Kasi and the law

Aimal Khan Kasi will be executed by lethal injection tonight barring intervention from the governor. His death is the ultimate punishment for killing two CIA employees nearly 10 years ago outside the agency’s Langley headquarters. Executions in Virginia always draw attention both nationally and internationally from people on both sides of the death penalty debate. Tonight’s scheduled execution, however, carries a worldwide alert for Americans here and abroad.

Kasi, a native of Pakistan, was convicted in 1997 for capital murder for the shooting deaths of Frank Darling, 28, and Lansing Bennet, 66. Kasi had waited outside the CIA headquarters with an AK-47 assault rifle before randomly shooting drivers as they sat in their cars at a stop light. Three other men were also wounded in the attack.

Since his conviction, world events have heated the political waters surrounding his scheduled execution. American embassies have been bombed, the USS Cole was attacked and America itself was attacked on Sept. 11. Though Kasi (who was tracked down and arrested by the FBI in Pakistan after the murders) claims to have acted on his own, State Department officials have put out alerts warning of violence and retaliation on Americans if the execution is carried out.

This goes beyond the debate over America’s use of the death penalty. Threats of violence are no reason to grant clemency. Americans are constantly threatened by extremists from Colombian drug lords to radical Islamicists every day.

Kasi’s execution has nothing to do with the war on terrorism nor is it in retaliation to any act of terrorism carried out against Americans in recent years. And he is certainly not being put to death based on his religious beliefs. Those circumstances must be removed from the fact that Kasi is a mass-murderer and violated Virginia law. He was given a fair trial in a Fairfax court and was sentenced accordingly.

Kasi is being executed for violating Virginia law regardless of his motivation or the politics of his sympathizers.

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