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Who Is the Sniper? Behind the Evil.
NRO ^ | October 15, 2002, 9:00 a.m. | James S. Robbins

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."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; US: Maryland; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: jihadinamerica
If constantly looking over ones shoulder..being afraid to move about freely in everyday life: work, school,shopping,getting gas,entertainment and just stepping out the front door is now a common "think pattern" shrouded in fear by all those in the DC,Va,Maryland area, then I would say sadly enough the assailant has achieved his purpose.
1 posted on 10/15/2002 7:16:27 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
I tend to concur that the shooter is Al Queda but.....

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.

2 posted on 10/15/2002 7:33:44 AM PDT by bert
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To: fight_truth_decay
Sleeper cell activation
3 posted on 10/15/2002 8:02:09 AM PDT by joesnuffy
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To: fight_truth_decay
Here's an idea:

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.

4 posted on 10/15/2002 8:03:52 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Someone let me know if this is possible: Now that winter is setting in, can't they use airborn either heat-detecting units or infrared-vision equipement to track isolated body heat patterns in obscure areas around DC? I know it's a lot of ground to cover, but sweeps of such areas might reveal someone setting up for a shot. It takes time to plan and set up even for a cowardly attack on innocent civilians. Proximity may be an issue, but really, it's time to break out all the resources we can to get this guy.
5 posted on 10/15/2002 8:27:19 AM PDT by Caipirabob
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To: 1Old Pro
http://www.scotsman.com/webcam_frameset.cfm?id=34

..Great Idea!..agree like on this above site..view panoramics of England and Scotland via cam. Also where is the drive around security at these malls? Where I go there are always security guys driving around, and I live in a quiet area of New England.
6 posted on 10/15/2002 8:27:23 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
It could go either way; we really don't have enough information yet. The killings are calculated to produce a terror effect. That's obvious. But it also doesn't fit the Al Qaeda m.o. It fits a lunatic m.o. (the whole "I am god" thing..). That doesn't mean it isn't AQ--they are criminally creative--but it makes me wonder.
7 posted on 10/15/2002 8:28:24 AM PDT by RAT Patrol
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To: 1Old Pro
There already are cameras on the interstates around DC, good enough to read license plates. We got a letter once from the DMV when my wife drove down to Gaithersburg on 270, and they were doing a survey of road-use patterns. The letter asked basic questions; what was the purpose of the trip, how often did we use the road, etc. But it was a bit chilling to know that they could track a lot of cars that way. Now I wish they could use the technology to find the shooter.
8 posted on 10/15/2002 8:32:25 AM PDT by cogitator
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To: fight_truth_decay
Not enough evidence to make a judgment or to state an opinion at this point. It could be a pissed off, homegrown wack job, or a foreign terrorist. We shall see.

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.

9 posted on 10/15/2002 8:33:13 AM PDT by Joe Hadenuf
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To: bert
Nothing surprises me anymore, but if the shooter(s) is/are Al-Quaeda: 1. why doesn't he/they say so (i.e. Al-Quaeda's been claiming credit for anything smelling like terrorism these days), and 2. why would any devout islamofascist blaspheme by saying, "I am God"?
10 posted on 10/15/2002 8:34:07 AM PDT by pawdoggie
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To: fight_truth_decay
I don't think the shooter is an Al Qaeda terrorist because one of his victims was an Indian (Hindu) cab driver. I know there is no love lost between Hindus and Muslims, but physically, Indians are indistinguishable from Pakistanis, and can be similar in appearance to Arabs. If the shooter is a radical Muslim, why would he shoot someone who could very well be Muslim himself, when there are plenty of targets around who are probably not Muslims, i.e., whites, hispanics, and asians? I know that Al Qaeda has killed Muslims in the past, but only as "collateral damage" in attacks against Westerners, or specifically targeted individuals who hold anti-fundamentalist views, e.g., Sadat and Masoud.
11 posted on 10/15/2002 8:37:11 AM PDT by Ed_in_LA
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To: RAT Patrol
Al Qaeda has shown some willingness to violate Muslim religious code. For instance, the hijackers shaved off their beards and some apparently got short haircuts. For strict Muslims, that's a no-no.

