Related issues abound: The clamor in Washington over detention policies, the possibility of Guantánamo prisoners transferring to the US mainland, the definition of torture, and congressional bickering over security leaks all provide a backdrop for a country that's wrestling with how best to stop disaffected Americans and others from carrying out violent political fantasies on US soil.
"We could lay these people out on a continuum of alienation and mobilization and integration with wider conspiracies, and that's the most troubling part of this: How many Americans are sufficiently alienated from their society to consider acts of political violence?" says Peter Sederberg, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta who studies domestic terrorism.
Operationally, the attack that Mohammed is accused of seems to run counter to the traditional Al Qaeda modus operandi: It seemed impulsive, not carefully planned. Indeed, Mohammed's lawyer said last week he may have been acting out of personal anger over the military's treatment of Muslims and a visa situation that forced him to leave his wife behind in Yemen.
But in his interview with the AP, Mohammed, who pleaded not guilty to the shooting, warned of a broader movement. "I feel that other attacks, not by me or people I know, but definitely Muslims in this country and others, are going to [happen]," he said.
Experts say that the amateurish nature of the Little Rock attack would seem to preclude an Al Qaeda connection, though not its intent.
"This is in line with Al Qaeda's goals," says Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author of "My Year Inside Radical Islam." "But in the US there has not been a great deal of true Al Qaeda operatives, so I would personally be shocked if they'd waste an operative on something like this."