Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
April 15, 1980
A shell game now took place in the states. Black, Combat Talons took
off from Kadena. Their flight plans stated their destination to Clark Air
Base in the Philippines. As they were into their flight, the first of fifteen
Military Airlift Command C-141s was on its way to Wadi Kena via Ramstein,
Germany. The operation of delivering men and equipment would cover a full
nine days. The next day in the Indian Ocean aboard the Nimitz men installed
Palletized Inertial Navigation Systems equipment in eight RH-53D helicopters.
The following day, coordinating officers on the island of Diego Garcia
received word to prepare to leave for the island of Masirah off the coast
Seven days later, a C-141 carrying Colonel Keller and General Wallace's
entourage touched down at Wadi Kena in Egypt . . . the command center for
an effort titled, "Operation Eagle Claw." It was D-day minus
three before Russ Camron piloted a C-130 to bring it down on the island
off Oman. Seven of the aircraft touched down on the forward jumping-off
Unknown to Laleh, agents of the Department of Defense, and Delta Force
arrived in Tehran to check the number of guards guarding the embassy wall.
Laleh was beginning to understand she was in the middle of a hornet's nest
and not at full strength for it. The world, to Laleh, had turned mad after
being beaten and raped, and she hadn't healed from the attack.
The next day Karim left the American embassy compound at 10:30 a.m.
He drove the motorcycle into the foothills west of the city, turned off
the road, and chose a hill where no one might observe him. There, he raised
the antenna and pulled out the earpiece. Laleh had been explicit; Karim
wasn't to send a signal but only listen.
Karim soon heard the dots and dashes coming through the earpiece. They
said the planes wouldn't be coming the next night. Before Karim brought
the antenna down, he sent the word, "Black," waited three seconds
before repeating it. Karim didn't wait for an answer. He turned the receiver
off and sat thinking.
Ten minutes later, He returned to the city center and drove to Ferdowsi
Square, parked a half block from it, and walked to an alley to climb rear
stairs to the Liddel Carpet Company.
The meeting Karim told Laleh he would take her to met in a building
once a bookstore. Now, as Karim parked the Volkswagen in the alley behind
the store his thoughts turned to the burning of books that took place in
Nazi Germany. Germany started the Second World War, and he prayed his country
didn't start the third one.
Inside the store there were many folding chairs occupied by students.
Along the walls were huge blowups of His Holiness Grand Ayatollah Haj Sayyed
Ruhollah Mussavi Khomeini. Karim entered through the back door and walked
to the front of the audience. A woman dressed in the Chador, the black
Islamic dress walked beside him. Laleh held to Karim's right arm. She wore
dark glasses and Karim guided her to a chair in the front row. With Laleh
seated, Karim stepped forward and took position behind a podium. His words
would be brief.
Karim said in a firm voice, "Allah, Qur'an Khomeini, peace be with
you." He paused before saying, "My words will be brief tonight.
As our revolution continues to fight against the Great Satan and against
those perverting the truth, we must look back to the words of our leaders.
We must remain faithful and cast off those against The Prophet and those
attempting to lessen his power. The Americans will no longer interfere
with the rightful, spiritual development of Iran. Allah guides our will.
It is our responsibility to instruct others and be willing to sacrifice
our lives for the future. Men continue to find and execute those of the
SAVAK. There can be no trace of their evil but for their blood to soak
the soil. We will destroy them. It is our duty to rededicate our efforts
each day. We must do this and be on a constant vigil against those who
would enter our country to bring discord and betrayal. No agent of America
will escape Allah's wrath for the rape of Iran."
Karim paused before adding, "Since the beginning of the Second
World War we have tolerated the infidels of both the British and the Americans.
Their days are over. Others have defiled Allah's truth through the family
protection bill. We will remember the falsehood of these western lies as
an act to undermine the will of Allah. There will be no birth control practiced
within Iran. Reform moves through the streets and uncovers those attempting
to prevent our revolution from growing stronger. All council meetings need
your attention to spread the faith. May Allah be with each of you. We have
cast the revolution in iron and fire. No one will stop it."
Karim stepped from behind the podium. A young woman took his place.
As students stood and applauded, Karim stepped to Laleh, helped her stand,
and walked with her down the center aisle to the back door leading to the
alley. There, he opened the passenger door of his Volkswagen and Laleh
slipped into the seat. Karim went around the car to sit behind the steering
wheel. Laleh asked, "Do you believe what you said in there?"
"I have no choice. This is the country of my father and his father
"Where were you trained?"
Karim lied, "In Syria."
Laleh rested her head against the back of the seat. Her head continued
to hurt and she knew she needed the pain pills left at the home in Darband.
She said, "I pray they don't discover your willingness to help me."
Karim started the car and turned on the headlights. He said, "I
do it to save my country. I don't want the Soviet Union using the excuse
of a rescue-effort to enter Iran. If they do, they will stay." Karim
remained silent for several seconds and kept his gaze to the alley while
adding, "The Liddels are dead. Some of our mullahs wouldn't have been
kind to them. Neither the boy nor his sister said anything about working
with the Americans. I didn't allow them to do so."
Laleh stared at Karim, "Why? How did you know?"
Karim looked at Laleh and said, "The carpet dealer in the Grand
Bazaar in Istanbul has family here. A man in Istanbul will kill him."
Laleh turned her gaze to the headlights of the small car lighting the
alley. "Did you know I met with the brother?"
"Why are you telling me this?"
"So we don't misunderstand that we're not on the same side."
"But for the wrong cause and the wrong reason."
"Yours is better?"
"Better than yours or better than the Liddels'?"
"They took a chance. They lost."
Laleh wanted to be angry, but she couldn't find the strength. She said,
"This world is full of bullshit."
Karim didn't smile. He said, "It's better that women don't speak
such words." Laleh only glanced at Karim. Karim reached to take her
left hand in his right and said, "I couldn't risk the boy saying he
spoke to an American woman in Istanbul. Men know you were there. I shot
the brother and sister so no one could torture them. They would have told.
If they did . . . your arrest would soon follow. I won't allow it."
"The carpet dealer in Istanbul said I met the boy?"
Karim turned his gaze off Laleh. He said, "Yes. I went to Istanbul
while you were in the hospital. I had to cover your time there."
Laleh didn't pull her hand from Karim's but kept it on her lap. The
world of death and betrayal was one for which she held little use. She
stared into the night and asked, "Do you enjoy killing?"
Karim said in simple words, "No. It is what I was trained to do.
I am no different from an American killer. The rescue-effort wasn't part
of the equation."
Karim killed those that Laleh thought innocent. Laleh said, "Thank
you for not turning me in." Laleh rested her head back on the seat
as Karim steered the small car out of the dark alley and east on Ayatollah
Go to Chapter Forty-Three
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