Dead Centre -Free Read
Not All Bombers Are Religious!
The Latest Exciting Novel by Owen Jones
Chapter One - part two:
The next day, the newspapers reported that at least thirty people had been killed and one hundred and
fifty injured in the suicide bombing of a large department store in the centre of Baghdad.
Nothing more was to be read in the papers or to be seen on television, but the insurance world was abuzz about
the jewellery heist from the store and so were the world’s main intelligence agencies.
Ten and a half million dollars worth of goods had been stolen in the confusion and there were no clues as to the
perpetrators. They had Tony on CCTV, but he was also dead. They saw that happen too, but then the camera stopped
working. They put the losses down to ‘looters, who probably included the security staff and the clean-up personnel’
and left it at that.
It was not unheard of for security and clean-up staff to steal items of value that they found while in the
process of carrying out their grizzly work. It was a perk and nobody really minded if the wealthy Western insurance
companies were defrauded anyway, and if there was a clause against acts of war and terrorism, then some other rich
people would foot the bill and that didn’t matter to a bobby on the beat either.
Sympathy was reserved wholly for the dead, the maimed and their relatives, not the store owners.
The two most noticeable things about the suicide bombing of Scheherazade’s department store were the misery that
it caused to mostly local people and the overtime it gave them cleaning the place up, making it safe again and
The damage it had caused to the shoppers and staff had been horrific, but the actual damage to the building
itself had been negligible, because the walls around the jewellery department had recently been clad with slabs of
marble and they had stood up well to the blast from the bomb, which had been designed to kill and to maim, but not
to cause structural damage.
The six-millimetre-diameter shot that had surrounded the explosives had been heavy enough to wreck people and
display cabinets of toughened glass, but not bring down walls or ceilings. However, not many people were aware of
that, and neither had Tony been.
The inquiry into the blast began immediately that afternoon when the store’s security staff handed their
cameras’ recordings to the police so that they could start trying to track down those responsible.
The surveillance cameras were mounted on very obvious ‘glitter globes’, six on each, hanging from the ceilings
at such points around the store, that every aspect was covered by a camera. Not all of the cameras were recording
all of the time, but each one came ‘on’ for ten seconds before focus was switched to the next camera lens. The
globes had been installed and the switching so set up, that almost every location in the store was under
observation all of the time, albeit from different angles and from different focal points.
The Federal Police officers ran the recording sequence back from the detonation, so that they had an image of
the bomber and then searched for his entry into the store. When they had found him entering the store, it was easy
enough to track his movements. Every officer agreed that, in hindsight, it was easy to see that he had something to
hide by his demeanour, if not by his clothing. He certainly had not looked ‘padded out’.
Six officers watched the footage on both a large screen and a smaller one, because the large screen produced a
pixellated image, although individual frames could be corrected to a large extent by software made for the
They watched Tony, although they did not know his name, for the almost twenty minutes he was in the department
store at normal speed and then they watched the footage in slow motion.
They watched, and spent all night watching, the film, over and over again, while scenes of crime forensic
experts and other police and army officers inspected the gruesome aftermath.
At daybreak, fourteen hours later, they had to stop, and reluctantly went home for some rest. The night shift
took over, but on overtime until the day shift could get back in five hours later. They watched the footage over
and over again and made notes, which they could share with their colleagues.
One point that everyone on both shifts agreed on, was that it was obvious that the bomber was nervous and the
chief officer of the night shift wrote a memorandum to include parts of the film in a training video for store
security staff on how to spot people acting suspiciously. However, for the rest they were stumped.
by Owen Jones