International journalist, Dan Wooding, 69, founder of the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), has just released his 44th book — and his first novel.
Called “Red Dagger,” the fast-moving book, much of which is based on his many years of traveling to some of the world’s hot-spots, features a Palestinian terrorist who belongs to the Red Dagger terror group from Gaza, a place that Wooding has visited several times, an Irish double agent, and a drunken American journalist who moves to London and spends too much time in a pub called “The Stab in the Back.”
Wooding has now revealed that the germ of the idea for the novel came to him back in 1970 when, while working for the Middlesex County Times newspaper, he was sent by his editor to the Ealing police station where Leila Khaled, a Palestinian highjacker, was being held.
Khaled, he said, who was later called the “poster girl of Palestinian militancy” came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking and one of four simultaneous hijackings the following year as part of the Black September timeline.
On August 29, 1969, Khaled was part of a team that hijacked TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Athens, diverting the Boeing 707 to Damascus. After this hijacking, and after the now famous picture of her (taken by Eddie Adams) holding an AK-47 rifle and wearing a kaffiyeh was widely published, she was said to have underwent six plastic surgeries on her nose and chin to conceal her identity and allow her to take part in a future hijacking, and because she did not want to wear the face of an icon.
On September 6, 1970, Khaled and Patrick Argüello, a Nicaraguan, attempted the hijack of El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York City as part of the Dawson’s Field hijackings, a series of almost simultaneous hijackings carried out by the PFLP. The attack was foiled, when Israeli skymarshals killed Arguello before eventually overpowering Khaled. Although she was carrying two hand grenades at the time, Khaled said she had received very strict instructions not to threaten passengers on the civilian flight. However, Patrick Argüello, the co-hijacker, shot a member of the flight crew.
“The pilot diverted the aircraft to Heathrow airport in London, where Khaled was delivered to the Ealing police station,” said Wooding.
He said that he spent that first night outside the police station, after she had been taken there, with scores of other journalists, including veteran BBC newsman, John Simpson, wondering what had turned Khaled into a highjacker.
On October 1, 1970, the British government released her as part of a prisoner exchange. The next year, the PFLP abandoned the tactic of hijacking, although splinter movements would continue to hijack airplanes.
Wooding said that some years ago, a fellow journalist told him that he should write a novel based on many of his experiences while visiting some of the world’s hotspots, and the germ of “Red Dagger” began to emerge as he thought back to that time outside the Ealing police station.
“So I made the main character a Palestinian member of Red Dagger,” he said.
He also used as background the time he was arrested and locked up in a cell in Lagos, Nigeria. Also when he and a colleague were in a hotel in San Salvador when a car bomb exploded in the parking lot and badly damaged the hotel and, finally when he and his wife Norma were held up by terrorists in Bethlehem and were going to be shot by them. That was until a quick-thinking Arab taxi driver saved their lives by explaining they were visitors from the USA.
“Although none of these experiences are used in the book as they occurred, they helped me to imagine many of the scenes included in the book,” said Wooding. “Also, my travels to Gaza were great background to writing up the many scenes there.”
Wooding also based some of the action in “The Stab in the Back” pub just off Fleet Street, the then center of British journalism. Wooding knows all about this journalists’ pub as it was there that he recommitted his life to Christ back in the early 1970s and went to Uganda to write “Uganda Holocaust” with Irish-Canadian, Ray Barnett.
Each one of the characters in “Red Dagger” finally finds redemption in their twisted lives, but not before much mayhem has been committed and the world had stood on the edge of complete disaster.
“Red Dagger” has already received praise from various celebrities who have read it.
They include veteran American entertainer, Pat Boone, who said, “Dan Wooding’s latest book, ‘Red Dagger,’ is a gripping novel about terror, betrayal and redemption. Much of it is set in Gaza, but also features a Northern Ireland terrorist and an American journalist who, after moving to London, finds himself spending too much time in a bar called ‘The Stab in the Back’ with other drunken hacks. The conclusion of the book has a most dramatic twist that held my attention right to the very end. I enthusiastically endorse Red Dagger, which is written by one of the world’s most traveled journalists.”
Rock keyboard legend, Rick Wakeman, about whom Wooding penned his biography called “Rick Wakeman – the Caped Crusader” – foreword by Elton John – wrote, “Terrorism is a dangerous subject both in reality and in fiction. To bring Christianity in as a major part of the plot is potentially even more dangerous, but Dan Wooding portrays all his characters as both very real and very believable in this novel that literally sets off at a tremendous pace from the very first page. I found myself thinking very visually whilst reading it and that’s the secret of any good novel.”
Finally, Dr. Ted Baehr, Founder and Publisher of Movieguide® and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission®, said, “A brilliant writer, Dan Wooding, who has authored over 40 books, has written a wonderful, compelling, evangelistic novel about Middle East terrorism. I highly recommend it.”
Wooding said that already there has been “interest from several movie producers who are considering it to be made into a major feature film.”
To purchase a copy of “Red Dagger,” go to: http://www.lulu.com/product/11050174?cid=060610_en_email_SUMMERREAD305 .It is also available as a file download. It also is available at http://www.amazon.com/Red-Dagger-Dan-Wooding/dp/0578056534/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277349812&sr=1-4
If you live in the USA and would like an autographed copy of the book, just send a check for $20.00 (which includes postage) made out to Dan Wooding, and mail it to Dan Wooding, PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609. Please put in the memo section of the check, “For Red Dagger.”
Note to the media: Dan Wooding is available for interviews about the book. Just e-mail your request with your contact information to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Wooding, Assist News Service