Warning: The next attack on American soil will come from within.
From coast to coast, our nation is witnessing a new wave of terror. Suicide bombers incite blind panic and paralyzing fear. A flight attendant tries to crash an airliner. A police officer opens fire on fans in a stadium. And at CIA headquarters, a Deputy Director goes on a murderous rampage. The perpetrators appear to be American—but they are covert agents in a vast network of terror, selected and trained for one purpose only: the complete annhiliation of America.
Special Agent Jericho Quinn has seen the warning signs. As a classified “instrument” of the CIA reporting directly to the President, Quinn knows that these random acts of violence pose a clear and present danger. But Quinn may not be able to stop it. The search for terrorists has escalated into an all-out witch hunt. And somehow, Quinn’s name is on the list…
Praise for National Security
“Fascinating characters with action off-the-charts. Masterful.” —Steve Berry
“One of the hottest new authors in the thriller genre.” —Brad Thor
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
(Who will guard the guards?)
George Bush Center for Intelligence
Wednesday, September 27
Seth Timmons would have made a remarkable spy—
if that had been his mission.
The fact that the authorities would kill him and
search his car after he was dead didn’t bother him at
all. It would do them no good. He’d left nothing but
fingerprints—and Human Resources already had those
in his file. They knew who he was—or thought they
did. Americans tended to call notorious killers by their
full names. At the time of his birth he’d been Tum-afik
Pedram, but before the day was over he’d take his place
in history as Robert Seth Timmons.
The dumbfounded investigators who scrutinized his
past would find he was a twenty-six-year-old white
male from Dayton, Ohio, with no surviving relatives.
They would see he had an above-average intellect, with
a graduate degree from MIT and a fluency in three Persian
languages including Tajik. His present assignment
at the Central Asian desk would reveal he knew far
more than he should have about American intelligence.
Timmons’s willow-thin build made him appear taller
than his six feet. Wild eyebrows, bushy as ripe heads of
wheat, shielded twilight-blue eyes. A prominent Adam’s
apple displayed the swollen knot of a goiter, something
rarely seen in the well-fed youth of North America.
The CIA security personnel who’d done his background
investigation had been much too polite to mention
such a thing. They had been comforted by his
sandy hair, had gazed into his familiar face and seen a
pleasant reflection of themselves.
Timmons switched off the slapping windshield wipers.
Rivulets of water zigzagged down the glass as acres of
employee parking filled up around him. Many had
been at their cubicles for more than an hour. Flanked
by armed guards and cloistered behind multiple layers
of cameras and motion sensors, these early birds were
lulled into a sense of security as sure as a mother’s embrace.
Timmons counted on the fact that they would be
at ease among their own. Relaxed sheep were all the
easier to slaughter.
A brutal, gray rain pelted his face as he hauled himself
from the stuffy confines of the Taurus. He chanced
a quick glance over his shoulder at the hazy tangle of
dark woods beyond the employee parking lots, past
Colonial Farm Road. Mujaheed would surely be hidden
there, watching from the shadows, ready to kill
him if he backed out before the job was done. There
was no need. Timmons found himself looking forward
to the end. He’d waited, it seemed, so very long.
He slung a canvas messenger bag over his shoulder
and began the soggy trudge across the parking lot toward
the main entrance of the Original Headquarters
Building—OHB to CIA staff. Dozens of other early arrivals
slogged silently along with him, umbrellas, book
bags, and wilted newspapers held above their heads
against the incessant hiss of rain. Timmons studied
them with his peripheral vision, wondering which ones
would be alive to walk back to their cars at the end of
The gathering herd of employees slowed and bunched
at the bottleneck of security screening aisles they often
called the cattle chutes. Timmons swiped his ID card,
and gave what he hoped was an easy smile to the black
uniformed guard who stood at parade rest eyeing the
incoming tide of workers. CIA analysts were not allowed
to bring weapons into the building and there was
the outside chance the officer would search his messenger
It didn’t matter. The items Timmons would need for
his mission were already inside, waiting.
