Locked On (novel)
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|Author||Tom Clancy, with Mark Greaney|
|Series||Jack Ryan universe|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
|Preceded by||Dead or Alive|
|Followed by||Threat Vector|
Locked On is a political thriller novel by Tom Clancy and co-authored by Mark Greaney. It was published on December 13, 2011, alongside the unabridged audio book version, read by Lou Diamond Phillips. The novel follows on from 2010's Dead or Alive and is based approximately a year after the events of that novel.
Jack Ryan, Jr. and other members of "The Campus"—team leader and senior Campus staff member John Clark, Domingo Chavez, Dominic Caruso and Sam Driscoll—are sent to Paris to observe a cell of the "Umayyad Revolutionary Council" (URC) – the organisation commanded by "The Emir" – Saif Rahman Yasin, the leader of the URC (a fictionalized Osama bin Laden) captured by Jack and the Campus team in Dead or Alive, and to capture a middle-ranking URC terrorist – Hosni Iheb Rokki.
Junior ends up in the heart of the action; the original plan to kidnap Rokki, in the hopes of using him to locate URC operational commander Abdul bin Mohammed al Qahtani, falls apart when Junior identifies another group of URC operatives preparing to ambush and kill the team of French DCRI police, who have a surveillance operation monitoring Rokki as well – Junior is able to confirm this to Clark and the others at the last minute. The team end up preparing a rescue mission for the French police, but alongside their original objective to capture Rokki. Junior however discovers the URC team is personally led by al Qahtani himself, and so Clark orders the others to make intercepting al Qahtani the mission priority – in the end, the assassination attempt on the French is foiled, all URC operatives are killed (including al Qahtani – who is personally killed by Clark himself), with the exception of Rokki, who escapes in the chaos, and the Campus team makes its escape with minimal exposure – the most serious complication is, during the ensuing fight Clark is mildly injured with a gunshot wound (when the DCRI failed to differentiate between the Campus operatives and the URC cell).
Later, during analysis of information gathered by Dominic and Sam on a surveillance operation they were performing in Egypt on a meeting of terrorists, before being ordered to Paris to support Clark and Chavez, Junior makes a wild guess and identifies a known terrorist spotted in Pakistan – Khalid Mir, who was supposedly killed in one of incumbent President Ed Kealty's many drone attacks on terrorists. Junior goes one step further and confirms "Mir" is alive, and is an alias for Pakistani ISI Brigadier General Riaz Rehan. The Campus re-focuses its investigation abilities on the rogue Pakistani intelligence chief. The Campus team get added support when former MI6 officer Nigel Embling (a Campus ally from Dead or Alive) contacts Director of the Campus Gerry Hendley with the news he has been approached by ISI Major Mohammed al Darkur; a rogue ISI officer who wishes to serve as an MI6 asset in Pakistan after discovering evidence that Rehan and his anonymous benefactors are working to overthrow the civilian government; plans he wishes to prevent to stabilise his country. Embling, who MI6 isn't listening to regarding this (as the United Kingdom politicians, like those in the Kealty Administration, are said to be too supportive of Pakistan's elements that support Rehan), instead brings this to the Campus's attention. Sam is dispatched to work with Embling and al Darkur to uncover Rehan's plans.
Meanwhile, Jack Ryan, Sr. is running for the presidency of the United States against Kealty; it has become clear to all that Ryan will win the election. Kealty, in a desperate attempt that he hopes will save his failing re-election campaign, announcing on television the capture of the Emir, as well as his own claim that his administration were responsible for capturing him (the official truth that the Kealty Administration believes, not knowing about the Campus or its true hand in the Emir's capture, is that a foreign intelligence agency was responsible for the capture, and subsequent delivery of him into FBI custody), in a desperate attempt to win voters, as well as his plans to have him tried in federal custody. Ryan turns this around by pointing out how flawed Kealty's plan is; that the Emir will be given too many rights and protection in such a trial, and will use it to abuse the intelligence services responsible for his capture and promote his hateful cause – and so counters with his very first campaign promise; that he will have the Emir ordered into military custody and tried at Guantanamo Bay upon his re-election. Many agree with Ryan's decision.
