- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Virginia authorities are ramping up security around the state as execution day approaches for a Pakistani national who killed two CIA employees in 1993 outside the agency's Langley headquarters.
Aimal Khan Kasi is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarret. The State Department has issued a worldwide caution that the execution could trigger retaliatory attacks against American interests abroad.
While authorities perceive the threat to be greatest overseas, Virginia's top homeland-security official, John H. Hager, said local officials "are aware of the situation, and we urge businesses to exercise caution."
"With regards to the execution itself, we are taking into account the national nature of it and have taken appropriate measures," added Virginia Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall, who declined to elaborate.
No new warnings related to the Kasi execution were issued this week, but the State Department's initial caution last Wednesday cited the Oct. 14 bomb blast that killed nearly 200 people at a night club in Bali, Indonesia. The warning stated "terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets."
Virginia Capitol Police Capt. Larry R. Dollings said police are "trying to have a greater visibility on the day of the execution. We're going to try to have a few more officers in the Capitol complex area, and that's what the public is probably going to see."
Capt. Dollings said Col. George B. Mason Jr., the chief of Capitol police, recently met with the FBI, Virginia State Police and State Department officials to plan for the added security around potential targets for retaliation in Richmond.
Kasi, a Muslim, has insisted he is not a terrorist and that he worked spontaneously and alone when he opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle outside CIA headquarters on Jan. 25, 1993.
CIA workers Frank Darling, 28, and Lansing Bennet, 66, were killed in the attack as they sat in their cars at a stoplight. Three other men were wounded as Kasi walked along, pumping bullets into a row of stopped cars.
After the shooting, Kasi, 38, fled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where FBI agents eventually tracked him down and arrested him in a hotel room. He was brought to Fairfax County, where he was convicted of capital murder in 1997.
Days after he received the death sentence, four employees of an American oil company were fatally gunned down in Karachi, Pakistan, although the killings never officially were connected to Kasi's conviction.
In two appeals to the Supreme Court, Kasi's attorneys have argued that the FBI acted illegally in arresting him in Pakistan and bringing him back to the United States. The appeals are still pending, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on them this week.
As Kasi's execution has approached, Pakistan's government has gotten involved, asking Virginia authorities to intervene and stop the execution.
Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan's deputy ambassador in Washington, said Pakistani officials responding to requests from Kasi's family contacted Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, asking that Kasi be granted a reprieve. "We did not get an official response yet," Mr. Sadiq said yesterday.
Mr. Warner, a Democrat who has supported the death penalty during his tenure, has declined to comment on Kasi's case until Kasi's appeal to the Supreme Court has been resolved. Three Virginia prisoners have been executed since Mr. Warner took office.
"The governor will be making his clemency decision based on whether the accused might be innocent," said Ellen Qualls, a spokeswoman for Mr. Warner. She added the governor's office has not received any indication that Kasi's execution would jeopardize national or international security other than the State Department's generalized warning last week.
In an interview with the Associated Press from death row last week, Kasi said he hopes that fellow Muslims do not retaliate when he is executed, and that he is not encouraging any retaliation.
"You know, particularly in Pakistan, people like me very much," he said. "What I did was a retaliation against the U.S. government" for American policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel.
Mr. Sadiq said Kasi has won recognition in Pakistan not because of what he did, but because he is a Pakistani national who is set to be executed in America.
"People know Amil Kasi because of the reports about his case in the local and international media, not because he is a political figure," Mr. Sadiq said. "He has no political group or party behind him."
He said Pakistan is not against the death penalty, as it exists there for crimes such as what Kasi has been convicted of in the United States. "Generally when a person is getting executed there is a certain amount of sympathy for them. But it's more human and national than political," Mr. Sadiq said.
Newspapers in Pakistan, however, have taken up Kasi's cause. "Pardoning him at this stage by President Bush will definitely have a very healthy effect, not only on Pakistani-U.S. relations but on the entire Muslim world, where the sentiments against America have been growing," stated an editorial on Monday in the Baluchistan Times, according to the Associated Press.

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