Soldier Killed at Arkansas Army Recruiting Center
Update: On July 25, 2011, Muhammad pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Posted: June 10, 2009
An American convert to Islam who killed one uniformed American soldier and shot another at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, planned to target other U.S. military centers and Jewish institutions.
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, arrested on June 1, 2009, had "political and religious motives," according to Little Rock police. Muhammad, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, has also been charged with 16 counts of committing a terrorist act. On April 26, 2010, Muhammad was charged with aggravated assault and making terrorist threats for allegedly trying to stab one jail deputy and threatening to kill another.
Prosecutors allege that Muhammad admitted shooting the uniformed soldiers "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past" and that he "would have killed more soldiers had they been in the parking lot." Muhammad reportedly admitted that he was angry about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas. He also reportedly told police that he recently watched a video with "subversive activities," which incited the attack.
Despite a gag order, Muhammad gave an interview from prison via collect call the week following his arrest. He reportedly said he wanted revenge on the American military and that the attack was "for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military." Muhammad also warned that other Muslims in this country "are going to attack."
"U.S. soldiers are killing innocent Muslim men and women. We believe that we have to strike back. We believe in eye for an eye. We don't believe in turning the other cheek," Muhammad said.
At the time of his arrest, Muhammad allegedly told police that he was planning to kill as many Army personnel as possible. Police seized a semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber rifle, two pistols, Molotov cocktails, homemade silencers, approximately 100 rounds of ammunition loaded in magazines in a vest, binoculars and military books in his car.
In a search of Muhammad's residence, authorities reportedly found a sawed off gun barrel, ammunition magazines and a quart of lighter fluid.
According to the FBI, Muhammad conducted Internet searches of several "different locations in several U.S. cities," including New York, Atlanta, Louisville and Philadelphia. He used the Google Maps application to investigate these locations, which reportedly included Jewish institutions in several different cities, a day-care center, a Baptist church, a post office and other military recruiting centers. Images of Times Square in New York were also found on Muhammad's computer, according to the NYPD.
According to court documents, Muhammad planned to target other military recruiting centers and Jewish organizations "because [of] what they're doing in Palestine or years of killing Muslims."
"Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of newly discovered information, the FBI cannot rule out additional subjects, targets, or the potential for inspired copy cats who might act out in support of the original act," an alleged joint FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment said.
Police Chief Thomas also acknowledged that Muhammad may have been planning attacks elsewhere in his statement: "I think he was equipped and dressed and fitted out to do just about anything he wanted to do. I think there could have been a lot broader harm. Whether that would have been here or in another city or in another state, I don't know. But I think he was prepared to do more damage."
Muhammad has since admitted that, prior to the Little Rock shooting, he threw a fire bomb at the house of an Orthodox Rabbi on Nashville, Tennessee, and attempted to carry out an attack at another military recruiting center in Kentucky. He also confessed to the FBI that he had fired shots at the home of Little Rock rabbi in the days before his attack on the recruiting center.
Muhammad, who previously lived in Columbus, Ohio, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in April. From 2003 to 2005, he attended Tennessee State University, majoring in business administration. He was arrested on a weapons charge after a traffic stop in Nashville in February 2004, according to court documents. At the time of his arrest, police reportedly found an SKS rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and another shotgun in his car, as well as a switchblade knife, two shotgun shells and an ounce of marijuana on his person. The weapons and drug charges were later dropped.
Muhammad – who was previously known as Carlos Bledsoe – converted to Islam later that year.
While living in Columbus, Ohio, in 2006 and 2007, Muhammad reportedly attended Omar Ibn el-Khattab mosque, which was also frequented by three other men – Iyman Faris, Nuradin Abdi, and Christopher Paul – who were all convicted of terrorism charges in 2003, 2007 and 2008 respectively.
In September 2007, Muhammad went to Yemen to teach English with the British Council in Yemen, according to a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy. During his time in Yemen, Muhammad reportedly taught English and took Arabic classes at the City Institute, a group closely affiliated with the Dammaj Center, an Islamic institute often used for a recruiting grounds for foreign extremists "seeking entry into paramilitary or jihad organizations," according to the Department of Defense.
Muhammad reportedly pleaded guilty in a letter to the judge presiding over his case in January 2010, claiming that he had links to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. AQAP has not claimed responsibility for Muhammad's attack, though the group has released several statements linking themselves to other attacks, including the failed Christmas day bombing on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reported that as many as 36 American Muslims who were prisoners have moved to Yemen and may have links to AQAP. Several accused and convicted terrorists have been radicalized in Yemen, including Abdulmutallab and John Walker Lindh, an American citizen currently serving a prison sentence for fighting with the Taliban.
Muhammad was reportedly under investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force after he was arrested and jailed in Yemen in 2007 for using a Somali passport. According to court documents, Muhammad planned to use the fake passport to join "like-minded others" in Somalia who wanted to launch terror attacks against Americans and Jews. Since 2007, approximately 20 American men have traveled to Somalia to fight with an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization.
There have been several other plots against military targets in the U.S. by American Muslim extremists and their collaborators over the past several years, including the shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. For more information, see: American Muslim Extremists & the Military.