Terrorists attack the White House in The Warriors of God.

Europeans are well acquainted with terrorism. Long before jihadist fighters began operating in the West, 19th-century anarchists, the Irish Republican Army, and the Basque ETA killed hundreds. By contrast, the United States has largely avoided loss of life from terrorists, with the sole (major) exception of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. No doubt, then, writing a novel in 1992 about Iranian terrorists who attack the White House must have taken a leap of imagination and considerable chutzpah. Yet former Marine William Christie pulled that off, and it set him onto the path of a successful career as a thriller author.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Iranian terrorists attack the White House

Christie builds the drama in The Warriors of God around two central figures, one Iranian, the other American:

  • Major Ali Khurbasi is the highly regarded leader of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commando unit. He is called into action when a radical cleric resolves to mount an attack on the US in retaliation for the Americans’ destruction of his country’s Kharg Island seaport and oil refinery in the Persian Gulf. [Note: it was the Iraqis who destroyed those facilities in the Iran-Iraq War by 1986.] Working through an intermediary, the Ayatollah chooses Khurbasi to head a new commando team to target the President and the White House.
  • Richard Welsh, a Marine veteran who is now twenty-eight, works in a new job in the Pentagon. His boss, an Assistant Secretary of Defense, is responsible for overseeing the United States Special Operations Command. Unfortunately, Welsh considers him a spineless bureaucrat and a jerk. And when he becomes convinced that a major Iranian attack on the US is imminent, he is unable to persuade his boss to report the intelligence to the Secretary.

Christie’s plotting is able. Suspense builds steadily toward a violent conclusion, with Khurbasi and Welsh at the center of the action.

The Warriors of God by William Christie (1992) 288 pages ★★★★☆

About the author

In an Author’s Note that leads off The Warriors of God, William Christie explains that “I began this novel more than twenty years ago, shortly after returning from deployment with the 26th Marine Amphibious Unit . . . Over a month of that deployment was spent off Beirut during the hostage crisis, which was when the idea for the story first came to me. At that time international terrorism was exclusively Iranian (through its Lebanese entity Hezbollah) and Palestinian.

“The month the hardcover edition of The Warriors of God was published, Al Qaeda (which no one had ever heard of) set off a van full of explosives in the car park beneath the World Trade Center . . . The month the paperback edition appeared in bookstores, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb.”

Amazingly, this new edition of The Warriors of God is little changed from the original. Christie explains, “I’ve merely updated some weapons and technology, scrubbed old politics and institutions that have since evolved, and streamlined the story a bit. It was shocking how little really needed to [be] changed.”

Last year I reviewed a much later novel by William Christie, A Single Spy. My review is at A Soviet spy in Nazi Germany. I rated that book 5 out of 5.

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