Losing Our Sons

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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Daris Long, the father of PV2 William “Andy” Long, the soldier killed in front of the Little Rock Army Recruiting Center in June of 2009. He grew up for ten years in Afghanistan where his father was serving with the USAID Program working irrigation projects in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces. After graduating from High School in Kabul, he moved to the Philippines with his father and joined the US Marine Corps. He served overseas in the Far East for almost 7 years as well as tours of duty in the Persian Gulf, Somalia and East Timor. He is a retired Marine veteran who spent ten years in the Enlisted ranks as well as 17 as an Officer. His wife, Andy’s mother, also served a tour in the US Navy. His sister married an Afghan and escaped Afghanistan immediately prior to the Russian invasion in 1979.

Long has recently helped in producing a powerful documentary, Losing Our Sons, which focuses on the tragic story of his son’s murder by a jihadist in Little Rock, Arkansas.

FP: Daris Long, thank you for joining me today.

Let’s begin with your background. After living and serving in Muslim countries, what was your view of the cultures?

Long: My view of the Afghan culture was positive. Growing up there allowed a more in depth understanding of the people and their customs. Family is very important as well as alliances between families within the various tribes. The tribal elder or clan leader had the most respect followed by the mullah. There were distinct levels of importance though based on the power and influence of a tribe. There was a definite pecking order. It was not the same as the caste system in India but more along the lines of common interest and population.

The areas I lived in were primarily Pusthun and the King was a Pushtun. There is a basic tenet of their culture which revolves around hospitality. If you were considered a guest, no harm would come to you.  Living there, I fell into the guest category primarily. Despite this, you still had to be careful not to insult anyone. There were places that you didn’t go unless you were accompanied by someone who was familiar and accepted.

In Kabul, the climate was more cosmopolitan and accepting. That was not the case in Kandahar or Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, despite the long standing association with people from the foreign aid programs. For the most part, the Afghans I had contact with were Muslims of the Sunni belief. They were also primarily Sufis. There was animosity between Hazaras who were Shia and the Sunnis of the majority ethnic groups. I did not become aware of the more militant and fundamentalist Salafi Sect until I was serving in the Marines and deployed to the Middle East.

What I saw in the Persian Gulf was a completely different side of Islam that I didn’t see in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the primary belief system was based on Pushtunwali, or the way of the Pushtun. It is not as harsh as Sharia, even though you would “hear” that Sharia was the law of the countryside. Sharia was mitigated by Pushtunwali which was used to create a more inclusive atmosphere between Afghans. I thoroughly loved my time in Afghanistan. It was once a beautiful country which has been destroyed by thirty years of war.

FP: How has your view of Islam changed as a result of the tragic death of your son?

Long: My view of Islam has definitely changed. My experience in Afghanistan was positive although we knew to be cautious around the mosques and crowds on Jummah or Friday when it was the Muslim Holy Day. There has always been the competition between the Afghan clan leaders, political leaders, and the religious leaders. If anything was going to happen, it would happen after Friday prayers when the mullahs had the attention of the attendees to take advantage of their emotions and beliefs. In Afghanistan, most of the mullahs were of the clan they ministered to and were beholding to the leader for patronage and continued appointment as the mullah.

Later, as I started to deploy to other Muslim countries, I began paying closer attention to how Islam was playing a role in the unrest we were seeing. I became aware of the Salafist version of Islam. My experience was that where violence was the norm, Salafist theology was involved. When Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad a.k.a. Carlos Bledsoe was accepted into Yemen to teach English at the City Institute in Sanaa, he had to be recommended as a good Salafi by a Salafist Imam. I wondered why someone would need to be certified as a good Salafi to teach English.

