The dad has good reason to detest Ellison, the Democrat claims his son’s conversion to Islam and descent into jihadism was his fault, not the imams he trained under in Yemen or the recruiters in Nashville who sent him there.
But two days after a House committee hearing on Muslim radicalization, the Minnesota Democrat had a far more hostile tone. In a speech in Rochester Hills, Mich., Ellison made a series of personal attacks against three other witnesses who were on the opposite side of the issue.
- He seemed to blame Melvin Bledsoe for the actions of his son Carlos, who stands accused of shooting and killing an Army private after converting to Islam and becoming radicalized.
- A Somali-American who complained about interference from organized Islamist groups while trying to learn about a score of missing young men who turned up with a terrorist group in Somalia was there simply to “diss” the Muslim community in Minneapolis.
- Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician who challenges the Islamist narrative, simply is out to make a buck, Ellison said.
Ellison’s speech echoed that criticism, and he told his Michigan audience that if King “really was trying to learn something about violent radicalization, why wouldn’t he include [as a witness] somebody who actually had something to say of value?” Ellison asked. Instead, he called “one guy… named Mr. Bledsoe, whose son I guess became a Muslim, went to Yemen, came back and killed some police officers (sic).”
Bledsoe dropped out of college shortly after his conversion to Islam in 2004. Muslim leaders in Nashville urged him to go to Yemen, long a hotbed of jihadist activity. In 2007 he traveled there, apparently to study under a radical imam.
He is accused of opening fire outside an Army recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark. in June 2009, killing one soldier, Pvt. William Long, and seriously wounding another, Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.
In his testimony, Melvin Bledsoe recounted his son’s descent into violence, saying the American people are largely unaware of the threat posed by Islamist radicalism. “There is a big elephant in the room, but our society continues not to see it,” Bledsoe said.
After stating that he did not want to bring pain to a grieving parent, Ellison appeared to suggest that the bulk of the blame for Carlos Bledsoe’s radicalization didn’t lie with the jihadists who indoctrinated him, but with his father. Carlos “was in that man’s house all his life. He’s a Muslim for a few years. Enough said,” Ellison said.
Melvin Bledsoe did not mince words when told about Ellison’s comments during an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He dismissed Ellison’s notion that radical Islam played no part in his son’s actions. Carlos left the Bledsoe home in 2003, changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad when he converted to Islam a year later, and spent extensive time in Yemen.
“They stole my son,” Bledsoe said. “They raped his mind. They changed his thought, his behavior. They changed him from Carlos to Abdulhakim. I asked God to give me my son back.”
Ellison is a “fool” and “liar” when he tries to deny the insidious nature of jihadist recruiting that is occurring in this country, Bledsoe said.