How two fathers lost their sons to jihad
Editor’s Note: Army Private Andy Long was gunned down by homegrown jihadist Carlos Bledsoe (who had taken the name Abdulhakim Muhammad after training with Al Qaeda in Yemen) at a Little Rock recruiting station on June 2, 2009. After federal prosecutors declined to bring charges, the killer was convicted in Arkansas state court and is now serving 12 consecutive life terms. The two men’s fathers, Daris Long and Melvin Bledsoe, spoke at Centennial Institute on Dec. 10, 2012, to promote the new documentary film about their experience, “Losing Our Sons .” Daris Long’s remarks were as follows:
Our son Andy would call us on weekends while he was in boot camp. One Sunday he called while I was in the middle of something I thought was important so I made my excuses in order to get back to it. That night I could not sleep so I got up and wrote him a letter. I apologized and told him that I would never do that again; I would always be there for him.
People have commented on how they don’t think they could persevere against a seemingly insurmountable bureaucracy. I would ask, If not I, then who? [Esther 4:14b] states, “Who knows, perhaps [we] have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” It isn’t easy, but I do this because of that promise I made to my son in that letter. I do this because as a former Marine I will not allow his government to leave him behind. I do this as an American because my fellow Americans need to hear the truth.
The night before he was killed, his last words to me before he went to bed I will never forget, “That’s cool, Dad.” The next day, Andy’s mother drove him to the Recruiting Center and was sitting in the car studying her Bible when she saw Andy in the rear view mirror as he came out of the Recruiting Center Office. She told me that she thought about getting out and going to him, but decided against it when she saw another soldier come out with him and did not want to interfere. I believe that action saved her life, because, a few seconds later she heard bursts of gunfire. The next time I saw my son was with my family in the ER.
That was the beginning of a nightmare. Not just the nightmare of losing our son, but the nightmare of the denial. The denial of calling this what it was; the denial that there is an enemy; the denial that that enemy is definable; the denial that this enemy wishes to destroy our way of life; the denial that my wife firmly believes led directly from Little Rock thru Fort Hood to the Middle East Embassy.
We kept our silence for two years, except for three interviews I did, in order to not harm the Prosecution’s Case and because after meeting with the US Attorney and other federal officials, we fully expected federal indictments to be handed out.
We remained silent for two years, but we were not idle. As we listened to this administration’s response, the main stream media’s coverage or lack of, the DOA, DOD, DOJ and their continuing actions to date, my view of justice and trust in government has changed.
In researching, it was amazing the amount of information regarding Abdulhakim Muhammad’s activities we were able to find from open sources that should have sealed the case on federal terrorism charges. When we were told that the Army did not have enough information to warrant the awarding of the Purple Heart, we sent them our research. The responses from our Congressional representatives were positive. The responses we received from the DOA and DOJ were nothing short of insulting.
Melvin Bledsoe, the killer’s father, at the same time was on his nightmare journey and his quest for information in order to understand what had happened to his son and how a son of his could do such a terrible thing. I have to tell you that I have grown to respect and admire Melvin for his courage and desire to ensure that other parents do not have to deal with what his family and ours have had to. I count him as a friend. What Melvin Bledsoe and I have been able to do together in our efforts is because of the grace of God.
Our individual journeys were brought together when we were approached by the group American’s for Peace and Tolerance out of Massachusetts led by Dr. Charles Jacobs. Charles wanted to do a documentary about Melvin and myself losing our sons.
It took two years for the film to be released. It is appropriately titled “Losing Our Sons” as it reveals what is happening in our country today, something the mainstream media will not report.
I have a history with the Muslim people. I have spent almost twenty percent of my life having lived in or deployed to Muslim countries. My nieces’ father is the grandson of a former King of Afghanistan and the nephew of another. It is easier for me to name the Muslim countries I have not been in, than to name the ones I have.
My wife and I cope with this tragedy because we gave it all to God the day we lost Andy. Turning it over to Him is a continuing task. We are determined to not allow Andy’s death to be wasted.
I have tried to avoid the politics of the situation, but it is near impossible when politics are what has clouded the truth. This is not and should not be a partisan issue.
