Skip to comments.Who Is the Sniper? Behind the Evil.
Posted on 10/15/2002 7:16:27 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
The two-week reign of terror in Washington's suburbs continued last night with the shooting death of a woman in a parking garage outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County, Virginia. The question of who the sniper is and what motivates him (and let's agree it is a him as opposed to a her, though it could also be a them) is not only important in order to apprehend the shooter, but also to understand the rationale behind the attacks. We have had some cursory discussions on this issue in The Corner(National Review Online) during the last few weeks, and I wanted to take the opportunity to explain my views on this matter in more detail. As readers may know, I think the sniper is either an active member of al Qaeda, a bin Laden sympathizer, or someone motivated by the same type of hatred. This is at variance with the generic profile one encounters in most public discussions of the issue. We usually hear that the sniper is a socially maladjusted loner with no respect for human life no kidding white, male, and aged 25-45. His belief system is radical Right wing, probably because he uses a rifle; Left wing homegrown terrorists usually employ bombs to get their points across, lest they be mistaken for Second Amendment purists. He may be someone with military experience, and the authorities have requested the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to review records of trained snipers, looking for a disgruntled Oswald type. (Note though that trained military snipers engage the enemy at distances around 300 to 900 yards, while the gunman in question appears to shoot from closer range; thus he may not be a trained expert marksman but rather someone with a degree of experience and a steady hand.) A former Marine living in Baltimore who owned a white van, a weapon of the right caliber, plus some sniper manuals, was questioned and released when the rifle did not match the ballistics of the rounds found at the crime scenes.
This profile makes sense if you look only at historical patterns of recent domestic terrorism. Limiting the profile seems to take for granted that these events are the work of one or more people who are self-motivated and have no ties to any external organization, movement or cause. However, there are a number of external factors that need to be taken into consideration. Profiling seeks to explain individual behavior patterns based on criminal psychology. My working assumption from day one was that these attacks were a new domestic front of the war against civilization by the Islamicist terrorists, hence part of a larger framework conditioned by critical strategic factors. In other words, these are not the actions of a criminal psychopath, but a jihadist warrior.
First, the sniper attacks are taking place during an al Qaeda offensive. The latest statements purportedly from Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and, of course, several from Osama bin Laden, indicated that a new phase was underway. The recent attacks in Yemen, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Philippines, and most devastatingly in Indonesia, are parts of this offensive. So, why not attack the U.S. homeland? Clearly, they have been looking for ways to strike back at us since the failure of their follow on attacks after September 11. This may be it. Remember that we are at war. Seems a salient fact when systematic shooting erupts on the home front.
Second, the attacks are taking place in the nation's capital region. If the bad guys were going to target any particular U.S. city, Washington D.C. would be the place. It is the seat of American power, and the symbol of everything they hate. A sniper on the loose in Washington, killing Americans and not being caught, raises the morale of terrorists everywhere, and emboldens them to greater efforts. If they can hit us here, they can hit us anywhere, and if one of them is succeeding they will all keep trying.
Third, the attacks are against innocents. Al Qaeda has threatened retribution for civilians killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. They have specifically stated that they would take revenge for the killing of women and children, who are among the victims in the recent spate of attacks in this country, including the latest. Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said that the sniper was "stepping over a line" by shooting a 13-year-old schoolchild in Bowie, M.D.; but from the sniper's point of view, he may have been making a point that no one should feel immune, in the same way that Muslim children are not safe from errant American bombs. (Note though that civilians are in fact safer than ever from the negative effects of war.)
Fourth, the tactics are terroristic in nature. The attacks, in their targeting, their frequency, and their location, are intended to spread fear and disrupt the normal flow of life. The sniper has achieved that to a certain degree, though not as much as he might have hoped. Life pretty much goes on in D.C., unless you happen to be caught on the highway when they shut it down following an incident or, of course, are one of the victims.
