THE AYATOLLAH TAKEDOWN
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Speaking Volumes
Release Date: March 21, 2023
The Supreme Leader of Iran, Marzban Shir-Del, is desperate. After discovering that Iran started a war between India and Pakistan for national gain, the international community places the toughest economic sanctions on them to date. Thinking that an oil deal with China will shield them from their enemies, Shir-Del turns to General Secretary Zhang Xu for assistance, but he wants more than Shir-Del is willing to give.
Unbeknownst to the Supreme Leader, chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Ramin Lajani, is conspiring with CIA operatives Ben Thrasher and Beth Jenkins to overthrow him. With the 1953 CIA coup never far from Iranians' minds, the task is daunting. With Tom Delang acting as a conduit between themselves and the U.S. government, Thrasher and Jenkins must secure the necessary funds from an old nemesis, Vivian Walsh, keep Israel from interfering with their mission, effectively utilize insiders Farhad and Donya, and coordinate with Lajani, without being detected.
But Lajani isn't as beloved as he thinks. Basij General Mohammed Nassiri has been suspicious of him for years. Will Lajani accomplish the impossible or will Nassiri discover his motives before it's too late allowing the Supreme Leader make one last stand?
Teaser Trailer, The Ayatollah Takedown
Behind the scenes
The Supreme Leader had a sick sense of humor when it came to discipline. Iranian President Vahid Avesta had been hanging in the basement of the Basij’s headquarters for six hours. He was intentionally still alive, but he was exhausted and writhing in pain. Rather than hang him by the neck, Avesta’s hands and feet were tied to a horizontal bamboo stick behind him, which was held up by two vertical poles. Even at his healthy 170 pounds, his weight placed tremendous stress on his shoulders, hips, and lower back. Because he was hanging in a ‘U’ position, he was forced to use the muscles in his triceps and torso to straighten himself out to relieve the pressure. This caused him to waste energy he didn’t have and made his muscles cramp, which only intensified the already agonizing experience. The sweat dripping from his body sizzled as it evaporated into the moderate flame that danced in the air below his blistered stomach. The blindfold over his eyes allowed him to see nothing but feel everything. This form of torture was called kebabbing.
He had no idea how long he had been imprisoned. Three months ago, Iran was on the cusp of a major alliance between the Persian country and its Arab neighbors: Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, and Pakistan. The Persia-Arab Coalition would have acted as the Middle East’s version of NATO. The five countries were united against Israel in such a way that an attack by Israel on any of them was an attack on all of them.
Thanks to blackmail on the Supreme Leader’s part, the coalition legally allowed them access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons despite the strong objections of the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Avesta had been set to make the global announcement live on Al-Jazeera. It was the Supreme Leader’s plan, but it was Avesta’s moment. The weight of Iran’s future was on his shoulders. But the moment was not meant to be. American President Roger Cannon interrupted the conference via a hacked feed and revealed that Iran had conspired to start a war between India and Pakistan. The deal fell apart as quickly as it had been envisioned, and Pakistan backed out. It was a public humiliation for Avesta, Iran, and the Supreme Leader.
On what should have been a triumphant day for Iran, Avesta returned to his office and sat silently in his chair, staring out the window while contemplating what punishment the Supreme Leader had in store for him. With each minute he spent thinking about it, his anxiety increased. His chest tightened. He bit his lip so hard that it started bleeding.
The only choice available to him became clear. Avesta reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a .357 Magnum Colt Python revolver. He knew that this wasn’t why his security had given it to him, but there was no other way out of his situation. The Supreme Leader had recently killed former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Rahim Shirazi by stuffing him into a sweatbox heated by high wattage lightbulbs and literally melted the man to death. Avesta had no intention of dying that way. There were only three ways he planned to go out: by natural causes, in a blaze of glory, or by his own hand.
At least there is some honor in the latter.
He jammed a bullet into the cylinder before snapping it into place with a jerk of his wrist, and stared at the gun, repeatedly gripping it with his increasingly sweaty palms as he gathered the gumption to do what had to be done. When the time came, Avesta walked to the window of his office and stared west toward Mecca. The gun hung by his side as he collected the necessary strength.
Suddenly, his locked office door was kicked open by Major General Ramin Lajani, the newly tapped commander of the IRGC. Lajani’s gun was pointed right at him. Startled, Avesta accidentally dropped his revolver on the floor.
Lajani had been ordered by the Supreme Leader to only arrest the president, but Avesta didn’t know that. Seeing what Avesta was about to do to himself gave Lajani pause. He holstered his gun and pulled out a taser, which sent a surge of twenty-five-thousand volts through the fifty-eight-year-old president’s body. Lajani hoisted Avesta over his shoulder and carried him out of the Presidential Administration Building in front of the staff.
Avesta woke up inside a concrete room with no windows. The next day, Lajani escorted him in front of the Iranian Parliament and publicly embarrassed him for his failures in front of the elected officials that he depended on to pass his proposals.
Afterward, he was returned to his cell. For two weeks, he was not spoken to. He was fed bread and water through a slot in the door. Eventually, he was slapped awake in the middle of the night and taken to his current location. He didn’t bother resisting when the soldiers tied him to the pole. For good measure, the soldier who blindfolded him delivered a hefty punch to his jaw before leaving the room.
“The Supreme Leader wants you to know that you should be a man who delivers on his promises,” Lieutenant Colonel Vaziri said.
Hanging from the pole, Avesta had nothing but time to ponder how he would restore himself in the eyes of the Supreme Leader.
As another drip of sweat evaporated in the fire, the cell’s steel door screeched open. Avesta blinked his eyes, but it didn’t matter because all he could see was the backside of the blindfold. He felt the pole shudder and the heat on his torso faded. Being lifted off the two support poles put more weight on his back. He winced at the pain but dared not cry out. The two guards laid him on his side but kept him tied to the pole. When they left, the acting head of the Basij, Second Brigadier General Mohammad Nassiri, entered and placed a phone to Avesta’s ear.
“He wants to speak with you,” Nassiri said in his gravelly voice.
“Hello?” Avesta said.
“Have you learned your lesson?”
Avesta recognized the voice immediately.
“Yes, Supreme Leader.”
“Iran has been disgraced because of your carelessness.”
“I know, Supreme Leader. I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
“Will you ever disappoint me again?”
“No, Supreme Leader.”
“Make sure you don’t. You have one order of business when you leave the facility.”
“Yes, Supreme Leader. Anything.”
“I want you to hunt down every single member of the PMOI and kill them all but save the one they call Farhad for me.”
“Absolutely, Supreme Leader.”
“Make sure that you consider one last thing, Mr. President.”
“Yes, Supreme Leader?”
“Next time, I won’t be so lenient.”
Avesta knew he had dodged a bullet and had been given a second chance that few in the Supreme Leader’s circle ever received. But he also knew that there would not be a third chance.