At any time, the act of joining the U.S. military is a statement, both real and implied, of one’s willingness to die for one’s country. However, in times of apparent peace, there can be no doubt that many who enlist do so for far more practical reasons and benefits and fervently hope that the whole issue of fighting and dying never actually presents itself. This cannot be true of anyone who has joined the armed services since September 11th, 2001. The current generation of enlistees is truly a great generation, joining when deployment to hostile overseas locations is all but assured, and never more so than right now, with an uncertain prognosis in Iraq, a greatly expanding conflict in Afghanistan, and potentially explosive threats from the direction of Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.
Joining the military today is both to sacrifice and to take on the very real risk of making the ultimate sacrifice. It is unlikely, however, that many current enlistees expect to be called upon to die for their country right here in the U.S.; for instance outside a recruitment center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Yet in a very true sense that appears to be what happened, the day before yesterday, when twenty-three year-old Pvt. William Long was shot to death—according to police—by an American citizen named Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, age eighteen, was wounded in the same shooting and is hospitalized. Police have reported, apparently based on remarks by Muhammad subsequent to his arrest, that his motivations for the shootings were “political and religious.” Jihadwatch.org has reported further on the background of the accused killer:
Carlos Leon “Corey” Bledsoe, who changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad after he converted to Islam, is from Memphis, Tennessee. He was a student at Tennessee State University—a business major. After becoming a Muslim in 2004 at the age of 19, he quit college and embarked upon a path that ultimately led him to Yemen, and Little Rock.
Jihadwatch.org also reports that Muhammad’s trip to Yemen was apparently for the purpose of studying with “a jihadist imam” named Yahya Hajoori, although it’s not yet known whether he succeeded in that aim. Mainstream news media are reporting that Muhammad was under investigation by the FBI in advance of the shootings, and also that additional information found on his computer may be indicative of a broader plot.
Broader plot or no, if the initial reports are true then what has taken place is the first successful execution of an act of jihadist terrorism in the United States since September 11th, 2001. There have been attempts since then to be sure: foiled plots, conspirators nabbed in sting operations, and some incidents that occupy a gray area, but—until now—no clear-cut successful attack on the U.S. mainland by an individual or group driven by those very particular “political and religious” motives.
President Obama—who immediately issued a statement of shock and outrage at the murder of Dr. George Tiller—has yet to remark on the shooting of American soldiers in Little Rock two days ago.
It is surely a sad milestone when a soldier is killed in the service of his country—precisely because he is serving his country—right in the American heartland. Sadder still when the accused attacker is a man born and raised in America himself. And it is both a sad and an exceedingly strange milestone when the event receives almost negligible attention in the nation’s news media, where far more energy has been devoted in the last couple of days to reporting on the troubles of a singer on a British talent show, and countless other trivialities. Pvt. William Long and his family deserve better, as does Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula. As young men, they decided to serve their country in a time of growing conflict and danger. They were met with bullets before even getting the chance to be deployed. Shock and outrage are entirely justifiable. Indeed, the lack of such is scandalous.