Across the county, high-profile Czech billionaire Paul Laska (formerly Pavel Laska), having watched the debate on television, has finally lost patience supporting Kealty; Laska has been a liberal kingmaker for him for years, and is thus truly responsible for all of the success Kealty has enjoyed throughout his career. Laska's back story establishes he is a devout enemy of Ryan (despite never personally meeting or confronting him) as he stands for everything Laska fights and campaigns against. Deciding then and there to cut all funding and support to Kealty, Laska, instead, decides to divert all of his resources, funds and power into one thing – the destruction of Jack Ryan and his administration.
Rehan, knowing Ryan will be President again soon, and so will lose his opportunity to successfully complete his plans, code-named "Operation Saker", comes to an agreement with an organisation of Dagestani terrorists; led by the Russian holyman Suleiman Murshidov, to begin its final phase. Through a leak from one of Rehan's confidential meetings regarding Saker (which Rehan promptly amends by ordering those responsible secretly killed, shortly afterwards), Murshidov is aware of Rehan's plans to have nuclear weapons secretly stolen from Pakistan, and then detonated in India – causing a nuclear war between the two powers that will destroy them both; in the aftermath, Rehan and his Islamist benefactors would put what's left of the two countries back together, as a unified "Caliphate of Pakistan" – with Rehan as its President. Rehan, needing a cutout organisation to take the longer-term blame for starting a nuclear exchange between the countries, agrees to Murshidov's request for them to steal the warheads, with support from Rehan and his ISI loyalists, so it can aid them in their cause against Russia.
Sam and al Darkur work to investigate Rehan, and, along with a team of al Darkur's men, launch a surveillance operation on a training camp being used by both groups. The team is exposed and forced to flee, but Sam is captured, and ordered tortured for information on his employers by Rehan.
Laska, at the same time, gets his opportunity to begin his rogue operation when the Emir, imprisoned by the FBI, charms and convinces his corrupt lawyer, Judith Cochrane; one of Laska's many employees who is trying to abuse the American legal system to get the Emir out of prison, into giving rough sketches of the Campus team to Laska in an effort to prove his capture was entirely illegal, and so the Emir must be allowed to go free. Cochrane provides the sketches to Laska, who in turn invites the corrupt Kealty Administration CIA political appointee; now-DD/CIA Charles Sumner Alden (who was responsible for forcibly retiring Clark and Chavez from the Agency in Dead or Alive; when he was Head of Clandestine Services), to a private dinner at his mansion, apparently to discuss opportunities for a civilian private sector position for Alden with one of Laska's foundations following Ryan's election (as knowing Kealty's defeat will cost him his position in CIA). Laska, instead, shows the sketches to Alden, in an effort to identify the Campus operatives and link them to Ryan to discredit him. Initially reluctant, especially after immediately identifying Clark and Chavez from the sketches, Alden is convinced to aid Laska in his efforts in exchange for protection.
Junior, while also improving his skills as a field operative, starts dating an intelligent CIA operative; Melanie Kraft. Melanie is introduced as a CIA analyst who was being browbeaten by her appointee superiors for showing initiative – in creating a memo that provides data countering what her appointee superiors having been providing to the White House regarding Muslim organisations – and it further recommends they be surveilled properly due to implications of pro-terrorist leanings, instead of blithely being ignored by the CIA and publicly supported, an effort led by Kealty and his people; this devastated her and makes her question her future at the CIA. She is the contacted by NCTC Deputy Director Mary Pat Foley; a legend in the intelligence community, who has reviewed Melanie's memo, and convinces her to accepting being lateraled out to the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), working directly for Mary Pat, and Melanie has Mary Pat's full support and attention. Mary Pat is also satisfied in succeeding in getting Junior and Melanie together.
