The Fist of God
|The Fist of God|
First edition (UK)
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
The Fist of God is a 1994 suspense novel by British writer Frederick Forsyth.
Featuring a story set during the Persian Gulf War, the novel details an Allied effort to find a suspected Iraqi nuclear weapon. The story features the brothers Mike and Terry Martin who also appear in Forsyth's 2006 novel The Afghan.
Dr. Gerald Bull designs a supergun codenamed Project Babylon for Iraq. He believes that it is for launching Arab satellites into space and that it could serve no military purpose since it could only fire once and then would be located, targeted and destroyed. He realises the true reason shortly before being assassinated by his Iraqi paymasters.
Iraq then invades Kuwait and the British and Americans need top level intelligence on the ground. Major Mike Martin of the Special Air Service is seconded to SIS to work with the Kuwaiti resistance. Not only does Major Martin speak fluent Arabic, but with his black hair and dark complexion, he can actually pass for an Arab. His brother, Terry, an expert in Arab military studies, is asked to advise the Medusa Committee, a joint Anglo-American panel on possible Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The CIA does not have any assets in the Iraqi government, so they ask the Israelis; Mossad deny they have any active assets in Iraq. This is not strictly true as they did have an asset, codenamed Jericho, but he remained anonymous and they were never able to identify him. They have paid $2 million into his Viennese bank account for information about Iraq's military strength, but he has gone to ground since the invasion. However, one of the team who helped run him, a man who feels the truth is most important, tells the Americans, and Israel is forced to admit the truth or face repercussions in Washington. As Israel is forced to stay out of the war to prevent alienating Arab countries in the Coalition, they agree to let the Americans run Jericho—if they can find him. Mike Martin is recalled from Kuwait and sent into Iraq to run Jericho through a series of dead drops while working a cover job as house gardener for the Soviet Union's ambassador to Iraq. Meanwhile, the Mossad director is furious over the American actions regarding Jericho, but quickly comes up with a plan called "Operation Joshua" to be staged in Vienna that will resolve Jericho's situation from his end in the Mossad's favour.
The Medusa committee concludes that Iraq's biological weapons capability is not a threat and, though it has a plentiful supply of yellowcake, it has not had enough time with its limited underground centrifuges to spin it out into the weapons-grade uranium to make an atomic bomb. They decide that gas is the real threat, so the Americans make an unequivocal threat to the Iraqi government to nuke Baghdad if gas is used. However, an overeager American F-15E pilot, angry at an aborted bombing run, drops his bomb on a building not on his target list and reconnaissance photographs reveal strange large metal discs underneath the roof. Terry Martin takes the photographs to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to see if they can identify the discs. A retired Manhattan Project employee identifies the discs as Calutrons (California Cyclotrons), a low-tech solution to refining uranium, but ideal for Third World nations wanting to develop their own nuclear capability. If used in conjunction with Iraq's existing centrifuges, the Iraqis would already have made a nuclear bomb.
Jericho reveals the location of the factory where the atomic bomb was put together and it is attacked; however, he later reports that the bomb had been moved hours earlier to its new site, a place called the "Qa'ala" (Fortress). Despite the $5 million already paid to him, Major Martin offers him $3 million more to reveal the bomb's new location. The Americans believe Jericho is bluffing. One problem is delivery—such a bomb would be too heavy to attach to a Scud missile and the Coalition will destroy any fighter plane that tries to sneak past their air supremacy. The solution is a supergun, hidden in a secret location. It will fire, just once, a single atomic weapon—“The Fist of God”—into Saudi Arabia the moment the Coalition begins the ground phase of Desert Storm. Approximately 100,000 soldiers will die and the radioactive fallout will be carried into Iran.
Jericho reveals the cannon's location to be somewhere in the Jebal al-Hamreen mountains in eastern Iraq (after questioning the project's lead engineer). Major Martin, who is nearly captured by Iraqi counterintelligence for transmitting Jericho's messages to his own handlers, decides to get out of Iraq. Safely recovered across the border, Mike volunteers to HALO jump into Iraq to destroy the cannon. The Americans agree to delay the invasion by two days, citing weather conditions as the reason. Martin and his SAS team lase the target and a single F-15 destroys the Supergun in a bombing run. General Norman Schwarzkopf is told the mission has been successful and orders the land invasion of Kuwait.
In "Operation Joshua", a Mossad agent seduces the secretary to the Viennese banker who handles Jericho's account; she reveals how he keeps details of the accounts in a secret compartment of his desk. The Mossad break into the bank and secretly photocopy the account details. They then transfer the entire $10 million out of his account into one owned by the Mossad, known as the "Fun Fund". Edith Hardenburg, the secretary, commits suicide when she realised that her "lover" has used her to obtain the information. Jericho – who turns out to be AMAM director Brigadier Omar "The Tormentor" Khatib – is picked up by Mossad agents pretending to be American intelligence. He is flown out of Iraq, drugged, and his body thrown into the sea from 10,000 feet.
Aside from the main plot involving Martin and the Mossad operation in Vienna, there are other subplots that eventually tie themselves into the story. These include a prostitute servicing the commander of Iraq's armoured forces, an Iraqi Air Force pilot and his brother, the chief of Iraq's counterintelligence, and the USAF pilot who bombs the Iraqi factory. The Iraqi Air Force pilot, his brother, and the Iraqi counterintelligence head are revealed to be former elementary school classmates of the Martin brothers.
Connection with other Forsyth books
Fist has partial connection with two specific books. Tim Nathanson, the weapons systems officer of the Strike Eagle pilot who bombed the Iraqi factory and the Qa'ala, is the son of top American banker Saul Nathanson. He dies after the climax of the book. The elder Nathanson reflects on his son's death in Icon. The Martin brothers later appear in The Afghan.
Set against the backdrop of the Gulf War, the novel features several real-life characters central to the conflict. The assassination of Gerald Bull is implied as having carried out by the Iraqis, although other sources suggest that the Mossad carried out the operation.
- George Bush – US President
- James Baker – Secretary of State
- Brent Scowcroft – head, National Security Council
- Norman Schwarzkopf – commander, Coalition Forces
- Chuck Horner- commander, Coalition air forces
- Margaret Thatcher – British Prime Minister
- Gen. Sir Peter de la Billière – commander, British Forces
- John Major – Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Saddam Hussein – President
- Tariq Aziz – Foreign Minister
- Izzat Ibrahim – Deputy President
- Taha Ramadam – Prime Minister
- Sadoun Hammadi – Deputy Premier
The novel reaped good reviews.
Kirkus Reviews cited the novel has enough material to satisfy espionage thriller fans with its believability about what may have happened behind the scenes of the Gulf War.
People claimed the novel packs "derring-do entertainment with a political message." 
Publishers Weekly lauded the novel for using historical facts into a gripping what-if thriller.