Speculation about the motives behind Major Nidal Malik Hasan's rampage through Fort Hood is focused increasingly on evidence of his extremist beliefs. (The Atlantic Wire covered early discussion about Hasan's religion here
.) ABC reports
that he attempted to contact Al Qaeda associates online, and NPR
recounts a radical Islamist lecture Hasan once gave. The new light on
Hasan's troubled psyche is causing pundits to argue over the lack of attention to warning signs, the shortcomings of media coverage, and whether there was a religious element to his crime.
They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and
somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about
some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what
condition. But instead of that, he - Hasan apparently gave a long
lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don't believe, you are
condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You're set on fire. Burning
oil is burned down your throat.
And I said to the psychiatrist,
but this cold be a very interesting informational session, right? Where
he's educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed
everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually,
a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said,
excuse me. But I'm a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the
Koran, and then I don't believe what you say the Koran says. And then
Hasan didn't say, well, I'm just giving you one point of view. He
basically just stared the guy down.
- Don't Ignore Islam's Role The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg worries we haven't faced up to the truth. "[W]hen an American military officer who is a
practicing Muslim allegedly shoots forty of his fellow soldiers who are
about to deploy to the two wars the United States is currently fighting
in Muslim countries, some broader meaning might, over time, be
discerned, especially if the officer did, in fact, yell 'Allahu Akbar'
while murdering his fellow soldiers, as some soldiers say he did," he writes. "I am not arguing, of course, that American Muslims, as a whole, are violently unhappy with America (I've argued the opposite,
in fact). But I do think that elite makers of opinion in this country
try very hard to ignore the larger meaning of violent acts when they
happen to be perpetrated by Muslims."
- 'Pretext for Psychosis' Spencer Ackerman downplays
the emphasis on Hasan's religion and the Mosques he may have attended.
"As an anonymous ex-counterterrorism official cautions to the Post,
of people attended [Mosque] Dar al-Hijrah with no connection to
al-Qaeda. What seems more important, judging from what’s being reported
Hasan investigation, is that the accused murderer apparently spent a
lot of time on extremist Websites, which might have sharpened his
focus." Of the episode at the medical conference, Ackerman writes, "The
Hasan didn’t listen only deepens the point that his religion was a
pretext for his psychosis."
- Was It Terrorism? James Joyner says it "depends entirely on his motivation." He writes, "To
qualify as 'terrorism,' the act has to be committed to instill fear for
the purpose of achieving political goals. If he’s just an angry
Muslim who went nuts and started shooting people, he’s a psychopath and
a killer but not a terrorist. Even if he was trying to send an 'I'll
show them' message, he's no more a terrorist than the Columbine
killers, the lunatic who shot up Virginia Tech, or one of those postal
workers who go on a rampage." Joyner concludes, "If he’s just a lone fanatic rather than part of an organized group, the
difference between him and any other mass murderer is academic."
- How Did Military Miss Signs? The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan is appalled
at the lack of proper oversight. "To have an army psychiatrist giving
talks on Jihad in a military
context and not have anyone call him on it, or take measures to monitor
him, or challenge him is ... mind-blowing. It's p.c. at its most
lethal," he writes. "So he was actually challenged on these grounds in
public and yet no one
monitored him or disciplined him for this. He may not have been in any
way connected to al Qaeda. But the point is: he didn't have to be. This
kind of Jihad requires no sleeper cell - just a murderous,
- Fear of Islamophobic Backlash Overblown Military blogger Jonn Lilyea scoffs
at liberals afraid that discussing Hasan's religion could lead to a
backlash against Muslims. "No, I don’t think that all Muslims are
terrorists nor that we should
rid ourselves of them. I made that clear the other day, but on the
other hand, it disturbs me greatly that everyone is so willing to
suspend the Muslim excuse and embrace the crazy GI excuse. I still
think he’s just an immature little rich boy who was angry that he
couldn’t get his way. But it's more enchanting to imagine that the
Right is going to take
to the streets and smash the windows of Muslim businesses in a frenzy
of irrational hatred."
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