After receiving the information he needs from Alden, Laska reaches out to Russian pensioner and former KGB officer Oleg Kovalenko (a fitting irony, as Kovalenko was Laska's handler in Prague – years ago, while he was a "big, powerful, and dominant KGB officer", Oleg was responsible for beating and otherwise torturing Laska and threatening him into serving as a KGB mole, in exchange for arranging a new life for him in the United States), to get a meeting with Oleg's "civilized" son – Valentin Kovalenko; a high-ranking SVR leader, and assistant rezident of SVR operations in the UK. Laska convinces Kovalenko to launch a rogue operation with him, with approval only from his organisation (it is mentioned the Russian government doesn't have any wish for Ryan to be back in power – but at the same time aren't willing to take hostile action, as they know Ryan will once again lead the United States), to dig up and put together every piece of information on Clark and his CIA operations, and then pass it to the Kealty Administration. Valentin's investigation uncovers a murky secret in Clark's past; specifically an unauthorized CIA assassination Clark performed in Berlin years ago – he shot and killed a German Stasi operative, Lukas Schuman – because this hit was performed outside of his CIA duties, the full pardon Ryan signed for Clark in Executive Orders doesn't apply to it and, with Clark no longer being an active CIA agent, he is open to prosecution.
The information is anonymously provided to Benton Thayer; Kealty's campaign manager, who in turn examines and brings it to Kealty and his senior staff. Kealty, realizing the implications it could bring against Ryan (though unaware he is being manipulated by Laska), orders the FBI to hunt down Clark. Clark, himself, is "off-the-grid" from the Campus at the time, and is enjoying a relaxing fishing trip near his new farmhouse. By chance, he uncovers evidence there are people covertly moving nearby – and ultimately uncovers the FBI scouts surveilling his farmhouse, with Clark correctly guessing he is their target. Clark then watches from a safe distance as an FBI SWAT Team arrives to arrest him; they surround and storm his farmhouse, but finds no-one present, as Clark is observing from the far-away treeline. Clark successfully escapes, without notice.
Upon confirming with FBI that Clark is not in custody, Kealty's Attorney General; Michael Brannigan, issues a federal arrest warrant for Clark, officially "for questioning regarding a series of cold-case murders, and involvement with ongoing criminal activity", but the details are kept in a sealed indictment that Kealty's people refuse to reveal to Ryan and his team. Brannigan also reveals, at Kealty's order, Clark's links and current friendship with Ryan, all to discredit his opponent. This news, which is framed as Clark being Ryan's personal assassin, combined with the Kealty Administration's "capture" of the Emir, both damage Ryan's image and narrows the election race.
Clark, with the full support from the Campus, who he chooses to distance himself from to avoid bringing un-wanted focus on the secret organisation, successfully escapes the United States; instead of going into hiding at Hendley's request, Clark chooses to head for Germany to begin his operation into tracking the source of allegations against him, in an effort to clear his name and protect Ryan and the Campus. From the Campus's private Gulfstream jet, Clark parachutes into Germany.
With news of Sam's capture, Junior, Chavez and Dominic work with Embling and al Darkur to locate and rescue him, alongside their continuing investigation into Rehan.
The official pursuit for "John Terrence Kelley a.k.a. John A. Clark" fails to track him down; as the CIA, who officially take the lead in the manhunt after it is confirmed by the FBI that Clark has escaped the country, instead find its rank-and-file agents publicly revere and respect Clark, and so are unwilling to truly capture him. The same attitude, combined with inefficiency, prevails among foreign intelligence agencies. Alden at this time covertly approaches Kealty and Thayer, with information that Clark was involved in the Emir's capture. All three men (correctly) guess, and agree, that Clark must be involved with an "off-the-books spy shop" the FBI suspects exists; though they do not possess any evidence to prove it or link this to Ryan; unless they capture Clark and offer him full immunity in exchange for testifying against Ryan about the secret organisation he now works for. Kealty privately gives Alden approval to apprehend Clark – whatever it takes.
Alden brings the request to capture Clark to Laska; who agrees to do so, with the promise to not have Clark killed – Laska reaches out to his old friend and French mercenary Fabrice Bertrand-Morel, founder and head of FBM Investigations; a shadowy mercenary team with connections across the European continent. Laska contracts Bertrand-Morel to hunt down Clark and return him to the United States.
While operating in Dubai, Embling and al Darkur are captured in the Burj Khalifa by an ISI security team led by Rehan – Embling is then ordered by Rehan to be thrown out of a 108th-story window of the apartment complex: Embling tumbles to the ground and to his death. Al Darkur, however, is rescued, and Rehan barely escapes with his life.
