosives at the venue. They were 5 cars in number, distributed about the field.
When the church came the following morning for the program, they had asked after the owners of the vehicles. Most people living in the neighborhood do park their cars in the field. Even the night before the crusade, they did, but they had evacuated their cars off the ground before day break. Only the five cars were left. After fruitless efforts to get the cars off, they resolved to hold the crusade despite the odd.
At first, I was catching fun. I was liking the whole thing. It was like am in a movie; real action film. From my post, I could see Bash, on the other side of the street, hiding in the bush. He had a twin of my US 7.62mm M24 rifle plus silencer with him. He would finish the target if I miss. He also had the automatic switch keys to the bombs.
My hand shivered as I put a call through to Paul. The crusade, timed 8am had begun already; like for some hours ago. It was 11:30am already. A crowd had filled the place; made of people seeking for miracles-indeed the only thing that can save them from the disaster that is loading.
I pitied Paul as his voice came on the phone. For the first time since yesterday, I wanted to end this. Paul sounded full of life-the life that I would deprive him. No doubt, I would miss him.
“Am on my way”. I wished he said otherwise.
My phone rang almost immediately he dropped the call. It was mallam Jibril.
“My son, this is it”, he said in English.
“See it as your chance to revenge your father. Moreover, Al-saif is promising to double the money. Half of the whole cash is already deposited in your account. This is your first murder, I know, but it is honorable because its for God. You will make it to Paradise”. With this he ended the call.
Paul had just alighted a bike, smiling. Only if he knew his life is under a pipeline, and attacked from both ends, he would be on the opposite mood, I thought.
I saw Bash raise his phone to his ears. He was farther than a stone throw from where I was sighting him. I thought my phone would ring, but it didn’t. I guess he was speaking with someone else. My heart was beating really fast. I could see that he has ended the call that didn’t last more than a minute. He put the phone back to his ears, and my phone rang.
Paul was almost inside the restaurant, save for a classmate that stopped him.
“Strike”, was the instruction.
I closed my eyes, counted my heart beats to ten, then shot. It was shot-on-target; I don’t waste shots. I saw Bash slump. I saw the bush behind him rattle. I killed him.
Mallam was right, nothing felt right like killing a traitor. He was right, the sacred murder is special, it doesn’t come with guilty conscience, it came with pride and peace, instead.
He killed my father the same way. Yesterday I uncovered many facts and secretes, thanks to the master code I used in breaking his password security. This mission was modeled after my father’s execution. Bash had shot my Dad from our high rise apartment in America. Al-saif had left no single clue for trace; or so it seem.
There was more than one reason, why they should kill him. First, he works for the CIA, against them. Secondly, I was needed for this mission, my identity was necessary, and vengeance was the best emotional incentive.
“Paul”, I panted on the phone.
“Yes, why are you sounding like this”, he inquired with concern.
“John?”, he demanded, after the silence on the phone from my end.
“I am not John. I mean…, that’s not my real name. My name is Rasheed Kano. I am not a terrorist, because I just killed one”. I was trying to catch my breath and tuck it under control.
“What are you talking about?”
“Meet your roommate, I gave him a CD to keep for you. May be after you watch the content, you will agree with Dr Okeke that terrorism is not a religious by-product. You will know that its all political. And don’t forget to prove it to Simon”.
I had copied the secret files, Bash had in his laptop to a Compact Disk. The facts are highly classified. It would implicate many top Nigerian politicians, if leaked. Only now, did I consider Paul’s safety in possessing those.
“If you were in my shoes, you would kill me. Yes, you said that before. But I didn’t kill you, I killed for you. Not because of anything, but because my father told me that the greatest differences amongst men, before the sight of Allah, is that between the good men and the evil ones. I will not kill you because I’m a real muslim; and because killing a human being you didn’t create is the worst sin under Allah. I want to make it to paradise. And I know we will meet if you make it to your heaven; because I still think we worship one God. Islam is far from what you think, Islam is peace”.
I was sobbing over the line, and I noticed Paul had gone emotional too.
“Where are you?”, he said, drawing his nose.
“Call the police and get the cars off the crusade ground. They are bombs”.
I cut and switched off the phone. I flushed it down the toilet, dismantled the gun set, got them in my bag, and zoomed off.
After 20 minutes, I didn’t know how far I had gone, but I still heard screams from behind me;
I was scared but only found peace on one aspect- I had committed the sacred murder.