It happened the day before the G-20 Summit last November, when tensions were high and Cannes was zipped up tight as a drum: barricades, badge-only entry, missile protection systems, bomb squads, sniper teams, and spy satellites. It seems that a hungry FBI agent popped into to Al Charq, a Middle-Eastern take-away joint, but in his rush to get a sandwich to-go, left a file on the counter… Not just any file mind you, it was an Ultra-Classified-Top-Secret dossier with every detail of President Obama’s trip to the G-20 Summit.
The file folder didn’t look like anything special, so when snack shop manager Bilal Herche innocently opened it up… merde! First page: detailed map of the 5th floor of the Hotel Carlton with President Obama’s room and evacuation plans. Second page: President Obama’s minute-by-minute schedule. Pages on the exact routes to be taken by the convoys, lists and info on the agents on the Presidential security detail. Everything.
What would you do? And if you were Lebanese? Muslim? With a passport on the U.S. No-Fly List because you were from a country considered a Terrorist State? After 2 hours of nerve-wracking indecision, Bilal called the main FBI number that he found on the internet. A surrealist conversation ensued as Bilal tried to explain what he had in broken Arabic-accented English to a skeptical agent at desk somewhere in Washington, no doubt rolling his eyes. Finally the agent asked him to read the first page of the document… Silence. Then: “Don’t move: we’re on our way!” No address needed, the cellphone had been geolocalized and in minutes two men-in-black burst through the door. Even these jaded top-level FBI agents could not suppress gasping “Oh my god…” upon opening the dossier.
An hour later, the original hungry FBI agent was on a plane back to Washington, while poor Bilal was undergoing full interrogation: Who gave him this file? Whom did he show it to? Who knows about it? Where are the copies? The FBI team acknowledged that, obviously, all Lebanese are not terrorrists, but they still kept a close eye on him by eating kebabs and falafels for lunch and dinner for the next 4 days.
The G-20 having passed without a hitch, Bilal was sent an official FBI medal of honor in recognition that without him, a sandwich could have cost the life of the President.
Nice-Matin: Le G20 d’Obama sauvé par un restaurateur Cannois
Related Posts with more tales of the G20 Summit in Cannes…