Recruiter Shooting Suspect Had Ties to Extremist Locations
Jewish institutions, day-care center, post office were among them, DHS says.
June 3, 2009— -- The Arkansas man accused of killing an Army recruiter and wounding another had used the popular Google Maps application to investigate recruiting centers in at least five states, as well as Jewish institutions, a day-care center, a post office and a Baptist Church, according to a report issued Tuesday evening by the Department of Homeland Security, ABC News has learned.
Recruiting centers in New York, Atlanta, Louisville and Philadelphia were on a list of possible targets, based on evidence found in the home of the suspect, Muslim-convert Abdulhakim Muhammed, according to the report.
The report was prepared based on the evidence seized in a search of Muhammed's home that included information indicating that he had used Google maps to investigate various locations.
Secure Community Network, a not-for-profit group that addresses security concerns among some of the national Jewish leadership, and is widely considered to be a reliable source on potential threats to that community, expanded on the government report to conclude that, "Muhammad may have considered and conducted research on other targets in addition to the military recruiting center in Little Rock, including military sites, government facilities, as well as Jewish institutions in several cities throughout the United States.
"Law enforcement officials have reported that Muhammad may have researched Jewish entities in Little Rock, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Louisville and Memphis. It is unknown at this time if other locations were considered," according to SCN, which is a Jewish Federations of North America initiative.
ABC News reported Monday that the suspect arrested in the fatal shooting of one soldier and the critical injury of another at a Little Rock Army recruiting booth was under investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force since his return from Yemen.
ABC further reported that the suspect's travel within the United States had also come under scrutiny by the Terrorist Task Force, including travel to Columbus, Ohio – an area of domestic concern for authorities who have observed a number of Somali Americans traveling from there to Somali to wage jihad.
A recent convert to Islam, Muhammad, 24, upon his arrest Monday shortly after the fatal shooting, allegedly confessed and told authorities he acted alone, according to court documents. But prior to the shooting, Muhammad had been the subject of a preliminary investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force since his return from Yemen, where he was arrested and had in his possession a false Somali passport, ABC News has learned.
And now, officials say, the FBI and the CIA are engaged in an intense effort to reconstruct Muhammad's path to extremism -- and allegedly to murder -- taking apart his life, examining his friendships, educational records, travel within the United States and possible contacts with extremists overseas.
Though police told ABC News that a preliminary investigation indicated that Muhammad acted alone, federal authorities are trying to determine whether others were involved in any way -- including supplying weapons, lending encouragement or support, and helping to identify a target -- in the Monday shooting that also critically wounded another soldier. Although he allegedly confessed, Muhammad also has pleaded not guilty to the shooting.
"We believe that it's associated with his disagreement over the military operations," Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas told The Associated Press. "At this point it appears that he specifically targeted military personnel, but there doesn't appear to be a wider conspiracy or, at this point in time, any indication that he's a part of a larger group or a conspiracy to go further."
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