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Radical Islam, Little Rock shooting spotlighted in congressional hearing

Melvin Bledsoe is one of the people testifying in a controversial hearing on Capital Hill in Washington D.C. His son, Abdulhakim Muhammad, 25, is charged with capital murder in Pulaski County for the attack on two soldiers.
WASHINGTON D.C. - - Melvin Bledsoe is one of the people testifying in a controversial hearing on Capital Hill in Washington D.C.  His son, Abdulhakim Muhammad, 25, is charged with capital murder in Pulaski County for the attack on two soldiers.

"If we knew our serious his extremism had become we could have put in every effort to prevent the tragedy in Arkansas from even happening," Bledsoe says.

Melvin Bledsoe offered testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee about the supposed radicalization of his son Abdulhakim Muhammad. Describing him as a happy kid and teenager, he says he noticed a change around the age of 20 when his son took down a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. off the wall in the bedroom of his Memphis home.

"We asked Carlos, 'what is going on with you'? He replied that he is now a new convert to Islam and everything he does from now on is to honor Allah," Bledsoe testified.

Muhammad admits to shooting and killing Pvt. William Long outside the Army recruiting office on Rodney Parham in June 2009.

He says he was angry over U.S. military presence in the Middle East; Iraq and Afghanistan specifically.

Bledsoe told committee members his son was brainwashed by Islamic extremists beginning in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Do the mosques know they are responsible for the radicalization of your son,” asked Rep Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

"Sure they know, but they're waiting around to do it again to someone else's child,” Bledsoe responded. “That's why I'm here today hoping the American people that you're listening. I hope you hear me."

But several members of the committee described Bledsoe and other witness testimony as anecdotal, not real evidence of a problem. And worse, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) says, furthers a world view of an America at war with Islam.

"This hearing today is playing into Al Qaeda right now around the world,” Lee says. “It is diminishing soldiers on the front lines that are Muslim, those that lost their lives."

But Bledsoe says he will keep talking about his son.

"Tomorrow the victim might have blond hair and blue eyes. One thing for sure, it will happen again," Bledsoe says.

Despite all the testimony about Muhammad as a supposed "lone wolf" terrorist on Capital Hill, authorities here don't agree. Muhammad is not harged with terrorism. Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley says the case is no different from any other murder case his office handles.

Muhammad’s defense attorneys see it differently. In court filings, they indicate plans to travel to Yemen to gather more insight on how they say their client was radicalized. They plan to present their findings as mitigation if the case goes to a death penalty phase.
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