The exception was, while we were looking at coverage on the internet, we ran across a comment on a blog about some discussion that occurred on the “After the Show” Show for Special Report with Brett Baier on 3 June 2009. Major Garrett had discussed the asking about the handling of the Little Rock shooting by the White House. He said that Robert Gibbs had explained that the White House had a prepared statement that was by request only, meaning you had to ask for it to get one and that the president’s statement was released to an Arkansas outlet only, and “besides the press didn’t seem interested anyway.”
This made me furious. It was nothing more than political-speak to say “We, the White House, don’t want to speak about it.” We had a contact number for Laura Ingraham, and I decided to return the call. I agreed to do the show but not until Tuesday 9 June, the day after I buried my son. From that, we were contacted by several people across the country. People telling us that they did not get the story about Little Rock until Laura‘s broadcast. That broadcast lead to the Legislature of Kentucky passing a resolution and honoring Andy on what would have been his 24th birthday on 26 June 2009. We were contacted by the O’Reilly Show to air on 11 June 2009. We were grateful for support from them for the Wounded Warriors and his pledge to contribute a large sum of money to the Wounded Warrior Project in Andy’s name. I accepted the invitation as I desired to thank everyone who had sent cards and contributed to the WWP in Andy’s name and the treatment by law enforcement.
We were approached on several occasions throughout the 17 pretrial hearings but were graciously given our space by the local reporters. I told them I would be more than happy to speak to them once the trial was over but not before.
During the media frenzy after the trial, we spoke to several venues.
The Commercial Appeal in Memphis was neutral and objective in their reporting which was a change as The Tennessean, a Nashville paper, seemed to take the trial as an assault on the larger Nashville Muslim population.
Since that time there have been periodic stories in the papers both local and others about legislation pending in Congress over the Purple Heart as well as when I testified in front of the Homeland Security Committee last December.
Since the films debut, we have seen an increase in interest by the local press. A local radio talk show host had me on his afternoon show for 2 hours and agreed to show the film in a local theater with his monthly golden oldie. The theater was pretty full for the event. Since then we have been on the Huckabee Show as well as a hard news interview with Fox on America’s News HQ with Shannon Breem. I know Charles was interviewed on Stackelbeck and a joint letter from Melvin Bledsoe and I was published in USA Today. I never realized it has the largest distribution in the country. The Arkansas State Legislation recently unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Purple Heart. Then, of course, I was previously interviewed by you after writing David Horowitz on the Fort Hood Purple Heart petition. I have had several invitations to speak both locally and in other states at several events in the near future.
FP: How do you feel about Melvin Bledsoe, the father of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the murderer of Andy?
Long: We have formed a bond based on our mutual loss. He lost his son to radical Islam and I lost mine as a result of radical Islam. We did not speak until after the trial. We spent a few quiet moments in the court room after his son had pleaded guilty, our family, the Ezeagwulas, and the Bledsoes. Janet and I feel Melvin and his family are as much victims as we are. I respect that he has been speaking out since the attack. My family receives a certain degree of compassion being the parents of Andy when we speak. He however has had to deal with being the father of the killer. He loves his son but is willing to speak out about what happened with him since his conversion to Islam. He is a courageous man and I am honored to stand with him.
FP: Why did you agree to cooperate with Melvin Bledsoe and do the film?
Long: I watched Melvin each time he was on the news. He has never tried to excuse what Abdulhakim Muhammad did, but has tried to use the event as a teaching moment to identify the threat that radical Islam presents. He comes from a unique perspective, he lost his son in a system that protects and even promotes radical speech and values under the guise of education and diversity. I was particularly impressed with his coolness in the face of being dismissed by the very people charged with protecting the Constitution. Charles had mentioned to me that he had interviewed Melvin as well and was hoping I would agree to participate in a joint message. Janet and I didn’t commit immediately. We prayed about it and then agreed to do the film. We had no idea how it would turn out. Melvin and I spoke together after a pre-release screening of the film in Nashville on September 11, 2011. It was powerful then but nowhere near as strong as it is now. I don’t think anyone connected to it knew what they had until June this year. The message that two fathers from opposite sides can come together to try to accomplish something positive out of this tragedy is important. The message is the same, my son today, your son tomorrow.
FP: Why do you think the Obama Administration won’t give Andy a Purple Heart?
Long: When Andy was killed he was afforded a military funeral with full honors. The Arkansas National Guard is responsible for military funerals and the determination was made that the honors were to be given for a soldier who had died as the result of an attack. The full military honors would not have been given if my son was just the victim of a street crime.
