Losing Our Sons
A movie review by Rebecca Bynum (July 2012)
Losing Our Sons is the title of a brilliant and moving new documentary produced by A.R. Maezav and Ilya Feokt of the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance led by Charles Jacobs, with financing and support by Andy Miller and the Tennessee Freedom Coalition. It tells its story through the eyes of two American fathers as they grapple with reality after the son of Melvin Bledsoe shot and killed the son of Daris Long at a Little Rock army recruiting station on June 1, 2009. Carlos Bledsoe, also known as Abdulhakim Mujahid Mohammad, shot Private Andrew Long on what was planned to be the first phase of a cross-country jihad killing spree. Fortunately, he took a wrong turn in a construction zone and was apprehended.
The film focuses on Nashville (where Carlos Bledsoe found Islam) and does an excellent job in exposing the radicalism of the Nashville Muslim leadership which has long been ignored or soft-peddled by the press, politicians and religious leaders. It deftly presents a great deal of factual information as it weaves together the stories of these two young men, one who became an American jihadi and the other an American soldier – one seeking to destroy our country, the other to defend it.
The Bledsoe family runs a tour company in Memphis and had hoped that Carlos could take over the family business after graduating from Tennessee State University in Nashville after obtaining a degree in business administration. “Little did we know,” said Melvin, “he would get involved with a religion that would turn his life upside down.”
Carlos had been an average young boy raised in the solid faith of the Baptist Church who liked hip-hop music and whose hero was Martin Luther King. Carlos had a wild side though, and was arrested for the illegal sale of a firearm and marijuana possession in Knoxville in 2004. He also admitted belonging to a gang – facts not presented in the film.
The lure of Islam for a boy like Carlos is clear. Young men crave the feeling of power and the admiration of their peers. Carlos’ new Muslim friends in Nashville offered him both. These new roommates would disappear whenever Melvin and his wife visited their son. Soon they noticed Carlos had stopped listening to music, had taken all the pictures off his walls and dumped his previously beloved dog “Snow” in the Tennessee woods. Then he changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the same as the former Imam of the Islamic Center of Nashville who said that “the greatest lie of all time” was that Jesus was the son of God and that America was “the worst country on earth.” Carlos believed him. He left his old life behind; now he had a complete explanation of the universe and total regulation for his life. He had been chosen, he was being elevated above all others. He would be a mujahid, as his new middle name signified, a warrior for Allah. The Muslim leadership in Nashville gave him the tools.
The next step on Carlos' journey was an extended trip to Yemen. His cover story was that he would teach English at the Al Khair center which required a recommendation from a Salafi Imam. The Salafi school of Islam is the umbrella under which the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood and offshoots, such as Hamas, Al Qaeda and its affiliate, the Somali Al Shabaab are all situated. The recommendation was given to Carlos by the Imam of the Somali al-Farooq mosque in Nashville, Abdul Aziz. Upon arrival, Carlos (now Abdulhakim Mohammad) was spirited away to the Yemeni desert for jihad training. After 14 months of this and after marrying a Yemeni girl, he was arrested for overstaying his visa. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying a cell phone with known al Qaeda contacts along with bomb making literature and a fake Somali passport. He explained later that his plan was to go to Somalia to join Al Shabaab and receive training in explosives so that his jihad upon return to America would be a “martyrdom operation” – in his words, not a “drive by,” but a “drive IN.”
He was interrogated by an FBI agent (an agent from Nashville) while in prison there and then deported back to the US where he was again interrogated by the same agent. One reason the government won’t acknowledge this as a terror attack is that the FBI was tracking Mohammad and very obviously dropped the ball in his case. Another is the simple reluctance to admit that a successful terror attack occurred during Obama’s administration. The same administration also maintains that the Ft. Hood shooting wasn’t a terror attack and authorities have denied purple hearts to the soldiers killed or injured in both attacks. Says Daris Long, "My son wasn't killed for who he was. He was killed for what he was," a soldier in uniform.
