Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - In his most prolific public comments to date about the so-called "Beltway Sniper," President Bush Monday said there is no doubt the shooter is a terrorist, of sorts.
"It is a form of terrorism," Bush said, "but in terms of the terrorism that we think of, we have no evidence one way or the other obviously."
The president was responding to a number of former law enforcement and intelligence officials who have speculated in the media that the murders may be the work of a "sleeper cell" of al Qaeda terrorists hiding in the United States.
Neal Knox - former president of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, who now heads the Firearms Coalition - said Friday that it may not matter whether or not the killer is a terrorist, by the textbook definition.
"Even if the 'Beltway sniper' isn't a disciple of Osama Bin Laden, he's certainly doing Osama's work," he argued, "and drawing a road map for how al Qaeda's followers can terrorize the nation without suicide attacks."
The sniper has so effectively frightened the national capitol region, Knox observed, that his capture or death will likely be only a temporary reprieve from the fear.
"Even after this sniper is caught we're going to have more of the same," he warned. "There will be the predictable copycats, and, I'll wager, eventually al Qaeda-organized sniping, if this one isn't."
President Bush noted that whether or not the murderer's goal was terrorism, that is what he has accomplished.
"Anytime anybody is randomly shooting, randomly killing, randomly taking life, it's a cold-blooded murderer and it's a sick mind," Bush concluded, "that obviously loves terrorizing society."
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