Remember last June when President Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia because, as he put it, "It was very important to come to the place where Islam began and seek his majesty's counsel"?
I argued at the time, gagging, that rather than visiting "the place where Islam began," the president of the United States should have gone to the place where Islam had just ended the life of a U.S. soldier. I refer to the U.S. Army-Navy recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., where on June 1, Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad fatally shot Pvt. William Long, 23, and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18. The two soldiers had been standing outside having a smoke.
As usual, the president didn't take my advice, or even my further suggestion that he turn the attack into an opportunity to declare in a major address that the 21st-century era of jihad was over. Instead, he journeyed to lands where jihad is a sacred institution, and in Cairo made another speech entirely, boosting and even preaching on behalf of Islam. His only comment was to call the attack, belatedly, "a senseless act of violence."
Senseless? This was an act of jihad, and both soldiers, along with the fallen and wounded at Fort Hood, should receive the Purple Hearts they deserve. Muhammad himself has made his jihadist intentions against the U.S. military clear, beginning first with his statement to police, and later in collect phone calls to the Associated Press from Pulaski County jail. On June 9, the AP quoted Muhammad calling the attack "a act, for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military." He wasn't guilty of murder, he said, "because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason." Such a definition jibes with Islamic law, which, for example, permits the killing of "non-Muslims at war with Muslims." Muhammad also told the AP he wanted revenge against the U.S. military for its perceived offenses against Muslims and the Koran.
We haven't heard much about the case since Pulaski County prosecutor Larry Jegley asked for a gag order on the gabby jihadi -- a step a prosecutor will take, former prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy tells me, to prevent the jury pool from being "poisoned" and to ward off potential defense claims that a fair trial was not possible.
But lead prosecutor Jegley has now entered bizarro territory, telling the New York Times this week that his team, as the paper put it, "considers (the attack) a straightforward murder case and that they intend to try it without delving into Mr. Muhammad's religious conversion, political beliefs or possible ties to terrorists. `When you strip away what he says, self-serving or not, it's just an awful killing,' said Larry Jegley ...`It's like a lot of other killings we have.' "
It is? Do "a lot" of middle-class murder defendants in Pulaski County convert to Islam in 2004 and worship at an Ohio mosque frequented by convicted terrorists in 2005 and 2006? Do "a lot" of them travel to Yemen in 2007 where, ABC News reported, "it is believed that Muhammad attended the Damaj Institute, an Islamic institute attended by a number of radicalized U.S. converts (including) John Walker Lindh? Do "a lot" get themselves arrested for overstaying their visa in Yemen, and possessing a fake Somali passport? Do "a lot" finally get deported back to the States in 2008? (Bio highlights courtesy the NEFA Foundation.) Do "a lot" fire on U.S. soldiers at a military recruiting center?
I'm not the only one confounded by the prosecutor's inexplicable and highly disturbing decision to follow a see-no-Islam strategy. Muhammad himself recently wrote to the judge claiming he was encountering legal obstacles to changing his plea to guilty. Avowing affiliation with al-Qaida as a member of "Abu Basir's Army," Muhammad further emphasized the fact that the incident was a "a Jihadi Attack ... justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad -- To fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims."
This was an act of war against the United States and should be treated as such. Especially for the sake of the fallen, this is no time for the prosecutor to run off the battlefield.