"Al Pessin brings a lifetime of frontline experience to a novel that could have been taken from today's headlines. Utterly compelling and a cautionary tale for our times."

Admiral (Ret.) James Stavridis, USN
Former Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe


SANDBLAST tracks U.S. Army Lt. Faraz Abdallah, whose assignment is to use his ethnicity and language skills to get close to the new leader of the Taliban and Al-Qaida in remote eastern Afghanistan, and to call in an air strike or Special Forces raid. In the process, Faraz is forced to actually become a terrorist, and starts to lose himself in the seductive vortex of militant Islamic ideology. West Point grad and combat zone veteran Bridget Davenport runs his mission from the Pentagon, navigating political obstacles, changing priorities and reports of an impending 9-11-scale attack. She fights the military brass, the bureaucracy and the president himself to keep Faraz safe. As Faraz falls more and more deeply into his undercover identity, Bridget finds herself in the White House Situation Room, the Oval Office, and under fire during a trip to Afghanistan. She is also adapting to her new civilian life as a single, 38-year-old woman working in a man’s world, and trying to figure out how she feels about her boyfriend Will, a Navy SEAL who is deployed in Afghanistan, just a few miles from the Taliban camp where Faraz is pursuing his mission. SANDBLAST is a tale of bravery and the ambiguity of outcomes in war and politics, and has an ending that is simultaneously surprising and inevitable, and begs for more from these characters.

The army had made him commit a grave sin. His parents would never forgive him. Allah would never forgive him.

When he felt his emotions taking over, he would force himself to recite his codes, ‘Sandblast, Whiskey-Alpha, 5-9-0...’ But it was getting almost impossible to stick to that. He would usually fall asleep to the verses of the Koran.

During his mission training, Faraz had been warned that covert operatives sometimes ‘go native,’ dive so deeply into their cover stories that they lose themselves, surrender their true identities, believe the lie.

He never thought it would happen to him.
— SANDBLAST, Chapter 9