The statutory oath I swore as a Marine “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” is something I still feel obligated to even though I am no longer on active duty.
While in the Corps, we did our duty according to “ground truth.” Ground truth is based on facts as they are, not facts that are viewed through the distortion of a political prism.
As of Tuesday, December 11, 2012, there have been a reported fifty-five thwarted terrorist plots since 9/11 which have resulted in federal indictments and convictions. The attacks in Little Rock, Fort Hood and Benghazi, Libya are not included in this number. On Friday, November 30, 2012 an improvised explosive device was detonated at the Social Security Administration Office in Casa Grande, Arizona. The perpetrator who was arrested is an Iraqi refugee. His house was searched and bomb making materials and instructions were found. A Federal Law enforcement official, on the grounds of anonymity, stated that it could be considered domestic terrorism but the bomber has not been charged under Title 18 Chapter 113b Terrorism due to the “political sensitivity” of the case. If we are to believe these reported incidents were attempted terrorist plots which justified these indictments, then it must follow that Abdulhakim’s attack at the Little Rock Recruiter Center and Major Nidal Hasan’s attack on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood were in fact successful terrorist attacks. The absurdity is that although charges have been levied for “thwarted”, “failed”, “planned” or “attempted” acts of terrorism, Federal Officials have yet to pursue the Little Rock and Fort Hood attacks as acts of terrorism. Abdulhakim Muhammad and Nidal Hasan succeeded in their jihad against America and the powers that be have refused to acknowledge this.
This administration is quick to “take credit” for thwarting plots but is completely silent, even resorting to obfuscation when the facts oppose their official narrative. They would have us believe that radical Islam has nothing to do with the motivations of individuals like Muhammad and Hasan or groups like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab or the Taliban. To deny the direct connections of either Abdulhakim Muhammad or Nidal Hasan to recognized international terrorists in Yemen requires one to suspend belief in the face of overwhelming facts.
Since 2009, we have tried to get a sane answer as to why the attack in Little Rock remains identified as just a criminal act, not an act of terrorism. After meeting with the FBI and US Attorney’s Office in September 2009, we fully expected federal terrorism indictments to be handed down at the conclusion of the state’s trial.
The Department of the Army’s position is that because the Little Rock attack was treated as a criminal act in an Arkansas court, it isn’t terrorism.
The Department of Justice stated that the attack against American soldiers is the Army’s responsibility in determining the shooting as an act of terrorism.
The Department of Homeland Security and White House both made statements to the effect that it was a Department of Defense issue and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Affairs refused in Congressional testimony, to state that radical Islamic extremism might even be a motivating factor of Al Qaeda doctrine.
Abdulhakim Muhammad was not timid when he called his act a jihad justified by Islamic law. Muhammad has since been identified by the FBI in counterterrorism briefs as an Al Qaeda adherent. Nidal Hasan was able to praise Muhammad’s attack in front of fellow Army Officers without repercussion. He did not whisper Allah-u Akbar when he jumped on a table in a crowded office at Fort Hood and then began killing fellow soldiers on his own jihad. His refusal to shave an unauthorized beard is not based on a secular fashion sense, but goes to the core of his motivation. The Army’s inability to enforce longstanding uniform regulations in the face of claims of religious discrimination of Islam speaks volumes about its abdication to political correctness under this administration.
We believe that the attacks on Little Rock and Fort Hood qualify the victims for the Purple Heart as casualties of international terrorist attack. The Congress has adopted language in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that states a successful terrorist attack does not only happen on someone else’s soil. This legislation has bipartisan and bicameral support within our Congress.
The White House threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act. The stated objection, in the Arkansas case, was that it was handled under the state’s criminal code and not as terrorism and that this provision “could” create appellate issues. This administration will not admit the fact that a successful attack occurred on their watch. The statement of objection blames Arkansas for the administration’s own denial, and inaction in not pursuing charges under Title 18 US Code Chapter 113b, Terrorism. The state charges could not address what is reserved for the federal statutes. This position of the government fails to address the still unanswered issues regarding Muhammad’s travel to Yemen to the same Madrassa in Dammaj known as the training site of the American Taliban, John Walker Lynde, which is clearly material support for terrorism, or his attempted attacks on two Jewish Rabbis – one in Little Rock with a rifle and the other in Nashville with a Molotov Cocktail, which is defined as a weapon of mass destruction.
