Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A rash of unsolved sniper shots in Washington, D.C., is resurrecting concerns that
terrorists may once again be on the loose in the nation’s capital, following an al-Qaida blueprint – not for large-scale bombings, but for smaller, seemingly “random” acts of violence.
According to a Fox News report, the FBI is investigating four nighttime shootings from over the past month, including incidents in which an unknown gunman has taken aim at military buildings, using a high-powered rifle to leave bullet holes in the windows of the Marine recruiting station in Chantilly, Va., the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va., and the Pentagon.
FBI spokeswoman Katherine Schweit has suggested the shooter is simply a “struggling” individual.
“This guy hasn’t hurt anybody. We don’t think he wants to,” she says. “We’re hoping that he’ll turn himself in.”
But a Washington Times editorial worries the shootings are “reminiscent” of the Beltway Snipers, a pair of Muslim men named John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who killed 13 people in D.C. in the fall of 2002.
The Times editorial, however, isn’t allowing questions about the new sniper’s motives and potential ties to terror to be so easily dismissed.
“The Islamic duo has since been held up by al-Qaida as an example of the kind of low-tech, low-cost terrorism that gets results,” the Times editorial states of the Beltway Snipers. “Now, someone is following [orders by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud to target American cities] and attempting to implement a new small-arms offensive.”
Indeed, only a month before Muhammad and Malvo began their sniper attacks, WND reported on an al-Qaida training tape that was captured in Afghanistan and revealed terrorists planning attacks not only with weapons of mass destruction but also with drive-by shootings, home break-ins, ambushes of law-enforcement officers and targeted assassinations.
John Holschen of Insights Training Center, produced a report on the 2002 tape for military and law-enforcement officials.
“The major take-home lesson here,” Holschen wrote, “is that although the enemy is known to be seeking the ability and opportunity to use weapons of mass destruction and of an unconventional nature, such as hijacked airliners, they are also spending a lot of time training to carry out attacks the old-fashioned way – attacks executed by small groups of dedicated personnel equipped with little more than small arms.”
The training video showed al-Qaida operatives practicing the following kinds of assaults:
using pickup trucks with shooters concealed in the bed of the trucks;
using motorcycles as a shooting platform for drive-bys and assassinations;
execution of prisoners;
ambushes of law-enforcement officers;
assassination on a golf course using a rocket-propelled grenade and rifle fire;
drive-up kidnapping of target walking on a street;
use of tunnels, storm drains and sewers for infiltration during urban raids;
rappelling from rooftops of buildings to make entry on upper floors;
use of motorcycles for grenade attacks; and
raids on buildings with large numbers of occupants – perhaps schools or office buildings.
When asked if these techniques are intended for use in the U.S., one military intelligence operative said without hesitation, “Yes.”
In one scenario on the video, terrorists pretend to be stranded on a six-lane highway, their vehicle disabled. When a police officer stops to assist, shooters concealed in the trunk of the car open fire.
Hole drilled in trunk of Beltway Snipers’ car to permit gunfire
Similarly, when Muhammad and Malvo were finally apprehended, police discovered the duo carried out their sniper fire from the trunk of a car, through a hole drilled near the license plate.
Ever since the large-scale attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, however, the growing incidence of “freelance” Islamic terror across America has often been regarded officially as the work of “criminals” or “deranged individuals,” not jihadists and certainly not as an orchestrated attempt to spread terror with small-scale attacks.
For example, the police chief of Bellingham, Wash., where federal agents searched a school that Malvo attended briefly, said the FBI assured him the 2002 D.C. snipers were not acting with any group.
“It appears they have acted on their own,” said the chief.
And following the Nov. 5, 2009, Ft. Hood shooting by Islamic American soldier Major Nidal Malik Hasan – who reportedly cried out “Allahu akbar” before killing 14 and wounding dozens of others – President Obama refused to call the Ft. Hood massacre an act of “terrorism,” but instead suggested to ABC news that Hasan’s shooting may have merely been an instance “in which an individual cracks” under “severe stress.”
American Civil Rights Union Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell blasted the administration for its official wrap-up of the incident:
“The Obama administration promised us an ‘investigation,’” Blackwell writes. “What they delivered is nothing more than a whitewash of years of bureaucratic coddling of terrorism and winking at treason. It didn’t even mention Islamism or jihad.”
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., also released a commentary in the wake of the Ft. Hood shooting, concerned that Americans “underestimate the threat” of a web of terrorists at work in the U.S.
“There has been a troubling refusal by Obama officials to acknowledge that the shooting likely was an act of homegrown terrorism,” Hoekstra wrote. “I fear that our nation is returning to the naive security outlook of Sept. 10, 2001, when radical Islamic terrorist attacks were considered law-enforcement and criminal problems and not threats to our national security.”
He continues, “The president said it is inconceivable that this would happen in America. Wrong. It is not inconceivable and is a growing global problem that needs to be addressed.”