So, when a U.S. Army psychiatrist went on a rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 killing 13 people (including a pregnant woman), wounding 30 more, his name turned out to be Nidal Malik Hasan, and his battle cry was "Allahu Akbar", you bet I assumed the worst. At the time, we were cautioned not to jump to conclusions by President Obama and others in the media, but some of us new better. Even before his name was mentioned I jumped to conclusions. Why? For various reasons. First of all, there had been serious threats by homegrown jihadists to attack military installations and malls in the U.S. And then six radical Islamists were charged in 2007 with a plot to attack Fort Dix.
Then there was the 23-year-old Muslim convert, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (also known as Carlos Bledsoe), who killed several U.S. Army recruiters in West Little Rock, in June 2009, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole.
So yes, I considered Hasan a jihadist even before information concerning his extremist activities started to surface. And yes, he should be considered a terrorist, regardless of his religious affiliation. With premeditation, he gunned down over 40 people in cold blood, including two females.
If the U.S. government was in denial, so was his family who believed their sweet Nidal was incapable of such violence:
"I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Va., said in a statement Saturday. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen."
And yet he did what he did.
Colleagues, however, painted a different picture. According to them, Hasan had showed signs of extremist thought, but most were too afraid to say anything for fear of seeming Islamophobic.
[Hasan] once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats. He also told colleagues at America's top military hospital that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire. The outburst came during an hour-long talk Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gave on the Koran in front of dozens of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July.Colleagues had expected a discussion on a medical issue but were instead given an extremist interpretation of the Koran, which Hasan appeared to believe.
Fellow doctors told of how Hasan would say he was a "Muslim first and American second." They also claim he became very disturbed because he was about to be deployed to Iraq. Some people claim PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) triggered the attack, and yet he had never had to fight! There have been thousands of soldiers who have returned from military action in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. Too many, sadly, have committed suicide, some have had violent episodes, but none have ever gone on a shooting spree, as a result of their PTSD.
Also in denial about his motives, the media made it seem as if this was some random act of workplace violence- that this poor man simply snapped under pressure from being harassed about being a Muslim, and not wanting to fight in Iraq. But weeks prior to the massacre, Hasan gave away some of his possessions, and:
One of Hasan's neighbours described how on the day of the massacre, about 9am, he gave her a Koran and told her: "I'm going to do good work for God" before leaving for the base.Witnesses have also described him as being cold and calm during the attack, not quite the demeanour one would expect from someone who had spontaneously gone off the deep end.
He had also been linked to the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, which he attended in 2001. The same mosque where radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, was "spiritual advisor" to several of the 9/11 terrorists. Fellow Muslim soldiers also talked about his radical points of view, including religious justification for suicide bombings.
Why was nothing done when so many people witnessed Hasan's anti-American and Islamic extremist rhetoric? Since 2005, both the Army and FBI had quite a bit of information regarding email correspondence between Hasan and al-Awlaki. Being in denial about the potential of terrorist acts by religious fanatics in this country isn't going to make the problem go away. And cries of Islamophobia don't help the matter. Muslims need to realize that as long as they continue to apologize for the violence rather than condemn it, we will continue to jump to conclusions. There are some that do, but there has to be a greater voice of condemnation.
The video below has testimony and eye witness accounts of what happened that day during the Fort Hood massacre, by some of the wounded victims. In the video they ask that the attack be officially designated as what it rightfully should be called: a terrorist attack. And this past November 148 victims and their families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the government, Hasan, and the estate of al-Awlaki.