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01-17-05, 06:53 AM
Phantoms of the Fifth Column
January 16, 2005

by Bob Newman

Like a wraith on a Welsh moor he comes, cloaked in the inky night. Clutched in his talon-like hands he holds his instrument of reckoning. Made of steel and fiberglass, it is as much a part of the man as is the man’s own heart, which beats calmly in his chest. His eyes shine in the trickle of smoke-shrouded moonlight that makes its way from the heavens down to the ravaged landscape of the city.

They are the eyes of a predator; sure, steady, knowing, purposeful. The hunter moves with his shadow; another man with another rifle who, like his brother, seems more catlike than human.

Approaching the low wall that lines the edge of the rooftop, the duo comes to a synchronized stop with no words spoken between them. They are two men who need no words to communicate, for their minds speak to each other on a plane of consciousness few others will ever know. With fine-tuned ears trained to filter out the extraneous and lock onto the relevant, they listen but detect nothing of immediate concern.

Again without speaking, the two move into a corner that forms a shadow. It is a natural place from which the pair hopes to strike. One man removes a dark piece of cloth from his pack and covers the barrel of the other man’s rifle, which is now pointed out over the top of the low wall and down the long street below their hide. The cloth appears to be just a discarded rag as it hides the barrel’s presence.

For five hours the men wait. The only parts of their body that move in that time are their breathing chests and blinking eyelids.

Finally, two hours before the first rays of dawn begin to streak the sky, their prey appears from a car nearly 1,000 yards distant. The two men remove a large object from the vehicle and place the improvised explosive device beside a light post and quickly move back towards the car.

The first shot strikes the lead man in the side of the head, killing him instantly as half of his skull is flung into the street. The second terrorist turns instinctively toward the rifle’s distant bark and begins to raise his own weapon, but the wraith’s second messenger of death is already inbound. It catches the other bomber square in the chest—center mass. The man’s heart explodes as the bullet tears out his back and comes to a stop embedded in the wall behind him. A third shot hits the bomb, which explodes instantly.

On the rooftop, for a fleeting moment you might have thought you saw a shadow moving toward a doorway. Was it your mind playing tricks on you? Your searching eyes see nothing now. The wraiths are gone, if they were ever there.

The brothers—a Marine Corps scout-sniper team—have vanished into the night. Phantoms of the fifth column, they will return to their daylight lair to rest and eat and clean their weapons. Tomorrow night, while you sleep in the warm comfort of your bed, they will again slink through the darkness to hunt the orcs of Baghdad.

Bob Newman

Bob Newman, a decorated, retired US Marine, is host of the “Gunny Bob Show” on Newsradio 850 KOA in Denver, and host of “Inhuman Newman’s Anger-Management Hour” on 630 KHOW, also in Denver. His “Global Positioning Statement,” a daily insider’s update on the war on terror, is carried by various Clear Channel radio stations from coast to coast. A ground-combat veteran, he is the director of international security & counterterrorism services for The GeoScope Group and is the military science & terrorism columnist for The Denver Daily News. He can be reached at bobnewman@clearchannel.com.