[Media prompt] Foreign fighters killed in battle for Philippine city. Malaysians, Indonesian, and possibly Arabs killed after fierce fight for the southern city of Marawi.
The Battle of Dearborn
Michigan Avenue bore no resemblance to when I left to fight Muslims in northern Africa, more than three years before. There was not a single business front undamaged by bullets or bombs. The street was pitted with craters and littered with rubble and trash. Gone were the women who concealed themselves in burqas, and the bearded men who congregated on the sidewalk to smoke and drink tea. The only thing the same was the grey November sky pressing down on my chest like the Devil.
On the corner of Miller, where the railway overpass had once stood, sappers had built a makeshift prison camp. Through the wire fence I could see the beards milling around in small groups. Someone had put up a banner that read “Prime Porkers for Sale.” The Colonel saw me looking and said, “Normally I’d make them take something like that down.” He turned our vehicle across the road into the muddied field that functioned as a carpark. “But things aren’t normal,” he said.
I followed him to the main gate, our boots squelching in the mud. A young marine saluted and asked for authorisation. The Colonel turned his wrist up so the soldier could scan it. I did the same, and then we were admitted through the steel gate. It was starting to get dark, and a cold wind blew in from the north.
“How the hell did a bunch of sand niggers think Michigan in winter was a good place for a beachhead?’ the Colonel said as another marine saluted and walked us to the warden’s office.
“They identified weakness here, sir,” I said.
He looked at me as though the thought had never crossed his mind. Perhaps it had and he’d just forgotten. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The warden was a small man with a clipped moustache and pair of round rimmed glasses. His uniform was clean and pressed, and his boots bore no trace of the mud that clung to mine or the Colonel’s. I could tell by looking that he was the rare man in the military who had been assigned to the job for which he was perfectly suited.
Positioned squarely in the centre of his desk was Ayyub Bile’s folder. When this was all over, he deserved a pension and a hundred free acres of good Wyoming land. He would most probably end up with a tumour and a medico with a drinking problem.
“We appreciate your diligence, Warden,” I said. “Someone paying less attention would have missed it.”
He walked me to the solitary cells himself. “Every dreg from every shithole in the world has ended up here,” he said. “You name it, we’ve got one of their beards.”
I knew. I had seen the breakdown. Dearborn had been a magnet for every Muslim who’d ever dreamed of killing an American. That had not worked out so well, but now we had Ayyub Bile, things were about to get a whole lot worse for them.