Religion's Role in John Allen Muhammad's Sniper Case

November 4, 2002

Source: The Associated Press

On November 4, 2002 The Associated Press reported that "the arrest of John Muhammad in the D.C.-area sniper shootings sent shock waves through the Puget Sound region's Muslim community. Not because they knew him, but because they'd never heard of this guy who called himself a Muslim. Muhammad, who lived in Tacoma and Bellingham, converted to Islam and changed his last name from Williams. He did not follow mainstream Islam; rather, he belonged to the Nation of Islam, a group that does not share Islam's central beliefs. Yet in news reports, Muhammad was simply a Muslim... They've also struggled with fallout from the arrest of James Ujaama, another black Muslim convert. Ujaama is in federal custody on terrorism charges. Unlike Muhammad, Ujaama is known by the Seattle Muslim community -- but not well. While Ujaama was considered a bright young leader in the Central District, he barely registered with the rest of the Muslim community."