The father of the man charged with shooting two soldiers in Little Rock
is speaking out. He says his son, Abdulhakim Muhammad, was manipulated by Islamic extremists overseas and the FBI knew it but didn't step in before it was too late.
Melvin Bledsoe of Memphis looks at what his son is accused of doing at the Army Recruiter Station in Little Rock last June the same way he looks at foiled terror plots in Dallas, and the Fort Hood shootings earlier this month. He sees them all as acts of terrorism that could have been prevented.
"I want to say how sorry I am for the family of the soldier and we know what they're going through," Bledsoe says. "They're grieving and we're very sorry for their grieving."
Nearly six months after police say his son, Abdulhakim Muhammad, 24, gunned down two soldiers, Bledsoe wants answers from the federal government. "I don't understand why the federal government has not taken this case which it is,” Bledsoe says. “This involves a United States soldier."
Bledsoe says the FBI tracked his son for two years after he traveled to Yemen and knew of his growing extremist views but didn't do anything to stop it. As an example, he cites his son's purchase of an assault rifle shortly before the shooting.
"I think they could have asked some questions [like,] 'What are you doing with this weapon? What are you going to do with this weapon?'" When asked how he thought his son would have responded to such a question Bledsoe responded, "I think something would have changed a lot."
The FBI has no comment other than to say the investigation is still on going, but won't address any of Muhammad's dad's allegations. Bledsoe talked to us in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Little Rock because he believes that's the proper jurisdiction for his son's case.
Although he thinks the FBI should investigate the case because it's an act of terrorism, he doesn't think Muhammad is a terrorist. "No, I do not consider him a terrorist," he says. "But I think what took place certainly gives the meanings of an act of terrorism.
"Thirteen other people lost their lives in Texas because somebody else dropped the ball, it's as simple as that,” Bledsoe says referring to the mass shootings of soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas earlier this month. "It was my son today and it could be your son tomorrow."
Bledsoe says he says he holds his son ultimately responsible for his own actions but wants U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to open an investigation to look at what warning signs, if any, were missed by federal authorities.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty
for Muhammad. He's charged with killing Pvt. William Long of Conway and shooting Pvt Quinton Ezagwula of Jacksonville.
His trial is set for next June.