Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Army psychiatrist from Virginia,
killed 13 and wounded 30
in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood Army base
in Texas. Hasan, who was about to receive his first deployment, was
shot four times but survived. Everyone within and beyond the grieving base is left asking why. With no clear answer and an investigation just now underway,
commentators are left to probe for clues in Hasan's life and work.
Their answers are speculative as information is still emerging.
- Alienated and Afraid The Washington Post's Mary Pat Flaherty, William Wan, and Christian Davenport portray him as socially isolated
because of his Muslim faith and because of his fear of deployment. "He
prayed every day at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, a
devout Muslim who, despite asking to be discharged from the U.S. Army,
was on the eve of his first deployment to war," they write. "In an
interview, his aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, said he had
endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years
after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had sought for several years to
be discharged from the military. 'I know what that is like,' she said.
'Some people can take it, and
some cannot. He had listened to all of that, and he wanted out of the
military, and they would not let him leave even after he offered to
repay' for his medical training."
- Inevitable Blowback of Endless War Air America's Beau Friedlander writes
in the Huffington Post that, with President Obama possibly extending
one of the two wars we're currently fighting, should we be surprised?
Friedlander explores the horrors of war--post-traumatic stress,
suicides, repeated deployments--that Nasan would have seen as a base
psychiatrist. "Fort Hood serves as the home away from home for about
52,000, and it
has lost more troops in the war in Iraq than any other base in the
States. It is unfair to say, categorically, that Dr. Nidal Hasan went
berserk because we've made the wrong choices. He's no John Brown, and
this is not the anti-war equivalent of Harper's Ferry. That said, it is
also unfair to continue policies that kill people on both sides of a
conflict that can no longer bear usable fruit and expect everything to
be just hunky-dory among the women and men serving in our armed forces."
- Failure of Hasan's Superiors Jules Crittendon notes
that there were a lot of reasons to worry about Hasan's condition,
which Crittendon fears were ignored. "When, within a matter of hours,
the following facts and suspicions are
widely reported, it suggests there may have been insufficient urgency
in some quarters, maybe official obstacles in others, maybe reluctance
to act on concerns elsewhere," he writes, "and in the end, a lot of
dots not connected." Crittendon says Hasan "Thought 'Muslims should
stand up and fight against the aggressor.' That
… 'the aggressor' …. is a reference to both Hasan’s nation, which he
had sworn to defend, and specifically his employer, which expected him
to be willing to lay down his life. Starts to sound like a problem. A
tightly wound problem."
- Did Web Comments Foretell Shooting?
Wired's Noah Shachtman reports that the FBI once considered
investigating Hasan's Web tracks. "Before he allegedly killed a dozen
and wounded 31 more at Ft. Hood,
Maj. Nidal Hasan may have gone online to praise suicide bombers. 'If
one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught
off guard that would be considered a strategic victory,' a commenter
named 'NidalHasan' wrote on this Scribd.com document
about 'Martydom in Islam,'" Shachtman writes. "Some colleagues say he
also spoke out against the Iraq war, and in favor of the shooting at an
Arkansas military recruitment center. Online, Hasan supposedly wrote of
his admiration for suicide attackers." But Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch cautions, "'Nidal Hassan' is not an unusual name... google searches for internet comments aren't necessarily gonna help."
- No Easy Answers The Atlantic Marc Ambinder warns against forcing a broader meaning onto the shooting. Ambinder rebuffs those pointing to Hasan's speaking against the Iraq war. "So did half
the country. Stop this Muslim stuff. Grieve now and let the facts fill
in the motive." He says of those pointing to his religion, "It's demagoguery. It's reductive and illogical and based on fragments and speculation." Ambinder concludes, "Does
shooter story today focus on Islam, on the man himself and his demons,
on the Army and war? Lots of data points = context needed. If
you want to understand what makes a murderer murder, approach w/ the
mindset of a forensic investigator, not from your personal biases. I have same objections to those using the tragedy to make a point about
our evil foreign policy as I do those who're obsessing on his religion."
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