We were told that the Army was ready to give Andy the Purple Heart in the event it was approved before the funeral. That approval didn’t come. We had already seen the internet article on what the White House Press Secretary had said about no interest on the part of the media. We then received a condolence letter dated June 5, 2009 from the White House. These letters, by policy go only to war dead. It is completely out of the norm for a victim of a street crime to get one. We contacted our Congressman and asked him to look into the matter. The answer was that Andy did not rate it. No explanation as to why. We contacted the Army again and the answer came back they didn’t have enough information to determine his eligibility or not. We asked whether the Army had done the investigation required by regulation in the event of an alleged international terrorist attack. We received no answer.
We had contacted the US Attorney over the issue of federal terrorism charges on three occasions. They have said it continues to be an open investigation as late as December 7, 2011.
We finally submitted a more than 300 page package to the Secretary of the Army providing information obtained from open sources to justify at least an investigation into the alleged international terrorism ties. This was summarily rejected on the grounds that Abdulhakim Muhammad was convicted of a crime and not terrorism so the two soldiers killed and wounded in Little Rock remained ineligible. We have since confirmed that there has been no attempt by the Army to check the international terrorism ties required in the case of alleged terrorism victims.
There has been language included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2011 to award Purple Hearts to the victims of Little Rock and Fort Hood. It failed due in part to objections by Military Order of the Purple Heart in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The issue was brought up again as amendments to the FY 2012 NDAA. This time HR 1544 was introduced by Chairman King of the House Homeland Security Committee and was cosponsored by numerous members of that committee as well as of the Arkansas House delegation. A companion bill, S.2885, was introduced into the Senate by Senator Lieberman cosponsored by Senators from Arkansas and both Senators from Texas.
We then saw an article in the local newspaper that of the many objections to the NDAA that would most certainly bring a veto from President Obama was the inclusion of Purple Hearts for the Little Rock victims because Arkansas had tried Abdulhakim Muhammad for a criminal act and not terrorism, which could result in appellate issues. Arkansas has no terrorism statutes. Terrorism is purely a federal province. The Justice Department has been conspicuously absent in their pursuit of terrorism indictments. Muhammad was allowed to enter a plea of guilty. In Arkansas there is no right of appeal once the court accepts a guilty plea from the accused. Congressman Griffin (R-AR) sent a letter to the White House requesting a clarification as to what they meant by appellate issues.
I have come to the conclusion after over three years of dealing with the Army, Justice and my government in Washington and only receiving deflection over the loss of a soldier killed in a criminal act, there is no desire on the part of this administration to accept that Little Rock was a terrorist attack. I can only surmise that the desired record of the current inhabitant of the White House for successfully thwarting terrorism would be blemished by admitting to the attacks on Little Rock and Fort Hood. As it stands, the victims and their families remain unrecognized as the first to pay the ultimate price on American soil since 9/11 in an admitted act of jihad.
I guess expecting that the leadership of this country would accept what happened, learn from it and get on with protecting us is asking too much. I do not believe for one instant that we are always going to be able to stop a leaker from coming through despite all the hard work and best intentions of those who try to protect us. What upsets me is that when something bad happens, the first inclination of this administration is to circle the wagons and then try to tell us what we saw with our own eyes isn’t what we saw at all and what happened wasn’t what happened.
I am not going to get my son back. Andy’s mother will continue to be a Gold Star Mother and we are left with the absurdity of our government in denial of the truth. We are now residents of Arkansas; around here we don’t have to see the skunk to know when it is around.
FP: What do you hope this film will help achieve?
Long: Wake people up. We desire that the film will wake this country up to the threat it faces from within. The government has tried to cleanse the lexicon by scrubbing words that we are told are considered offensive; the same words used by the perpetrators to describe their actions, in the name of diversity and political correctness. Our education system is complicit in watering down, rewriting history, and scrubbing the truth about The United States and the history of and with the Islamic past. There are people out there who subscribe to an ideology that is a threat to this country giving them a pass on the backs of the many who immigrated to this country in an attempt to flee those same radical views and the oppression they incur. We have a press that does not report the facts anymore but seem to only promote their own agenda no matter how fallacious it is viewed outside their circle. We have a government that denies the facts in pursuit of its own narrative.
I hope this film begins to raise questions in people’s minds about what Islam is and what it isn’t. The purpose of the film is not to put all practitioners of Islam in the radical pigeon hole but to show that there is a real and present threat and it is alive and well in this country today in part due to a leadership which refuses address it.
FP: Daris Long, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. Our hearts are with you . We encourage all of our readers to see the documentary, Losing Our Sons.
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