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November 10, 1997: Killer of CIA Officers at HQs Convicted

On November 10, 1997, a jury in Fairfax County, Virginia, found Pakistani national Aimal Kasi guilty on one count of capital murder, one count of first degree murder, and three counts of malicious wounding—charges that stemmed from his shooting rampage at the entrance to CIA Headquarters in 1993. For many CIA officers, however, a more satisfying moment had come several months earlier when DCI George Tenet informed them that Kasi had been apprehended after a four-and-a-half-year manhunt and returned to Virginia to face justice for murdering and maiming their colleagues.

The saga occurred on January 25, 1993 when the gunman opened fire on employees who were waiting to drive onto the Agency’s Langley compound. Two Agency officers died: Lansing Bennett, a medical doctor in the Directorate of Administration (now Directorate of Support), and Frank Darling, a communications engineer, and three were wounded. In the ensuing chaos, the gunman fled the scene, leaving stunned witnesses and conflicting accounts of his appearance. By the time the FBI and Fairfax County Police had identified him, Kasi had flown back to Pakistan and blended into the lawless border area near Afghanistan.

CIA embarked on a dogged, often frustrating, effort to apprehend the man who had killed two of its own. Within hours of the shootings, the Agency established a task force comprising a broad array of specialties and began working with the FBI and the Department of State to track down the gunman. As CIA officers grew more confident about Kasi’s whereabouts, they came up with a variety of plans to lure him out of hiding and explored means and authorities for getting him back to the United States to stand trial. Despite frequent dead ends, the hunt for Kasi was, says one of the leading participants, a relentless effort that took priority over everything else and would never suffer from lack of funding.

The pursuers’ dedication paid off. Kasi was located in Pakistan and arrested by the FBI on June 17, 1997. Two days later, a US military aircraft with Kasi aboard departed Islamabad for Dulles Airport in Virginia, where a delegation of senior CIA officials, including DCI Tenet, was waiting. Kasi was then tried in Fairfax County, Virginia, the scene of his crime. On January 24, 1998, shortly after the jury reached its verdict, he was sentenced to death. On November 14, 2002, he was executed by lethal injection.

On May 24, 2002, Agency officers dedicated the Route 123 Memorial to two fallen colleagues. The Memorial is located on the west side of the Virginia Route 123 entrance (alongside the outbound right lane). It includes a walkway leading to a 9-foot by 3 foot granite wall. Benches dedicated to Lansing Bennett and Frank Darling, who were shot to death on Jan. 25, 1993, on Route 123, face each other in front of the granite wall.

Posted: Nov 09, 2017 11:51 AM
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2018 11:59 AM