Politics & Policy

Living in Terror

Examining how the Fort Hood massacre occurred.

Is the Fort Hood massacre a deadly example of political correctness run amok? National Review Online asked a few of our contributors for their observations on how the shooting happened and what we can do to prevent similar incidents in the future.


This story is still unraveling, but it seems to me that it’s a lot worse than the possibility of political correctness run amok. If the Fort Hood case continues to develop as a domestic terrorist attack, it’s a real wake-up call for the United States.

Foiled terror plots are often quickly forgotten, but there have been nearly 30 since 9/11, including conspiracies in New York City (Zazi), Dallas (Smadi), and Springfield, Ill. (Finton). Indeed, in two of those attacks, the would-be terrorists actually pushed buttons they believed would detonate explosives at a Dallas skyscraper and a federal courthouse. (The FBI had supplied fake explosives.)

The trend line clearly isn’t good.

#ad#The terrorists are — as the military would say — increasingly “inside the wire,” in this case the borders of the United States. Osama bin Laden and other extremists continue to seek foot-soldiers who can be radicalized in place and act without crossing international borders.

Our attention to this cluster of conspiracies is of the utmost urgency. Complacency will be increasingly costly. 

Therefore, the U.S. government had better, especially with the Patriot Act set to expire, immediately take a very serious look at our policies, practices, and procedures for dealing with terrorist threats.

– Peter Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow, is a former CIA officer.


Two interpretations immediately sprung up to explain the Fort Hood massacre.

The military leadership, politicians, the media, and the Left focused on poor Maj. Nidal Hasan, victim of — pick your specific — “racism,” “harassment he had received as a Muslim,” a sense of “not belonging,” “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” “mental problems,” “emotional problems,” “an inordinate amount of stress,” or being deployed to Afghanistan, his “worst nightmare.”

In contrast, those of us on the right saw the assault in the light of Islamist efforts to kill infidels and bring them under Islamic law. We perceive Hasan not as victim but as jihadi. Some evidence for this view:

‐He yelled “Allahu Akbar,” the jihadi’s cry, as he fired his guns.

‐His superiors reportedly put him on probation for inappropriately proselytizing about Islam.

One former associate quotes Hasan’s saying, “I’m a Muslim first and an American second,” and recalls Hasan justifying suicide terrorism.

Another recalls that Hasan “claimed Muslims had the right to rise up and attack Americans.”

‐A third described him as “almost belligerent about being Muslim.”

#page#The jihad explanation may be more persuasive than the victim one, but it’s also far more awkward to articulate; easier to blame “a sense of not belonging” than to discuss Islamic doctrines. And so the Army learns no lessons from this atrocity.

(For a full version of this argument, see my article “Sudden Jihad or ‘Inordinate Stress’ at Fort Hood?”)

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.



If the many reports about Nidal Malik Hasan and his overt pro-jihadist leanings are true, then this is a very troubling indictment of the counterintelligence apparatus and the political culture within the U.S. Army. Hasan apparently made no secret of how he felt about the United States and the war effort.

In earlier wars, had an officer of this or any rank made numerous statements against the war effort and tried to reach out to the enemy, he would have found himself in the brig very quickly. Investigations will show what authorities knew about Hasan and why they took no action. Political correctness no doubt played a role. Anecdotes that those who knew Hasan felt they would suffer repercussions for reporting on a Muslim officer reflect a mindset that is intolerable in wartime.

The issue is not Islam, it is a militant, violent ideology seeking to destroy our way of life. A climate must be established in which people feel safe reporting potential threats like Hasan, rather than fearing for their careers should they speak up. Otherwise, we will find ourselves right back where we were before 9/11, if we aren’t there already.

NRO contributor James S. Robbins is the director of the International Security Studies Program at Trinity Washington, senior fellow in national security at the American Foreign Policy Council, and author of Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point.


Religious diversity is a noble goal, and Muslims should be welcome in the U.S. military and other areas of American public life. But extremist Muslims should not. The U.S. government still seems clueless about the extremist Muslim subculture whose ideology forms and inspires jihadis.

Sometime over the past decade, presumably while he was already in the military, Hasan became a Salafi; Salafism (also called Wahhabism) is a form of Muslim radicalism. He attended a Salafi mosque in Virginia — a mosque that had a spiritual director who’s now on the U.S. terrorist list and that was visited by one of the 9/11 hijackers. Hasan refused to have his picture taken with women, a double no-no for Salafis. (In Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, photographs are now allowed for identification purposes, like licenses and passports, but otherwise prohibited.)

#page#Though born in Virginia of Palestinian parentage, when not in military uniform he took to wearing the Pakistani-style Salafi garb now in vogue among al-Qaeda’s leadership and numerous other jihadist groups. Salafi materials prohibit taking as friends “unbelievers,” which would explain Hasan’s loner lifestyle. There are military records indicating that he otherwise expressed views consistent with Salafi thinking, including bitter opposition to the wars in which he was to participate. At Hasan’s Virginia mosque, in 2004, we found Saudi Wahhabi tracts teaching hatred against “infidels” and infidel lands (e.g., the United States), rife with tirades of explicitly anti-American conspiracy theories relating to foreign policy in various Muslim countries.

Being a practicing Salafi is not the same thing as being a jihadist or a terrorist, but it is not compatible with U.S. military service, either.

– Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.



The Fort Hood massacre wouldn’t have happened were it not for political correctness. Nidal Hasan lectured on the Koran’s punishments for unbelievers when he should have been discussing medicine; justified suicide bombing; and spouted hatred for America even as he wore its uniform. Yet no one filed a complaint — for fear of seeming bigoted.

This is the fruit of long-term efforts by groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others to demonize everyone who speaks honestly about the threat of jihad and Islamic supremacism. People are afraid to speak up about Muslims who behave suspiciously. And if Nidal Hasan had been disciplined or removed from his post because of his pro-jihad, anti-American statements, CAIR and others would likely have been up in arms, calling for an investigation of “Islamophobia” in the military.

Mission accomplished: “Islamophobia” was duly avoided at Fort Hood. All it cost was 13 dead and 38 wounded. Now General Casey says that if the Army loses its “diversity” because of Hasan’s jihad, that would be worse than his murders; the political correctness that led to these murders is still very much in place.

— Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran.

NR Symposium — National Review symposia are discussions featuring contributors to and friends of the magazine.

Most Popular


Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More