Ex-CIA operative: Shootings likely terrorism

By Jon Dougherty

A former U.S. Army and CIA special operations veteran says the nature of the Washington-area shootings make him “lean more toward” believing they are terrorist acts.

Also, says Jamie Smith, head of Smith Consulting Group – a security consulting agency – whoever is terrorizing the populace with indiscriminate sniper attacks likely has “some level” of military or paramilitary training.

The military has “three types of snipers,” explained Smith, who holds a doctorate in law and who recently returned from missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“You have the highly trained sniper, the trained marksman and an armed irregular. This shooter seems to have at least as much training as a trained marksman,” he said, judging by his ability to squeeze off deadly shots and elude capture afterward.

The 14-year special-ops veteran and former director of the Navy’s Antiterrorism Warfare Development Program said other clues lending weight to his theory include the fact that the shootings don’t fit any traditional killing-spree pattern: The shooter is “not taking souvenirs, he’s not disorganized and seems like he has a sound plan” of operation, indicating forethought and preparation.

Also indicative of the terrorism angle, he says, is the fact that the Department of Defense is now getting involved in the hunt for the sniper.

“You’ve got to think that the powers that be consider this at least a strong likelihood that a foreign influence is doing this, because they’ve now turned national security assets over to it,” he said.

Smith was referring to an announcement by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier this week that he was assigning U.S. Army surveillance planes – with infrared equipment aboard that is used to spot gunfire – to help look for the sniper.

“The FBI has a lot of investigative muscle,” he added. “For them to seek the assistance of the defense establishment tells me there is something else going on.”

Smith also said he believes, as do an increasing number of police officers and terrorism experts, that there may be more than just one killer involved – that whoever is doing the shooting is operating in a two-man team.

“You can’t squeeze a shot off, pack your weapon, crank up the vehicle and then drive out” and avoid police dragnets and witnesses without help, Smith said. “It makes sense there might be more than one” individual involved, he added.

Smith said he’d seen al-Qaida training tapes, like the one first disclosed by WorldNetDaily in September, while on duty in central Asia.

“[Al-Qaida operatives] use a lot of vehicles and a kind of dual hit-and-run where you have one driver and one shooter,” he said.

In one particular scenario, “they use a motorcycle,” he said. “As they approach the target, the guy on back stands up on the rear motorcycle pegs and actually shoots over the driver’s head as they pass the victim.”

Al-Qaida operatives also have trained in home invasions and abductions, as well as “assassinations at your door,” he said.

Though the Bush administration has not identified the shootings as terrorism-related, Smith pointed out an irony: The shootings began “around the time of the first anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan,” when U.S.-led forces attacked the Taliban-led government harboring known al-Qaida operatives and terrorist training camps.

That, “coupled with the fact that all efforts so far have been focused around D.C.,” lends itself well that it could be terrorist-related, he said. And, al-Qaida has been blamed for several other terrorist-related incidents worldwide, indicating an upswing in activity.

Smith added that if the shootings are the work of terrorist cells, they could be operating without direct orders from a command structure.

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility,” he said.

Terrorism is obviously on the minds of several top U.S. officials, including the heads of both intelligence agencies, who predicted new attacks against the U.S. – assaults that likely would not be detected or thwarted beforehand.

“You must make the analytical judgment that the possibility exists that people are planning to attack you inside the United States – multiple simultaneous attacks,” CIA Director George Tenet told a joint House-Senate intelligence panel on Thursday. “We’re the enemy. We’re the people they want to hurt inside this country.”

Tenet also said the current situation is similar to the time just before 9-11.

Added FBI Director Robert Mueller: “I have a hard time telling the country that you should be comfortable, that we’ve covered all the bases, in the wake of what we saw they were able to accomplish on Sept. 11.”

Smith indicated such frank warnings were uncharacteristic of the agency’s top officials, but said they should be taken very seriously by the American people.

“For the director to say something like that, in open forum, sitting by the FBI director, is remarkable,” he said. “They usually try to keep that kind of information out of the public debate.”

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