A Tennessee MUSLIM man accused of killing a soldier outside a Little Rock, Ark., military recruiting station last year has asked a judge to change his plea to guilty, claiming for the first time that he is affiliated with a Yemen-based affiliate of Al-QAEDA.
In a letter to the judge presiding over his case, the accused killer, Abdulhakim Muhammad, calls himself a soldier in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and calls the shooting “a Jihadi Attack” in retribution for the killing of Muslims by American troops.
“I wasn’t insane or post traumatic nor was I forced to do this Act,” Mr. Muhammad said in a two-page, hand-printed
note in pencil. The attack, which he said did not go as planned, was “justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad — to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.”
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.
Muhammad, 24, a Muslim convert from Memphis, spent about 16 months in Yemen starting in the fall of 2007, ostensibly teaching English and learning Arabic. During that time, he married a woman from south Yemen. But he was also imprisoned for several months because he overstayed his visa and was holding a fraudulent Somali passport, the Yemen government said.
Under pressure from the United States government (Who-Obama?) Yemen deported Muhammad in late January 2009. But just four months after his return, Muhammad used a semiautomatic rifle to gun down two soldiers — Pvt. William A. Long and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula — while they were standing outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock, killing Private Long and wounding Private Ezeagwula.
After the shooting, Mr. Muhammad pleaded not guilty, but also took responsibility for the shootings in interviews with The Associated Press. But he did not acknowledge being part of an extremist group and some terrorism experts came to view him as a self-radicalized, lone actor.
Muhammad is charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder and 10 counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty on the capital murder charge. NY TIMES
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