Peter King’s Own Witness Undermines his Claims
After much difficulty finding credible witnesses who will testify in support of his claim that Muslim-Americans aren’t cooperating with law enforcement to prevent radicalization or acts of terrorism, Peter King has decided to call on the family members of two Muslim Americans linked to terrorism to explain how their relatives were radicalized.
King will be calling Melvin Bledsoe, father of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, to testify on Thursday. Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, was an American convert to Islam who tragically shot two Marines at a military recruiting center in 2009.
Muhammed certainly seems to have carried out his attack under a distorted interpretation of Islam. The problem is that all of the evidence suggests his radicalization occurred after he had left the United States for Yemen and not as the result of any of his experience with American-Muslim communities.
In his interview with a state psychiatrist before his trial, Muhammed explained that he began planning his attack during an encounter with Islamic radicals in a Yemeni prison after he had been arrested for overstaying his visa.
This account matches reports from family members, who explained that while Muhammed had grown more religious, he never indicated any engagement with extremist ideas or violence before traveling to Yemen. His father confirmed this exact point in an interview with Shep Smith on Fox News last year:
Suggestions that Muhammed was initially radicalized and recruited by American Muslims don’t hold up either. In a letter to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Muhammed specifically addressed the Memphis mosque in which he converted, remarking that “they are not Mujahideen or militants or preach jihad.” In fact mosque leaders worked with the FBI after the attacks and have consistently reiterated their opposition to terrorism:
A senior member of Masjid As-Salam and the Muslim Society of Memphis board, Mohammed Moinuddin, facilitated a meeting between mosque members and the FBI after the shooting at the agency’s request. Muhammad spent very little time at the mosque, he said, but the few who remembered him described him as calm, not belligerent or hostile.
Moinuddin said he encourages people to speak up if they know about potential threats so law enforcement officials can be informed.
“Islam, our religion of faith, does not believe in killing people and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s a very peaceful religion. The very meaning of the word Islam means peace. And therefore it’s kind of ironic that people are sometimes distorting the image of Islam.”
Similarly, the imam of the Nashville mosque where Muhammed worshipped has been vocal about his condemnation of terrorists and their distortions of Islam.
As reported by The New York Times, there also is little evidence that Muhammed acted in conjunction with al-Qaeda or other international terrorist organizations, but rather was a “lone wolf” shooter. This view is echoed by the lead prosecutor in the case against Muhammed, law enforcement officials, and Muhammed’s father.
The story of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad does raise important national security concerns, but the wide-scale radicalization of American-Muslims and lack of cooperation from mosques are not among them. Calling on Mr. Bledsoe to testify to support such claims will only distract us from real threats facing our collective safety.