A. E. Pritchard
Zahira Athar, a young woman of Baghdad, is unwittingly ensnared in an Islamic extremist plot to assassinate the Vice President of the United States. The assassin, her cousin Fahad Djebbar, uses Zahira to cover his terrorist identity and advance the plot by persuading her to leave Baghdad with him to study in the U.S., he at Georgetown University, and she at the site of the planned assassination, St. Martins College in Maryland. As Zahira pursues studies at St. Martins and the VP's visit approaches, she realizes that the VP's Secret Service team leader, Owen Michelson suspects Fahad is a terrorist and may suspect her as well. Yet in interviews with him, Zahira is deeply attracted to Owen and knows he is equally compelled by her. Torn by her longing for Owen and relentlessly mounting doubts about Fahad, Zahira determines to find the truth about her cousin and if she must, dissuade him from terrorism. Her efforts are savagely thwarted by Amir, Fahad's Iraqi control, who has murdered and stolen a St. Martins student's identity. Amir kidnaps Zahira and forces Fahad, now beginning to reject his terrorist mission, to come to St. Martins and proceed with the assassination. In an explosive climax, the lives of three children and countless civilians hang in the balance, and in spite of college supporters' and Owen's attempts to save her, Zahira must make her jihad alone.