I recently read a book by Peter Tomsen entitled “The Wars of Afghanistan.” Ambassador Tomsen was the US Envoy to the Afghan Mujahidin from 1989 to 1992. In his book, he identifies the exporting of Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam to Pakistan and into Afghanistan through Saudi funded schools, mosques, and willing holy warriors. There has really never been any great love between Afghans and Arabs and the issue has been the differences between Sufi and Salafist doctrines. Despite what you might hear from groups like CAIR, who say there is only one kind of Muslim or one Islam, there are many interpretations of Islam by its practitioners. While Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad was in jail awaiting his trial in Little Rock, he was feuding with another inmate over who was the better Muslim. The other inmate was convicted for murder and cutting his girlfriend’s throat. Abdulhakim was convicted for murder and his attack on the Recruiting Center which Abdulhakim claimed was a higher calling. He was very open about what he viewed as apostates in the Muslim community and who were therefore not considered real Muslims. This is a prevalent position of people who follow Salafist philosophy.

I am not willing to condemn all people of Muslim faith or heritage. If all Muslims subscribed to the violent ideology which condoned the killing of my son, we would be dealing with an army of 1.6 billion people. The fact that more Muslims are killed by Muslims than by people of any other religion tells me that there are differing beliefs within this “united” community CAIR so piously defends as a single entity. I have come away with the knowledge that we are in danger from violent Islamist extremism and that we are in danger from within by those who don’t have a clue about Islam but without that knowledge would defend it without understanding it or its objectives.

FP: Why are we so confused about Islam?

Long: I think we are confused due to ignorance. I believe that most people who are Muslim or of Muslim heritage are just as ignorant about their religion. There are very few who have the recognized authority to interpret Islam within the religion. Just to correlate, a true understanding of the Koran with the Hadiths and Sunna takes years of training and study. The average practitioner leaves that part of their religion to their Imam. Most people outside of Islam have no desire to know more about Islam. They are aware that it is a major religion but see no need to delve into it further because it would be a distraction to their daily pursuits. Americans or Western democratic cultures choose to see it as just another religion much the same as their own religion, a personal part of an individual’s life that should not be a part of the general conversation and the intrusion of government into religion should not be allowed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Political leaders have fostered and accepted an expanded definition of Islam as a religion and have attempted to restrict that view of what religion can be as in other western mainstream religions.

Our mainstream media outlets are anything but mainstream. In general, one side of the story is told.  If it does not fit into their mold, it doesn’t get told. When some media outlets were reporting the attack in Little Rock on an Army Recruiting Center by a Muslim convert named Abdulhakim Muhammad where one soldier was killed and another was wounded and his actions were Islamic justified, NBC’s Ann Curry reported only that there was a shooting in Little Rock with one person dead and another wounded and that the incident might have religious overtones. Amazing how the story was sanitized into nothingness.

We have the political leadership of the country saying we are at war with al Qaeda, but then refuse to say that the violent extremist ideology at the core of their philosophy might be grounded in the perpetrator’s interpretation of Islam. I can only say that there appears to be a willful blindness born out of political correctness and a fear of being honest regarding the discussion of violent Islamic extremism. Islam is more than a personal relationship with a god, as many would not have you believe. The evidence to the contrary is in the political statements of CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the books on Muslim jurisprudence and the actions followed by justifications made by the perpetrators of violent acts. Islam extends into the political, social, economic, legal and military aspects of life by its more radical practitioners, well beyond what is accepted as religion in the West. You won’t see that in the press and not out of the mouths of politicians pandering for a vote.

FP: Crystallize the essential problem for us.

Long: The easy answer would be to blame radical Islam. The honest answer is to blame poor leadership on our side. Too many of our leaders are not leading and therefore they give free reign to those who would do us harm. An example would be how the United Nations after years of studies, information, and direct results of terrorist activity have yet to agree on a definition of terrorism. The same could be said about the United States leadership as there are several definitions of terrorism of which the four primary ones are Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of Justice and Department of State who all deal with terrorism only each definition reflects their view of the picture. They are not united in their definition even though the Patriot Act gives a basic definition.

Then there is the issue of domestic vs. international. Where is leadership when you can’t even get a consensus from within the Departments of our own Federal Government?

We have the Constitution waved at us when we discuss terrorism and are accused of playing into the hands of terrorists when the objective is to get at the root of the terrorist phenomenon. We can’t get there if we are not allowed to discuss it in an honest frank way. On 9/11 the blinders should have been removed from everyone’s eyes. Even if a person didn’t have an opinion before that day, there was enough evidence to establish one afterwards. The primary job of our leaders contained within the Constitution is to defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It seems as if our leaders are more concerned about other issues, including bullying states out of state’s rights, in order to deflect or pass the buck until after the next election cycle, maybe hoping to ensure the continuation of their personal careers. Defending the Constitution is contained in their statutory oaths of office, but appears that too many missed that class.

