Fort Hood Shootings: Motivated by Islamism?
Michael Moss, writing for the New York Times in "Muslims at Fort Voice Outrage and Ask Questions" (November 6, 2009), notes the shocked outrage felt by many of the local Muslims near Fort Hood, where the recent mass shooting by Major Nidal Malik Hasan occurred . . . but also the questions asked by some. Or the questionable remarks:
"When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal," said Victor Benjamin II, 30, a former member of the Army. "But when a Muslim does it, they call it jihad. Ultimately it was Brother Nidal's doing, but the command should be held accountable," Mr. Benjamin said. "G.I.'s are like any equipment in the Army. When it breaks, those who were in charge of keeping it fit should be held responsible for it."Mr. Benjamin has expressed himself oddly in assigning responsibility. I wouldn't refer to people as "like any equipment" that "breaks," but I would agree that the army seems to have ignored clear evidence that Hasan was a profoundly disturbed man. Unlike Mr. Benjamin, however, I doubt that Hasan's actions can be so easily distinguished from "jihad" since the words he is reported as crying out at the beginning of his rampage suggest religious motives on his part: "Allahu Akhbar!"
We will have to wait for the full report to determine what motivated Hasan, and since he's still alive, we may learn a great deal indeed. The early evidence, though, does point to religion as a significant factor, as we learn from Duane Reasoner Jr.:
It was Major Hasan, though, who increasingly felt let down by the military, and deeply conflicted by his religion, said those who knew him through the mosque. Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old substitute teacher whose parents worked at Fort Hood, said Major Hassan was told he would be sent to Afghanistan on Nov. 28, and he did not like it.The explanation given by Mr. Reasoner, that Muslims are not supposed to have alliances with non-Muslims, seems to be attributed to Hasan, but I suspect that Mr. Reasoner himself believes this as well, given his manner of citing the Qur'an on this point. I also suspect that this Duane Reasoner would be the same "young Muslim" named "Duane" interviewed by the BBC's Gavin Lee at the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen the day after the killings at Fort Hood, available in video on You Tube:
"He said he should quit the Army," Mr. Reasoner said. "In the Koran, you're not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell."
Duane: I'm not going to condemn him for what he did. I don't know why he did it. I will not, absolutely not, condemn him for what he had done though. If he had done it for selfish reasons I still will not condemn him. He's my brother in the end. I will never condemn him.According to a report in the Stars and Stripes by Leo Shane III, "Fort Hood deals with aftermath of shooting as details of accused gunman emerge" (November 7, 2009), Duane Reasoner Jr. is "a recent Muslim convert who had been having dinner regularly with Hasan" because "Hasan had taken 18-year-old Reasoner under his wing, mentoring him in his new faith," so I think that we're hearing from the same guy in the BBC interview.
Gavin Lee: There might be a lot of people shocked to hear you say that.
Duane: Well, that's the way it is. I don't speak for the community here but me personally I will not condemn him.
Gavin Lee: What are your thoughts towards those that were victims in this?
Duane: They were, in the end, they were troops who were going to Afghanistan and Iraq to kill Muslims. I honestly have no pity for them. It's just like the majority of the people that will hear this, after five or six minutes they'll be shocked, after that they'll forget about them and go on their day. (Transcript from You Tube)
At any rate, the "Duane" in the BBC interview sounds to me to be a radical Islamist who would approve of the killing of any soldier headed for Iraq or Afghanistan, and if he was being mentored in his "new faith" by Hasan, then I infer that we can attribute the same Islamist views to Hasan.
And given that the Stars and Stripes article notes that Hasan gave a lecture "U.S. war in Iraq: A war against Islam," the inference is strengthened -- and will be strengthened even more if Hasan really did compare "Muslim suicide bombers to U.S. soldiers who've thrown themselves onto grenades to save their fellow soldiers," as he's alleged to have done on a website last May.
But let's see wait and see where the evidence leads . . .