The date of the event was Sunday, January 22, 2017. The time was 1:03 PM on the East Coast of the United States. The new American President had been sworn into office forty-eight hours ago, and this day he was in the White House with VIP guests, donors, campaign staff, family and friends. This privileged group, like tens of millions of Americans that day, is glued to the big screen television. Today is the highly anticipated American Football Conference Championship; the semi-final before the Super Bowl. The much hyped game was between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens, and kick-off at Mile High Stadium in Denver just happened to the cheers of these elite party goers. The smart money said Denver would walk away with an easy victory – and since the new President hailed from Colorado, no one at the White House was wearing a Raven’s jersey. No one, that is, except the Senate Minority Leader who was from the opposing political party. It was all great fun. Spirits were high, the beer was flowing and the White House Chief of Staff couldn’t have been happier with the electric atmosphere and upbeat photo ops that could only benefit his new boss. Little did anyone know that before half-time arrived, the country would forever be changed.
The war didn’t start with a Weapon of Mass Destruction. In fact, the attack wasn’t high tech at all; it was decidedly low tech – almost antique. Specifically, what the media would come to refer to as the “weapons package” was a Soviet WWII era M1937 82mm mortar with twelve rounds of ammunition. Later investigation would show that the weapon was a veteran of WWII, and it left the Soviet Union in the 1960’s and made its way to one of the many African conflicts. It sat collecting dust in an African armory for what appears to be decades. Accountability on the mortar was lost years ago. No one cared. It was over 75 years old. The weapon type and ammunition could be purchased on the international weapons market for about $1500 (U.S.). The entire weapons package could easily fit, if disassembled, into the trunk of a mid-size rental car.
The first round plunged into Mile High Stadium in the middle of the second quarter. The round sailed over tens of millions of dollars worth of metal detectors, radiation detectors, explosive detection machines, video cameras, facial recognition software, terrorist data bases, drug and explosive sniffing dogs, and hundreds of security personnel. On live national television it impacted about five meters from the Raven’s offensive huddle. The second round landed in the Bronco’s bench area before stunned broadcasters could stop the live television feed. The mortar attack lasted two minutes with a dozen rounds landing on the field, sidelines and seating areas.
What wasn’t captured on live television made its way to You Tube by evening. Over seventy-five thousand screaming spectators stampeded for the exits. Hundreds were injured and dozens killed in the panicked human exodus. Waiting outside at a secluded distance were a half-dozen terrorists with fifty year old Draganov SVD semi-automatic sniper rifles. Within an hour it was over. All ten terrorists, five men and five women, were killed in gun battles. Civilian fatalities topped 200 with another 1000 injured and hospitalized. The Super Bowl was cancelled.
The investigation proceeded rapidly; the clues and leads were numerous. All ten terrorists were black, and they were all dressed in formal business attire. They had entered the U.S. within the last two weeks on valid tourist visas wearing the same clothes they were killed in. They entered the U.S. as married couples at five different airports. The weapons package and sniper rifles were waiting for them; it was suspected they had come across the southern border a month previous. The people and the equipment all originated from the same country – the country formerly known as Nigeria.
Nigeria no longer existed as a nation-state. The unbelievably corrupt kleptocracy that had governed Nigeria fell like a house of cards in 2015. A reinforced and externally funded Boko Haram rolled over successive government strongholds and garrisons. Moving North to South, the tempo of operations accelerated during the year until Nigerian government forces were in a full route. Key government figures and military leaders fled the nation with their loot; soldiers threw down their weapons, and resistance to Boko Haram collapsed before the end of the calendar year.
Supported by both Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL, 2016 would be a year of displacement and unbelievable suffering for the people of Nigeria. The world looked on in horror as Nigerian Christians fled for their lives. Those unable to flee the country were forced to convert to Islam, or hacked to death, or crucified, or beheaded. The lucky ones were simply shot. The political entity of Nigeria was replaced by a new country: the Caliphate of West Africa, or CWA.
The year 2016 would also see another player enter the stage. China would operate the highly lucrative oil fields in the Niger River delta for the CWA. They would also buy, in hard currency, the entire output of these oil fields. This was an uneasy alliance at best. China needed the oil, but was highly distrustful of the CWA. The CWA hated the infidel Chinese, but needed their money, technical expertise, weapons and political cover. It was long suspected by Western Intelligence agencies that the source of external funding for Boko Haram had been the Chinese Yuan, and that this deal was long in the making.
Sunday, 22 January 2017 was not only a horrific day for the United States, but for other Western nations as well. In France, three privately owned corporate jets laden with explosives would attack Paris in what became known as France’s 9/11. The first jet hit the Louvre, and destroyed priceless works of art and treasures of the entire human family. The second jet, for reasons unknown, crashed into a nondescript residential area. The third jet hit the Eiffel Tower, and caused the iconic symbol of France to topple into a heap of tangled steel. The national psyche of France was not broken nor even substantially wounded by this attack; rather, it was deeply and fundamentally outraged. A new and ultra jingoistic France was not out for justice, it was out for revenge.
The British had two strokes of luck that saved them. First, the terrorists delayed attacking until the next morning in order to maximize casualties – thus allowing the now alerted U.K. to bring the full force of its security apparatus to bear. Second, a young member of the terrorist advance team was apprehended for unrelated charges, and he unwittingly compromised the terrorist plot in an attempt to negotiate his way out of prosecution. The ten terrorists in London would all be killed long before the aerosolized VX persistent nerve agent in their backpacks could be released into congested London underground stations. However, scandal is eventually expected to erupt in the U.K. The terrorist who compromised the plot also provided information that suggests the highly toxic and very illegal VX originated from the MoD facility at Porton Down.
That last full week of January 2017 was reserved for mourning, recovery, anger, investigation and diplomatic action. The ineptness and ineffectiveness of the United Nations was, yet again, laid bare for all to see. Islamic nations flooded the agenda with issues meant to distract; however, it was China that bottled things up on the Security Council. By Friday of that week, the most that could be mustered was a watered down and very week U.N. resolution stating that the terrorist acts were a regrettable event. The West was not the least bit amused by China’s stoic intransigence.
On that last weekend of the month, the U.S. Congress was ordered into emergency session. On Monday, 30 January 2017 the President of the United States, who had been in office just over a week, stood before a televised joint session of Congress. In an event that had not been repeated since 8 December 1941, the President asked for, and received, a formal Congressional Declaration of War against the CWA.