Roanoke author Ian Graham said he just sat in his car, speechless, when he heard the news: the Boston Marathon bombers were two immigrants from Chechnya, their passions inflamed by radical Islamist teachings. The reason for his state of mind? Ian Graham had just released his second novel, Veil of Civility, which starts out with the smuggling of a band of Chechens in to the United States over the Mexican border – terrorists sent here to wreak havoc.
Graham, a military and spy buff, said that really happened – 25 Chechens were smuggled into the country about a decade ago, their current whereabouts unknown. Veil of Civility details the sage of Declan McIver, a former IRA (Northern Ireland) terrorist drawn in to the story as he intersects with the Chechens. Published by Kirkgram Books, the novel is also available at amazon.com.
Graham, 34 and self-employed, also sprinkles multiple locations throughout the book, including Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Washington DC. “I’ve always wanted to write [and] I’ve always had an interest in politics, religion and history,” said Graham, who has been writing seriously since he was a teenager. Many of those interests are manifested in Veil of Civility, which may remind some of Tom Clancy, one of Graham’s favorite writers in the spy thriller genre.
He enjoys the espionage and connections between many of the conflicts around the world. Graham notes, “people don’t realize how interconnected many of these conflicts are. The conflict in Bosnia [for example] can be connected to a conflict in Ireland. Russia and Chechnya [also].” Intelligence agencies working underneath often pass information back and forth “in quite some interesting ways.’
Veil of Civility came out April 2 – just a few weeks before the Boston Marathon. Most here are not familiar with Chechnya, an autonomous region in Russia that has been at odds – some times bloody – with Russia and the former Soviet Union, especially since 2004. There have been a half dozen rebellions over the past 100 years.
Graham was parked along Plantation Road when he heard that two Chechen immigrants were responsible for the bombings in Boston that led to four deaths (three at the race) and scores injured, with many losing limbs. “For several minutes I was speechless. I knew it was possible,” said Graham, who talked to those in the know about possible Chechen terrorism scenarios. Still, when it happened in Boston, “it blows you away.”
There has been criticism that perhaps the FBI and CIA did not share information about the two brothers in Boston, the fact for instance that Russia had alerted the U.S. that the older brother had spent long periods of time back in Chechnya and perhaps had become influenced by radical Islamists. It’s going to take more than military might to conquer terrorism said Graham – it’s going to take cooperation from countries and agencies around the world. “Ultimately it will come down to the individual citizen [to be vigilant].”
Graham said that sort of non-sharing of information is commonplace, dating back to a military, rivalry culture. “It can become far more serious [than just a rivalry].” In the book Declan McIver has moved to the U.S. to move on from his terrorist past. Through a connection at a college set in Lynchburg he becomes ensnared when that friend is assassinated by Chechens.
“Somewhat unwillingly,” McIver is soon drawn in to the plot, with a conspiracy to cover up the Chechen angle a motivator. McIver’s terrorist past helps him in his sleuthing. “I wanted to approach [with] what is it like when you’re on the other side of the fence? How do you approach this type of situation?” said Graham, who wants people to think about how porous the borders really are.
The Border Patrol said Graham keeps an unofficial OTM statistic – other than Mexican –, which hovers around two percent annually. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Where are they going? “That’s kind of where I jumped off from,” noted Graham.
Black Shuck is a real-life terrorist unit of the Irish Republican Army, trained by the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. In the book McIver had been involved with Black Shuck as an operative. A reporter friend that works for a newspaper in Northern Ireland and another who is an agent in England helped keep the book details accurate.
Graham wants readers to be forewarned but he also wants to entertain. “There is an ominous feeling to the book – it is possible although it seems far-fetched.”
See IanGrahamthrillers.com for more on the author; his first novel was Patriots & Tyrants.
By Gene Marrano