Ark. Killing of Soldiers Shows Why Terror Isn’t a Police Matter


By: Warner Todd Huston

The heinous act of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 24, formerly Carlos Leon Bledsoe, a prison convert to Islam, is a perfect example of why terrorism cannot be fought using police procedures and is more effectively fought under military auspices. The fact that Muhammad was under FBI surveillance and already under suspicion of possible terrorist activities but got away with murdering one soldier and seriously injuring another is a lesson of how police procedures are prone to failure in stopping terrorism.

Many on the left in America lambasted President Bush for utilizing military tribunals and for his contention that the capture of foreign terrorists was a military matter. They said that these terrorist’s “civil rights” were being violated by the quick military actions and they abhorred the limited availability to legal council such procedures offered to suspects. The solution the left commonly offers is for the full American justice system to be placed at the disposal of foreign terror suspects. The left claims that doing so makes our own actions “consistent” with our traditions of justice.

However, to be consistent with our own civil court system, authorities are required to investigate, gather evidence, vet that evidence with legal council, apply for warrants through judges, and ultimately arrest and try suspects. This is an expensive and time consuming process during which time any number of leaks of information to the press and breakdowns of the system can occur. Sadly, we see these failures in the shooting incident in Arkansas.

It has been learned that Bledsoe, aka Muhammad, was already under investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Force since his return from Yemen.

The investigation was in its preliminary stages, authorities said, and was based on the suspect’s travel to Yemen and his arrest there for using a Somali passport.

Sadly, the FBI could not move fast enough to prevent this act of terrorism. Whether Muhammad was a lone actor or not, the FBI had procedures it had to follow, procedures that prevented it from acting quickly. Were this a military matter, Muhammad could have been scooped up quickly preventing his murderous actions.

The only difference between this incident and that of foreign terrorists is that this man is an American citizen. In this case, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad absolutely had to be afforded his Constitutional rights and the FBI had to follow procedure. It would be a mistake to jettison our civil rights for our own citizens out of a fear of terror.

But, regardless, it is a fact that the FBI could not prevent this terrorist act from happening here in the U.S. when it involved a single U.S. citizen. Imagine the mess we’d be in by applying American civil law procedure to foreign terror cases? When faced with terrorists with infinitely greater resources in money and personnel to use the sort of procedures that couldn’t even stop a lone gunman here in the U.S. is a recipe for disaster — and that is quite aside from the fact that foreigners are not citizens under our Constitution. Bush was right to consider the case of foreign terrorists as a military matter.

Let’s face facts here, shall we? Even if we wanted to impose our procedural rules on foreign cases it is often times impossible to lead an American styled investigation in the battlefield settings where many foreign terrorists are apprehended. There is no possibility of conducting an evidence gathering investigation that would satisfy American legal rules on the battlefield and it is an absurdity to assume it is possible.

While this case is not a legitimate reason to suspend civil rights for Americans, it is a prime example that extending our rights to even more terrorists who aren’t citizens would bring disastrous results. We couldn’t even stop this one, lone guy in our own nation. How are we going to stop whole terror networks in foreign lands using the same useless procedures?

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