Crazy Man was Right
John had been walking on egg shells for the past three days. His request for new identity kits and traveling money had gone unanswered. The stress of working nearly eighteen hours per day, and actually having to work rather than supervise, was also taking its toll on him. The company had finally hired a few people, but they were almost non-technical by definition. They had done this to get around the union contract. They were all part-time people without any degrees. They were going to hire the maximum number of part-time people they could find at the shit wages they were offering and not replace a single union worker. The greedy bastards didn’t care who keeled over in here.
Training the new people had been a big drain on John’s time. He had little time to think about his plan or to do much about implementing it. He had quietly opened up the firewall on three separate ports to allow his machine to connect from home, or literally anywhere. In theory, the attack could be carried out from his apartment, but not if the company management found the open ports in the firewall. John had been good about covering his tracks when he did that, logging in via the generic systems maintenance account the others used to do their work. Still, it was a gamble. If they ran a security audit, they would find the ports and close them. They might or might not try to find out who took the security off those ports and why, but with the ports closed he would be forced to be in the building (along with the three others) to carry out the attack.
A security audit was fast becoming a big risk. There was a lot of fallout from the failed data center migration. Even though the center was up and running the following day, a lot of people were being called on the carpet for it. Even John’s boss had told him the Americans had owned up to it being their fault. They had fired two people responsible for it and were looking at taking legal action against the data center that quit the day of the conversion.
That was not good news to John. He had read enough Internet news and watched enough business reports on satellite TV to know just how court cases like that worked. The former employees would get lawyers to file a class-action countersuit. There would be lots of news reports and media coverage stating the data center was being offshored. They might even identify John’s data center. Management would freak and lock down this facility like a fortress.
The Utopian vision John had for this attack was that he and the three others would enter a conference room under the guise of a software deployment meeting. This would be entered on the calendars just like any other deployment meeting. Since it was a software deployment meeting, nobody would think twice about the developers having their notebook computers in the room.
At the start of the meeting they would start each of the jobs that transferred money out of the accounts. One of the developers had come up with a wonderful idea. Rather than begin a bulk transfer of all moneys, they had written a program which would randomly take transaction amounts which occurred on each account over the past six months. Instead of going to their original destinations these transactions would be sent to the accounts in Syria, Iran, and Switzerland. John had already tasked one of the cell leaders with getting the accounts set up and getting software in place so when the money started coming in they could instantly transfer it out via the drug-dealer money-laundering system.
The meeting would be held near the end of the work day. After they had monitored the jobs a little while, they would simply go home, pack their bags and disappear. Even if the banks began to catch on to the heist, tens of millions if not billions would be gone. Trying to get it all in one lump sum would send up too many red flags in the software. They would all be caught and the transactions would be reversed before the money could be snatched out of the accounts.
One thing John had learned in doing his research for this attack was that there is less printed money worldwide than there is wealth. If every single person went to their bank and stock broker trying to all get their funds in cash, roughly half of them would have to take IOUs. They didn’t have to get all of the money to start a global panic, just enough to force a run on the banks.
This had been a hard sell for John. A lot of money had come in post-9/11 and the upper echelon of al-Qaeda did not have much interest in any attack which didn’t take the lives of infidels. John had decided he was going through with this whether he got the blessing of the leaders or not. Apparently they had come to the same conclusion since they sent him employees and people to train for the email hub operations.
John believed the only reason he didn’t get a new person to train after the hub in Pakistan had been so rudely taken out was the fact he had sent an email stating the operation was to happen soon. The others on John’s team had told him their cell leaders had a lot of support for this project. Weapons and people were being chewed up in Afghanistan. It cost cash to purchase small arms and explosives. Their Russian suppliers had all but stopped selling them anything good. Now they were dealing with the Muslim countries surrounding Afghanistan, but the prices were higher due to the risk for them and the fact they were buying from the Russians and acting as middlemen.
A strike like this could prove just how dangerous al-Qaeda really was. They had been unable to acquire decent biological weapons or any nuclear weapons, but the cash from this might tempt some of the more unstable governments in the region. It would also allow them to set up a disposal company for chemical and nuclear waste. They had some homegrown supporters in countries where that was a commercial business, most notably in the United States: Squeaky clean individuals who could get the licenses easily if they had enough cash lying around. As with most wars, money and industry would eventually win the day. If you had the money, you could buy the industry.
There were only two things holding up this operation. The first thing was the lack of identity kits. Security cameras made those mandatory. They would have to get out of the country before this was discovered. The second thing was that new banking software installed for French operations. The programmers needed some time to write a separate job to handle that database and application.
One of the programmers had lamented to John about no cell thinking of buying a black-market credit-card imprinting machine. The database contained all of the information for nearly a billion ATM accounts along with millions of bank-issued credit cards. They could print up their own cards and take the money a little at a time.
John was hit with a better idea. Why not create an ASCII delimited file of all the information and take it with them? Since an ASCII file was pure text, which could be imported into a spreadsheet, database, or any other application they chose to use, it would be perfect. There were dozens of chat rooms online where people sold identities. Granted, they got only about ten dollars per card for them, but it would be a method of getting some cash while traveling the world in disguise. He instructed the programmer to create such an extract from every system – one file for each system, then quietly sneak it out. They would all have one or two of the files to fund their escape.
There were few illusions in John’s mind about this operation. No place in India would be safe for him no matter how much money he had. His new identity kit would need to come with an H1-B Visa to the U.S. There were so many Indian IT workers there, nobody paid attention to them. He could hide in the forest of New York for a while, then move off to the Midwest or the West Coast. Identity kits or not, John set the meeting two weeks out. It was not unusual for his schedule or the programmer’s schedules to be that backlogged.
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