Taking the Fight to Jihadists in a New Novel

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00008]For those who are frustrated by the unchecked spread of violent Islam and would like at least the vicarious satisfaction of reading about jihadists being taken down, my friend Lela Gilbert and W. Jack Buckner LTC (ret.), Special Forces, have written a very satisfying action thriller entitled The Levine Affair: Angel’s Flight.

Just published by Post Hill Press, The Levine Affair: Angel’s Flight is the gripping novel of an elite paramilitary unit put together by an Israeli philanthropist named David Levine to combat the global threat of jihad. Their mission in the book is to rescue a young Nigerian woman sentenced to be stoned to death, as well as a journalist and editor under assault by a mob of jihadis. Yes, it’s a fictional thriller with some edge-of-your-seat action sequences, but it’s hardly escapism, grounded as it is in the real-world persecution of Christian communities in Nigeria. The book is educational as well, and presents a confrontation of clearcut good and evil, happily devoid of the moral equivalence that spoils too much of today’s storytelling about Islamic terror (such as Showtime’s Homeland, for example).

Lela Gilbert knows this territory well. The author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion, and most recently Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel Through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner, Lela is a freelance writer and editor who has authored or co-authored a jaw-dropping 60+ books, and a contributor to The Jerusalem Post, The Weekly Standard, Jewish World Review, and National Review Online, among others. An adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, she lives in California and Jerusalem. I reached out to her with a few questions about the novel.

Mark Tapson: Though you’ve written novels before, you’re known primarily for your ecumenical nonfiction like Saturday People, Sunday People. Why a novel about Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria, rather than nonfiction?

Lela Gilbert: Jack Buckner and I actually started writing Angel’s Flight before I wrote Saturday People, Sunday People and Persecuted.  I was thinking of a way to tell a captivating, realistic up-to-date story that didn’t obscure the realities of life under the threat of Islamist terrorists. Nigeria has faced such dangers for more than a decade.

I also wanted to try and bring the reader into the terrible agony of a young woman sentenced to death by stoning, living out her days in a squalid prison cell with her very life dependent on the survival of her beloved but sickly baby. I wrote all this long before Meriam Ibrahim was imprisoned in Sudan; in some ways her story was eerily similar to this one as it unfolded. Meanwhile, I was longing for good-hearted heroes to enter the fray and defend the defenseless – so I invented some! Jack helped me arm them properly and prepare them for battle.

MT: One of the main characters is a young publishing editor who is largely clueless about Islam. You also mention that Islamic atrocities in the 3rd world receive very little press coverage. Do you think this ignorance – or perhaps willful blindness – is still a widespread problem in the literary world and news media, and among our “intelligentsia” as a whole?

LG: I think the events of recent days – both the horrors of ISIS in Iraq and the brutalities of Hamas – have awakened a few more journalists and “experts” to the deadly religious fanaticism of radical Islamists. But my sense is that these groups and their attacks are still viewed as isolated incidents, perpetrated by ragtag troublemakers here and there. Yes, they cause bloodshed, but the incidents are perceived as having nothing to do with each other as far as ideology and global ambition are concerned. There’s a huge disconnect between the lurid news reports and YouTube posts of beheadings, crucifixions, mass kidnappings etc. and westerners living in peace and prosperity. It’s kind of like watching reality TV – it’s “real,” but not really real.

Meanwhile, in both academic and journalistic circles, there is also a persistent prejudice against Americans and our Western allies – promoting the idea that we are really at fault for all the troubles of the world. We should call terrorists “freedom fighters” and stop criticizing their non-Western tactics – cruel though they may be. Instead we should be apologizing for our own record of crimes against humanity. We’ve learned to describe this kind of reasoning as “moral equivalency.”

MT: One of your characters is critical of human rights organizations who are naïve about the threat of jihad and who believe only in “heart-to-heart dialogue” with the enemy. Another character asserts that there is no hope for the persecuted Nigerian Christians “unless good people take matters into their own hands.” Do you think we have reached the point where military action is the only solution for Christian communities in Africa and the Middle East that are facing violent extermination?

LG: I don’t suppose there is ever a time when military action is the “only” solution. But when it comes to Islamist fanaticism, I’m skeptical about dialogue, because people who believe in coercing religious conversion through violence, or those who believe Islamists should rule over other religious minorities with an iron fist – these people are not open-minded. They claim to love death, not life, and declare that they intend to martyr themselves for the cause. They may agree to dialogue in order to divert attention from what’s happening on the ground, or to take a break in their assault long enough to rest and reload.

