Abdulhakim Muhammad, the former Memphian and Muslim convert charged in the fatal shooting of a soldier and the wounding of another last week outside a Little Rock military recruiting center, called The Associated Press collect from jail to tell his side of the story. Muhammad said he doesn't feel he's guilty, and that he doesn't consider the shooting to be murder "because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason." The 23-year-old does, however, consider the shooting an act of revenge:
"Yes, I did tell the police upon my arrest that this was an act of retaliation, and not a reaction on the soldiers personally," Muhammad said. He called it "a act, for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military"In another chat with AP today, Muhammad said he's unaware of any plans for similar attacks against the military on American soil, but he warns of danger ahead:
"I don't know anything that's in the works," Muhammad said in a collect telephone call from the jail. "We're not going to turn the other cheek. It's definitely not the end of it."
CNN covers a Tuesday press conference with Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, who was wounded in the shooting. (Video here) The Arkansas Leader has more details of Ezeagwula's ordeal. The soldier hails from Jacksonville, Ark., in Pulaski County.
Power Line, the conservative blog that has been critical of mainstream-media coverage -- or lack thereof -- of this story, seizes on Muhammad's comments blowing holes in his lawyer's contention that the suspect was "radicalized" through mistreatment at a prison in Yemen.
What I want to point out, however, comes at the very end of the story. You may recall that Muhammad's lawyer claimed he had become "radicalized" when he was imprisoned in Yemen and tortured by the authorities there. According to Muhammad, his lawyer just made that up:
Indeed, the lawyer, Jim Hensley of Little Rock, had asked AP to withhold his client's comments after a judge issued a gag order against Muhammad.Last week, Hensley said his client, born Carlos Bledsoe, had been tortured and "radicalized" in a Yemeni prison after entering the country to teach English. He was held there for immigration violations, and Yemeni officials have denied mistreatment.
"Those claims ... are all lies," Muhammad said Tuesday. "That never happened in Yemen. The officials dealt with me in a gentle way."