Ai500 2012

OP COBRA STRIKE: Island of St Magritte, Gulf of Guinea, West Africa August 2012


“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

The maintenance of close ties to France since independence in 1960, diversification of agriculture for export, and encouragement of foreign investment, have all been factors in the economic growth of Côte d’Ivoire, not to mention the fact that this country has for years served as one of the main conduits for the export of conflict or blood diamonds out of Africa. In recent years though Côte d’Ivoire has been subject to greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace for its primary agricultural crops. That, compounded with high internal corruption and civil war, makes life difficult for all and allows the blood diamond traffic to pass ever more freely.

Luckily, the small idyllic island of St Magritte lying just outside the territorial waters of Côte d’Ivoire in the Gulf of Guniea was, like Martinique in the Caribbean, retained by the French. A popular tourist destination during the European winter months, the island becomes almost deserted over the European summer, with just a small group of the local Police “authority” and a handful of hardy residents left to their own devices in the modern resort town of Pont d’Less.

Unknown to the Police Captain and his unscrupulous deputies is the fact that a shipment of blood diamonds is being trafficked through St Magritte; not that they’d mind though. Provided the right sum graced their hands, a blind eye could be turned to almost anything on the island. The shipment has been cached somewhere in Pont d’Less, right under their very noses, for recovery by a private military contractor called Excelsior Co.

Excelsior has hopes of getting onto the island, securing the cargo and extracting swiftly, as such naming their operation “Cobra Strike”. Never eager to enter any situation without proper equipment though, the contractors have cached a supply of weapons and munitions secretly and in advance, available to be recovered should the situation warrant it.

As this discreet activity is conducted, a natural but unpredictable phenomenon known as “Harmatten” blows thick dust from mainland Africa out into the Gulf. This massive, swirling cloud blocks communications and travel to and from the island but not before a rag-tag militia arrives in the small port. Claiming to be an army from mainland Africa taking shelter from the conditions, it’s far more likely they are acting on intelligence garnered through any number of easily-bought or bullied sources of information about diamonds… Few dare question their motives though, however unlikely the story. With the Harmatten drawing in, it’s unlikely they will be going anywhere, welcomed or not. It looks like St Magritte will be hosting a few guests for the next couple of days.

As the organised groups of Excelsior contractors begin to move through the town, it quickly becomes clear they are not the only ones interested in what is hidden on the island… Under the cover of the thick dust blown in by the Harmatten, temporarily hidden from the eyes of the world, the sound of gunfire begins to echo through the streets. OP COBRA STRIKE has been compromised.