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Ted Bell's 'Spy' Thriller: Look South for Terror

Monday, 18 September 2006 12:00 AM

Ted Bell, author of the new thriller, "Spy," told NewsMax he was concerned that the average American may not have a firm grasp of the grim, determined enemy we face in the war on terrorism.

"They want to take us down. They want to destroy us and our way of life. As the President said the other night, it is a fight for civilization," Bell warned.

Formerly one of the leading talents in the world of advertising, Bell gives

Hawke, who saw plenty of raw bad-guy-fighting action in "Hawke," "Assassin," and "Pirate," outdoes himself this time as he confronts the perfect storm of terrorism. [

For starters, Lord Hawke leads a mysterious expedition up the farthest reaches of the Amazon River, where he is captured by a brutal tribe. Forced into slave labor, he witnesses the unimaginable. Golden domes and minarets rise beneath the rainforest canopy.

Vast terror armies are being recruited and trained in the jungle. Their goal: a vicious jihad that will unite one continent and destroy another. They possess weapons only dreamed of by the Western allies.

Hawke must fight his way out, sound the clarion call, and then fight his way back into jungle hell to find and kill the mad giant who threatens the whole western world.

He described to NewsMax how

"I was just fascinated by that idea that they had gone there in 1972 – after the Lebanese Civil War – and started terror cells," Bell explained.

Enter of all people, Osama bin Laden.

Bell explained that in 1999 bin Laden went to South America to see the Hezbollah who had immigrated there. "He went down and he gave them religion. So they got all huffed up. He saw their potential." Suddenly, Bell's horrific fictional plot doesn't seem as far-fetched.

Then Bell added: "There are towns in the Triangle Area – where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil come together – there are towns of 60,000 Muslims."

Once the worldwide creative director for ad giant Young and Rubican, Bell retired in 2001 to write full time. Now, instead of unveiling award-winding advertising campaigns, he unveils riveting plots.

In the case of

"They had a lot in common with the Hezbollah – they want to bring down the West. So I just thought that was a whole confluence of enemies," Bell said.

But don't conclude that

In fact, it's the border that propelled Bell's imagination as much as the bad guys hiding under the dense trees in South America where Predator drones can't see them or take them out. "I started seeing reports about uniformed Mexican Army units coming across the Rio Grande in Humvees in support of drug operations. That got my attention," Bell said.

The author in his early researching also listened to firsthand accounts of ranchers on the border who described thousands of people walking across private land every day – leaving the carcasses of stock that they had eaten. One rancher lamented how his property had been rendered unusable and impossible to sell.

"I said this is really a horrible situation we have and maybe a novel that tries to talk about a little of that would help people start thinking about it more," Bell said.

One of Bell's strong characters is a border town sheriff who finds himself up to his badge in trouble. There are kidnapped women, ambushed posses and a gang of motorcycle thugs that make the Hell's Angels look like a chess club.

Bell explained that his motorcycle gang is modeled on a real gang whose members – like their fictional counterparts – realize it is much more fun, instead of being just a plain criminal, to be aligned with some political cause.

"So the collusion of the outlaw gangs with the communist Shining Path boys and then the al-Qaida fighters to me is a real interesting combination," Bell revealed.

Mexico gets no whitewash in

"A lot of people think that they are using immigration as a weapon of mass destruction. It's not by accident that this is happening, and I think they really believe, at some level, that they can just take all of the land back from the 1846-48 war," Bell explained.

For final good measure, Bell drags the Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez into his fiction grist. No guise for them – they play themselves in the drama.

NewsMax asked if during Bell's research field trip to South America he felt a tide of anti-American sentiment.

Bell noted that in his opinion the average tourist may not feel it. "I think it is more on a higher political level. I don't think that the people support Chavez. I don't think the country is with him. I think they see him as operating for his own expedient and political gain."

Bell confessed that he was not so sure how deep the anti-American sediment is in Latin America. "I think in Brazil they don't even think about us. They have such a huge economy; such a huge country; they are booming along; and I don't think they are sitting and saying ‘well how come nobody in the U.S. is paying attention to us.'"

But just as one perceives a glimmer of light in a fearful world, Bell continued with another disturbing nugget. "There is a town called Ciudad del Este [in Paraguay], which I was going to go to. About 600 to 1000 tourists are murdered every year there. It may be the most lawless town in the world. Originally I named it in the book and then I decided maybe it wasn't to smart, so I backed off of that."

Ciudad del Este has a large Asian-born population, specifically Taiwanese, Arabs and Iranians, evident in the city's mosque and pagodas. It has long been rumored that al-Qaida and Hezbollah have cells there.

Apart from any poetic license, does Bell think we are being invaded from the South – for real?

No hesitation there: "I think terrorist are coming across the border of Mexico," he concluded crisply.

And then there is another dose of reality that Bell weaves into his yarn – the so-called "Zimmerman Note" of 19 January, 1917 – addressed to the German Minister to Mexico.

Intercepted by American intelligence, the note went a long way towards driving America into the Great War:

"Berlin, January 19, 1917

"On the first of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep neutral the United States of America.

If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to re-conquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are left to you for settlement...."

Bell described his use of the note in

For sure, no one who reads

And for a final word on Bell's fictional beleaguered border town sheriff:

"He just believes in the law. That is all he knows his whole life. His grandfather was a sheriff and his father, and he can't stand to see the law broken, but one guy can't do much. I hope it is obvious that I think that somebody needs to go down there and help that guy."

The old ad man can't help but include a not-so-subliminal message in his thriller.

Or perhaps it is a warning.

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Ted Bell, author of the new thriller, "Spy," told NewsMax he was concerned that the average American may not have a firm grasp of the grim, determined enemy we face in the war on terrorism. "They want to take us down. They want to destroy us and our way of life. As the...
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