LISLE – Twelve years ago this Sept. 11, George and Barbara Banas were on a boat, halfway between Morocco and Spain.
When word arrived that both World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were struck by hijacked airplanes, the boat turned around and headed back to Tangier.
“We were detained because the Moroccan government didn’t know exactly what the consequences of the attack would be on them, because there was at least one Moroccan national [who aided the attack],” said Banas, now 72. “So they didn’t know if the U.S. government would retaliate against them one way or another.”
Finally, after two tense weeks of being shuffled from hotel to hotel, the couple were released back to the U.S., he said.
Banas uses those two weeks as the jumping-off point for his debut fiction novel, “Terrorists and the Terchova Treasure.” First published in 2010, it was named as an honorable mention July at the Hollywood Book Festival.
Banas, a resident of Lisle, gives $1 from every sale to the American Legion’s efforts to help veterans. On Amazon.com, the paperback costs $14.42.
The thriller borrows stories and characters from Banas’ experiences as an Army analyst during the Vietnam War, and then later as a government contractor and consultant to Eastern European countries, he said.
The plot follows a fictionalized version of himself, an aging analyst who has to call on old friends to help foil terrorist plots in the years after 9/11.
“People can read it as a sort of a thriller just looking at the action, they can look at it as a historical novel, or they can look at it on a wider scope – with a geopolitical or sociopolitical implications,” he said.
The book reflects on who the American public was before 9/11, shortly after and now.
“Prior to the attacks, it seems that part of the American psyche was very naive,” he said. “I think what’s happening now – certainly we’re weary about Afghanistan and Iraq, and we’d very much like to pull back and take care of our own business and be isolated. And I don’t think the world is going to let us do that.”
Banas started writing the book around the time of his retirement in 2003, two years after the attack. The first pressing, in larger type, ran around 700 pages. The new, Kindle edition in normal type runs about 550 pages, he said.
He hopes the added attention brought by the Hollywood Book Festival can aid his efforts to help area veterans in need.
“This is kind of one way I’m able to throw some money back into the pot and help folks get some income,” he said.