FP: How has your view of our government changed since Andy’s death?

Long: My view of government has been diminished. What I see coming out of this administration is confusion. The president puts out a press release yet it isn’t on the White House website. The president will increase troops in Afghanistan, the war this administration had said was the one the last administration “took their eye off the ball,” yet at the same time say they are pulling the troops out.  This same administration says “not to spike the football” but then won’t stop crowing after the Bin Laden raid.

Leaks of highly classified information abound, yet the source is denied when it is obvious where it came from.

DHS has been consistent in denying that terrorism played a part in Little Rock and Fort Hood, and it said the same thing right after the attempted Christmas Day bomber, and Times Square attack in the first hours of reporting only to be proven wrong when the facts became evident. Yet, in the cases of Little Rock and Fort Hood there’s a continuation of portraying them as a “drive by” and a case of “work place violence” even though there are volumes of evidence to the contrary.

I think that it is all about a narrative and not what is real.

Andy was killed by a violent Islamic extremist who was on the federal radar screen while still in Yemen.

Nidal Hassan was on the federal radar screen for a significant amount of time before he killed 13 and wounded 32 others at Fort Hood. He even made a statement on the day my son was killed to fellow Army Officers that that is what Muslims should do, pick up a gun and kill soldiers.

There have been at least fifty reported terrorist cases in this country since 9/11 where the Federal Government has indicted, convicted or received guilty pleas from individuals in failed, attempted and thwarted acts for what Abdulhakim was successful in accomplishing, yet, in his and the Fort Hood case, the federal indictments are noticeably absent. Normally these two events would have had federal fingerprints all over them. I can only conclude that what happened in Little Rock and Fort Hood were justified under the freedom of religion aspects of the First Amendment.

FP: Charles Jacobs is the head of the group Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), which has produced Losing Our Sons. Tell us how you met him.

Long:  Out of the blue, Charles called me in the spring of 2011. We talked on the phone and he gave be some sites to go to where I could look him up and find out about his organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance. We talked again a couple of weeks later and I agreed to let him interview me. It was just before Abdulhakim Muhammad’s trial in July of 2011, so I wanted assurances that nothing would come out until after the trial. I had promised the prosecuting attorney that I would limit my comments to the media in an effort not to compromise his work. He came down to Little Rock and we spent the afternoon together with his crew. My concern that I might have agreed to something I would regret later was put to rest after being able to sit down and speak with Charles. Later, Charles told me that he had placed Andy’s name with a prayer in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He has become a great friend. I am grateful that he called when he did even though he wasn’t sure how I would receive him.

FP: Tell us what steps you took to get the whole story out? Did you speak to the media in Little Rock or Nashville?

Long:  We did very few interviews with the press right after the shooting as Janet, my wife, was a potential witness for the prosecution at the eventual trial and we felt it important to keep a barrier between us and the press in order not to undermine the Prosecution’s case as well as not to provide the defense with ammunition in support of their client.

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  • Chezwick

    QUESTION: "Crystallize the problem for us."

    ANDY LONG: "The easy answer would be to blame radical Islam. The honest answer is to blame poor leadership on our side."

    There is an even MORE honest answer than Andy Long would venture to acknowledge. While he seemingly tries to mitigate the perniciousness of Islam by assuring us that there are "many interpretations" of the faith, the fact is that the only way to truly "crystallize the problem" is to draw the appropriate linkage between the violence and intolerance that are so endemic to Islam…and the core teachings of the Quran and Muhammad.

    There may indeed be "many interpretations" of Islam, but the stoning of adulteresses, the killing of apostates and blasphemers, the amputations and other barbarisms, these are undeniable characteristics of every Sharia regime ever in existence. In other words, the "problem" is ISLAM itself!

