Yesterday afternoon, in an article apparently titled "Feds: Prison Converts to Extremist Islam Planned Ft. Hood Style Assault in Seattle," ABC News reported that "two men who converted to Islam in prison have been arrested and charged by federal authorities with plotting a Ft. Hood-style assault on a Seattle military installation." Citing anonymous "officials," ABC claimed that the two men, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh, "met while in prison for earlier offenses" and that both "converted to Islam while incarcerated."
Right-wing bloggers jumped on the story to condemn those who criticized Rep. Peter King (R-NY) for his hearing last week on Islamic radicalization in U.S. prisons. According to Pam Geller, "Anyone who questions the necessity of Rep Peter King's hearings on Islamic extremism in the prison system is playing for the other team." NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd wrote:
Last Wednesday as Rep. Peter King conducted hearings on Muslim inmate radicalization in America's prisons, MSNBC was busy attacking the proceeding as unnecessary and/or unfairly targeted to unfairly single out the Islamic faith.
Well, eight days later comes this development as reported by ABCNews.com in a June 23 article entitled, "Feds: Prison Converts to Extremist Islam Planned Ft. Hood-Style Assault in Seattle."
But the link to prison conversion is extremely tenuous, and ABC is already backing away from its original claims.
Last night, ABC updated their report, removing references to prison radicalization from the headline and first paragraph and instead burrying at the end the following statement: "According to officials, both suspects were believed to have met in prison and to have converted to Islam in prison. Court documents, however, show no record of felony convictions for Mujahihd [sic] and do not specify where the men met or when they converted."
Further, the Associated Press reported that according to a spokesman for the California Corrections Department, "There is nothing in [Abdul-Latif's] records that indicates that he converted to Islam while in prison."
As of yet, neither Sheperd nor Geller have updated their posts to note this new information. We won't hold our breath.