'Jihadist' says his case should be federal

July 12, 2011 at 5:57 PM
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 12 (UPI) -- The admitted killer of a soldier at an Arkansas recruiting station says he's an Islamic extremist, but he's being denied the federal terrorism trial he wants.

Instead, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, born Carlos Bledsoe in Memphis, is going on trial in an Arkansas state court next week for killing Pvt. William Long and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula in a drive-by shooting outside a Little Rock recruiting station June 1, 2009.

He could become the first person sentenced to death in the United States for terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Muhammad, 24, converted to Islam at a Memphis mosque, changed his name and traveled to Yemen, where he was arrested in 2008 for overstaying his visa and using false Somali papers. His father, Melvin Bledsoe, said he became radicalized in a Yemeni jail.

When arrested after the shooting, Muhammad said he was a jihadist determined to kill as many soldiers as he could, police said.

Melvin Bledsoe says federal authorities are letting Arkansas try the case because they knew his son was a radicalized Muslim but did not watch him when he came home.

"I think that somebody in the federal government and the FBI should be charged with negligence. Negligent homicide," he said.

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