He struck during morning rush hour. He used an AK-47 rifle. He
killed two people and wounded three outside the CIA headquarters in Langley,
Va. Then, he slipped out of the country and eluded authorities for four,
He was the other Beltway shooting spree killer: Mir Aimal Kasi.
On Jan. 25, 1993, the Pakistan-born Kasi opened fire on
commuters as they sat in their cars waiting at a stoplight outside the CIA
complex. He gunned down Frank A. Darling, 28, an officer in covert
operations, and Lansing H. Bennett, 66, an intelligence analyst. Darling's
wife, a CIA logistics officer who was in the car with her husband during the
monstrous rampage, described diving to the floorboard when the shooting
began. Judith Darling looked up to see her husband shot in the head, with
"skin hanging everywhere."
Kasi (who also went by the surname "Kansi") later said he
committed the capital murders in response to America's "wrong policy" toward
Muslim countries. He said he didn't know his victims. And he wasn't
interested in claiming credit or glory. He said he simply wanted to punish
the United States for its role in bombing Iraq, its involvement in the
killing of Palestinians, and the meddling of the CIA in the internal affairs
of Muslim nations.
Next month, Kasi is scheduled to die by injection in Virginia
for the brutal killings. As law enforcement officials search for the unknown
sniper or snipers responsible for the latest shooting spree in the Beltway
area, it's worth remembering the Kasi case for the motive and means. We
cannot afford to ignore the role that lax immigration policies have played
in abetting bloody terrorist acts against innocent Americans on American
Despite his history as a known Pakistani militant who had
participated in anti-American demonstrations, Kasi entered the United States
with a phony business visa in 1991 and overstayed. Next, he invoked the
magic words -- "political asylum" -- based on his status as an ethnic
Pakistani minority, and was granted a stay and work authorization.
While his asylum claim was pending in a system that remains
backlogged and fraud-ridden, Kasi found a job as a courier, obtained a
driver's license in Virginia, secured Social Security documents, purchased
an AK-47, and then murdered the two CIA agents and wounded several others in
broad daylight. The day after the shooting spree, Kasi fled to Pakistan from
Washington, D.C.'s National Airport.
In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper, The News, he said:
"I knew the area well and had surveyed it before and that's why it was easy
for me to slip out after the killing." The manhunt for Kasi, who took refuge
in Pakistan and Afghanistan, lasted four years. He was finally taken into
custody along the Pakistan-Afghan border in the summer of 1997 and brought
back for trial.
At least one crazed Middle Eastern gunman has sought revenge on
behalf of Muslims by gunning down Americans near the nation's capital and
slipping in and out of our country with murderous ease. Could it be
happening again? Why not? The entry and exit doors remain wide open to
Kasi's fellow travelers.
Correction: In my last column, I misstated the caliber of the
bullets used by the unknown Beltway-area sniper(s). They are .223-caliber,
not .22-caliber. Thanks to all my readers who quickly spotted the error.