Federal government isn't touching Arkansas terrorism case
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad insists he is an Islamic radical, has confessed to killing an Army soldier and wounding another at a Little Rock recruiting station two years ago, and wants to be tried on terrorism charges in federal court.
But in an unusual twist, state prosecutors, with the blessing of the federal government, are treating him like a common American criminal and trying him in state court next week on capital murder charges.
Either way, Muhammad could become the first person sentenced to death in the U.S. for an act of terrorism — even if that is not the charge — since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Melvin Bledsoe, who runs a Memphis tour bus company, said he learned of his son’s incarceration in Yemen from a Tennessee FBI agent who interviewed Muhammad while he was in jail there. But that was the last Bledsoe heard from the FBI. And he believes that gets at the explanation behind the federal government’s strange lack of interest in trying his son.
Bledsoe charges that federal officials deferred to state prosecutors because they feared a federal trial would make them look bad — because they knew his son was a radicalized Muslim and yet did not watch him when he returned to the United States.
“They should have done their job and this never would have happened,” Bledsoe said. “I think that somebody in the federal government and the FBI should be charged with negligence. Negligent homicide.”
Bledsoe’s son has a different explanation for why he is not being charged as a terrorist.
Muhammad has written jailhouse letters to Pulaski County Judge Herbert Wright demanding a federal trial. “In my eyes it’s a sham trial [in Little Rock] set up only to make sure I’m handed down a death sentence,” he wrote May 10.
Ten days later, he wrote again: “The facility where the shooting took place was a federal building. The army recruiters outside that federal building were federal employees. I was under federal investigation at the time of the shooting by the FBI. Why then is this a state case in state court, which the state seeks my execution? Injustice!”
To some outside legal experts, both father and son make valid points.
This could create some
interesting problematic precedents for the future…