At this time, Election Day arrives – John Patrick Ryan wins with 52% of the vote.
The Campus receives news from al Darkur of Sam's location, and Junior, Chavez and Dominic, working with al Darkur and his commandos, enact a successful rescue mission – al Darkur commencing the mission without ISI approval to save time, and to ensure success in rescuing Sam; who he feels he must rescue after being unable to prevent Embling's murder. President-elect Ryan, speaking to his son, confirms he will get Clark's indictment overturned once he regains office, and will do everything he can to help the CIA become as strong as they did before.
Clark, all-the-while, tracks down the source of the information on Schuman's assassination – Schuman's surviving Stasi partner; Manfred Kromm, and from him he tracks down and questions Ardo Ruul; an Estonian gangster who worked with his gang as Valentin's cutouts; to investigate Clark's mission. Clark then travels to Moscow to question Oleg, but gets no information – it is here Oleg alerts the FBM Investigations detectives surveilling the building, and Clark is finally captured. Instead of being turned over to the authorities, the Frenchmen interrogate him for information on the Campus.
Rehan, at this time, commences the final stages of his plan to ignite a war between India and Pakistan – he, his forces, and the Dagestani fighters successfully attack a train carrying two nuclear weapons in Pakistan; the weapons are stolen successfully. A global alert goes out on the missing weapons, and the SVR and Valentin choose to abandon their partnership with Laska. Laska counters by threatening to out Valentin publicly as SVR; ruining his career, and Oleg as KGB; knowing there are families of Oleg's victims who wish revenge on him. Valentin reluctantly agrees to Laska's order to take custody of Clark, interrogate him for information on the Campus, and then murder him to bury any link to him or Laska. Valentin, unable to get state backing for his actions, commands a rogue ex-Spetsnaz Russian military unit to take Clark to a warehouse and begin torturing him.
At the last moment, a Spetsnaz commando team, led by Russian FSB Director Stanislav Dmitrievich Biryukov; Clark's Russian counterpart, raids Valentin's warehouse. Valentin and his men are disarmed and taken away, and Clark is freed.
Biryukov, authorised by Russian President Rychcov, reveals that the Dagestani fighters have taken control of a rocket site (ironically owned by the company headed by their leader), and the Russians believe the nuclear weapons are present and ready to fire at Moscow. Kealty, fearful of his legacy after losing the election to Ryan, all-but refuses to help, and Rainbow, Clark's former organization, is unable to properly act as its readiness and efficiency has suffered in his years since his departure. Biryukov calmly begs Clark to accept a deal from Rychcov to take temporary command of Rainbow and replace its current leader; Swedish General Lars Gummesson, and lead the effort to stop the launch of the missiles, and save millions of innocent lives, in exchange for anything he wants. Clark accepts on the conditions that the Russian government gives up Laska and Valentin's rogue operation to the general public, publicly explain that the allegations at Clark were fabricated in Laska's attempt to bring the Ryan Administration down, and give all evidence to Ryan and his people.
Clark is brought to the site to take command and, summoning Chavez to help, works with the Rainbow and Spetsnaz officers to craft a plan that succeeds in stopping the launch and rescuing all hostages.
Upon confirming one of the nuclear weapons was never delivered, and secretly kept by Rehan to be detonated in Pakistan itself, Junior and the team, working with al Darkur and his commandos, successfully intercept and kill all of Rehan's men. Rehan himself is chased down and killed by Junior; avenging Embling, and the bomb, with technical assistance via. radio from a Rainbow munitions expert, is disarmed in time.
Melanie, towards the end of the story, is revealed to be a spy planted by Alden to gather information on Junior's connection to Clark (her exact reasoning for doing so is unknown). Alden, who Laska completely sold out in an effort to save himself after his exposure (his exact fate is unknown), is arrested and disgraced, and set to be prosecuted by the Ryan Administration, including Cochrane (who is also arrested) and the Emir (who is taken to Guantanamo Bay), for their machinations against Clark (whose fate, at the end of the story, is also unknown). Despite this, at the end, Melanie makes a phone call that makes it clear that her controller (Alden's unknown replacement – implying others are involved, as yet unidentified) is interested in the organization that employs Junior, Chavez and Clark.