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2009 Little Rock
military recruiting office shooting

File:Pulaski County Arkansas Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Little Rock Highlighted.svg
Left - Little Rock, shown within Pulaski County.

Right - Pulaski County, shown within Arkansas.
Location 9112 North Rodney Parham Road,
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Date Template:Start date
10:19 a.m.
Target U.S. military recruiting office; jihad
Attack type Drive-by shooting
Weapon(s) SKS assault rifle
Deaths 1
Injured 1
Victim
  • Private William Andrew Long;
  • Private Quinton I. Ezeagwula
Perpetrator Islamist Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad

The 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting took place on June 1, 2009, when Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire with an assault rifle in a drive-by shooting on soldiers in front of a United States military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, in a jihad attack. He killed Private William Long, and wounded Private Quinton Ezeagwula.

After his arrest, Muhammad acknowledged shooting the men. He told police that he had intended to kill as many Army personnel as possible. He had an SKS semi-automatic carbine, a Mossberg International 702 rifle, two handguns, 562 rounds of ammunition, and military books in his car.

He said that he had been sent by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and that "the attack was justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad—to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.”[1][2][3][4] He had recently returned from 16 months in Yemen, and it was the first of two gunfire attacks in 2009 on US military facilities by Muslims with links to radical clerics in Yemen, who were upset at U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Muhammad is charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder, and 10 counts of unlawful discharge of a weapon. Muhammad also reportedly faced 15 counts of engaging in a terrorist act.[5] Muhammad is pleading guilty, and awaiting a February 2011 jury trial.[1][2][3][6]

Shooting

Attack

File:SKS modified.jpg

An SKS assault rifle, the type used by Muhammad in the attack

Muhammad drove by the Little Rock U.S. Army recruiting center at 9112 North Rodney Parham Road near Reservoir Road in a black 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac at 10:19 a.m. on June 1, 2009. Private William Andrew "Andy" Long, 23, of Conway, Arkansas, and Private Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, were standing outside the recruiting center in uniform, smoking cigarettes. Muhammad saw them, approached, stopped his vehicle, and shot them with an SKS assault rifle. The two victims had just completed basic training two weeks prior, and volunteered to work as recruiters, which was not their regular assignment.[5][6][7][8]

A witness, Lance P. Luplow, heard approximately seven loud bangs and then saw a black truck with tinted windows speeding away, with its tailgate down spilling bottles of water onto the street.[6] Luplow ran to Long, who had been shot several times, and was lying still in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. Ezeagwula was crawling to the door, holding a bloodied ear. Ezeagwula exclaimed: "Tell me this isn’t real, tell me this isn’t real". Other soldiers came to treat the wounded, and performed CPR on Long.[9] Long was dead upon arrival at a hospital. Ezeagwula, who was shot in his back, head, and buttocks, was rushed into surgery at Baptist Hospital in critical condition.[5][7][8]

Long's father later remarked: ""They weren't on the battlefield; but apparently, the battlefield's here."[10]

Attempted escape

Muhammad sped away, hoping to drive 150 miles to Memphis, Tennessee, where he intended to switch cars. After a short pursuit, Muhammad took a wrong turn in a construction zone, and local police officers captured him eight miles from the recruiting center, near the intersection of Interstate 30 and Interstate 630 near downtown Little Rock, where he surrendered to Little Rock police officers without incident.[7][11] He stepped out of his SUV, wearing a green ammo belt. He said: "It's a war going on against Muslims, and that is why I did it".[6] He used language "indicating an association with Jihad", and claimed that there were explosives, but none were found.[5]

He was found to be in possession of an SKS semi-automatic carbine, a Mossberg International 702 rifle with scope and laser sight, a .22 caliber handgun, a Lorcin L-380 semi-automatic handgun, 562 rounds of ammunition loaded in magazines, homemade gun silencers, binoculars, a "suspicious" package, and two military books. A search of his apartment turned up Molotov cocktails, homemade suppressors, and compact discs with Arabic writing.[11][12][13]

Motive and other targets

Template:Quote box Muhammad said later: "I was trying to kill them." He said he would have killed more soldiers, had more been there.[6]

Muhammad said that he did not regard his action as murder, because American military actions in the Middle East justify the slaying of Americans.[14] "I do feel I'm not guilty," he said to the Associated Press, "I don't think it was murder because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason."[15] Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas said, "At this point it appears that he specifically targeted military personnel."