Meanwhile, there are two advantages to military action. One is, of course, to defeat the insurgents. The other is deterrence: massive casualties to troops and damage to infrastructure can cause terrorists to have second thoughts about their next plan of attack. “Talk softly but carry a big stick” was Teddy Roosevelt’s idea of foreign policy. America does a lot of soft talking these days – sometimes even tough talking – but the sticks all seem to be locked up in the State Department’s basement.

MT: You’ve obviously set up the novel for a sequel or a second mission for your characters, protecting Christians at the Turkish-Syrian border. Do you envision a series of books in which your special operatives take on Islamists around the world?

LG: I don’t know about a series. But there are some very dangerous places in the world that don’t get much attention in the media. It would be both informative and satisfying to focus the spotlight on a couple more of them. I hope Jack and I get a chance to do so.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

Subscribe to Frontpage’s TV show, The Glazov Gang, and LIKE it on Facebook.

  • Lightbringer

    Fiction is a wonderful way to promote ideas that are otherwise ignored or misrepresented. You could go back to Shakespeare’s history plays (of which the second series contains my favorites) to see how well propaganda is incorporated into entertaining stories. No doubt there are earlier examples as well. The Left has used fiction, be it theater, opera, films, novels, or poetry, to promote its agenda. It’s time the grownups in the room used the same tactic. Good luck and lots of sales to Gilbert and Bruckner.

  • Habbgun

    I believe that ultimately Islam will be defeated in the private sector. I have also read truer accounts of Islamic practices in fiction than in nonfiction which has been sanitized by the academics. This book is a great idea.

  • Infovoyeur

    Great; now how about the novel “2084,” an updated 1984 but set right here in the U.S.A.? Storytelling’s power is to rivet reader-attention via dramatized narration. And what better topic than this, for conflict-action-suspense (as in insidious infiltration and then more?) I mean On The Ground: the Smith family encountering riots, the Browns de facto Sharia, the Jones then killing of gays etc. & civil war and the hideous nauseating descent into dhimmitude and the loss of all? Good storytelling “hooks” readers! This could be a best-seller and an overlooked way to get the word out (think Uncle Tom’s Cabin). Via “burrs to the trousers” in a benign “propaganda”? Would require very expert (1) counter-jihad people plus (2) superb fiction-writers, of course. Storytelling well done will indeed reach people; always has; but under-utilized as of now?…

  • andrew semyte

    The only time the Jews give a rat’s a$$ about Christians is when it serves their purpose- outside of that Christians/non-Jews are simply goyim.

    • Webb

      Andy, you changed your pitiful little name. Why are you the Jews’ whipping boy? Your low IQ makes you incapable of competing with them, so your only hope is to earn your bread by serving them. Serve well, Andy, serve well.
      Andy boy, the resentful goy
      Went out to earn some bread
      But his mind, it was too small
      So poor Andy got bred instead.

      • andrew semyte

        See- that’s the thing- I am never refuted by the gas-house gang- which just reinforces that what I say is true. The Jews care about no one but themselves and Christians are exploited to achieve the results the Jews want.

        • UCSPanther

          Walked right into that one, didn’t you.

          First you yell “The holocaust never happened!”, now it’s “Six million more!”

          Can’t have it both ways, swastika-man…

          • andrew semyte

            I know it didn’t happen but sometime it’s nice to think that it did :)

          • UCSPanther

            Still can’t have it both ways, loser.

          • Americana

            It might be best for you to take a trip to some of these concentration camps and experience every aspect of the amenities the inmates enjoyed. My father helped liberate a concentration camp in Belgium. His U.S. army signals unit killed the camp’s inmates by being TOO generous w/FOOD. Yes, if you’ve been starved for years, you can’t ingest food except under supervision because you can die from the effects. I think for someone like you who doesn’t believe the Holocaust happened, you might ask for the “COMPLETE TOUR” where you lie down on a crematorium tray and are slid into the ovens and are left there for the typical amount of time it took for bodies to disintegrate to dust. I’d love to see if you come out of those ovens having smelled the lives that were burned into those bricks and see if you’re still willing to believe what you’re written here.

          • Webb

            That’s lost on Andy the Smegmyte. He’s only menial labor, if that.