For some reason, officials and the media seem loath to tie these types of things together. For example, when Hesham Mohammed Ali Hadayet, an Egyptian living in Irvine, California, took a gun to an El Al ticket counter at LAX last July 4 and began shooting patrons before himself being brought down by airline-security guards, the initial reports and official statements said there was "no link" to terrorism. Hello? Egyptian guy shoots up Israeli airline counter wouldn't the prudent working assumption be that it was somehow related to the current unpleasantness? Later of course, it turned out that Hadayet had a history of anti-Israeli beliefs and was sent over the edge by being confronted daily by a Marine Corps banner one of his neighbors had hung from a balcony over his apartment. He may not have been under marching orders from bin Laden, but the organizing principle of al Qaeda is to motivate people to take independent action for the cause whenever possible. Whether or not his actions were "linked" to terrorism, they were terrorism, and were intended to be so.
This discussion may become academic fairly soon. Every time the Washington sniper strikes, more details emerge that could assist in his apprehension. Now police are searching for a light-colored Chevrolet Astrovan with a silver ladder rack and a taillight out. How many of those can there be in the D.C. area? If the sniper sticks with this van, as he seems to have through several attacks, how long will it be before someone sees the vehicle and calls it in? Does he even care? Maybe it is a symbol of his bravado, or perhaps he figures if he gets caught he'll go down fighting and become a martyr. Late and unconfirmed reports also have it that police are seeking an "olive-skinned man in a blue shirt." If there are surveillance cameras at the Seven Corners Shopping Center perhaps we will have video of the attack being committed, maybe even of the gunman himself. That would narrow down the profile, at least.
I know I'm speculating it's what analysts do. The tarot card is a wildcard that doesn't quite fit the Islamicist theory, though the syntax of "Dear Policeman," as Jonah Goldberg* has pointed out, makes one wonder. The above-mentioned cleared former Marine in Baltimore had a tarot card in his van too, and a sign on the dashboard that read "Gihad in America." If anyone can fit all that into a profile I'd like to hear it.
James S. Robbins is a national-security analyst & NRO contributor.
*(Goldberg reference).."I'm with Jim in thinking this is part of the Fall offensive, along with the attacks in Kuwait and off the coast of Yemen. Obviously, we won't know for sure. But what I find most persuasive is the possibility that this is a two man team. That just strikes me as way too professional. Also, the syntax on the "Dear Mr. Policeman" note was weird (though sacriligious). Also, and this, I think, might be a bit of a stretch, but the fact that so many victims are people pumping gas sounds like it might be symbolic. All of these al Quaeda types make such a big deal about our foreign policy being a product of our thirst for oil to feed our cars. Maybe that means something. Or maybe, it's just that gas purchasers make easier targets. Anyway, it's getting pretty bad around here."
The Counties in Maryland and Virginia are darkest shade of the Blue Zone. Both county governments verge on totalitarian states where personal freedom has been curtailed by the Moochers. They prosecuted and jailed a golf course owner for trees and I think they outlawed Christmas. Moose aparently is an imported far leftie.
Place 30-50 temorary high resolution video cameras along the main arteries of the interstates. This will allow the vehicle to be caught on tape and might give a hint as to :
1) Owner, from the license plate
2) Exact vehicle description so people can keep a look out for it.
3) Possible identification of this twisted killer.
But I will say that the frequency of these shootings is rather disturbing. And at this continued rate, that entire area will be negatively affected, in many different ways.
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Prince William County and Spotsylvania County were, and are still, proud members of the Red Zone.
Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties are Blue Zone to the core. . .
You mean, like blaming the U.S. for the Bali bombing. Can you name a terrorist act that al Quaeda has taken credit for? Hint: they blame the Jews for 911.
1. It behooves them and their aides in the media to promote the 'white male right-winger' theory so the residents come to hate and fear their fellow citizens.
2. Are we positive that the tarot card was definitely linked to the perp(s)? If so, how so? And don't forget Atta and his fellow 'devout' Islamists' visits to strip bars prior to 9/11.