Politics & Policy

The West’s Denial at Fort Hood

We ignore Nidal Hasan’s trial — and continue to underrate the Islamist threat — at our peril.

The idea that America has been so successful in its war on terror that we have not been attacked since 9/11 is a lie. If the past few weeks should have taught us anything, it is that. Of course, we cannot blame people for buying into this lie — how much has been reported on the trial and conviction of Army major and psychiatrist Nidal Hasan? Very little, indeed. America’s attention has been elsewhere.

It’s not that the media doesn’t know how to cover what it deems an important trial. Recently, our national media and culture could not get enough of the George Zimmerman or Jodi Arias trials. The Zimmerman case received 96 stories in the New York Times and Jodi Arias received blanket coverage (along with George Zimmerman) on cable, radio, and television news. According to the research service LexisNexis, Jodi Arias was the subject of almost 1,800 stories on cable and network television this year while George Zimmerman rated well over 3,000. The Hasan case? Just about 400 since January. As for Hasan and the New York Times? A grand total of 23 stories up until his conviction.

But while Hasan’s trial may be deemed of less consequence by the media, it should not be. Indeed, the Hasan case, including his entire biography and modus operandi, should be taking up at least the same amount of media attention as the Zimmerman and Arias trials. The Hasan case should also have Americans marching in the streets. Beyond the horrific events of November 5, 2009, Hasan’s case contains within it a microcosm of the entire domestic and global threat we face from jihadism and Islamism.

First, the idea that America hasn’t been attacked since 9/11 is, as we stated, a lie. There have been over 45 planned terrorist attacks against the United States that have been thwarted. Second, there have been a handful of successful ones as well, with killings from Arkansas to Boston to Los Angeles and near misses from Times Square to Detroit and Toronto. But the Hasan story is the most egregious, and the least appreciated. If 9/11 did not wake Americans up to the lethal dangers of radical Islam once and for all, Nidal Hasan should have. If Americans cannot be kept safe from a Muslim terrorist inside an Army fort in Texas, they cannot be kept safe anywhere.

In the early morning of November 5, 2009, Hasan left his apartment in Killeen, Texas, to attend morning prayers at his mosque. Several hours later, he walked into the Soldier Readiness Center at Ft. Hood, he sat down, he bowed his head, and then he stood up and shot to death 13 of his fellow Americans and an unborn child (he also wounded 30 others). As he emptied 100 rounds into his fellow Americans, he shouted “Allahu akbar,” Allah is great. There was so much blood on the floor, according to one first responder, that those trying to get to the victims to help them had a hard time doing so without slipping and falling.

But a lot took place before that morning that should have kept Hasan from even being in Texas, or in the military at all. During his time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, before he was transferred to Ft. Hood, Major Hasan was exceedingly vocal in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He openly opposed those wars based on his religious views. But nothing was done.

Two years before the Ft. Hood attack, Major Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation at Walter Reed titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam.” But nothing was done. Some of his fellow officers complained about him to their superiors. But nothing was done.

The PowerPoint contained statements from Hasan such as, “It’s getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims.” It contained violent excerpts from the Koran. And Hasan’s PowerPoint concluded with a quote from Osama bin Laden: “We love death more than you love life.”

The following year, a group of fellow Army physicians met to ask themselves if they thought Hasan might be “psychotic.” “Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your foxhole,” said one. But nothing was done . . . except to transfer Hasan to Ft. Hood.

And just as Hasan didn’t keep quiet at Walter Reed, neither did he hold his tongue at Ft. Hood. Hasan’s record at Ft. Hood includes telling his medical supervisor there that “she was an infidel who would be ‘ripped to shreds’ and ‘burn in hell’ because she was not Muslim.” But nothing was done. Nidal Hasan made personal business cards; they mentioned no affiliation with the United States military but underneath his name on the cards, listed his profession as “SOA,” or “Soldier of Allah.” But nothing was done. And, finally, Hasan was in frequent e-mail contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Muslim cleric who, even then, had been implicated in at least two other terrorist plots in America and had since fled to Yemen. But nothing was done. Indeed, taking all of this into account, it is difficult to imagine just what more Nidal Hasan could have done to broadcast his lethal views and intentions. According to an L.A. Times report, documents indicate that “months before the Ft. Hood shooting . . . [Hasan’s] military supervisors praised his unique interest in Islam’s impact on soldiers . . . repeatedly recommending him for promotion.”

