Family: Soldier Accused in Grenade Attack Troubled Over Race & Religion Issues
March 25 ó U.S. Army Sgt. Asan Akbar, the soldier being detained in connection with a grenade attack on his fellow soldiers, told his family members
that he encountered racism as an African-American and a Muslim in the armed services.
His stepfather, William Bilal, who was once married to Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal, said that his stepson was resentful toward the military and had
complained several years ago that it was difficult for a black man "to make rank" in the military.
"Asan was pushed to this. We've got that clear," William Bilal told WBRZ, ABCNEWS' affiliate in Baton Rouge, La. "Everybody's got a breaking
point, to put it that way. Everybody's got a breaking point. If he did this, he was driven."
On ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, Bilal expressed a toned down version of his previous statements, saying that Akbar was likely misunderstood.
"All I'm saying is that Islam has been misrepresented, and a lot of people don't understand the religion of Islam," Bilal said. "And the problem
is, the stereotyping and the discrimination, I can't say exactly, directly, if that was Asan's case," he said.
Now, the 31-year-old soldier is in custody for an alleged grenade attack Sunday that killed one and wounded 15 others in the 101st Airborne Division
at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. He has not been charged with a crime, but Akbar was the only person being questioned in the attack, George Heath, a
civilian spokesman at Fort Campbell in Kentucky said. Three grenades were allegedly thrown into three separate tents.
According to the Los Angeles Times, soldiers who witnessed Akbar's arrest said that Akbar yelled out: "You guys are coming into our countries, and
you're going to rape our women and kill our children."
Akbar, part of the division's 326th Engineer Battalion, recently had some problems with his battalion, Heath said.
"He was having what some people might call it seems an attitude problem," Heath said.
Akbar's brother, Ismail Bilal, who recently obtained an early discharge from the Air Force, said he was shocked when he heard that his brother was
accused in the attack. "It was too many emotions involved to pinpoint one emotion, how I felt at the time, you know? Because it was like a melting
pot of emotions," Bilal said. He said his older brother, Akbar, seemed fine when he spoke with him one month ago.
"He just spoke just like any other soldier, you know, going overseas. 'Man, we about to go overseas and about to spend all this time over there.'
You know, just the same way every soldier feels when he get deployed," Bilal said.
Officials have not released any motive in the attack, but said Akbar will be brought back to Fort Campbell for judicial proceedings, and that the Army
could seek the death penalty.