Had previously decided not to provide constant updates on every new finding that trickles out regarding jihadi attack in Arkansas. However, this bit of research provides some interesting information on the mosque Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad may have been connected to its potential jihadi leanings. From Blue Collar Republican blog.
On Monday, June 1, 2009, two American soldiers were attacked in a drive-by shooting in the parking lot outside of an Army recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of the soldiers died from his wounds and the other was seriously injured. The suspect apprehended in that shooting incident was identified as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, aka Carlos Leon Bledsoe. Bledsoe was employed by a family owned business in Little Rock, Twin City Tours, a satellite company affiliated with Blues City Tours in Memphis, Tennessee. Bledsoe was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee which raises the issue of when and where he was introduced to radical Islam.
On June 2, 2009, I attempted to follow-up on what little was known of Bledsoe and visited his family’s business, home and the mosque he was rumored to have visited locally. Unfortunately, his family had gone into hiding and after a meeting with his local Imam on June 3, 2009, I was able to learn very little in the way of background. This led me to doing additional research to see if I could learn more about the Masjid As-Salam mosque, its Imam, Maleck Sarr and any connections between the mosque’s members and Jihad. I believe I have found another example of an American Muslim connected with the Masjid As-Salam mosque and radical Islam in addition to the Little Rock terrorist suspect.
Imam Maleck is a native of Senegal, a small country on the west coast of Africa which is 95% Muslim. The Sufi sect is the predominant order.
In spite of this recent history of official repression, there remain many places in the world with vital Sufi traditions. Sufism is popular in such African countries as Senegal, where it is seen as a mystical expression of Islam.Mbacke suggests that one reason Sufism has taken hold in Senegal is because it can accommodate local beliefs and customs, which tend toward the mystical.
Most of the violence we have grown accustomed to in the Middle East is related to the Sunni (Osama bin Laden) and Shia sects. There are no direct links that I have been able to find between Senegal and Al Qaeda. Somalia is predominantly Sunni.
In my meeting with Imam Maleck, he asserted that Bledsoe had attended prayer at the mosque one time. I found it odd that he would recall Bledsoe with any specificity if he was just a one time visitor for prayer. His assertion that the mosque is near the interstate and a natural stop for interlopers means that there are a lot of visitors and for him to be so certain of his identification based on such an encounter simply did not seem likely to me. I have linked the audio from that meeting below and readers can judge for themselves. Please note that I have left messages for the FBI contact he gave me but have yet to receive a response.
There was very little else in the way of background on Imam Maleck except for an internet debate he did earlier in the year and a Commercial Appeal article which I referenced in my earlier post.
I was able to find a regular attendee of the Masjid As-Salam mosque and disciple of Imam Maleck who is active online. Joseph S. Sneed is a 31 year old white male who goes by the Islamic name Yusuf Sneed. A records search revealed 2 civil and 19 criminal records dating back to 1997 and as recent as 2007. The criminal charges range from Aggravated Robbery to driving with a suspended license. His latest (June, 2007) charge was for Possession of a Controlled Substance. This was after his coversion to Islam since he had himself posted on the web as a religion teacher working with new members at the Memphis Muslim Society, listing his Muslim training at the Al Maghrib Institute, Tennessee, United States from November to December of 2006. He also lists http://www.albaseerah.org/ as a resource.
Sneed has a presence on Facebook and YouTube with rather benign postings, including a message by Imam Maleck. I was almost ready to convince myself that Masjid As-Salam was teaching American converts the peaceful aspects of Islam and no cause for alarm. However, I then came across a Yahoo group started and moderated by Sneed called American_Muslim_Struggles. On the homepage of the group, I found the following comment:
I mean, this is the country that started a war with Muslims,justly or unjustly (everyone has their opinion).
The tone of the comment was definitely anti-American, but the group is private and not open to the public-at-large. So, I sent a request to join the group to Sneed with the comment that I was wanting to learn more about Masjid As-Salam. To my surprise, he approved my membership to the group this afternoon. What I found caused me a great deal of concern. There are only 7 pictures posted by group members, and here is a sampling.
I think the anti-Israel and anti-American themes are obvious. All three of these were posted by Sneeds himself. Even more alarming was this video (one of three) linked by him.
There is also a link on the group site to an essay by Imam Anwar al-Awlaki (the lecturer on the video) which on page 26 states:
Although this is a Golden Era of Jihad, this ajr won’t be handed out for free; it would demand a lot. Because it is the greatest status it would demand the greatest sacrifice. That is why only the best of the best – the ones whom Allah ‘Azza wa Jall has chosen – will be able to carry it out until the end because the fitnah will be serious.
It is clear that Sneed has been introduced to some very anti-American philosophy and Jihad. I no longer accept that Bledsoe simply stopped by the Masjid As-Salam mosque one day for prayer. Sneed appears to be on the same path as Bledsoe and that cannot be a coincidence. Ironicly, Imam Maleck provides diversity training to the Memphis FBI, and they (the FBI) are scheduled to give a class, “For Protection of Civil Rights” at the mosque on June 20, 2009. I certainly hope they do more than talk while they are there. Someone needs to find out what is turning Americans from their country to Jihad there.
Since most readers are not familiar with Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, this is what Wikipedia has to say about him.
His parents are from Yemen, where he lived for eleven years and received the early part of his Islamic education. Awlaki has served as an Imam in Colorado, California, and most recently in the Washington, D.C. area where he headed the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University. He migrated to Yemen and despite having no travel restrictions, he currently does not wish to leave his home country. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University and was working on a Doctorate degree in Human Resource Development at George Washington University.
On 31 August 2006, ostensibly due to a Yemeni Secret Police investigation over Yemeni Tribal issues, Awlaki was detained for questioning by the Yemeni authorities. According to Awlaki, during the course of his interrogation he was asked specific questions about his Islamic activities, which led him to believe that he was being held and questioned at the behest of the United States government.
On 12 December 2007, Awlaki was released by the Yemeni authorities and was reunited with his family.
Anwar al-Awlaki currently resides in Yemen, and is associated with Iman University.
Now class, does anyone recall what country Bledsoe traveled to?
The suspect arrested in the fatal shooting of one soldier and the critical injury of another at a Little Rock, Ark., Army recruiting booth today was under investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Force since his return from Yemen, ABC News has learned.
The investigation was in its preliminary stages, authorities said, and was based on the suspect’s travel to Yemen and his arrest there for using a Somali passport. – ABC News
Update (June 5, 5:56 am):
For more information on Imam Anwar al-Awlaki and his connection to the 9/11 hijackers, History Commons.