Isabelle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A marriage made in hell. -- (1,000 words).

Submitted: April 16, 2019

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Submitted: April 16, 2019

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1: Drancy

Drancy is the Paris the tourists never see, a banlieu to the northeast of the city proper. As you drive through, at first sight it doesn't appear so bad. It looks like any dreary suburb: neglected and shabby, litter and graffiti.

Once you’ve parked the car, it’s not long before you notice the stares. The lack of white faces. The overabundance of charged-up young males, hanging around without too much to do. If you’re a stranger by yourself, expect to get hassled, spat at .. or worse.

Don’t use the underpasses.

Isabelle was accompanied  by a very large comrade from our organisation de sécurité. They both got the stares .. but no-one dared follow-up.

---

We are conflicted about Al-Dar. We officially recognise their right to struggle. We know what the banks and oil companies and weapon-makers have done to the lands of their faith. We understand the destruction of their communities. We know about the corrupted client-elites.

But on the other hand .. their belief system, their value system, it's pre-Enlightenment, that is to say, pre-capitalist. And their propensity to extreme violence has no serious consequences for their real imperialist enemies - which they do not even recognise.

Their victims are instead ordinary workers and their families.

Yes, the latest and hottest organisation de la résistance islamique is hard to love.

Nevertheless, we had arranged to meet with their communications people. Based on prior experience, we expected them to be hopeless.

2: Isabelle

“We met Nabeel and Raja in the parc Ladoucette. They had no difficulty in recognising us of course, and came right up. They were, I think surprised to be taking instruction from a woman. I explained I had a degree in network engineering from ParisTech, which I’m not sure they’d ever heard of.

The first thing I insisted on was that they were frisked. Aurélien did it.  He's from Cameroon and his main joy in life is powerlifting. Any reluctance simply melted away.

The Al-Dar people were only about my height with typical North-African physique.

I said, ‘Lose the phones,’ and with ill-grace they were handed to a group of hangers-on by the stall at the entrance. The ice-cream stall that would require substantial repairs and a repaint if it were ever to open again.

‘We’ll take a walk,’ I said, and beckoned the two of them to accompany me. Aurélien backed off. I tuned my radio to some pop station.

Nabeel, who seemed the more dominant of the two, promptly complained.

I told him about the parabolic microphones routinely used by government spies.

“So what are you using for communications security?’ I asked.

Nabeel really didn’t like being quizzed by a woman. He said in a surly voice, ‘WhatsApp.’

‘So you believe Facebook when they tell you that it’s end-to-end encrypted with an unbreakable cypher, do you?’

He looked puzzled.

‘You could use Telegram .. or Signal if you must. But really you’d be wasting your time.’

The other one, Raja I think he was called, spat on the ground at this point. He shouted over the europop, ‘Who are you to tell us about our security!’

His brother-in-struggle took his arm and tried to calm him.

‘We asked for this meeting, bruv. They know things. We should listen.’

‘You certainly should,’ I added. ‘We’ve been dealing with state surveillance for decades. Do you know what an IMSI-catcher is? I bet they’ve got a few near the Mosques round here. It’s a bogus cell-tower under their control. It lets them overhear your mobile calls, read your texts and see who’s calling who.'

I waved my arm, encompassing the neighbourhood.

‘They will already have bugged all the houses where you meet. And they’ve got those places pegged because they watch you with those CCTVs on the lamp posts.’

I pointed at a cluster.

‘Did you really think they were just there for traffic control?

‘All your Internet communications are compromised because they've downloaded keyloggers onto your mobiles. Hidden in the stream of daily app-updates. They read what you type and see what you see outside of the encrypted apps.

‘Used to be you could rely on obscurity. They had way too few staff to check everybody. But the AIs changed all that. They’re as smart as the average intelligence officer, infinitely replicable, and always-on.’

At this point I adjusted my niqab (worn for cultural sensitivities .. and on account of the CCTV) to properly appreciate their looks of consternation.

‘No-one told you about any of this?’ I asked them.

It was becoming quite difficult not to laugh out loud at their naivety.

‘Did you even know that Osama bin Laden didn't use any form of electronic communication? It was paper and pencil and a trusted courier. Oh, and they still got him in the end,  though it took them longer than usual.’

The two leaders of the local Al-Dar organisation were trying to absorb all this. I was amazed that they were so ignorant. They didn’t deserve to live .. indeed, why were they were still roaming the mean streets here?

The sécurité intérieure liked to monitor, not arrest, I reminded myself.

‘What can we do? We can’t use couriers to contact Al-Maqaru. It’s thousands of kilometres away!’

At last!

‘We completely understand your problem, my friends. As I said, we’ve been struggling ourselves for years. We have a proposal for you. We will provide you with mobile phones from our own security team. They are as free from Government interference as we can make them. We have our contacts in the security apparatus: they confirmed it - our phones are clean.’

It was clear that they would have to go away and talk about that. But they were spooked already. I was optimistic about their response”

3: Sorted

I said to Isabelle, “So did they come back?”

“Oh yes, they were keen. We already shipped them the first batch of mobiles.”

“And are they free of Government spyware?”

“Yep. They’re as good as we can get them.”

Our stuff?”

All installed.”


© Copyright 2019 AdamCarlton. All rights reserved.

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