According to law enforcement officials, Muhammad "had conducted research on other targets, including military sites, government facilities, and Jewish institutions" throughout the country.[16]

Press accounts noted New York City military facilities such as the Times Square Recruiting Station which was bombed March 6, 2008, had been previously targeted by violence.

The suspect

The suspect, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, previously known as Carlos Leon Bledsoe, was born on July 9, 1985. He graduated from Craigmont High School in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2003 and attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, for three semesters.[6][17]

He converted to Islam in 2004 at the age of 19 at Masjid As-Salam, a Memphis mosque. He said "I've loved jihad every since I became Muslim." He became more religious, and prayed regularly at the Islamic Center of Nashville, wearing Arab-style clothing. By 2007 he was a deeply religious Muslim and jihadist, and had legally changed his name.[6][17]

Yemen (September 2007–January 2009)

Muhammad left to visit Yemen on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2007 and stayed there for about 16 months, ostensibly visiting to teach English (at an institute called The British Academy, and other places in Aden and Sana'a), learn Arabic, and further his understanding of Islam. However, according to Jihad Watch, he studied jihad with a local Islamic scholar. While there, he married a woman from South Yemen named Reena Abdullah Ahmed Farag, who worked as an elementary school teacher.[6][17]

File:Anwar al-Awlaki sitting on couch, lightened.jpg

Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which Muhammad says helped plan the attack. Muhammad had literature by him at the time of his arrest in Yemen.

He knew people who showed him around and helped him get started, but didn't say who they were or how he met them, declining to do so for what he referred to as "security reasons." He was "asked many times to carry out a martyrdom operation in America", but "didn't have proper training in regards to explosives." He tried to travel to Somalia for weapons and bomb-making training, particularly car-bomb-making. He said later, "[H]ad I got this training my story would of ended a lot differently than it's going to end now. My drive-by would of been a drive-in, with no one escaping the aftermath!!"[6]

He was arrested at a roadside checkpoint on November 14, 2008, two months after his marriage. He had overstayed his visa, lacked the proper government permissions to travel, and was holding a fraudulent Somali passport. He also had explosive manuals that included tips such as how to make gun silencers, literature by Anwar Al-Awlaki (a former cleric in Yemen linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), videos and literature about the daily operations "by our Muslim soldiers in different parts of the world", and "people's numbers on my phone that were wanted in Saudi Arabia".[6]

He was imprisoned for over two months. He was "maybe insulted in interrogation a few times, but not tortured".[6] He began planning to carry out jihad against the U.S. while he was in prison. Muhammad's lawyer, James E. Hensley Jr., said that he was radicalized by Islamic fundamentalists while in prison.[4] Under pressure from the U.S., Yemen deported Muhammad to the U.S. on January 29, 2008, before the shooting incident.[6]

Because his original plan to travel to Somalia for bomb training had been foiled by his arrest in Yemen, he said he revised his plan "with the help of the Mujahideen … Al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula.[6]

Return to the U.S. (January 2009–present)

After his return, Muhammad initially stayed with his parents in Memphis. He then moved to Little Rock in April, where his parents ran a tour bus business ("Twin City Tours"), to work for his father as a driver.[18] After his return he was investigated by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. The Task Force also investigated the suspect's visit to Columbus, Ohio; authorities had monitored some Somali Americans traveling from there to Somali to "wage jihad."[6][11][19][20]

For weeks Muhammad planned his jihad attack. He bought several guns secondhand to avoid FBI scrutiny, stockpiling ammunition, practicing target shooting, and buying a .22-caliber rifle at Wal-Mart to determine whether he was being watched.[6]

Muhammad planned attacks in the U.S., that did not take place as intended.[6] His initial plan was to assassinate "3 Zionist rabbis in Memphis, Little Rock, and Nashville. Then target recruitment centers, from the South to the nation's capital. And other Zionist organizations in the northeast."[6] He used Google Maps to investigate targeting recruiting centers in at least five states (including ones in New York, Atlanta, Louisville, and Philadelphia), Times Square in New York City, Jewish institutions (including in Atlanta), a day-care center, a post office, and a Baptist church, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.[10][21]

He began his jihad in Little Rock, doing "something" there. He then drove to Nashville and threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of an orthodox rabbi, but it bounced off the target. He then drove to an Army recruiting center in Florence, Kentucky, because "it was near an interstate and bordered Ohio. Easy to get away", but the center was closed.[6]

