The Ft. Hood killings

Given that it appears Nidal Hasan acted alone, I think asking whether or not his massacre was “terrorism” is the wrong question. (One asked, for example, on the cover of this week’s Time magazine.) The species of violence typically labeled “terrorism” are  tactics, and their implementation does not illuminate the motivations of the perpetrator. The more pertinent question to be asking would be, “What were Hasan’s motivations?” Or, more bluntly, “Were his motivations Islamic?”

Though Hasan was not in contact with al-Qaeda, as it was originally and wrongly suggested, he was in correspondence with one Anwar al-Awlaki. Now, the word “radical” in conjunction with “Islam” in Western news media is used rather carelessly as a shorthand; it is used to lump all Islamic militants together, even those sects which are visciously opposed to one another, and fails to suggest any of the specific goals or worldview an Islamist might have in mind. But the phrase would apply to Awlaki. His turn-of-the century sermons predicted a global war against nonbelievers, and were attended by at least three of the 9/11 hijackers–but within a week of the attacks insinuated Isreali intelligence was responsible. He has also claimed America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq constitute  “a war with Allah.”

Since Hasan’s attacks, Awlaki has described Hasan as a “hero,” and said

He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people…

The only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

More evidences for Islamic motivations have been condenced in this Slate article by Christopher Hitchens. (I know, I know. But his contrarianism is so all-over-the-place anyone can find themselves agreeing with him at some point. Even still, he must be taken to task for his misogyny.) Case-closers:

He had, in spoken and written communications, demonstrated a fascination with the love of death and the concept of suicide martyrdom (better described as suicide murder) that is the central concept of Bin Ladenism….

Though he may have been upset by the harrowing stories of returned soldiers—as many, many of us have been, incidentally—his overwhelming and reiterated objection to the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and al-Qaida in Iraq, is that it is “a war on Islam.” It might be worth noting that this means that the Taliban does represent Islam, whereas the current governments of Iraq and Afghanistan somehow do not—a core belief of the Islamic purists who use the dogma of takfir to excommunicate such Muslims and render them liable, along with many other kind of infidel, to holy slaughter….

He seems to have been especially obsessed with the Quranic injunction that forbids devout Muslims to make alliances with Christians and Jews….

And finally

As he unleashed his volleys, he yelled the universal cry of jihad, “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great!” (The eyewitnesses on this point, originally doubted, are especially convincing since some of them didn’t understand the meaning of the words and only sought to reproduce them phonetically.)

It goes without saying that Hasan’s sentiments aren’t shared by the majority of American Muslims, so I won’t repeat the truism here. But his own private, personal motivations were clearly more than political.

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One Response

  1. When I first heard about the shooting I thought it was a soldier losing it over what they had dealt with overseas. When I learned the actual (as far as we know) reason it was worse than what I had thought. I’m not saying that mental illness isn’t a horrible thing for our soldiers to deal with but what happened..

    This whole event is so sad on so many levels. I can’t really think of anything better to say than my condolences go out to the families who lost parts of themselves.

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