The same cowardly dishonesty is revealed by the United States' refusal to engage the enemy on the battlefield of ideas which is at least as important (in my opinion, much more important) than our military engagement in foreign lands. Administration officials refuse even to use the words Islamist or jihadist to describe the enemy. We are supposed to believe that our enemies are simply bloodthirsty psychopaths with no motive and no political goals whatsoever.
It should be noted that in this, Obama is following the lead of the Bush administration. When “Muslim-American” Naveed Afzal Haq shot up a Jewish community center in Seattle in 2006, killing a woman and injuring several more, it was not classified as a terror attack, but was classed as a hate crime. And when Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-American mowed down a crowd of students with a rented sport utility vehicle on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to "avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide" and to "punish" the United States government, it was prosecuted as simple attempted murder by the state.
Unfortunately for the see-no-terror crowd, jihadists are constantly explaining themselves and their Islamic motives to the press. One of the main reasons they engage in jihad is to draw attention to the grievances of Muslims or the Muslim world in general. For the convert, Muslims worldwide become “my people” who must be defended or avenged. If those jihadis engage in suicide bombing, they make an explanatory video ahead of time to be broadcast afterward. Those who are not killed in the attack often write to newspapers explaining their actions. Naveed Afzal Haq wrote to the University paper, the Daily Tar Heel which published pdfs of his handwritten letters. These explained in great detail, citing chapter and verse, the Koranic justification for his action. They seem to have been taken offline now.
Abdulhakim Mujahid Mohammad has done the same thing, writing to Kristina Goetz of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. I would recommend those interested in the motivation and mind-set of jihadis to read his words in his own hand, here, here, and here. Mohammad also admitted to killing a homeless man in Nashville in 2006 who he claims harassed Muslims, though he hasn’t been charged with that crime. That year, he moved to Columbus Ohio and attended the Masjid Omar Ibn El Khattab mosque for about a year. That mosque is known as the worship center of three other would-be terrorists who are now serving long prison terms. They are Abdulmalek Kenyatta, aka Christopher Paul who pled guilty to joining al Qaeda in 2008, Nuradin Abdi, sentenced in 2007 for plotting to blow up a shopping mall, and Iyman Faris who plotted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. While in prison, Mohammad stabbed a prison guard and another inmate. He also freely confesses to these acts, indeed brags about them, in his letters.
In his letter of Sept. 30, 2010, Mohammad states, “I was a jihadist before I traveled to Yemen. I've loved jihad ever since I became a Muslim.” He often quotes Anwar Al Awlaki, the former leader of al Qaeda in Yemen and calls him “our shaykh.” Awlaki was born in New Mexico and was considered an important Salafist thinker whose work was promoted in mosques around country and by organizations such as Nashville’s Olive Tree organization before he drew attention by being linked to terror attacks. Major Nidal Hasan (the Ft. Hood jihadist) corresponded with Awlaki before his attack and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was sent by Awlaki to blow up an American airliner in the underwear bombing plot. Awlaki, an American citizen, was subsequently targeted and killed in a US drone attack in Yemen.
Mohammad had planned to murder three rabbis in Memphis, Little Rick and Nashville (he threw a firebomb at what he thought was the house of a Nashville rabbi, but it didn’t explode) shoot up and/or bomb, Jewish organizations, one Baptist Church, a child care center, a post office and army recruiting centers in Memphis, Little Rock, Florence, Kentucky, Baltimore, New York City and Washington, DC. Major Hasan had openly praised the Little Rock shooting to his fellow soldiers in the weeks before opening fire on them when he was sure they were unarmed. Mohammad subsequently praised Hasan in his letters calling him "the true Islamic warrior.”
The pusillanimity of our government officials is fully exposed in the film. I understand the fear that their words might wind up in an al Qaeda propaganda video and that they could be accused of “playing into the hands of terrorists.” However, in refusing to use plain language, they do nothing but sow confusion among our countrymen, our military and our allies. One cannot imagine Winston Churchill, for example, displaying fear of Nazi propaganda and it also shows a total lack of proportion in thinking that something some official says in Washington will have some profound influence on the Muslim world. The overall impression given to friend of foe alike is a lack of nerve.
