DAY 368 - MARCH 18, 2012
In the days before the weapons pickup in Bustan Al Basha, a central Islamist neighborhood in Aleppo, you allow your dark black beard to fully show itself. In the Salafist tradition, the beard makes you feel many things. You not only seem to look more like a member of something important in Syrian history with the beard but, more uniquely, you also like knowing that even if the CIA or the Mukhabarat have photos of your face, the beard makes you indistinguishable from many others on the street. The good Sheikh Yousef has given you four men and a Toyota pickup to transport the munition crates back to the Al Nusra house. One of these men is Jalal Al Din who you discover is also a recent convert and young runaway like yourself. You even know his internet handle and once communicated with him on an Islamic forum. In front of you are two large forest green trucks, each with a row of men unloading boxes into the depths of a cargo bay. When you approach the unloading dock a few dozen more men appear as if from nowhere. Most, but not all, wear conservative garb--thobes and taqiyahs, which makes you stand out. None of your men wear these religious robes or caps and it seems to raise some suspicion near the two trucks. You have not been in a crowd this big in some time and it is making you a bit apprehensive. When you, Jalal Al Din, and the rest of your men approach, several older men, on the opposite side of the cargo bay, step to you quickly. Others hang around the fringe and watch, making you now the center of attention at the unloading dock. Maybe it is still the modicum of anxiety you have about being around a throng of men this size, but you get the feeling that something is wrong. When you say you are here for Sheikh Mukhtar Al Mu'in, the Liwa Al Tawhid leader you are supposed to meet, one of the men looks you up and down and then quickly reaches into his thobes' pocket to grab something and immediately you remember Sheikh Yousef's warning about CIA. Everyone at the cargo bay is still looking at you intensely and there is a moment of hesitation.
- Assume the man is drawing a weapon and act appropriately. Move quickly to the side and say the word for Jalal Al Din and the rest of your men to draw their own weapons. You need to prove you mean business and the only way to do that is through strength and severity.
- Assume the man is drawing something else. Stand firmly in front of your men and do not show weakness. If the man is drawing a pistol then so be it. You will die serving the path of Allah.