The Fist of God
First edition (UK)
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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 because it could fire only once before being located, targeted and destroyed. He comes to discover the true reason only shortly before being assassinated by his paymasters posing as Israeli agents.
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, works with 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 and the Mossad deny they have any active assets in Iraq. However, they are forced later to admit they have an unnamed top agent, codenamed "Jericho", whom they have been paying for information on the Iraqi military through an account in Vienna, but from whom they have not heard since the invasion began. Since 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 a house gardener for the Soviet Union's ambassador to Iraq.
The Medusa committee concludes that Iraq's biological weapons capability is not a threat and, although it has a plentiful supply of yellowcake, it's had insufficient 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, where a retired Manhattan Project employee identifies the discs as Calutrons (California Cyclotrons), a low-tech solution to refining uranium, ideal for Third World nations wanting to develop their own nuclear capability, meaning that if Iraq had used them in conjunction with their existing centrifuges, they could have made a nuclear bomb already.
Jericho reveals the location of a factory where such a bomb was put together and it is destroyed; however, he later reports that the bomb had been moved to a new site hours earlier, a place called the "Qa'ala" (Fortress). Despite the $5 million already paid to him, Major Martin offers him another $3 million to reveal the bomb's new location. The Americans, however, believe that Jericho is bluffing because on the one hand such a bomb would be too heavy to attach to a Scud missile and on the other, it couldn't be delivered by a plane since the Coalition would shoot it down, due to their having air supremacy. Iraq's solution, however, is a supergun, hidden in a classified location, designed to fire the atomic weapon, called “The Fist of God”, into Saudi Arabia the moment the Coalition begins the ground phase of Desert Storm so that approximately 100,000 soldiers die and the radioactive fallout is carried into Iran.
Jericho reveals the cannon's location to be somewhere in the Jebal al-Hamreen mountains in eastern Iraq (after having interrogated the project's lead engineer). Major Martin, who is nearly captured by Iraqi counter-intelligence 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 with a British SAS team into Iraq to destroy the cannon. The Americans agree to delay the invasion by two days, citing weather conditions as the reason. The SAS squad lasers the target and a squadron of US Air Force F-15s destroy the Supergun in an airstrike. General Norman Schwarzkopf is told the mission has been successful and orders the land invasion of Kuwait.
Because of the pressure forced on the Israelis to admit Jericho's existence, the Mossad executes "Operation Joshua", an attempt to infiltrate the Viennese bank holding Jericho's account. An agent's seduction of the bank manager's secretary helps the Mossad access and photocopy the details of the Jericho account, allowing Israel to recover all of the money paid to Jericho. Edith Hardenberg, 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 counter-intelligence, and the USAF pilot who bombs the Iraqi factory. The Iraqi Air Force pilot, his brother, and the Iraqi counter-intelligence 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
- Gerald Bull – Engineer of the supergun
- 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 received 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.