- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

The Fairfax prosecutor who sent a militant Muslim to death row for killing two CIA agents in broad daylight in 1993 has long contended the killer had no ties to terrorist cells scattered across the country. Now he thinks he was wrong Mir Aimal Kasi of Pakistan may not have acted alone.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan began having second thoughts about the case when the pre-trial evidence he had assembled more than four years ago began to dovetail with information developed by federal investigators over the past 12 days.
Bells went off, for example, when Mr. Horan read that federal and international investigators had zeroed in on Hamburg, Germany, and arrested three suspected terrorists who were part of a cell dedicated to the "spectacular destruction" of key American buildings.
The information was interesting, but not enough for Mr. Horan to suspect Kasi was part of a terrorist network, which may have helped him plan the killings.
Had he known, four years ago, that "there are cells operating in at least one part of Germany, we may have handled it differently," Mr. Horan told The Washington Times.
Eight years ago, Kasi sprayed bullets from a newly purchased AK-47 rifle into the cars of Frank A. Darling and Dr. Lansing Bennett. Both were waiting at a stoplight outside CIA headquarters in McLean, and both were killed instantly. Three other persons were wounded.
Kasi, 37, grew up in a wealthy family in Quetta, Pakistan, about 40 miles from the Aghanistan border. Ethnically, he is a Pashtun, a minority group in his part of Pakistan, but the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan.
In late 1990, a year after his father died, Kasi made what is now seen as a curious trip to Germany before coming to the United States in 1991, when he settled in Virginia, frequently shifting apartments, or staying with friends.
According to an intelligence brief prepared by an analyst at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, an independent think tank, Kasi fled to New York the day after the killings and boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Karachi, a city on Pakistan's Indian Ocean coastline. From there he went to his hometown of Quetta. Later he crossed the Afghan border and took refuge in a Pashtun tribal area.
On June 15, 1997, after 29 months of tracking him, FBI agents captured Kasi in a motel on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, and he was brought back to the United States for trial.
During his trial in 1998, Kasi said he had no religious preference. However, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports he told the FBI he would not shoot women because it was against his Muslim religion.
Also, an FBI agent testified Kasi said he wanted to punish the United States for bombing Iraq, its involvement in the killing of Palestinians, and the deep involvement of the CIA in the internal affairs of Muslim countries.
"He certainly indicated that his intention was to make a political statement," Mr. Horan said.
"He indicated that he was going to take people out at either the CIA or the Israeli Embassy, but he chose the CIA because he felt there would be fewer people around with weapons."
Another link that might bear looking into is the fact that in February of 1993, one month after Kasi killed the two CIA agents, a truck bomb exploded under the New York's World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 people.
The man who planned the bombing, Ramzi Yousef, fled the country using the same route Kasi had taken 30 days before. He, too, was later captured, convicted and sentenced to more than 200 years in prison by a federal judge in New York City.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Kasi is the only Muslim terrorist that he knows of on death row. He said the killings outside the CIA "may have been religiously motivated in a sort of abhorrent way, and I don't have any reason to deny he was part of a [terrorist] cell," Mr. Dieter said.
Kasi has been on death row since Feb. 6, 1998. He has appealed 91 legal issues before the Virginia Supreme Court. One of his claims was that the methods used by the FBI to bring him back to America were illegal.
On Sept. 11, the day the World Trade Center was attacked and collapsed, killing more than 6,000 people, and the day almost 200 died in the attack on the Pentagon, a federal magistrate in Norfolk recommended Kasi's latest appeal be rejected.

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