Beltway killer likely foreign

By Paul Sperry

WASHINGTON – Usually, mass murderers leave an imprint in the communities where they live, even the loners. Their neighbors or co-workers know at least something of their lifestyle to eventually lead investigators to their doorstep.

Not so with the Beltway sniper (or snipers).

More than two weeks have passed since he began randomly assassinating people in precise, business-like fashion. And yet no neighbor or co-worker has come forward with a solid tip to help police catch him – despite a $500,000 reward for such information.

Most of the tips so far have come in from Maryland residents upset with neighbors with illegal rifles, authorities say.

A Baltimore woman apparently even tried to frame her estranged boyfriend who had several rifles – after she shot him.

The lack of serious leads troubles veteran investigators. No one in the area seems to know who could be doing the heinous shootings, which have claimed nine lives, despite graphic details about the type of vehicles used in the shootings. At least one witness has even reported seeing Maryland tags on the white work van seen fleeing the Home Depot shooting in Falls Church, Va.

“What I find troubling is that this guy has not established an imprint in his neighborhood,” said I.C. Smith, a former senior FBI agent who worked in counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

“There’s a half-million dollar reward out there right now, but still no information,” he told WorldNetDaily.

Smith, who also headed the FBI’s Arkansas field office before retiring in 1998, thinks it’s a sign the sniper recently moved to the area and hasn’t lived in the area long enough to form relationships with residents. He may be an immigrant, possibly visiting on a visa like the Sept. 11 hijackers.

He says investigators can’t rule out the possibility that the sniper may have been absorbed by a Muslim community that’s anchored by a large mosque or Islamic center in Maryland or Virginia – one that may be less inclined to provide police with tips.

Two of the 19 al-Qaida hijackers attended a large mosque in Falls Church and were supported in their efforts to obtain illegal IDs by at least one other member of the mosque. Other hijackers reportedly attended Islamic centers in Maryland.

Smith says he’s also struck by the lack of common traits among the sniper’s victims.

“Victims usually tell you a lot about the shooter,” he said. “But not in this case.”

“Initially I thought this might be a racial thing,” he added. “But then more whites were shot,” the latest being an FBI analyst.

Victims have been both male and female, and have included Hispanics, whites, blacks and an Indian. They’ve also ranged in age from 13 to 72.

The only thing they all have in common, as best Smith can figure, is simply that they were all living in America at the time they were shot.

Authorities at Thursday’s task-force press conference said one of the several Home Depot witnesses lied about seeing the sniper. Police said information he provided about a “cream-colored” van and an AK-74 rifle is not credible.

Police also scolded the media for reporting other witness descriptions of the sniper and/or driver as dark- or olive-skinned and resembling a Middle Eastern man, although they did not specifically discredit that information as being inaccurate.

Associated Press reporter Allen G. Breed, for one, reported Tuesday that a Washington construction worker said he saw two men in an Astro van outside the Home Depot. He described the driver as a short man of slight build who “appeared to be Mideastern.”

“I got a good look at the guy,” said the witness, Robert Young.

The driver “seemed to be excessively irritated because he couldn’t pull into my lane,” he said. “I thought this fool was going to want to get out of the van and duke or something. But he didn’t. He kept on going.”

AP’s Breed also reported that an unnamed law-enforcement official told him that another witness gave a description of “a dark-skinned, possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern, man in a white van.”

Police descriptions overheard on police scanners the night of the Home Depot shooting mentioned an “olive-skinned” suspect or suspects.

The Virginia eyewitness descriptions of a Hispanic-looking suspect match ones by witnesses in the Maryland shootings two weeks earlier.

A BOLO, or be-on-the-lookout, alert issued by the Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department after the first round of shootings described two “Hispanic” men in a white box truck, as WorldNetDaily first reported Oct. 4.

Click here to read previous WND stories on the sniper attacks.