    Andy Long suffered an irreparable loss….and he deserves our deepest sympathy. But the Afghanistan he once knew and admired is gone….submerged by the re-assertion of Islamic identity that is remaking the entire Muslim world (and the West, for that matter).

    Yet, even when Andy was there, Afghanistan was undoubtedly a violent, intolerant, barely civilized society, hardly worthy of the respect and admiration of a civilized man. When are we in the "enlightened" West finally going to rid ourselves of our 'noble savage' sensibility?

    • PhillipGaley

      It may be that, for Islam, the seeming appearance of faith, is but a masquerade, . . . maybe, Islam is a criminal ideology, . . .

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

        Anyone not sure about it needs to check for themselves.
        What does the koran teach?

        9:29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

    • jim

      you are a hater, aren't you.
      To administrater, please don't delete this one.

      • Chezwick

        No Jim. I'm a lover….of human freedom. And by all theological and historical evidence, Islam is antithetical to human freedom.

        • Janet Long

          Chezwick, I believe you need to re-read the interview and pay closer attention. For one thing, my son Andy is dead. He never went to Afghanistan. Pay closer attention to the 'evolution' of learning my husband addresses. And finally, take careful note, that when a person takes a stance that all people who adhere to such and thus – even 1.6 billion are evil – you've built your house on sand. For example: America is a great country – has been from its inception, however, it has not nor ever will be 'perfect'. We must be forever diligent. We have had and still have places in the United States where it is dangerous to traverse both literally and figuratively. This understanding and application to the system from the hierarchy all the way to the individual will tell the whole story. Unless we recognize that, we're wasting breath.

          • Chezwick


            Thank you for your input.

            Allow me first and foremost to express my deepest condolences for your loss. The absence of bitter recrimination in your husband's essay and in your comment above towards the ideology that motivated your son's killer suggests a tremendous character on both your parts. I'm certain that if I were in your circumstance, I would be incapable of such equanimity and fair-mindedness.

            Having said that, I want to clarify a couple of points…

            1) I was indeed conscious of the 'evolution' in your husband's thinking, but it doesn't mitigate what comes across as at least a degree of apologia towards Islam that he conveys.

            2) I never for a moment wrote that I believe all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are "evil" or that America is in any way "perfect". I freely acknowledge that all men – Americans and Muslims alike – are capable of both good or evil. But it is my firm contention that the religion of Islam – based on its core teachings (Quran, Hadith, Sira) – is antithetical to the values of human freedom that I hold dear, just as I believe that the American Constitution embodies those values more closely than any political doctrine in existence.

            Above, you mentioned "the application to the system from the hierarchy all the way to the individual will tell the whole story." Such an analysis speaks only indirectly to the ideology (in this case, religion) that is so often determinant of behavior in a way that transcends hierarchy. For example, the local Imam may teach benignly, but the individual can (and often is) moved towards violence and/or intolerance as a result of the exigences specified in the theology itself. He perpetrates evil NOT because of the proclivity or inclination of his personality (as might be the case for an American criminal), but because of the specific dictates of his creed.

            In a sense, you and I are touching directly on the core of the quandary facing the non-Muslim world: Trying to understand exactly what is the nature and essence of the threat – if any – that Islam poses? Charles Krauthammer for example (whom I otherwise admire) goes out of his way to differentiate Islam and "Islamism", as if the latter exists outside the parameters of the former.

            I couldn't disagree more. While Islam is obviously much more than JUST the barbaric hudud punishments and the doctrine of Jihad, these are unequivocal (and undeniable) parts of it.

            Your husband expressed an admiration for Afghan culture. I have no doubt that certain facets of that culture are indeed admirable (such as the hospitality that he mentioned). I also have no doubt that it is a primitive, violent, and sexist, culture – and was so long before the Taliban.

  • modernminuteman

    the ultimate insult to america was when Obama referred to fort hood as a workplace incident. if my son had died there i would be in prison now for i could not let that go unchallenged. my heart goes out to this father and hero and his family.

  • kblink45

    "We have the Constitution waved at us when we discuss terrorism and are accused of playing into the hands of terrorists when the objective is to get at the root of the terrorist phenomenon. We can’t get there if we are not allowed to discuss it in an honest frank way."

