Father of terror suspect claims his son was brainwashed

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The father of Carlos Bledsoe, the Memphis man charged with murder at a Little Rock Army recruiting center, said there is a dangerous connection to other attacks.

Melvin Bledsoe said hate is what caused his son to drive to the recruiting station and open fire.  He believes the hate manifested after he converted to Islam, changed his name to Abdul Hakim Muhammad and moved to the country of Yemen to study his religion.

In a recent letter to the judge in his case, Carlos Bledsoe wrote that he staged the shooting as revenge for what he felt were injustices done to Muslims by the American military.

Melvin Bledsoe now says his son was brainwashed and has begun his own investigations into the shootings.

Bledsoe claims his son's case, the shooting at Fort Hood, and the attempted bombing of a plane in Detroit on Christmas day are all connected to a Yemeni terror network focused on recruiting everyday citizens to commit acts of terror in the United States.

"They are perhaps looking for blonde hair, blue-eyed people," Bledsoe said.  "They don't care who they destroy, they just want to destroy the West."

Bledsoe said he does not consider his son to be a terrorist.

"I consider him someone who was brainwashed and taken advantage of," Bledsoe said.  "Cornered in, boxed in, and destroyed by evil-doers."

Bledsoe said his son went to Yemen in 2007 as a college student and planned to finance his trip by teaching English to Yemeni students.

Shortly after arriving in the country, Carlos Bledsoe met and married his wife Rena.

Melvin Bledsoe said the couple's future looked bright until his son's Visa expired and he was thrown in jail after being caught with a fake Visa.

Bledsoe claims his son was recruited by radical extremists while in jail and they convinced his son that attacking America would lead to paradise.

Bledsoe said his son spent four months in jail before being deported to America.

Bledsoe knew his son was more militant when he returned from Yemen and claims FBI agents also knew.  He claims they had been watching his son in both Yemen and the United States.

"I feel that the FBI knew what was going on with my son," Bledsoe said.  "They watched my son, they knew what was going on and they waited.  They wanted to find out whether or not he was going to lead them to something bigger."

FBI agents declined to comment, saying the FBI does not comment on pending prosecutions.

Bledsoe said had he known his son intended to shoot up the recruiting center he would have found a way to stop him.

Bledsoe said his son is in need of mental health treatment.

Since the shooting, Carlos Bledsoe has not heard from his Yemen-born wife.

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