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.