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Brad Thor

Athena Project, The

Brad Thor Athena Project The Athena Project The
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Series:

The Scot Harvath Series

Excerpt from book:

CHAPTER 1


PARAGUAYAN CHACO

TRIPLE-BORDER “SANCTUARY”

SOUTH AMERICA

PRESENT DAY

The heat was unbearable. Ryan Naylor was drenched with sweat and the butt of his Glock pistol chafed against the small of his back. Some might have said it served him right. Doctors shouldn’t be carrying weapons; even here. But Ryan Naylor wasn’t just a doctor.

As the thirty-two-year-old surgeon slapped another mosquito trying to drain the blood from his neck, he wondered if he was being led into a trap.

“How much farther?” he asked in Spanish.

“Not much,” said one of the men in front of him. It was the same answer he’d been given repeatedly since they’d gotten out of their Land Cruisers to push deeper into the jungle on foot.

In the canopy of trees above, multiple species of birds and monkeys called down, upset at the alien presence.

Half of Naylor’s Camelback was already empty, but he’d yet to see any of the Guaranis he was traveling with raise their canteens.

The men marched in small-unit fashion, keeping five yards between each other in case of ambush. They carried rifles that looked like relics from the Gran Chaco War of the 1930s. How they managed to keep them from rusting in the oppressive humidity was beyond him. But as he had learned early on, the Guaranis had a much different way of doing just about everything.

Naylor had been sent to Paraguay by the U.S. military to gather intelligence. He was based out of Ciudad del Este, Spanish for City of the East and capital of the Alto Paraná region.

Begun as a small village originally named after a Paraguayan dictator, it had grown to a bustling city of over 250,000 and was an illicit paradise, with trafficking in everything from pirated software and DVDs to drugs, weapons, and money laundering. But there was something else that had attracted the U.S. military’s interest. It was also home to a large Middle Eastern community.

Upward of twenty thousand of the city’s inhabitants were either themselves from or descendants of people from places like Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The city even boasted two Arabic-language television stations.

Set against the backdrop of Paraguay’s corrupt government, Ciudad del Este’s Middle Eastern community provided the perfect human camouflage for transient Arab men involved in Islamic terrorism.

Organizations such as al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Gamaat, and Al Islamiyya had all set up shop there. The Hezbollah operation alone was believed to have sent more than fifty million dollars back to the Middle East. In the remote deserts and jungles of the shared border area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil were multiple terror training camps, more extensive and professional than anything ever seen in Afghanistan or Sudan.

Techniques for building IEDs and explosively formed projectiles were taught and perfected daily with instructors from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Syrian secret service, and Libyan intelligence service whose operatives rotated in and out as “visiting professors.”

As if that wasn’t enough to worry American authorities, Sunni and Shia extremist groups had joined forces to work and train together in the region.

A team of over forty FBI agents had been permanently encamped in Ciudad del Este to map out and dismantle the business dealings of the terrorist organizations, but it was the U.S. military, in particular Army intelligence, that had been charged with locating the terrorist training camps and gathering as much information about them as possible. That’s where Ryan Naylor came in.

Born and raised in New Haven, Connectic“Thor nails it. A thriller both men and women will love.” --James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Doomsday Key

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