- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

RICHMOND A Pakistani man sentenced to die for the 1993 shooting deaths of two CIA employees in Virginia lost his bid for a new trial yesterday.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Aimal Khan Kasi's claim that his arrest in Pakistan violated an extradition treaty.

Kasi also argued that Virginia courts failed to force the government to produce evidence that might weigh in his favor and that a juror might have been influenced by a news report about the slayings of four Americans in Pakistan soon after the trial began. The appeals court found no merit in those claims.

Kasi's attorney, Charles Russell Burke of Virginia Beach, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

State Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore characterized the ruling as a victory in the war against terrorism.

"America is engaged in a difficult war against an elusive enemy, but our court system has struck a blow for our way of life," he said. "The rest of the terrorist world must know that we will severely punish those who engage in such acts of violent cowardice."

Kasi, who was identified as Mir Aimal Kasi in court documents, told the Associated Press in a 1999 death-row interview that he was not a terrorist, but a political prisoner who "did my moral duty by attacking CIA." He said he had no regrets about shooting Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett with an AK-47 assault rifle as they sat in their cars outside CIA headquarters in Fairfax County during the morning rush hour on Jan. 25, 1993.

Kasi had been living in Virginia, but returned to Pakistan the day after the shootings.

He eluded FBI agents for more than four years before they captured him in a hotel room in Pakistan and returned him to the United States. He confessed to the slayings during the return flight, saying he was angry about CIA meddling in Muslim nations.

Kasi's attorneys argued that the FBI failed to follow procedures outlined in an extradition treaty with Pakistan. The appeals court disagreed, ruling that the treaty did not expressly prohibit the FBI from seizing a wanted criminal and returning him to the United States.

"Kasi was forcibly abducted by United States officials and returned to this country, perhaps with the acquiescence of the Pakistani government or other Pakistani citizens, but not in violation of the terms of the extradition treaty between the two countries," Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote.

The court said the state has no authority over the federal files sought by Kasi and noted that he failed to point to any specific document that might have aided in his defense.

The juror who heard a portion of the radio report about the slayings in Pakistan was thoroughly questioned by the trial judge, and the 4th Circuit judges "are satisfied that it was sufficient to assure that Kasi was tried by a fair and impartial jury," Judge Traxler wrote.

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