Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Other Targets

When Abdulhakim Muhammad shot two soldiers outside a Little Rock recruiting office on Monday, local police tried to depict the event as an isolated incident. But the subsequent investigation--and its revelations--suggest that the Arkansas attack may have been the first step in a planned campaign of terror.

Muhammad's rampage resulted in the death of 23-year-old Private William Long, and the wounding of 18-year-old Private Quinton I. Ezeagwula. Both were shot as they stood outside a recruiting center, where they were on two-week, temporary-duty assignments. Muhammad has told investigators that he would have killed more soldiers, had they been outside with Long and Ezeagwula.

A search of the suspect's vehicle and personal computer revealed a small arsenal of weapons and information on other possible targets. Federal agents say that Muhammad had conducted on-line searches for other cities, including Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky, New York City and his hometown, Memphis, Tennessee. Targets in those locations reportedly included a Jewish center, a daycare facility, a Baptist church and (possibly) other military recruiting centers.

Meanwhile, authorities have also confirmed early reports that Muhammad traveled to Yemen after his conversion to Islam. A "well-placed" source tells Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch that Muhammad sought to study with Yahya Hajoori, a radical Yemeni cleric.

While it's unclear if Muhammad achieved that goal, it has been learned that he converted to Islam at the age of 19, while attending Tennessee State University in Nashville. After his sojourn in Yemen, Muhammad returned to the U.S. and went to work for his father's tour bus business, which opened a Little Rock office earlier this year.

Details of Muhammad's stay in Yemen remain vague, as do his activities since returning from the country. But whatever he was up to, it was enough to attract the attention of the FBI. Officials have confirmed that the bureau's anti-terror task force had been monitoring the suspect since he returned to the United States.

Clearly, there is much we don't know about the five-year period between Muhammad's "conversion," and the deadly events in Little Rock two days ago. But it seems increasingly unlikely that the murder of Private Long and the wounding of Private Ezeagwula were the acts of a lone crazy. Mr. Muhammad was clearly influenced by radical elements overseas; the real question is what role those elements played in his return to America, and the murderous events that unfolded on Monday.

1 comment:

Corky Boyd said...

I have never heard of a security classification of "Highly Confidential". Sounds like an unclassified warning like "Official Use Only." Was this really a classified document?