ITURI PROVINCE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO ONE WEEK EARLIER
The heavy truck rolled through the early morning darkness. Mist clung to the damp jungle road.
Scot Harvath pulled out his phone and watched the video again. How many times had he seen it now? A hundred? Two hundred?
It was shaky and parts were out of focus. A team in biohazard suits could be seen going into a small medical clinic. Moments later, there were muzzle flashes and gunfire. Then nothing.
The footage had been emailed to CARE International, the U.S.-based charitable organization that had helped establish the clinic. The video quickly made its way to CARE’s founder, businessman cum philanthropist, Ben Beaman.
Over the next several hours, Beaman tried to contact the Matumaini Clinic in eastern Congo. No one replied. Finally, he hit the panic button and reached out to the most senior person he knew at the State Department. But with no Americans at the clinic at the time, there was little the State Department could do. It was “outside their mission,” as his contact informed him. The man offered to make some calls on his behalf, but told Beaman not to get his hopes up.
Beaman saw CARE as a family. An attack on one of them was an attack on all of them. He made no distinction whether the person was from Kinshasa or Kansas City. If the State Department wouldn’t help, he’d have to look elsewhere.
But where? Even if he knew someone there, the FBI and CIA were just as likely to say no. Some tiny African clinic in the middle of nowhere was outside everyone’s “mission.” But there had to be someone who could help him.
Which had gotten him thinking.
When one of his doctors had been kidnapped from the CARE hospital in Afghanistan, a particularly resourceful man had been hired to fly over and get her back. That was the kind of help he needed.
It took Beaman several phone calls to track Scot Harvath down. He was working for a private intelligence company that didn’t advertise. They didn’t need to.
The majority of the Carlton Group’s work had previously been via black contracts through the Department of Defense. Now, though, they were finding themselves repeatedly tasked on covert operations by the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency.
There had been a rough patch when the Carlton Group had no choice but to take anything that came their way, but that was in the past. They seldom took private assignments anymore. When they did, there had to be a compelling reason.
Similar to Doctors Without Borders, CARE went where few dared and even fewer wanted to go. From Mumbai to Mogadishu, they had set up shop in some of the worst poverty-stricken backwaters of the third world.
While there, CARE’s western volunteers not only treated locals but helped local medical personnel improve their skills. They were good people who did good things for those in desperate need. The organization was also one that was no stranger to violence.
Over the years, their facilities and personnel had experienced a handful of attacks. They took security seriously, but there was only so much they could afford to do. They wanted to use as much of their money as possible helping people. That was their mission.
They had been planning to open two more clinics in Congo, but Beaman had put a temporary stop to those. Until they knew what had happened at the Matumaini Clinic, they weren’t moving on anything.
While the U.S. Government didn"A great summer read!"