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D.C.snipers influenced by Nation of Islam : ' We planned to kill six people a day for a month - and terrorise this nation'

May 23, 2006

j Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the convicted snipers. File photo

John Allen Muhammad. File photo

Malvo was 17 at the time of the Washington killings

Malvo: Sniper plan was to kill 6 a day for a month

Younger man likely to be cross-examined by mentor Muhammad

From Mike Ahlers

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) -- Lee Boyd Malvo told a Maryland jury Tuesday how his mentor, John Allen Muhammad, took him "under his wing," molding a drifting teenager into part of a deadly sniper team that terrorized the suburbs of the U.S. capital.

Malvo, 21, described how Muhammad modified an aging Chevrolet Caprice to allow a person to crawl into the trunk and shoot.

Their tactics came from an Irish Republican Army training manual, said Malvo, testifying for prosecutors after agreeing to plead guilty to murder charges in Montgomery County, Maryland, scene of six killings.

"We are going to terrorize this nation," Malvo said Muhammad told him before the pair embarked on the October 2002 sniper spree, according to The Associated Press.

Muhammad, 45, and Malvo already were convicted of a sniper murder each in Virginia. Muhammad received a death sentence in that state, while Malvo is serving a life prison term.

Muhammad's goal was to terrorize the Washington area by killing six people a day for a month, Malvo testified. A second round of attacks would involve even more killing, using explosive devices loaded with ball bearings, he said.

After hearing the plan, Malvo said, he sat alone in a bathroom, playing Russian roulette with a .22 revolver loaded with one bullet. He pulled the trigger three times but stopped after he realized the round was in the chamber.

'Perfect area to terrorize'

Malvo, who was 17 at the time, said the pair scouted Montgomery County for good sniper locations that lacked security cameras. Muhammad called it "the perfect area to terrorize," he said.

Malvo quoted Muhammad as saying, "The chicken's come home to roost."

He said Muhammad put him on a strict, one-meal-a-day diet of soy burgers and soup -- "in accordance with the teachings of the Nation of Islam" -- and an exercise routine. He also gave him 72 vitamins and supplements daily, Malvo said.

Muhammad taught him how to shoot rifles during a 12-hour trip to a gun range, Malvo said. At the range, Muhammad showed him how to crawl up behind people without being noticed, he said.

Malvo's testimony began with a history of his childhood and built to a dramatic flourish as he described how he came under the sway of a man who told him, "The white man is the devil."

No expression from Muhammad

Muhammad, with his chin resting on his right hand, showed no emotion as he watched.

Under questioning by prosecutor Kay Winfree, Malvo said his parents separated when he was 3. He saw his father only on holidays until his mother put a stop to the visitations when he was 6.

He said he met Muhammad when he was 15 at a Tacoma, Washington, shop, where he played video games. Eventually, he came to live in Muhammad's home.

"He basically took me under his wing," Malvo said. He described how Muhammad took care of him when he was sick, which led the teen to open up to him.

"I told him about my relationship with my mother, my father, my experiences," he said. Malvo called Muhammad a good listener who would not interrupt him.

He said he and Muhammad had long talks about religion, history, society and his school work. "He introduced me to the Nation of Islam," Malvo testified.

"Bloodshed begets bloodshed" was how Muhammad explained the September 11, 2001, attacks, Malvo testified. He added that Muhammad told him that the United States taught Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan "and it came home."

"He hates this country," Malvo said.

Sniper car tested in Alabama

He described how they tested a car trunk that Muhammad had rigged into a sniper's nest at a liquor store in Montgomery, Alabama.

As the "pickup" man, Malvo said, it was his job to scout the store while Muhammad was in the trunk with an AR-15 rifle.

The store closed, he gave Muhammad the go-ahead and heard two shots, Malvo recalled. He said he ran up to find two women employees bleeding on the ground.

His job "was to finish them off" with a .22-caliber handgun if they were not dead, he said. He concluded neither was alive, so he did not shoot, he said. Instead, he grabbed their bag of money, threw his pistol in some bushes and ran, he said.

One of the women survived the September 21, 2003, attack.

Malvo's testimony provides a dramatic conclusion to the prosecutors' case. He refused to testify in Muhammad's Virginia trial, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

The testimony sets up what could be a tense face-off between the pair because Malvo once viewed Muhammad as a father figure.

It is expected to take an even more compelling turn when Malvo is cross-examined by Muhammad, who has been acting as his own lawyer.

Muhammad continues to refer to Malvo as "my son" and told jurors in the trial's opening statements that he intends to prove Malvo's innocence as well as his own.


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How the sniper attacks unfolded around Washington DC in October 2002

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John Allen Muhammad Lee Boyd Malvo Police chief Charles Moose

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