But all of this was a prelude to the Ft. Hood attack. Since then, insult has been added to injury and lethality. After the slaughter, the chief of staff of the Army was asked about Muslims in the military and said, “Our diversity, not only in our army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” The Army’s top officer put “diversity” on a higher moral plane than innocent life. If we needed the faintest clue as to why Hasan kept being promoted and passed along, here it was: The politically correct ethic in the Army was one where any perceived threat against ethnic diversity in our military would be treated as worse than a threat against our troops, even on our homeland. Who would have thought such a postmodern view would take root in our nation’s military? But it has.

Even the Pentagon’s after-action report gave support to this politically correct, multicultural triumph of ethics. In the 86 pages of the “Lessons from Fort Hood,” not once does the name Nidal Hasan get mentioned. Instead, he is referred to indeterminately, as “a gunman” — just like any other random perpetrator of homicide. But Hasan’s name is not the most glaringly absent name, phrase, or term in the report. The word “Islam” appears once, and its appearance comes only in a buried endnote, in the title of one of many scholarly papers. The word “Muslim” appears nowhere in the report. Nor does the word “jihad.”

The military had bought in to all the postmodernist theories of academia and social experimentation, which is why, even to this day, the victims of Ft. Hood are considered victims of workplace violence and are not eligible for combat pay or Purple Hearts, while Major Hasan has been given hundreds of thousands of dollars in paychecks and the ability to thwart military regulations by wearing a beard at his trial. We would not want to offend him, or Muslims abroad, after all, would we?

Most of this has now been forgotten, just as most of Hasan’s trial and the import of it is being ignored. But what happened will happen again and again in America until we get this right. Our military personnel, especially Muslims in uniform, operate at the ground zero of the ideological conflict between allegiance to America and allegiance to the advancement and defense of Islamism worldwide. Along with an understanding of the terror and treason committed by Hasan should come a better understanding of the global conflict between political Islam and modernity playing out not only here at home but on the streets of Egypt and Syria, and across the Arab world.

Appeasement of Hasan and the violent theology he represents will not keep us safe or get us anywhere near winning the war radical Islam has declared against the West. Keep in mind, Hasan was given every blessing America had to offer. And he struck out at his fellow Americans after the president of the United States said he would wind down our wars abroad and close Guantanamo Bay — as if those wars or Guantanamo were ever the true cause of Islamist wrath against us. They were not. After all, the deployments — and Guantanamo — came about after 9/11, not before. No, appeasement will not work, just as burying our head in the sand will not work, just as wishing radical Islam away will not work. Indeed, appeasement and ignorance not only show our weakness, they fuel it.

Until we fully grasp what the millions of radical Islamists around the world and in America intend for us — death — we will be facing the same truth Winston Churchill had to deal with in Europe, much too late: Fascism in any form, be it political, theological, or both, is simply not something we can sleep through — not if we plan to survive it. The forces of radical Islam have shown us over and over again how serious its adherents are about their goal of world domination, and yet over and over again, those in government and the media tell us we need not trouble ourselves with all the homegrown plots, that they are obviously not that serious, that too many of us are paranoid. And yet, for some reason, we are taught to be concerned about issues, cases, and trials of much less importance.

Nidal Hasan has been convicted and the powers that be will want us to believe that this at long last is the end of his story.

For the sake of nothing less than our very survival, however, unless we take Hasan and all that he stands for, and all that led up to his actions, as seriously as we take much more frivolous cases and issues in our society, we will never win the domestic and the global war radical Islam has declared on us. Nidal Hasan knows this, as do the rest of our enemies. We still don’t.

— M. Zuhdi Jasser is the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith. Seth Leibsohn is the host of Arizona Politics & Culture with Seth Leibsohn & Tom Brown, which airs on 960 AM  KKNT in Phoenix, and the co-author (with William J. Bennett) of The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam.


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