He was indicted on 1 count of capital murder and 15 counts of terrorist acts.[5][6][16][22]

Legal proceedings

Template:Quote box Muhammad is charged with state charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder, and 10 counts of unlawful discharge of a weapon.[1] Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.[6]

He is being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center, awaiting a February 2011 jury trial.[6] In a mental-health evaluation performed at the Arkansas State Hospital he was deemed competent to stand trial.[6]

In January 2010, Arkansas Judge Herbert Wright ordered the State's Public Defenders Commission to pay part of the bill for Muhammad's private attorney.[23]

That same month, in a two-page, handwritten letter to the judge presiding over his case, Muhammad changed his plea to guilty, said he was a "soldier in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula", and described the recruiting office shooting as a "Jihadi attack." He said he was part of Abu Basir's Army, a reference to Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader in Yemen. He affirmed that his sanity was intact, and that he was acting of his own volition in changing his plea.[24]

Muhammad also said, “I wasn’t insane or post-traumatic, nor was I forced to do this Act. The attack was justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad—to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.”[1] Muhammad did not discuss his change in plea with his lawyers.

Discussing his affiliation with the Al-Qaeda group in Yemen led by al-Awlaki and al-Wahishi, he said:

Far as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... yes, I'm affiliated with them.... Our goal is to rid the Islamic world of idols and idolaters, paganism and pagans, infidelity and infidels, hypocrisy and hypocrites, apostasy and apostates, democracy and democrats, and relaunch the Islamic caliphate … and to establish Islamic law (Shari'ah).[6]

His statement of affiliation was not independently confirmed. Muhammad's father said he doubted whether Muhammad actually had any such ties. Muhammad's father described his son as being so "brainwashed" that he wanted to tie his act to the terrorist group so he could face execution, thus becoming a martyr.[1]

The lead prosecutor for Pulaski County initially believed Muhammad acted alone, ad did some other law enforcement officials: "If you strip away what he says, self-serving or not, it’s just an awful killing, it’s like a lot of other killings we have." They and his father said there was no evidence Muhammad was ever in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda imam in Yemen linked to many attacks on American soldiers and citizens by Muslims with radicalized views, such as the Fort Hood shooter and Christmas Day bomber.[3]

In June 2010, Muhammad was charged with assaulting an inmate with a weapon fashioned out of eyeglasses, and a similar attack on a jail officer in April.[25]

The Fall 2010 issue of the English language online magazine published by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, called Inspire, contained an article encouraging Americans to "fight jihad on U.S. soil", citing Muhammad as an example:

The firearm option: Nidal Hasan and Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad. It's the least suspicious if you already own a firearm. For this choose the best location. A random hit at a crowded restaurant in Washington, D.C. at lunch hour for example might end up knocking out a few government employees. Targeting such employees is paramount, and the location would also give the operation additional media attention.[6]

Significance

The suspect was noted in press accounts as one of series of recent Muslim converts planning or carrying out violent attacks that security experts called a disturbing new domestic trend. The attack came less than two weeks after a foiled bomb plot on two synagogues in Riverdale, New York, led by four men who converted to Islam in prison or shortly after their incarceration.[26] The New York Times noted of his alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, "If evidence emerges that his claim is true, it will give the June 1, 2009, shooting in Little Rock new significance at a time when Yemen is being more closely scrutinized as a source of terrorist plots against the United States."[1]

See also

  • 2005 Los Angeles bomb plot, jihadi plot to bomb several military bases, a number of synagogues, and an Israeli consulate in California.
  • 2007 Fort Dix attack plot, jihadi plot to attack U.S. military personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
  • Aafia Siddiqui, alleged al-Qaeda member, former U.S. resident, convicted of attempting to kill U.S. personnel in 2008
  • Michael Finton, American, attempted September 2009 bombing of U.S. target with FBI agent he thought was al-Qaeda member
  • Bryant Neal Vinas, American, convicted in 2009 of participating in/supporting Al-Qaeda plots in Afghanistan and the U.S.
  • 2009 New York terrorism plot, jihadi plot to shoot down military planes flying out of an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, and blow up two synagogues in the Bronx
  • 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Hasan in the U.S. communicated with al-Awlaki in Yemen
  • 2009 Christmas Day bomber, recruited by al-Awlaki and trained in Yemen
  • Najibullah Zazi, al-Qaeda member, U.S. resident, pleaded guilty in 2010 of planning suicide bombings on New York City subway system
  • Sharif Mobley, American traveled to Yemen to seek out al-Awlaki as mentor, and killed a guard in March 2010 escape attempt
  • List of terrorist incidents, 2009

