On October 2:
James Martin, 55, program analyst, was shot in the parking lot of Shoppers Food Warehouse in Glenmont, Maryland.
On October 3:
James “Sonny” Buchanan, 39, landscaper, was shot while mowing grass at the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Rockville at 7:40AM.
At 8:12, Premkumar Walekar, 54, driver, was shot fueling his taxicab at a Mobile station in Aspen Hill.
At 8:37 AM, Sarah Ramos, 34, babysitter and housekeeper, was shot sitting on a bench In front of Aspen Hill’s “Crisp and Juicy” restaurant reading a book.
At 9:58 AM Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, wife and mother, took a bullet in the head while vacuuming her car at a Shell station in Kensington.
At 9:15 PM Pascal Charlot, 72, retired carpenter, was shot while walking on Georgia Avenue in Washington, D.C.
The victims had no connection with each other.
They all died.
It was Jihad.
Schools in the territory of the shootings went on lockdown.
The gaping rifts in the lives of the families left behind by those first victims was just a microcosm of the rip in the mindset of the country. By the end of October 3, the terrorism of the World Trade Center bombings a year earlier had, by these few simple acts, spread across the nation. These events commanded the attention of everyone conscious of “news.” Those susceptible to terror were terrified.
But it was not over. For three more weeks in contiguous areas of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, shots rang out. Out of nowhere. Killing victims as young as 13 at random. Anywhere out in the open. There was no conceivable defense.
Terrorism is a particular kind of violence. Those who say, “War IS terror” are doing violence to the language. It is not. The word “terrorism” means unpredictable acts of random violence against peaceful populations whose only purpose is to disrupt civilization by spreading fear.
The Beltway snipings were spectacularly effective acts of terrorism. All told, the campaign included about 17 “shootings” and several of those victims survived. It is hard to imagine more damage being done to American public confidence with such a small death toll. The message seared in the nation’s subconscious was that the terror was not confined, indeed, could not be confined, to a foreign “enemy.” It might arise anywhere at any time.
When the Beltway snipers were arrested, on October 24th, their project ended, but the damage to the American psyche remained. These were homegrown Islamist terrorists killing innocent people, completely at random, unpredictably, systematically. During the course of the investigation police turned up writings and artifacts specifically left by the killers for law enforcement to find. One was the message from John Muhammad that read,
“Your children are not safe, anywhere, at any time.”
Before his arrest, during the terror, I wrote the following.
October, Two thousand two
Everything was loose and open like a bullet in the air
Like a freeway drawing a line
toward an indeterminate horizon,
perhaps at some wayside service station
to terminate pumping gas.
There drew out a swishing timeline
Of some still uncertain distance
With its own peculiar humming
Through the open space
between twin pops
Of firing pin and bone.
There are free and open spaces
In our shrinking, shaking nation
Exposed in our late loss
of the invisible protection.
We don’t know where the planes will land
We don’t know where the bullets stand
It’s open, big and vast and grand
And we don’t know who will save us.
The outpouring of God’s blessing on our nation has been suspended for cause. On 9/11 and through the Beltway Snipings Americans were put on notice.
In May of last year, commenting on the events of the Presidential election, with the Democrats preparing a Marxist revolutionary to take the national reins of power and both the RNC and Conservative movement committing political suicide, I wrote this:
In retrospect, it has been as if the Founder of our nation, the One in whom we said we trusted, He who blessed our nation above all that had preceded it for a thousand years, had, at last, demanded an accounting and began, without hands, to pull apart the pieces of our national process like a child with an insect. Or… perhaps to demonstrate that we are already in pieces…
We may yet save the Republic. But it will not repair itself.
May God forgive and save America.