Another striking example of the utter moral confusion of our times highlighted in the film was when Rabbi Y. Kliel Rose of the West End Synagogue compared pending Tennessee state anti-terror legislation to the Nuremberg laws of Nazi Germany. The film also shows several examples of Christian and Jewish leaders listening in silence when Muslim leaders make outrageous public comments (outrageous to non-Muslim Americans, that is) with the local paper, The Tennessean, failing to report those comments as well. To quote Charles Jacobs’ remarks at the premier of the film in Nashville:
America is flying blind. Into a storm. You have only to look at Europe to see where we are headed.
Our leaders have failed us: at every level.
We have mayors who think that the Muslim immigration into America must be just like every other immigration. Mayors who refuse to realize that extremist Muslim leaders are radicalizing the historically moderate Muslim communities here...and if you try to speak about this, then you must be a racist.
We have the mainstream media who already don’t like America much to begin with. We have so called “reporters” who think we’re all mean-spirited, greedy racists and who think that it is the duty of reporters to protect minorities from us, and so therefore nothing critical can be said about Muslims. So they make themselves ignore honor killings, discrimination against women. So they make themselves ignore, blatant Jew-hatred. These “progressive” reporters even keep themselves quiet about Muslim homophobia.
Then you have our college professors. They are smart, they are educated, they are idealistic – and they are foolish. Think about it: Only a PhD in Humanities could believe that all cultures are equally good. Only a college professor can think – and teach -- that all people want the same thing, that everybody in the world is just like us. Only an educated fool thinks that if you apologize and appease angry people they will suddenly see just how nice you are; they will drop their antagonism and their extreme demands and begin to love you. You have to go to college to learn how to think that way. Normal people know better.
And then we have the progressive clergy: And I have to tell you – and we told you on the film --- that my own Jewish community produces some real gems -- but the Christians also have ministers and priests who just don’t get it. And who – in their misplaced idealism -- give cover to those who are planning to steal our sons – and daughters. It’s happening here in Nashville.
Losing Our Sons needs to be shown all over the country – in theaters, in churches and in synagogues. This is what is happening in Nashville, but young people are being recruited for jihad in towns and cities all over the land. Mosques are rapidly being built, supplied and staffed by Arab oil money and are teaching the most radical (or the purest, depending on your point of view) form of Islam to America’s burgeoning and largely immigrant Muslim population. They are actively targeting and recruiting vulnerable young men like Carlos to join the army of Allah.
There have been over 30 terror plots uncovered since 9/11, but terror is truly the least of our problems with Islam. The hostile attitudes toward woman, homosexuals, Christianity, Christians, Hindus Jews, our nation itself and western society in general which is engendered in these mosques should be a ,source of deep concern for those entrusted with the protection of our country and its people. Instead we find leaders who have lost their moral compass, clinging to the ideal of freedom of religion and using this as an excuse to do nothing because in reality they are paralyzed by fear – fear of ostracism by the politically correct. Thus they protect and nurture those who would destroy freedom of conscience in this country and evince a near hysterical hatred (the flip side of fear), sometimes clothed in sanctimonious tones, toward those who point out the obvious problem. As Melvin Bledsoe said during his Capital Hill testimony, “We’re worried about stepping on toes, while they want to stamp us out!”
Here are Daris Long and Melvin Bledsoe on the Huckabee report:
Daris Long, Melvin Bledsoe and the makers of this film deserve our country's gratitude for bringing attention to the ongoing problem of radicalization of young Muslim Americans. This is an issue that won't go away, no matter how much the Congress, the President, the military and everyone involved in national security from the FBI and Homeland Security to the local sheriff's office wishes it would. Tackling this problem involves some hard choices, but a few decisive actions now would undoubtedly save countless lives later on. As Melvin Bledsoe says, "Today, my son, tomorrow, your son."
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