Two Shootings, Different Priorities
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, flanked by his attorney, enters a not guilty plea in an Arkansas courtroom. The Muslim convert is facing capital murder charges in connection with Monday's shooting of two U.S. Army recruiters in Little Rock (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette photo).
After an anti-abortion extremist killed Kansas physician George Tiller on Sunday, the Obama Justice Department swung into action. Just hours after the shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder announced added security for selected abortion providers and the clinics where they work.
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal's Service has confirmed that federal agents would be guarding abortion doctors and medical offices in the coming days, though the scope of the security operation remains unclear.
Readers will note that Mr. Holder offered no public reaction just 24 hours later, when two U.S. Army soldiers were gunned down outside a recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Privates William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula were shot by 23-year-old Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert who spent time in Yemen.
Long died from his injuries at a Little Rock hospital a short time after the shooting; Ezeagwula, who was shot in the neck, is expected to survive.
Both soldiers were recent graduates of basic training, participating in the "Hometown Recruiter" assistance program. Long and Ezeagwula were assigned to the Little Rock office for two weeks, talking to friends and family members about opportunities offered by the Army. The hometown recruiter program has been in existence for more than 30 years, and dates back to the earliest days of the all-volunteer military.
Appearing in court today, Muhammad entered a "not guilty" plea to capital murder charges in connection with the shootings. A prosecutor said the suspect admitted to targeting the soldiers, and said he "would have shot more" had other recruiters been outside. Muhammad also told investigators that he was "upset" over the military's treatment of Muslims.
There are literally hundreds of armed forces recruiting stations across the country, but despite Monday's deadly attack, Mr. Holder apparently sees no need for added security. Never mind that recruiters are unarmed and their offices are (typically) located in storefronts, behind pane-glass windows and doors. While some recruiting centers have added security measures in recent years, most are unprotected. Comparatively speaking, a typical abortion clinic is far more secure than a military recruiting center in the same community.
And never mind that recruiting stations have been the target of an escalating campaign of harassment, intimidation and violence in recent years. Michelle Malkin has chronicled scores of attacks across the country in recent years, but the anti-recruiter campaign has received virtually no attention from the MSM. Given the media's indifference--and the Democratic Party's cozy alliance with the anti-war left--it's no surprise that Mr. Holder is unconcerned about attacks on military recruiters.
But that position may come back to haunt the attorney general and his boss, President Obama. Early reports suggest the Little Rock suspect spent several years in Yemen after his conversion to Islam, and one source indicated that Muhammed may have traveled on a Somali passport. Additionally, the FBI has confirmed that it's anti-terror division was investigating Muhammad before the shooting (emphasis ours).
While Federal authorities have uncovered no evidence of a wider conspiracy (at least not yet), there's much we don't know about the former Carlos Bledsoe. What prompted his conversion to Islam, and how did he make it to Yemen, a hotspot for jihad? Did he come in contact with former Gitmo detainees who migrated to that Middle Eastern nation, and have become a key part of the local Al Qaida affiliate? Was there a Somali connection, and finally, what brought Mr. Muhammad back to the U.S. and sent him on that murderous rampage?
At this point, answers to those questions are in short supply. We have no doubt that the FBI will conduct a professional investigation, but there's a larger issue that must be resolved, since it will set the tone for the inquiry. Simply stated, as the probe unfolds, will Mr. Obama allow his Justice Department to follow all leads, regardless of where they lead?
Thirteen years ago, another Democratic President (Bill Clinton) had an opportunity to aggressively pursue a terror investigation. But he thwarted an FBI probe into the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, believing the search for Iranian masterminds would undermine his overtures toward Tehran.
Obviously, the shootings in Little Rock are vastly different that the massive truck bomb that devastated our military barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 airmen. But the saga of Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad has foreign elements that must be investigated. There's every chance that Mr. Muhammad acted alone, but there is also the possibility that he had assistance and influence from individuals abroad.
As Mr. Obama prepares for his Cairo speech, he might consider a proper balance between building better relations with the Muslim world, and protecting U.S. citizens from its most radical elements. Mr. Muhammad is a product of that environment, and the family of Private Long has every right to know how those elements influenced his murder. They should also ask Mr. Holder why abortion doctors deserve federal protection ahead of our military recruiters.