On the elevator he had to force himself to stop tapping
his foot. He paused at his cubicle at the Central
Asian Desk long enough to log on to the computer. He
stood, stooping in front of the keyboard, the empty canvas
messenger bag still draped over his shoulder.
No emails. That was good. Everything was still
moving according to plan.
He looked at his watch—7:24.
Alex Gerard was waiting inside the supply closet off
the back of the mail room. Everyone called it a closet,
but in reality it was a ten-by-eight room packed with
reams of computer paper, toner, and everything else
one might need to run an office.
“Are you excited, brother?” The redhead leaned
against a stack of paper boxes, tapping an unsharpened
yellow pencil against a cardboard lid. Gerard’s birth
name was Yazad Kabuli. He’d been with Timmons
from the beginning, since they were filthy, starving
“Of course I’m excited,” Timmons said. “Who
wouldn’t be? Have you got them?” He tried to keep his
hands from trembling.
At this early hour everyone who was at work would
be settling in at their desks or making their way down
to the food court for coffee. Even so, Timmons made
sure to pull the door shut behind him.
“I do, indeed.” Gerard nodded smugly. He was six
inches shorter than Timmons and two years younger,
but he always acted superior. He insisted on being the
one who dealt with the go-between. He had to be the
one who distributed the weapons.
“We have over a hundred rounds each,” Gerard continued,
his face turning passive, thoughtful. “I suppose
that will be enough.” He took a shiny blue-black pistol
from his own messenger bag, racked the slide so it
locked open, and pushed it toward Timmons—
The supply room door yawned open with a sickening
creak at the same moment Timmons’s fingers
closed around the butt of the weapon. Both men looked
up, shoulders slumped, eyes shining like rats caught in
a bright light.
“Hey, Seth.” It was Ginger Durham, the IT specialist
responsible for the computer network in their department.
Her jet-black hair was braided into cornrows and
festooned with gold extenders and colorful beads. Timmons
had been on several dates with her, the last four
of which had ended up at her apartment. He found her
ebony skin and easy laughter a pleasant distraction.
She smiled, showing her perfect teeth. “What are
you guys up t—?”
Her eyes fell on the gun at the same moment the
door swung shut behind her. She froze.
Gerard, who was closer, lunged forward, slamming
his palm over her mouth as he drove her against the
door with the point of his shoulder. He used his free
hand to punch her hard in the stomach, knocking the
wind out of her.
“Grab her legs,” he hissed.
Timmons stuffed the handgun in his waistband and
took the terrified girl around her thighs like a football
player on a low tackle. She had the muscular legs of a
sprinter and her stiletto heels could have done some
real damage had she fought back. Amazingly, she allowed
the men to lower her to the floor without a struggle.
Gerard lay across her chest, pinning her arms with
his body, his hand still across her mouth. Her hair
spread out on the tile around her face like a beaded fan.
“I could use some help here,” Gerard grunted.
Timmons released the girl’s legs and maneuvered
himself higher so he could trade places with Gerard
and straddle her belly, pinning her arms with both
hands. He could smell the familiar, breezy scent of hyacinth
“Have you got her?” Gerard pressed the blade of a
box cutter to the quivering vein on the side of the girl’s
“I have her,” Timmons said. It was strange to see her
lying there this way, helpless, frightened as a trapped
“Not a sound,” Gerard threatened as he raised his
hand an inch.
“Seth,” she gurgled. “Why—”
Gerard’s hand slammed back down on her face. “I
told you to keep quiet.” He pressed the box cutter
deeper so it drew a trickle of blood from her neck.
She nodded quickly, eyes round and white with terror.
Timmons spotted a roll of clear packing tape on top
of the counter.
“Ginger,” he whispered, in the same voice he’d
whispered much more personal things. “You’ve got to
stay still so he won’t hurt you. Do you understand
She nodded again, blinking away the tears that
pressed from her thick lashes. Mascara ran in black
streams down her cheeks.
