The Middle America Mall Shootings were four near-simultaneous terrorist attacks carried out by the Umayyad Revolutionary Council (URC), a previously unknown Islamist terrorist group, at suburban shopping malls across the United States. The attacks killed 83 people and wounded 153 others. The attacks mark a turning point in the 2003 Ryanverse thriller novel The Teeth of the Tiger by author Tom Clancy.
Planning and Preparation
The URC's leader, the Emir, presumably signed off on the attack, but all of the actual planning was handled by his minion Mohammed Hassan al-Din. Driven by a desire to punish the U.S. for its support of Israel and to increase his own standing in the URC, Mohammed planned the attack as a strike against the American heartland and general population. To cause as much fear and death as possible among this demographic, he planned to attack suburbs rather than large cities, and explicitly aimed to kill as many women and children as possible.
With the aid of Saudi billionaire and fellow URC member Uda bin Sali, Mohammed contacted Colombian drug cartels to aid in transportation and supply for the attack. The sixteen URC members chosen for the attack flew from Lebanon to the Netherlands, then to France, and finally to Mexico, where they met with cartel couriers. The couriers smuggled the terrorists across the U.S.-Mexico border to a safe house in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the cartel provided the terrorists with weapons. Each terrorist received a fully automatic MAC-10 submachine gun with a suppressor and twelve thirty-round magazines.
After receiving their weapons, the terrorists went their separate ways. They split into four groups of four and rented cars, then drove for days on end toward their separate destinations: Charlottesville, Virginia; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Provo, Utah; and Des Moines, Iowa. Upon arrival, each team booked a hotel, then scoped out the malls they were to attack the following day.
The order to initiate the attacks came by computer from Mustafa, the leader of the Charlottesville team. After the order, all of the teams proceeded to their assigned targets and began shooting. The attacks did not occur simultaneously as planned. Instead, the Charlottesville attack began first, followed by Colorado Springs, Provo, and finally Des Moines.
Mustafa's team targeted the Charlottesville Fashion Square, arriving just before noon. They headed to a bathroom where they prepared their weapons, then headed to separate stores. Mustafa began the attack by shooting the mall security guard, and the others began shooting randomly into various stores.
The gunmen were stopped by Brian and Dominic Caruso, two agents of the private intelligence organization known as The Campus. The two men had been at the mall on a practice mission, but were nonetheless armed with handguns. They killed all four gunmen before police arrived. Despite their efforts, the attackers murdered sixteen people in total. One of these victims was a five-year-old boy who died in Brian's arms.
This attack, the second to begin and the last to conclude, took place at the Citadel Mall. It was the deadliest attack of the four, leaving thirty-two people dead - six U.S. Air Force Academy cadets and twenty-six civilians.
Two of the gunmen survived the initial attack and SWAT response. They hunkered down in a retail store, and the National Guard was dispatched to deal with them. The National Guardsmen set the store ablaze with smoke grenades, killing both terrorists.
This attack took place at Provo Towne Center. The police chief there had heard of the Colorado Springs attack and sent officers to every mall in Provo. The four terrorists were met by six armed police officers, starting off a ferocious gun battle. Eleven armed civilians came to the police's aid, and three of these civilians were killed in the fighting. Eventually, all four terrorists were killed.
This attack took place at an unidentified mall. The terrorists murdered thirty-one civilians before Des Moines police responded to the scene and killed all four of them.
Brian Caruso had previously doubted the morality of The Campus' plans to preemptively kill terrorists, but witnessing the death of a child in Charlottesville erased these misgivings.
The Campus dispatched the Carusos and Jack Ryan Jr. to Europe, where they set about assassinating URC members involved in the shootings. They used hypodermic "pens" containing the deadly drug succinylcholine to carry out the killings, making them look like natural deaths. They killed Uda bin Sali in London and tracked Mohammed Hassan al-Din to Rome, where they killed him as well.
The Emir himself was not targeted by The Campus, as they did not know his identity or location. He would later travel to the United States, where he personally oversaw several other URC operations.
- Charlottesville Fashion Square, the Citadel Mall, and Provo Town Center are all real shopping malls. The attack on Charlottesville is shown in far more detail than the others, and The Teeth of the Tiger accurately describes Charlottesville Fashion Square' catalog of stores at the time of publication (2003). This caused some controversy among Charlottesville's local media at the time.
- The title of this article is conjectural. In The Teeth of the Tiger and other Ryanverse novels, the attacks are simply called the "Mall Shootings".