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It could just be the timing of the stories...

... and perhaps it's been played up for that reason, but there seems to me to be an echo of similarity between two major stories in the news right now.

Specifically, an aspect of the Maryland shootings suggests something deliberate, ideological, and not requiring an expert sniper:

"You've got a driver, you've got a shooter," Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose said. Police said the description of men in a white van came from a witness to one of the murders. ...

... Joseph Riehl, spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said a person with reasonable shooting skills could accurately use a weapon with .223-caliber bullets from about 150 yards. Riehl said such weapons can be accurate up to about 650 yards.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, a group is arrested for suspected links to al Qaeda and terrorist plots. According to the New York Times, "One of the men arrested today had been an Army reservist who had training in United States military tactics and weapons, the attorney general said." CNN expands the picture a bit:

Four of the six also face charges of possessing and discharging firearms in support of a crime. That charge stems from an incident in which four of the men were caught firing weapons at a gravel pit in Portland.

There was also a fifth man there that night, Kahled Ali Steitiye, who is named in the indictment as an "unindicted co-conspirator." Steitiye was arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force several months ago and convicted of felony possession of firearms and fraud. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Of course, this represents a significant degree of speculation, but still, it's hardly unfounded.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 08:53 PM EST


I've been fearing the same thing. In a way, I'm almost hoping it's just some lunatic on a killing spree. We could safely regard him as an isolated (nut)case, arrest him, prosecute him, grieve with the families, and continue from there. If it's a terrorist--then where there's one, there could easily be a dozen. Plus, it would mean they finally figured out yet another frightfully easy way to exploit our freedoms; this time, those of gun ownership and access to the roads. Look at what trying to prevent a second 9/11 did to the airports, and ask what it will take to calm fears about going out on the streets, if people believe more terrorists are busy planning drive-bys.

What alarms me most is the report that two people may be involved in the shootings. I was under the impression the typical murderer on a killing spree goes solo....

R.W. @ 10/04/2002 10:06 PM EST


Well, exploiting freedoms is one of the strategies of terrorists.

As probably often proves to be the case, I think the answer may be more freedom. The LAX shooting and any number of various instances of gun violence (there was one at a college fairly recently that comes to mind) have come to more expedient ends because somebody in the vicinity was packing heat (although this detail seems to be left out of major news accounts with disturbing frequency).

In fact, Kathryn Lopez pointed out that the area that the sniper is terrorizing is famous for gun control.

I'd even go so far as to say that part of what makes a "politically corrected" culture a perfect victim for such terrorism is the restraint on freedom (and logic, for that matter) placed on the general public.

Justin Katz @ 10/04/2002 10:28 PM EST