Experts: Terrorists will assess shootings

By Jon Dougherty

Two experts in Middle Eastern terrorism believe international terrorist leaders are carefully assessing the Beltway Sniper’s killing spree, possibly to see how his tactics might be reproduced in other U.S. cities.

Former Green Beret combat veteran John Moore, author of several Special Forces classified studies on Islamic terrorism, also believes American Islamic leaders will distance themselves from John Allen Muhammad, the 41-year-old convert to Islam suspected in the crimes.

“American Islamic leaders will attempt to distance themselves from the perps,” he told WorldNetDaily, but “the Islamic leaders in places like Iran, Iraq, Syria and others – the real high holy men of Islam – will probably praise the shooters.”

Moore says terrorist leaders are likely assessing the impact of the attacks with an eye toward integrating the tactics into future operations and training.

“You can bet that there is a lot of discussion in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida and [other terrorist groups] about how two not-too-terribly bright guys with three-dollars worth of ammunition virtually paralyzed the U.S. capital,” he said.

Other experts agreed.

“I can’t help but think that [some foreign element] was paying attention” to the attacks and reaction to them, said Jamie Smith, a former U.S. Army and CIA special operations veteran.

“I’m still not convinced that foreigners weren’t represented” in the Washington-area shootings, Smith continued. “It could have been a cell operating without any direction. The definition of a cell is the right doesn’t know what the left is doing.”

In an earlier interview with WorldNetDaily, Smith said if the shootings are the work of terrorist “sleeper” cells, they could be operating without direct orders from a command structure.

Regardless, Muslim community leaders in the U.S. are already bracing for blame.

Last week, following the arrest of Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, 17, a spokesman for the American Muslim Council predicted there would be a backlash against the Muslim community.

“The whole Muslim community was praying day and night: ‘God, please. There has to be no connection to Muslims,'” he said.

“We’ll probably have a backlash. People in a hurry will think that this is just a Muslim thing again. The community really fears it,” he added.

Other Islamic community leaders agreed.

“Every time we seem to make some advancements, it’s like we take one step forward and two steps back,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“We’re concerned that because of his last name, Muslims will again be scapegoated, and people who don’t know any better will act on that,” Sabiha Khan, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California, told The Associated Press.

In a wide-ranging interview last week, conducted before Muhammad and Malvo were captured, Moore opined that the shootings were likely Islamic terrorist-related and could even be “a test tactic for future” attacks.

“What’s going on is what I like to call ‘marketing research,'” he said.

Smith agreed, saying that he also believes that – if there is a foreign connection, directly or indirectly – the shootings could have been “market research.”

“You find out what affects one city, then move the operation to other cities and expect certain results,” he said. “It’s not beyond the pale somebody was paying attention to that.”

Besides assessing the response of American and overseas Islamic leaders, Moore this week also said he believes U.S. law-enforcement officials “have to be assessing their response as well, so that if or when this occurs again, they can respond in the most effective manner.”

Asked what foreign terrorist leaders may have learned from the D.C.-area attacks, Moore cited a few simple tactics he said could be used to a terrorist’s advantage in the future.

“By using trained operatives working out of a safe house with adequate funding and proper equipment, they could effectively shut down any major metropolitan area in the U.S.,” he said.

Indeed, reports over the weekend shed light on the fact that despite Muhammad’s homeless status, he had received calls from his travel agent and had flashed a wad of cash at a woman for whom he offered to buy a drink.

Authorities, however, have said they have yet to find a link between the suspects and an organized terrorist group that may have been funding the pair.

Moore, meanwhile, said he also believes terrorist leaders learned a great deal from watching the response of law-enforcement officials.

“Most likely, any law-enforcement response – once there have been a couple of shooting incidents to make it clear what is taking place – would duplicate the efforts in D.C.,” he told WND. “Taking that fact and extrapolating, one could easily determine the best time [to attack] and the best day [to attack] to stage two more ‘hits’ to provoke a response that will ‘gridlock’ any given city.”

He also expressed concern that much of the nation’s critical infrastructure – such as oil and gas, as well as financial systems – are vulnerable to attack.

“It really is quite simple – no electricity, no country,” he said.

Click here for WND’s coverage of the Washington-area sniper attacks