U.S., Yemen: Suspected Shooter Claims Ties to AQAP

2 MINS READJan 27, 2010 | 00:06 GMT
On Jan. 12, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (aka Carlos Bledsoe), the man who allegedly shot and killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another outside a Little Rock, Ark., recruiting center in June 2009, wrote a letter to the judge in his case admitting his guilt and requesting to change his plea from innocent to guilty. In the letter, Muhammad also said he has ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and that he is part of "Abu Basir's Army." (Abu Basir is the honorific name, or kunya, for Nasir al-Wahayshi, the current leader of AQAP.) If his claims are true — which is entirely possible — this is yet another example of AQAP striking targets far from Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. A Tennessee native and recent convert to Islam, Muhammad left Tennessee State University in September 2007 to travel to Yemen to learn Arabic and teach English. He was arrested in the southern Yemen city of Aden in November 2008 for overstaying his visa and was subsequently deported back to the United States months prior to the Arkansas attack. Judging from Muhammad's statement — which also claims, "this was [a] jihadi[st] attack on infidel forces that didn’t go as plan[ned]" — he appears to be a militant who undertook the type of "simple attack" that al-Wahayshi called for in late October 2009 — shortly before the Fort Hood shooting. In the analysis STRATFOR wrote on al-Wahayshi's call for simple attacks (which was published the day before the Fort Hood shooting) we discussed the Little Rock shooting as an example of how easy as it is to conduct simple attacks using firearms. It is also important to remember that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the perpetrator of the failed Christmas Day 2009 airline bombing, also was linked to AQAP. That attack demonstrated AQAP's interest in targeting the United States, further supporting the premise that Muhammad could be linked to the group. Considering the timing of the attacks and documented links between Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric who has been linked to AQAP, it will be even more important for the government to attempt to determine if both Hasan and Abdulmutallab were also a part of "Abu Basir's army."

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