When Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 and killed 13, his shouts of “Allah Akbar” during the attack left little doubt that it was motivated by radical Islam. A new Senate report finds that that the attack was preventable and that the government failed to take indications of Hasan’s extremist ideology seriously and this resistance to calling a spade a spade is ongoing.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report, titled “A Ticking Time Bomb,” says that the Department of Defense and the FBI “collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.” It said that there were “specific systemic failures in the government’s handling of the Hasan case and raises additional concerns about what may be broader systemic issues.”
Senator Susan Collins criticized the Obama Administration for failing to mention the ideology behind the terrorists, including Hasan, saying “the refusal to distinguish violent Islamic extremism from the peaceful, protected exercise of the Muslim religion sends the wrong message as it implies they can’t be distinguished.” The Obama Administration, on the other hand, is purposely vague out of the same concern.
On May 13, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder was testifying before Congress when he was pressed on this issue. “There are a variety of reasons why people do things. Some of them are potentially religious,” he said. Rep. Lamar Smith pressed him to define the ideology behind Hasan, to which Holder said, “No, I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke with more clarity in February 2010, saying “Violent Islamic terrorism…was part and parcel of the Ft. Hood killings.” She had earlier been criticized for referring to “man-made disasters” instead of specifically mentioning terrorism, a decision she described as part of a “move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
This lack of clarity has been present throughout President Obama’s time in office. The War on Terror has alternatively been referred to as an “overseas contingency operation,” “a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm,” and “countering violent extremism.” Terms like “radical Islam” do not appear in the Quadrennial Defense Review, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review or the National Security Strategy documents, the latter of which had “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict on the early years of the 21st century” removed from its contents. Even in the specific case of the Fort Hood shooting, none of the military branches’ reports mention radical Islam in investigating what is obviously a radical Islamic terrorist attack.
The Fort Hood shooting is a case study in ignoring unmistakable signs of adherence to radical Islamic beliefs. In 2007, he gave a talk where he spoke in support of Osama Bin Laden and claimed the War on Terror is a War on Islam. He also said that infidels should be beheaded and would have burning oil poured into their throats in hell. He asked his superiors in the Army about whether patients could be charged with war crimes and recommended that Muslims be allowed to leave the military as “conscientious objectors.”
A former colleague said that Hasan applauded the shooting of two military recruiters in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 1, 2009 and stated that “Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor,” referring to the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hasan’s fellow psychologists even held a meeting to discuss his mental state and other officers called him a “ticking time bomb,” the inspiration for the title of the Senate report. Yet, despite these red flags, Hasan was never even investigated. In fact, an evaluation of Hasan said he had “extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.”
Dorothy Rabinowitz recounts in the Wall Street Journal how his supervisors lavished praised on him, calling him a “star officer,” even though he was in the bottom 25 percent of his class and his outbursts caused concern amongst his colleagues. His business card even had an acronym for “Soldier of Allah” on it and spelled “health” incorrectly.
“A resident who didn’t represent the diversity value that Hasan did as a Muslim would have faced serious consequences had he behaved half as disturbingly,” she writes.
“He was a star not simply because he was a Muslim, but because he was a special kind—the sort who posed, in his flaunting of jihadist sympathies, the most extreme test of liberal toleration. Exactly the kind the progressive heart finds irresistible.”
The FBI should also be embarrassed by the attack. The agency intercepted 18 emails between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki before the attack. He made Internet postings in favor of suicide bombings under the name “NidalHasan.” He attended the extremist Dar al-Hijrah mosque at the same time as two of the 9/11 hijackers when the imam was al-Awlaki. The FBI read the evaluations of Hasan’s Army superiors and concluded that his suspicious Internet activity was innocent research. The agency declined to interview him or any of his colleagues and did not pass this intelligence to the Army.
This attitude is encouraged by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the U.S. who accuse anyone using terms like “radical Islam” of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry. Shockingly, an official with the Islamic Society of North America came to Fort Hood after the shooting to lecture the soldiers about Islam. The official, Louay Safi, wrote in 2003, “The war against the apostates [non-believers of Islam] is carried out not to force them to accept Islam, but to enforce the Islamic law and maintain order.”
“It is up to the Muslim leadership to assess the situation and weigh the circumstances as well as the capacity of the Muslim community before deciding the appropriate type of jihad. At one stage, Muslims may find that jihad, through persuasion or peaceful resistance, is the best and most effective method to achieve just peace,” Safai wrote.
The government’s colossal failure to put the pieces together about Nidal Hasan’s intentions is a testament to how political correctness and overall naiveté is leaving gaping holes in our defenses. Not all attacks can be prevented, but the Fort Hood is certainly one that could and should have been.