Although jihad is not in the government’s list of approved words, it is front and center in the motives and doctrine of radical Islam. Denying the use and study of the very words used by the terrorists from their point of view and understanding removes an important tool which provides insight into the motives and methods of an enemy. Our government has succumbed to advisors such as the Council for American Islamic Relations, a known Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood front and unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terrorist funding trial. CAIR advice is that these words are offensive and should be forbidden. This cedes the initiative to those who would do us harm.
Radical Islam is a political ideology that is grounded on a religion. That radical ideology has defenders who would have us believe that the United States Constitution’s First Amendment’s religious freedom clause prohibits truthful discussion of political Islam. These same defenders promote the expansion of the scope of religion for an explicit few, while at the same time imposing their own limited redefined scope of what can be considered religious belief for all other faiths.
This absurd double standard is not isolated to what happened in Little Rock and Fort Hood. A young girl was suspended from school for failing to stop wearing a “religious cross” on a necklace. The school district relented only after a law suit was initiated in defense of her basic rights. A coach lost his job for openly saying grace over a lunch meal, off campus and not acting in an official capacity.
Conversely, CAIR and its associates are openly invited by a school district into public school classrooms to espouse the glory of Islam. Has the curriculum been vetted, or has it been left up to good graces of the unbiased actors supported by CAIR to honestly present facts? Where are the guardians of “separation of church and state” in this case? They are conspicuously silent.
On September 11, 2012, the heralded promise of the so called “Arab Spring” turned into an Arab nightmare. The demonstrations and attacks on American Embassies in over two dozen countries, resulting in the deaths of a US Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, the Stars and Stripes being torn down and replaced by a black Islamist Banner over sovereign US territory.
The American Ambassador to the United Nations stated that the attack on the Benghazi Consulate was a spontaneous act and was not pre-mediated. Bringing heavy weapons and RPG’s to a demonstration would tell anyone that this was something other than a spontaneous act. The coordination and use of direct and indirect fire, coupled with supporting arms, tells me that the Ambassador obviously has no understanding of military tactics or methods that require a level of premeditation in order to coordinate these fires successfully. Additionally, it is reported that a “secret” safe house off site also came under sustained coordinated fire.
The Administration’s statement that there was no actionable intelligence indicating that possible violence against American interests seems lame and crafted. On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a heightened sense of vigilance requirement is simply common sense. Every domestic law enforcement agency in this country routinely focuses on possible violent extremist threats because of the historic pattern of terrorist activity surrounding dates which are considered relevant to Islamic victories over infidels. Instead we are treated to an apology over a film which is blamed for starting it all. We then see this statement retracted and then reintroduced and repeated by none other than the Secretary of State.
It is amazing that a single twelve minute film trailer, which was on the internet from mid-June, can be identified by a superpower, with a straight face, as the reason for turning American foreign policy in the Middle East policy into ashes.
Witnessing the President’s Press Secretary’s comments about how this twelve minute film was responsible for starting demonstrations across the globe, reminded me of the statements made by Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister, Baghdad Bob, over how they were in full control of the situation even when the US Third Infantry Division was overrunning Baghdad Airport just a couple of miles away. My wife and I personally experience on a daily basis the denial of our government over what happened in Little Rock, now we are seeing denial of the truth on a national basis, telling us that there is no significance of the 9/11 anniversary demonstrations and violence from the UK to Australia.
The issue is about the truth, about America’s sons, daughters, and future. Melvin Bledsoe lost his son to radical Islam in a Tennessee University setting. I lost my son because of radical Islam on a sidewalk in Arkansas. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”
PV2 William Andrew Long was a victim of a terrorist attack on June 1, 2009. PVT Quinton Ezeagwula was also a victim of a terrorist attack on June 1, 2009. Andy, Quinton and their families continue to be victims of a government that has stuck its head in the sand and has steadfastly promoted the premise that there is no correlation between radical Islam and those who continue to do us harm.