APNewsBreak: Ark. soldier shooter sent FBI letter

July 29, 2011 - 3:14 AM
Recruiters Shot

FILE - In this July 23, 2011 file photo, Daris Long is interviewed at Arkansas Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, Ark. Long says his dead son and wounded comrade deserve the Purple Heart after they were shot outside a military recruiting center two years ago. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas plans to file legislation Thursday, July 28, 2011, that could make Long’s son, Pvt. William Andrew Long, and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula eligible for the military honor. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Arkansas said he also shot at the home of a rabbi in Little Rock days earlier, according to a letter he wrote to the FBI.

In the letter obtained by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request, Abdulhakim Muhammad said he fired 10 rounds at the home of Rabbi Eugene Levy days before he fatally shot Pvt. William Andrew Long and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula in June 2009.

A judge sentenced Muhammad to life in prison without parole this week after prosecutors accepted his plea agreement during his capital murder trial for killing Long and hurting Ezeagwula.

In the letter, dated November 24, 2009, Muhammad said he targeted Levy's house after researching Jewish leaders in Little Rock, Nashville, Tenn., and his hometown of Memphis, where he was born by the name Carlos Bledsoe. He changed his name after converting to Islam in college.

"Figured the FBI wasn't watching me anymore," he wrote. "I started my Plans to Attack, recruitment centers, Jewish organizations, across America..." He said he bought rifles, a pistol, ammunition and materials to make Molotov cocktails.

Then, shortly after midnight May 30, Muhammad said he shot at Levy's house from his truck using a .22-caliber rifle.

"The spent rounds were found during search," he wrote.

Levy's wife, Bobbye Levy, said FBI agents visited their home sometime in June after Muhammad was arrested. But she said she didn't hear any gunshots or find any damage to the house.

"We never knew anything about it until the FBI showed up," she said.

She wasn't sure whether the agents found any remnants of a shooting outside. FBI spokesman Steve Frazier declined to comment.

Levy said and her husband, who's a rabbi at Temple B'nai Israel in Little Rock, have never received any threatening letters or phone calls.

Muhammad said he then drove to Memphis and later Nashville to the homes of two other rabbis. In Nashville, he said he drove to a Jewish community center, "but found there were too many children around so I aborted that."

So, the self-professed jihadist said he kept driving until he came to a recruitment center in Florence, Ky., but found it was closed.

He decided to go back to Little Rock to revise his plan, and said he drove overnight to Nashville. About 2 a.m. on June 1, Muhammad said he decided to firebomb another rabbi's house. He said he lobbed a Molotov cocktail at the home, but the fire blew out mid-air.

"Another attempt gone sour," he wrote.

He made it to Little Rock that morning and spotted two uniformed soldiers outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock. He said he considered firing at them from afar, but decided to get closer so he wouldn't miss.

He fired an assault rifle at Long and Ezeagwula, who were smoking cigarettes outside. They had recently completed basic training and decided to volunteer as recruiters. Neither had seen combat.

Muhammad rolled down the window and fired an assault rifle. Ezeagwula, then 18, watched his friend fall to the ground as the bullets hit them. In the parking lot, Long's mother, Janet Long, heard the gunshots.

In his letter to the FBI, Muhammad confessed to his actions, taking full responsibility and professing ties to al-Qaida. He told The Associated Press that the shootings were justified because of U.S. military actions in the Middle East.

"I ask to be punish by lethal injection and to be shown no respite," he wrote to the FBI.

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Jeannie Nuss can be reached at http://twitter.com/jeannienuss