Saying "I am God" on a Tarot card would be pretty strange for a Muslim too. If anything, it's even more blasphemous for them than it would be for a Christian. But it could be a kind of shorthand for "I am God's instrument" or "I am doing Allah's will." And I'm not sure how strictly Muslim some of these terrorists are. It's a strange blend of Wahhabism, Communism, and Fascism which comes to them through the Arab Brotherhood. So these guys may not be Islamic in the pure sense any more than members of the IRA are good Catholics. Your typical IRA enforcer is more Marxist than Catholic, although he might want to confess and receive last rites before dying.
12 posted on 10/15/2002 8:44:53 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: fight_truth_decay
The liberals in this country are very afraid that if the shooter is discovered to be Al Qaeda there could be a terrible back lash against the Muslims living in this country. Should there be? What possible reason other than greed, sabotage, or colonization could a Muslim possibly have for permanent residency in this country since they stay in their own tight little enclaves and insist on observing 'their' customs and maintaining their own narrow world view even when it is contrary to the best interests of America? Each American has to answer these questions for themselves but rest assured that the Muslims will not show you the same mercy and consideration that they demand for themselves.
13 posted on 10/15/2002 8:45:30 AM PDT by MoGalahad
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To: All
I find it interesting that the media tends to discount a Muslim / Al Qaeda connection because of the use of a tarot card, which is outside the norm for Muslims. What they fail to see is that Islam is nothing more than a tool for the terrorists. Just as Saddam Hussein suddenly found religion during the Gulf War and made a point of being shown taking part in prayer, even though he is in no way devout for any religion, this is how Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are using Islam.
14 posted on 10/15/2002 8:52:00 AM PDT by WillVoteForFood
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To: fight_truth_decay; *JIHAD IN AMERICA; Grampa Dave; Clovis_Skeptic; ladyinred; veronica; ...
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15 posted on 10/15/2002 9:04:29 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: fight_truth_decay
The best way to hunt a sniper is with a sniper. But I seriously doubt the sheep-like beraucrats in D.C. will ever actually do something to defend themselves.
16 posted on 10/15/2002 9:09:05 AM PDT by CyberSpartacus
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To: bert
Ahem.

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. . .

17 posted on 10/15/2002 9:12:34 AM PDT by Salgak
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To: pawdoggie
Al-Quaeda's been claiming credit for anything smelling like terrorism these days...

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.

18 posted on 10/15/2002 9:16:29 AM PDT by js1138
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To: pawdoggie
1. why doesn't he/they say so (i.e. Al-Quaeda's been claiming credit for anything smelling like terrorism these days), and 2. why would any devout islamofascist blaspheme by saying, "I am God"?

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.

19 posted on 10/15/2002 9:19:20 AM PDT by LisaFab
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To: Ed_in_LA
You're off base. The man wouldn't have to be of any particular religion; the al Qaeda murderers killed indescriminately on 9/11.
20 posted on 10/15/2002 9:20:23 AM PDT by MHGinTN
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To: MHGinTN
"An FBI agent is the latest victim of the Washington-area sniper, and investigators said Tuesday they were confident that detailed witness accounts from the scene will lead them to the person who has now killed nine people. Linda Franklin, 47, of Arlington, was shot in the head Monday night outside a Home Depot in Falls Church, Va."
http://www.dallasnews.com


21 posted on 10/15/2002 9:33:07 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: RAT Patrol
It could go either way; we really don't have enough information yet. The killings are calculated to produce a terror effect. That's obvious. But it also doesn't fit the Al Qaeda m.o. It fits a lunatic m.o. (the whole "I am god" thing..). That doesn't mean it isn't AQ--they are criminally creative--but it makes me wonder.

What if there are three two-man al Qaeda cells operting in concert? Not only would they be able to stay local, but they would utterly confound the police -- sending them on a wild goose chase of trying to identify a non-existent profiled perp through contradictory eye witness reports.

It is brilliant, and it doesn't even require immediate suicide.

22 posted on 10/15/2002 9:38:37 AM PDT by Maceman
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To: Maceman
Isn't it interesting to note that journalists always give the Al Quaeda connected criminals more intelligence and cunning yet we see evidence of dumbass inMassoui and Richard Reid - the sniper must be a redneck American(in spite of the fact he is getting away with it) and of course dumber than these low life Muslim terrorists.
Does this guy have civil war club roots? Many of these towns are famous civil war battlefield sites . I knew many sharp shooters in these clubs and maybe they know one that has kooked out lately over an issue. some of the towns didn't exist then but the first ones in Va read like a history lesson.
23 posted on 10/15/2002 9:48:38 AM PDT by newzhawk
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To: fight_truth_decay
For some reason, officials and the media seem loath to tie these types of things together.

That reason: The coming national elections.

The media loathes tying this to terrorism because they fear it will drive voters to pull the lever for Republicans as a show of support for President Bush.

I have no doubt that their tune will change after election day.

