- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) | The father of a soldier slain outside a recruiting center sought a quiet life for his family in rural Arkansas after years of military service, but says the battlefield came home to find them.

Daris Long’s son, Army Pvt. William Andrew Long, was shot Monday in suburban Little Rock as he smoked a cigarette.

Pvt. Long, 23, died in the attack that also wounded Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18. The suspect, Abdulhakim Muhammad, 23, told investigators he wanted to kill as many Army personnel as he could “because of what they had done to Muslims in the past,” police said.

Neither soldier had ever seen battle; both only completed basic training recently and had volunteered to help attract others into military service. Pvt. Long was heading to South Korea for his service.

“He was a hero. The other young lad that’s in the hospital, he’s a hero,” Mr. Long told Little Rock television station KATV. “They weren’t on the battlefield, but apparently, the battlefield’s here.”

Pvt. Long’s service adds to his family’s military tradition, said his father, who served in the Marine Corps while his wife, Janet, was in the Navy.

Flags honoring the two branches, as well as an American flag, hang over the garage door of their ranch home tucked away from neighbors in a small woods outside of Conway, 30 miles north of Little Rock. The family’s gray station wagon bears a yellow ribbon magnet over its hatchback, while another magnet of two blue stars shows their sons - Andy, as they called him, and Triston - in military service.

Mr. Long said his son sought the Army on his own accord, rather than following a family tradition of military service.

“I didn’t have a preconceived notion that he had to go,” the father told the Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “He chose.”

Mr. Long spoke about his son reluctantly, saying he mistrusted reporters, stemming from his time in Somalia during the U.S. intervention there in the 1990s, and that he didn’t like coverage of the 2008 presidential election.

Questions remain about what route Mr. Muhammad, a Muslim convert, took before the shooting. Material seized from his truck and apartment - including guns, ammunition and Molotov cocktails - led federal agents to caution that copycat attacks could not be ruled out.

An FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment document obtained by the AP on Wednesday suggested Mr. Muhammad, of Little Rock, may have considered targeting other locations, including Jewish and Christian sites.

The FBI said Mr. Muhammad “conducted Internet searches related to different locations in several U.S. cities,” including Atlanta; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; New York; and Philadelphia and notified authorities in those locations.

New York police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said investigators found Google Earth images of various places, including Times Square. In Atlanta, FBI agent Stephen Emmett said Mr. Muhammad had information regarding a “Jewish entity within our jurisdiction.”

Mr. Muhammad has pleaded not guilty to a capital murder charge, which could carry the death penalty if he’s convicted. Federal agents are also considering other charges.

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