NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. | The man accused of fatally shooting a soldier outside a recruiting center begged for FBI agents to free him from a Yemeni jail where he was “radicalized” by Islamic terrorists, his lawyer told Associated Press on Thursday.
Lawyer Jim Hensley described Abdulhakim Muhammad as an impressionable youth driven to public service in an impoverished Middle Eastern country. But teachings by “hardened” terrorists in Yemen and experiences with Afghan child refugees who were missing limbs drove him to become someone his parents didn’t recognize, Mr. Hensley said.
“Here comes the FBI, who may be able to help this guy or save his life, and then they leave and then he’s got to go back in with these hardened terrorists. He’s got to survive, how do you live with that?” Mr. Hensley said. “He absolutely feels that the FBI and anyone else associated with the United States government left him to the wolves, that’s for certain.”
The FBI office in Nashville, Tenn., referred calls to a spokesman in Memphis, who was not in his office Thursday. Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
Mr. Muhammad has pleaded not guilty to a capital murder charge in the death Monday of Army Pvt. William Long. Another soldier, Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, was wounded in the attack. Mr. Hensley said his client stood by his plea and said Mr. Muhammad wanted to hold a news conference or issue a statement to “explain himself.”
Mr. Muhammad, 23, was scheduled to be back in court Friday morning in Little Rock. Pvt. Long, 23, will be buried Monday at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.
Mr. Hensley said Mr. Muhammad was a college student in Tennessee and left early to pursue volunteer work teaching English to children in Yemen, where he married and converted to Islam. The lawyer said his client was in a Yemeni jail and surrounded by jihadists after police detained him over an expired visa.