24 posted on 10/15/2002 10:35:34 AM PDT by Fixit
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To: fight_truth_decay
My bet is 60-40 it's Al-Qaeda or similar Islamics. Al-Qaeda showed that it can plan for 2 years, spend only $500,000, hijack 4 airplanes, have 3 of them hit serious targets and impact US life and our economy. There are many incompetent/idiot Jihadists. I'm worried about the very clever ones. Such as this sniper or snipers. He is creating much chaos and fear on a low budget.

Asymmetrical warfare
25 posted on 10/15/2002 10:49:57 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: okie01; Mitchell
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.

I've been kinda sayin' the same thing about the Anthrax profile - I doubt that the experiential "data" in the profile includes non-American psychologies, rather probably just includes domestic instances of similar events, like the hoax anti-abortion anthrax mailers of the recent past.

26 posted on 10/15/2002 10:51:13 AM PDT by Shermy
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To: dennisw
Bang on! Terror is the goal. Everything is subservient to that.
27 posted on 10/15/2002 10:53:47 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: Shermy
FWIW, some posters have mused, if this is a terrorist attack, about the significance of the dates (knowing how anal-retentive Islamists tend to be). We all know about the Yom Kippur War, but what I didn't realize is that it is referred to as "the October war" in Islamic circles.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002
"Islam is the religion of tolerance...but also jihad" Syrian Friday sermon 11 October 2002

"Islam is the religion of tolerance...but also jihad" Syrian Friday sermon
11 October 2002
[FBIS (U.S. government agency) Report]

Damascus Syria Arab Republic Radio in Arabic, official station of the Syrian Government, carries on 11 October 2002 at 0944 GMT a live sermon from
Al-Zahra Mosque in Damascus.

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad al-Habash delivers the sermon....

Dealing with the subject of jihad, the imam says: "There is a need
today to speak about jihad. Islam is the religion of tolerance, mercy, and
love. But, it is also the religion of justice and jihad, and peace and
power. It is not sound to imagine that the arrogant on earth have suddenly
turned meek and that we could stop Zionist designs against Palestine with
wisdom and good word. The tyranny that the Zionists practice daily on the
land of Palestine, calls upon us to resurrect the message of jihad." God
ordained jihad so this nation would repulse oppression, establish justice,
and deal with life with realism and rationalism, he says, adding: There must
be force to protect justice and deter oppression.

"But, this jihad, which God has ordained as a means to achieve justice
on earth," the imam says, "is being distorted in Western circles. They
confuse terrorism with the right to legitimate resistance. The arrogant on
earth are vying with one another in describing jihad as a form of
aggression. Unfortunately, some erroneous Muslim concepts contribute to
spreading this wrong image of jihad."

The imam addresses President Bashar al-Asad, saying Arabs and Muslims
"await a new October." This is the people's hope, he says, while they
witness Zionist atrocities in Khan Yunus, Ramallah, Rafah, and Janin. "The
only language that can change the attitude of this arrogant tyrant and war
criminal, who is committing murder daily, is jihad as ordained by Allah and
offered to us by the October War," he adds.

The imam says: "The Zionist lobby today is leading the United States,
the master of the world, to an all-out confrontation with the Islamic World.
The United States speaks like a great power to the world, but turns into a
lowly agent for the Zionists when the matter concerns the designs of the
Zionist lobby. The US Congress approved a law recognizing Jerusalem as the
capital of the Hebrew state thereby flouting all international laws."


28 posted on 10/15/2002 12:35:17 PM PDT by browardchad
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To: fight_truth_decay
One posibility is that this person(s) is a terrorist wantabe. They are islamic, been in this country for some time, never assimulated, not totally stupid, a little crazy, goes frequently to a mosque and hears praise for the terrorists. Feeling the need for praise and glory, but too chicken to go the suicide route, he goes the random acts of violence route. He finds that it is difficult to catch him and he becomes emboldened to kill frequently.

Get eyes in the sky and let the tapes roll. Follow suspicious vehicles for a while and hope we get lucky.

Be systematic and check out every white van owner (including businesses). Yes there are a lot, but we have a lot of people on the case and it rappidly shrinks the pool down.

If I were a liberal, I would ban all white vans from the road. So what's up K.K.T.

29 posted on 10/15/2002 1:04:44 PM PDT by Revolutionary
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To: Ed_in_LA
That cab driver had two American flags prominently displayed on his cab.
30 posted on 10/15/2002 2:40:35 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: Revolutionary
Would wannabes do such a good job? These guys are pros.
31 posted on 10/15/2002 2:44:07 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: Ed_in_LA
but he has been Americanized..and a traitor in the "killer's" eyes?
32 posted on 10/15/2002 2:44:14 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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