Dr. Walid Phares
Arkansas' Lone Jihadist: How Alone Is He?
June 3, 2009
In an armed attack outside the Army-Navy Career
Center which handles recruiting, in Little Rock, AR,
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, killed
one soldier wounded another.
Muhammad, an American citizen who is a convert to Islam and previously
known as Carlos Bledsoe, already had been under investigation by the FBI
at the time of the shootings. He had traveled to Yemen, received
indoctrination from radical clerics, according to a watch group, and
possessed a false Somali passport. He was charged in the death of Pvt.
William Long, 23, while a prosecutor said Muhammad admitted shooting
Long and another soldier "because of what they had done to Muslims in
Here we have a new case of an individual U.S. citizen who committed an
act of terror in the name of his ideology (Government officials have
called it inaccurately a "political and religious motive") against U.S.
military targets. Do we see a pattern here? Are we witnessing a repeat
and copycats? In fact, as we review several previous cases, from the
Miami cell case, to the Fort Dix Six, the Georgia two, the New York
Four, the Virginia Paintball network, and many other cases, we're
witnessing the surge of a phenomenon we have been warning about.
I have repeatedly coined it Mutant Jihad, including in my book Future
Jihad. Two important elements are to be taken into consideration:
One is the fact that in many of these cases, U.S. military personnel and
targets have been on the short list of these "homegrown terrorists." If
you study the repeated targeting process of these urban Jihadists,
they systematically focus on military deployment inside the United
States. In a sense, even as the perpetrators are separate, dispersed,
and not connected, their targeting seems war-like: attacking the enemy's
forces on the homeland. The second element to be taken into
consideration is the clear fact that in all these cases, without
exception, we're seeing one ideology: Jihadism. Despite various levels
of understanding and sophistication, the cells and lone wolves who were
involved in the terror acts, legitimized their action under the label of
In several media interviews and defense and security workshops conducted
over the past few years and months, I've made the case for the existence
of a "force" behind these activities, pushing the Jihadi agenda and
indoctrinating the "militants" into "fighting elements." As I studied
the cases and compared them to each other, I found out that in each one
case, there is a "clicking moment." Several U.S. and European
legislators asked me about defining the "clicking moment" where a
militant becomes a terrorist. My answer has been and continues to be:
once one is indoctrinated into Jihadism, the mutation into a terrorist
is at the discretion of the militant. We need to stop the terrorists at
the indoctrination level.
In this case, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad had been under investigation
by the FBI after he traveled to Yemen and was arrested there for using a
Somali passport. How come he was under surveillance and yet he committed
this attack? Even though he was on some list, so are many others. The
countering policies are challenged by a much wider issue, i.e the
radicalization process which is touching hundreds if not thousands of
individuals. The speed of radicalization is more rapid than the speed of
Some argued that Mr. Muhammad — a U.S. citizen who is a recent convert
to Islam and was previously known as Carlos Bledsoe — studied jihad with
an Islamic scholar, and thus raises the issue of religious conversion
and the parties responsible for it. In fact, conversion by itself isn't
the front issue but studying Jihadism under radical ideologues is the
stage where individuals turn into Jihadi militants, regardless of their
affiliation with a group or a conspiracy.
Which brings us to law enforcement’s
understanding of what we're dealing with. According to AP, a U.S. local
official said: "Muhammad was not part of any terrorist group, nor was
his attack part of a larger conspiracy, according to Thomas." But is
this relevant? If anything, this is evidence that some official does
not understand that Jihadi terrorists aren't necessarily part of a
terrorist group and or of a vast conspiracy. This is a new type of
threat which is penetrating the United States that we need to be aware
of. Similarly, a local official told AP: "We believe that it's
associated with his disagreement over the military operations."
This is further evidence that authorities may not comprehend the
true motives of the Jihadists. It is not about "disagreement over
military operations." It is about indoctrination of individual U.S.
citizens or residents to turn them against their own society for a much