    Substitute "race" for "terrorism" and you've just discovered the other half of our plight.

  • Beth

    In the Article above: "a true understanding of the Koran with the Hadiths and Sunna takes years of training and study. The average practitioner leaves that part of their religion to their Imam"

    2Cr 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from – the simplicity – that is in Christ.

    Thou shalt not Lie
    Thou shalt not Steal
    Thou shalt not Cheat
    Thou shalt do no Murder
    Thou shalt not Covet

    And that's the end of the Carnal Commands in Christianity. The Siritual Command is to study the Book of the Lord and to love Him with all of our hearts. It is promised, that if we do these things, and wait for His return, we shall be saved.

    For all true Christians, here is how to know if the Koran is truly from God or not…

    The Koran specifically calls the Son of God an abomination and denies Him: 009.030 – 037.151 – 037.152 – 019.088 – 019.089 (chapt and verse given for proof).

    In the New Testament:

    1Jo 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

    According to the New Testament (which was written well over 600 years before the Koran was) the religion of Islam is the ant-Christ. For any who claim that Chritianity is provoking Islam – it is the other-way around – Because the New Testament was given first.

    "The 'tree' is known by his fruit"….

    Commands of the Koran:

    047.004 – Beheadings

    033.052 – Gang Rape of female 'infidels'

    005.033 – Crucifixions

    008.067 – Treason (perjury in a non-muslim court is commanded when defending islam)

    033.061 – Genocide "without mercy"

    005.041 – Racism ….(one of many examples – you be the judge)…

    005.041 O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: whether it be among those whosay "We believe" with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie – (change the name "Jews" to the name "Muslims" and watch the murderous raging temper tantrums take place world-wide. That is how to know that that teaching is racism)

    Here are a few more for the muslims who lie and say the words are being taken out of context (be your own judge)…


    005.033 The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet. – {meanwhile – It is the Muslims who are commanded to initiate the fight} 002.216 – 009.039

    (At any time in mankind's history – from his beginning to the very end – How merciful are crucifixions? It's cruel and evil….especially if you had to watch a dear loved-one suffer like that. There is no justification for such evil acts. There never was and there never will be.)

    More….(koran chapters and verses given for proof)….

    002.216 Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing [war] which is good for you and that ye love a thing [peace] which is bad for you?

    004.104 And slacken not in following up the enemy: If ye are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships.

    009.039 Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place.

    And this is what they are told to do with those commands (world-wide, but be your own judge of what the words are saying)…

    004.094 O ye who believe! When ye go abroad in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: "Thou art none of a believer!" Therefore carefully investigate. {they are to keep their intentions hidden)

    004.100 He who forsakes his home in the cause of Allah, finds – in the earth – Many a refuge, wide and spacious.

    004.101 When ye travel – through the earth – there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear '''the unbelievers''' May attack you: For '''the Unbelievers''' are unto you open enemies.

    003.028 Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless it be that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking as it were security. {telling lies to non-Muslims is the spirit of Islam)

    008.067 It is not fitting for a prophet that he should have prisoners of war [slay them first] until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. {Treason in all non-Muslim nations


    • Beth

      There's more – but if these facts aren't enough to convince anyone who claims to be a Christian to stay far away from Islam and its followers…then nothing will.

      Christian enemies – are those of our own House…

      Mat 10:36 – Mat 10:36 And a man's foes (enemies) – shall be they of his own household.

      Mic 7:6 ….a man's enemies are the men of his own house.

      But strangers?…

      Jhn 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

      Mat 12:30 He that is not with Me – is against Me (There is no in-between)
      These facts are good to know – for the vulnerable who can be easily swayed into believing that Islam takes years to study and learn, being led to believe (of whom, are many) that those of us who are speaking the Truth – are either liars – or mis-informed.

      Know this:

      1Jo 2:27 But the anointing (His Word) which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you (thus, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah… "They shall teach no more, Saying, Know the Lord…")

      Because of the simplicity of the Laws that are in Christ, (of which, are easy to understand, by considering, how you would want others to treat you) – those teachings of the Koran stand condemned, on a level that any simpleton can undstand.