“So in conclusion, the Islamic State’s decision to promote the beheading of Westerners on the internet has led to better engagement with potential recruits, more exposure in the media and increased intimidation of infidels. As a social media campaign it’s quite brilliant.”
Delivering this last line he bristled with pride at his succinct summary. He was enjoying every moment of getting one up on his peers around the table. As the organisation’s head of online terror, it was important he could show he had his finger on the pulse.
The other department heads around the table had struggled to impress, particularly the head of pirate relations. The gradual loss of coastline over the last six months, or more precisely the stress of it, was believed to be the root cause of his continued adoption of that ridiculous English West country accent when talking to the committee. He would be one of the first to go when the purges began.
The head of online terror was way ahead on that front. An unplanned change of leadership meant organisational upheaval was inevitable. The former head man had suffered an ailment all too common to African extremists, he had walked into an American sniper’s bullet. Internal promotions were there for the taking for those who made the right allies.
The intelligence committee chair sat motionless for a few seconds at the end of the talk and looked impassive before speaking to the whole group.
“We must congratulate our colleague on his extensively-researched and well-presented talk.”
The head of online terror beamed. The chair continued: “I think we can all agree that our colleague’s presentation demonstrates incredibly well…where our movement is failing miserably.”
The head of online terror’s face dropped for the audience, but he was ready for this comeback. He would allow the chair build up a head of steam before delivering the master plan.
“Our recruitment levels are dropping,” said the chair, “Our popularity in our own country is dwindling. We have no significant networks outside of the Horn of Africa. And the Islamic State is grabbing every newspaper front page in the world with an internet meme!” he thundered as the rest of the committee avoided eye contact.
He had become increasingly short-tempered since the change of leadership. No one said it but everyone knew purges were on the horizon, and those who couldn’t prove their worth would find themselves waking up before morning prayers with the muzzle of a Kalashnikov thrust in their face. The intelligence committee chair needed results fast.
Still standing after his presentation, the head of online terror treated the chair’s outburst as a Q&A session. He said: “But sir, the Westgate shopping mall attack was shown throughout the globe. Our social media evaluation showed record levels of fear in its wake.”
“I should remind you,” replied the chair in a quiet tone that still betrayed his anger bubbling beneath the surface, “that Westgate was over a year ago and authorised by the previous command. The new leadership want to move on. They want us to continue the spread of terror going into the future. We need recruits. We need terror cells on foreign soil. We need to show that we’re still in the game.”
Everyone stared down at the table in front of them. The head of online terror waited a few moments before striking: “I have an agent in London, sir.”
Usually heavy with mint tea preparation and the mastication of khat, the room went deathly silent. The chair said: “Surely all our British networks are blown.”
“That’s correct, sir, but I’ve been running this agent as a sleeper. He’s under deep cover. He’s nearly ready to strike right at the centre of the infidels’ belief system.”
“And what exactly is he doing?” asked the chair, still visibly reeling from this knock out news.
“He’s infiltrated a fantasy football league, sir.”
“A what?” boomed the chair. He despised infidel culture and learned as little of it as possible. It was probably the reason his career was hanging by a thread. Now, even the head of pirate relations could have smelt his desperation.
The head of online terror was implacable: “Well, sir, you may have heard of the Premier League. It’s a typical example of Western decadence. Athletes are paid vast sums of money to play association football. The matches are televised throughout the world and the best players become infidel household names.”
Some of the committee were pretending to be as ignorant of this subject as the chair, but they had illegally watched televised games on the internet.
“So is our man one of these footballers collecting funds to further our cause?” said the chair, trying to appear knowledgeable.
“Not quite, sir, but an admirable suggestion” snaked the head of online terror. “Allow me to explain a little further. It’s become very popular among infidels to operate an elaborate form of gambling where an individual will pick eleven footballers from the Premier League to make their own team. That team will then score points depending on the performances of those players. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the football season wins.”
“Ridiculous pastime,” dismissed the chair. “It’s no wonder these Godless morons will never get to Paradise. They must have the souls of Kenyan goatherds.”
There was a ripple of tittering around the table. It was accepted practice to find the chair’s witticisms funny, no matter how awful they were.
“Be that as it may,” replied the head of online terror. “Our man assures us that the winner of the particular competition he has entered wields considerable influence. It is by all accounts London’s leading pub-based fantasy football contest.”
“Stop right there! Pub-based? Is our man frequenting houses of vice?” the chair was alarmed.
“As I said, sir, he’s deep undercover. Meetings are only held in London pubs, in particular the pre-season auction in early August. Our man must not arouse suspicion, although in all his reports I have not found a single incident of him breaking fast Ramadan.”
“So how’s he getting on?” said the chair begrudgingly, not quite satisfied.
“In the first couple of seasons he was getting himself acquainted with the league and results on the pitch were not positive,” said the head of online terror. “Then last year he went on an incredible cup run and won the Canesten Combi Cup.”
The committee were nonplussed.
“I won’t go into detail here,” said the head of head terror, “but suffice to say that represented a considerable coup for our agent.”
“What about this season? How did he get on in the pre-season auction?” asked the chair, picking up the gist of this operation quickly.
“Ah, well sir, there were some complications. In short, he didn’t attend the pre-season,” shrugged the head of online terror.
“How is he supposed to build a decent team?” the chair was indignant.
“The team was picked automatically using a computer from the remaining players after the auction,” said the head of online terror.
“That doesn’t sound like a successful strategy to me,” frowned the chair. “Imagine we did the same with suicide bombers? It literally would blow up in your face. What was the outcome of this so-called automatic selection?”
“Actually quite positive, sir. He’s got Frank Lampard in midfield.”
There was a low groan around the room. The chair looked astonished at the rest of the committee, like he’d never seen them before.
“What’s wrong with this Crank Shampard character?” said the chair slowly.
The head of online terror talked over the stifled smirks: “There is an opinion that Frank Lampard, sir, will not perform as well now he has left Chelsea, but evidence shows that he is already a promising asset for our man at Manchester City.”
The chair stared blankly at the head of online terror. After a few moments he said: “So where do we go from here?”
“Well, sir, next Friday is the first transfer window. It represents an excellent opportunity for our man to strengthen his side in a bid to win the league,” said the head of online terror in a businesslike manner. “Once he wins the league he will be in a position to exert powerful authority over the infidels.”
“And this agent is of good temperament? He’s not likely to lose his head?” said the chair.
“Oh absolutely not, sir,” said the head of online terror. “He assures us that throughout all his dealings with the fantasy football league, and despite the temptations of alcohol and pork scratchings, he never loses focus or composure even for a second.”
“Excellent,” said the chair, placated. He looked forward to having this little gem of an operation up his sleeve at his next meeting with the new leader. “What can we do to support our agent?”
The head of online terror suppressed a Cheshire Cat grin and pushed a form towards the chair: “Our man says the operation is very resource heavy. If you would just sign this expenses chit please, sir.”
Kenna table – week 7 of 37
|1||Headless Chickens||John N||31||1|
|2||St Reatham FC||Mike||30||2|
|4||FC Tescticuladew||James N||27||0|
|5||Judean People’s Front||Sholto||26||1|
|6||Sporting Lesbian||Ben M||26||0|
|7||KS West Green||Stix||22||2|
|10||Lokomotiv Leeds||Ben S||20||1|
|14||Still Don’t Know Yet||Pete||13||0|
|15||Just Put Carles||Carles||13||0|
|17||Team Panda Rules OK||George||10||0|
|Player of the week||14||Fletcher, S – SUN – STR|
|Club||St Reatham FC|