“Okay . . . I’m trusting you. . . .” He let her hands go
long enough to get the tape. Once her mouth was covered
he took several wraps around her ankles and her
When he was satisfied she was well restrained, he
looked up at Gerard. “It’s done.”
“Finally,” Gerard said, shaking his head as if disgusted.
He breathed a long sigh of relief. “That was
just about the end of us.”
“How are we going to do this?” Timmons looked
down at the terrified woman’s face. Ten minutes before,
she would have called him her boyfriend. They’d even
joked about starting a family together.
“Good question,” Gerard said. “She’ll bleed all over
everything if we cut her throat—and I only have this
one shirt here at work. It would be pretty hard to break
her neck without making too much noise. . . .” His nostrils
flared with all the talk of killing. Such things had
always excited him.
“Well, we can’t leave her alive,” Timmons said.
“Everything won’t be in place until one-thirty. . . .
That’s over five hours away.”
Ginger looked back and forth; her chest began to
heave uncontrollably. She clenched her eyes as if closing
them might drown out their words.
“We can hide her body behind these boxes,” Gerard
stared down in thought. “But someone will report her
missing if she just disappears.” Ginger’s denim skirt
had hiked up during the assault and he seemed transfixed
by the dark, chocolate flesh of her thighs and
snow-white glimpse of her underwear.
Timmons shrugged. “I’ll tell Selma she got sick and
had to run home. She knows we’ve been dating. It’ll
seem a plausible story coming from me. . . .”
Ginger’s eyes flicked open. She stared up at Timmons,
Her muffled sobs turned into angry screams beneath
the tape. She began to pitch and squirm, pounding her
head against the floor and kicking out with her bound
It was too late.
Timmons lay his full weight across her writhing
chest. He pressed his palm over her mouth to help
dampen the sound as Gerard reached in to slide a plastic
garbage bag over her head. Timmons slipped his
hand out quickly, then replaced it again while Gerard
sealed the bag around her neck.
Her silent screams buzzed against Seth’s palm. Dark
lashes, soaked with tears, fluttered against the plastic.
Though he’d seen it done many times, Timmons had
never actually killed anyone himself. He was surprised
it took Ginger Durham such a very long time to die.
The others would go much more quickly. He would
make certain of that.
The White House
Secretary of Defense Andrew Filson had the pinched
mouth of someone who woke up angry every day. He
was a man constantly in motion, and the tail of his
starched French-cuffed shirt was generally flapping
over his belt ten minutes into any meeting.
He tossed a navy-blue folder onto the long polished
oak table surrounded by thirteen fellow members of
the National Security Council. Six muted flat-screen
televisions flickered along the walls of the cramped,
subterranean room. Five were tuned to major media
outlets. One glowed in vibrantly blank blue screen, attached
to a laptop computer for the very few times a
cabinet member was foolish enough to bring in a PowerPoint
presentation for the commander in chief.
Winfield “Win” Palmer, the former director of
national intelligence, and newly appointed national
security advisor, sat to the immediate right of his
boss—President Chris Clark. Sometimes brash, often
outspoken, and ever devoted, the ruddy, stone-faced
Palmer had been Clark’s right-hand man from the time
they’d been assigned to the same company in the United
States Military Academy at West Point, too many decades
Two seats away, SecDef Filson had reached nuclearoption-
only mode more quickly than usual. Palmer
shot a furtive glance at the commander in chief to see if
he wanted the retired three-star reined in a notch or
Clark’s gunmetal brow arched almost imperceptibly.
Their time together in the military gave Palmer the
edge when it came to reading his boss’s unspoken cues.
POTUS liked a robust discussion among his cabinet,
sometimes allowing things to heat dangerously close to
an all-out brawl before offering any sort of mediation.
The White House Situation Room was code-named
Cement Mixer for good reason.