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Dao, James (January 21, 2010). "Man Claims Terror Ties in Little Rock Shooting". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/us/22littlerock.html?hp. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mike Phelan, Mike Mount, and Terry Frieden (June 1, 2009). "Suspect arrested in Arkansas recruiting center shooting". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/01/arkansas.recruiter.shooting/. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dao, James (February 16, 2010). "A Muslim Son, a Murder Trial and Many Questions". Arkansas;Yemen: The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/us/17convert.html. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dao, James (June 4, 2009). "Suspect’s Lawyer Outlines Defense in Killing of Soldier". The New York Times. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/05/us/05recruit.html?ref=us. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 http://services.trb.com/wreg/abdulSWREG09060316200.pdf
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 6.23 Kristina Goetz (November 13, 2010). "Muslim who shot soldier in Arkansas says he wanted to cause more death". The Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/nov/13/muslim-who-shot-solider-arkansas-says-he-wanted-ca/. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Army Recruiter Killed In LR Shooting". KTHV. http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=85963&catid=2. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/988.pdf
  9. Dao, James; Barnes, Steve (June 1, 2009). "Gunman Kills Soldier Outside Recruiting Station". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/us/02recruit.html. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Family of Soldier Killed Outside Recruiting Center Moved to Arkansas for Peace and Quiet". FOX News. June 23, 2009. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525064,00.html. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Demillo, Andrew (January 22, 2010). "Prosecutor cool to plea shift in recruiter killing". Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2010862771_apusrecruitersshot.html. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  12. Kouri, Jim (June 7, 2009). "NYPD Intelligence Issues Update on Jihad at Army Recruiting Station". Huntington News. http://www.huntingtonnews.net/national/090607-kouri-nationalnypd.html. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  13. "Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, Recruiter Shooting Suspect, Under FBI Investigation". ABC News. June 1, 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=7732467&page=2. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  14. Gambrell, John (June 11, 2009). "Judge blocks phone for suspect in soldier shooting". ABC News. Associated Press. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=7816566. Retrieved January 28, 2010.[dead link]
  15. Chuck Bartels, Jon Gambrell, Kelly Kissell, Jane Fullerton, and Jacob Quinn Sanders (June 11, 2009). "Not aware more attacks planned, LR shooting suspect says". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Archived from the original on July 30, 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5iej77Qmm. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Arkansas shooter researched Jewish sites". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. June 4, 2009. http://jta.org/news/article/2009/06/04/1005622/arkansas-shooter-researched-jewish-sites. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 [1]
  18. "Recruiter murder suspect was being investigated". Army Times. June 3, 2009. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/06/ap_recruiter_shootings_060109/. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  19. Thomas, Pierre; Esposito, Richard; Date, Jack (June 3, 2009). "Recruiter Shooting Suspect Had Ties to Extremist Locations Investigators Probing Attack to Determine Whether Shooting Suspect Acted Alone". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=7732467. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  20. Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad. http://books.google.com/books?id=qOVxG5_NK3oC&pg=PR19&dq=%22Ezeagwula%22&hl=en&ei=wdXiTPn8IcH58AbI-vXgDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Ezeagwula%22&f=false. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  21. "Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, Recruiter Shooting Suspect, Under FBI Investigation". ABC News. June 3, 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=7732467&page=1. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  22. Dao, James; Johnston, David (June 3, 2009). "Suspect in Soldier Attack Was Once Detained in Yemen". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/us/04recruit.html?ref=us. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  23. "Ark. to pay legal bills for accused shooter". Army Times. January 11, 2010. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/01/ap_recruiters_shot_011110/. Retrieved November 16, 2010.
  24. The New York Times. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20100210-convert-letter.pdf.
  25. [2] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Man charged in recruiter shooting accused of jail stabbing Jun 10 2010
  26. Joseph Abrams (June 2, 2009). "Little Rock Shooting Suspect Joins Growing List of Muslim Converts Accused of Targeting U.S". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,524799,00.html?test=latestnews. Retrieved January 29, 2010.

External links

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it:Attacco all'ufficio reclutamento di Little Rock

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