Inspired by their shared tragic experience, two fathers have forged an unlikely partnership to spread awareness of the growing number of Islamic homegrown terrorists in the U.S. and of the government’s refusal to identify the violent acts of these individuals as acts of terror.
On June 1, 2009, outside a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, 23-year-old Army Pvt. William “Andy” Long was shot and killed, and 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded by self-proclaimed jihadist Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe. In an AP interview, Muhammad claimed that his act was not murder because his act was justified, and even that it displayed “common sense.” He related that “U.S. soldiers kill innocent Muslim men and women” and that Muslims need to “strike back.”
Andy’s father, Daris Long and the father of the shooter, Melvin Bledsoe, met in the aftermath of this event under the most grievous of conditions. Even so, they have since formed a friendship and mutual mission to find closure in their shared tragedy by spreading awareness among Americans of the realities of their ordeal, and by demanding that their government identify this tragedy as what it is: a domestic act of Islamic terror.
In an issued statement concerning the death of Andy Long and wounding of Quinton Ezeagwula, the U.S. Army held that there was insufficient evidence to justify their entitlement to Purple Heart awards. This statement seems curious, considering that Army Purple Heart Regulations state that “…each approved award of the Purple Heart must exhibit all of the following factors: wound, injury, or death must have been the result of enemy or hostile act, international terrorist attack, or friendly fire.” This tragedy seems to more than qualify a fallen or injured soldier for this award, and even more so when it is taken into account that Muhammad (Bledsoe) committed his violent act after an extended stay and conversion to Islam in Yemen, a country that known terroristic conspirators and masterminds have called home for years.