Sawad Hussain brings an excerpt of Hamad AlHamady’s terrorism thriller Is There More? into English:
By Sawad Hussain
Hamad AlHamady’s Is There More? is a fast-paced thriller based on real-life events surrounding the biggest known planned terrorist attack on the UAE. The novel jumps between Iran, the home base of the attackers; the UAE, where a family finds itself smack in the middle of the plot; and Syria. The reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride through the genesis and development of a major attack, as well as the measures adopted by those aiming to foil it, with each chapter leaving unanswered questions and more rabbit holes to travel down in search of the truth. Is There More? is a welcome genre addition for Arabic literature, and promises to keep the reader engaged from start to finish.
* * *
Saturday, April 6th, 2013
Sistan and Baluchestan Province
At the edge of the town stood a house that didn’t look much different from the other houses: the same clay walls, the roof made of the same palm fronds, the same darkness that the small lanterns tried to dispel. On the floor therein lay an old carpet partially rolled up to reveal an open wooden trapdoor leading to a basement under the house, a basement full of wooden chests stacked up in every corner.
“Makhlouta, here’s the cache of weapons that you asked for to carry out your team’s operation in the UAE.”
“Thanks Qasim. The Ansar group in Baluchestan ended up saving us after the Nusra Front in Syria left us high and dry.”
Makhlouta shoved his hand into his pocket, took out a sealed envelope and handed it over to Qasim. “Here’s the second and final payment for the amount that we agreed on, in five-hundred-dollar bills.”
Qasim took the envelope, opened it and counted the cash swiftly. “Excellent.
Now let me open up the chests for you so you can examine the goods.” Qasim started to open the chests one by one and display their contents.
“These chests here contain MP5s, lightweight and precise in aim, can withstand the harshest weather conditions. These chests contain the requested quantity of our favorite weapon, Kalashnikovs. As for these chests over here, they’ve got handguns and GBB pistols. This chest contains air rifles, and over here some more weapons that’ll last you for a number of large operations; grenades, electronic detonators, batteries, live ammunition, and aerial sprays. And this chest, this one has the remarkable grey material that you all asked for.”
“Awesome, Qasim. All this here will cover our needs for our biggest op ever in December.”
“I wonder why you guys don’t do it now. That’ll be better than hiding all these weapons for a few months. This makes it more risky for you.”
“Well, we wanna start off with a bang and leave a big mark, so we’re waiting for their New Year’s celebrations, and at that exact time when the clock strikes, our operation will take out the largest number of kuffar, those unbelievers, and the world media that usually covers such wild, obscene celebrations will sit up and take notice of us. We’ll plant fear in their infidel hearts.” Qasim was taken aback by this plan. All the operations that he’d taken part in didn’t go further than attacking some Iranian soldiers or sniping them from afar.
“Makhlouta, it looks like our styles and goals are poles apart.” “What are you trying to say?”
“I mean, we here don’t kill innocent civilians. We’re fighting for Sistan and Baluchestan’s independence from Iran. We want to establish a nation that doesn’t oppress us like the Iranian regime is doing right now. So we only go up against Iranian soldiers.”
Makhlouta smiled. “And who said that we’re killing innocent civilians? The guys who take part in such celebrations aren’t innocent, they’re infidels. You all fight for the sake of your land. As for someone like me, I’m not Emirati, but I’m there to fight for the sake of the religion.”
“Yes we fight for land, but you won’t understand until you live in the province, which is one of Iran’s richest oil provinces, and grasp how the people are living below the poverty line in the midst of plenty. You won’t understand till you see the oil profits that the Iranian regime is extracting from our land and spending on groups that stir up sectarian conflicts in the area.”
Makhlouta fell silent in the face of the passion with which Qasim spoke.
“Just look at us, Makhlouta, look at the poverty that’s rampant here among us. The Iranian regime is persecuting and humiliating us. And so we’ll fight until we free Sistan and Baluchestan, with God’s permission.”
Qasim went on about their suffering, and while Makhlouta wanted to tell him that he just wasn’t interested, he didn’t say it aloud. Qasim eventually got the hint and stopped talking when Makhlouta headed towards one of the chests and pretended to examine the weapons.
“Well then, you can go back to the UAE and this cargo will reach you guys in about three weeks with the help of your Pakistani contact Suleiman.”
“You sure you’ll be able to smuggle it across?”
“That all depends on your man Suleiman’s abilities.”
“Painful is the betrayal that makes some neglect those who were with them, but even worse is the betrayal that makes them not recognize in the first place those who were with them all along.”
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
The lawyer and the prosecutor exited the bureau of investigation, leaving Nafla the suspect with her husband Issam after he had demanded to speak to his wife alone. Barely half a silent minute had passed before he jumped on her. Nafla fell to the floor, along with the chair she was sitting on. He kneeled over her, his left hand smothering her mouth, his right wringing her neck, choking her. “You murderer, you’ll die just like you killed her, you’ll die here!” She couldn’t believe what her husband was doing, his short exhalations louder than his low voice, his cruel words like knives piercing her heart, her bulging eyes trying to say more than what he was willing to listen to: Believe me Issam, I didn’t kill her, why would I? I need you to stand by me now! She only felt betrayal, she only saw his furious eyes shooting evil, her face getting redder, drops of sweat slithering down her forehead. She kept on struggling, and when he eased his hand from her mouth, she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Immediately, Issam stood up.
The prosecutor rushed back with Rashid the lawyer and a number of policemen, “What’s going on here? What did you do to her, Issam? This is an attack on a suspect in custody!” Nafla was still sprawled on the floor amid a flood of tears, cradling her neck.
Issam leaned down to the ground, briskly picking up his ghutra and egal that had fallen off during his assault on her. “I didn’t do a thing, and you didn’t see a thing to accuse me of. Ask her, if you want to take this killer’s word.” He looked at her with contempt, spat on her, then left the bureau of investigation. “You’ll get yours for what you did,” he angrily muttered to himself.
Translated by Sawad Hussain. Translation Copyright: 2017.
Sawad Hussain is ArabLit’s Cambridge-based better half. She’s also an Arabic translator and litterateur who holds a MA in Modern Arabic Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She is passionate about all things related to Arab culture, history, and literature.
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