Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Author Spotlight: NY Times Bestselling Author Bill Forstchen

I'm so excited to be reading Day of Wrath by NY Times Bestselling author, Bill Forstchen.  I first became aware of his books when I was asked to write a press release for Pillar in the Sky ... and I've been hooked ever since. Forstchen's credentials are amazing.  He holds a Ph.D. in history from Purdue University with a specialization in military history. He is the author of over forty (yes, FORTY) books, of which several have been NY Times best sellers. His groundbreaking novel “One Second After,” published in 2009 is credited by many with helping to start the “prepper movement,” by raising national awareness as to the potential threat of an attack via an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) strike. He along with other experts on terrorism and the military situation in the Middle East firmly believes that it is time America took serious note of the threats leveled by ISIS, that we are their next target and that it is not a question of if, it is now simply a question of when.

So, have you figured out my eclectic taste in books yet?  I'm a mystery-loving, wine & foodie who loves children's books and YA fiction ... especially books about the middle east because I used to live there.  I'm in the process of reading Day of Wrath it right now and will definitely touch base when I am finished.  Until then, read on to learn about Forstchen's inspiration behind the book. 
1. What is the book “Day of Wrath,” about?
Day of Wrath presents, in fictional form, a “scenario” for a potential attack by ISIS (or what some now call ISIL “Islamic State in the Levant”) within the territory of the continental United States that could take place as early as next month.

2. Why a book of fiction about what is a real world threat at this very moment?
Even before 9/11 there was speculation as to how the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden might strike against America. Within the military and intelligence community “war gaming,” out various scenarios is standard practice: to present “what if,” questions and then present possible outcomes and responses. Unfortunately the idea of taking several fully laden commercial aircraft and crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Capitol, actually was discussed in numerous planning groups but never taken seriously. A similar scenario was presented in a naval “war game” of the 1930s of a carrier based strike against Pearl Harbor. . . and dismissed. The author’s intent is to present a highly realistic scenario NOW, with the hope that it will stir national debate and the seeking of pro-active responses prior to an attack.

3. The author presents a scenario of a number of teams of terrorists attacking American public schools. Why would ISIS do this and is this concept a truly realistic threat?
The author draws on his work as an historian with an emphasis on military history. Since Columbine, nearly twenty years ago, our society and educational system has focused on school security, but with an emphasis on preparation and reaction to what has become a standard “methodology and profile” of those who attack our schools. In almost all cases it has been a lone shooter. Though outfitted usually in paramilitary equipment they are, in a very blunt sense, not trained to inflict maximum damage, harsh as that might sound in light of the horrific tragedy at Newtown. And in the vast majority of cases, when police arrive on the scene, the shooter usually kills themselves, ending the nightmare.

In 2004 a team of well trained Islamic terrorists seized a school in the province of Chechnya, Russia. It turned into a three day siege, at the end of which the Russian government admitted to over three hundred and thirty deaths, though other reporting sources indicate the count was much higher. The author drew on this as what could be a frightful inspiration for ISIS. Teams of three to five terrorists, hitting half a dozen schools simultaneously, (recall the terrorists of 9/11 seized four aircraft within minutes of each other), striking our schools, they could, in a matter of minutes, slaughter hundreds of children. No school in America, except the one attended by the children of our President, has the capacity to withstand this type of assault.

Within minutes panic would seize every parent in America as reports escalated as to the number of schools under attack and the reaction of all would be the same. . .to race to their child’s school and get them out immediately before it is attacked as well. Therefore, within minutes after the start of such an attack, roads across America would be flooded and thus the second wave of the enemy strike. . .random hits along interstate highways by support teams of two to three terrorists per vehicle. The author draws on this concept from the actual methods used by ISIS in their drive into northern Iraq in June.

4. How realistic is it to speculate that ISIS will even attack the United States and secondly, how would such suicide attackers even gain entry into our country?
ISIS has made clear its threats. . .amongst their various stated goals: establishing a caliphate which they already claim to have done, destroy Israel and even the seizing of Mecca. A goal they boast of nearly every day is to launch an attack inside the United States. The author links this to the far too obvious news that security along our southern border is in a shambles. As border security personnel focus on the humanitarian crisis now existing there, it is clearly evident that vast stretches of our border are not secured. ISIS seized over one half billion dollars of hard assets, meaning primarily gold, in its sweep across northern Iraq. Bin Laden boasted he accomplished his goal with less than half a million dollars. What could have a billion buy in terms of smuggling of personnel and very low tech equipment, meaning rifles and ammunition only, into the United States? Also, just days prior to the release of this book, members of Congress have stated openly that at least a hundred members of ISIS have already been infiltrated into our country and are preparing an attack. . .the only question left is “when, where and how?”
5. Why would schools be the target?
Anyone who has the ability to stomach the hour long “documentaries” actually recorded by ISIS, already knows the answers. They have displayed a ruthless cruelty unmatched in modern history. And they understand “their enemy,” as well. Consider a scenario where five or six of our elementary and middle schools became slaughter houses for such murderers. (They would choose these schools because high schools and colleges have too many adult and near adult males who might fight back). Simply run a search on “ISIS, executions, children,” for the evidence of what they are capable of. It would be a psychological blow, a psyche blow to every American that it becomes difficult to imagine how our society would function in the weeks and months after. Would any parent want to send their child back to school a day, a week, a month after such an attack? Every school henceforth would be an armed camp. How might laws be changed to try and insure some semblance of security, or might it be a means to fundamentally change some laws in our country? The blow would be far more devastating that Pearl Harbor, which solely hit a military target, or 9/11 which hit commercial and military targets. ISIS has the ruthlessness to contemplate murdering hundreds of children to gain the goals they seek, to humble, humiliate, and to terrorize.
6. Your book shows an enemy that is extremely savvy with “social media.” Why?
Our methods of communication and social interaction have undergone a lightning speed change in the thirteen years since 9/11. Everyone carries a camera with them, everyone has instant access to a global audience. So does ISIS. For the first time in the history of warfare a foe has the ability to broadcast to the entire world their actions, be they noble or terroristic within seconds. Imagine a 9/11 where the thousands trapped in the World Trade Center and aboard United #93 were able to broadcast to the world what they were seeing, enduring, even to their own deaths. Imagine an enemy who could do the same. The cell phone has become as an effective a weapon as an AK-47.

7. Why did the author write this book?
As a warning to act now, to prepare, because this is a very real threat and not simply a work of fiction.