Muslim, American citizen, psychiatrist, troubled soldier, mentally ill man --- all of these descriptions can be used to describe Major Nidal Malik Hasan. One description will remain forever: Major Hasan is a heinous mass murderer who committed a terrorist act. Unfortunately, the scope of his cowardly deed sweeps across a nation.
Jana Winter of Fox News (November 6 2009) reported soldiers had heard the gunman shout "Allahu Akbar!" — an Arabic phrase for "God is great!" — before opening fire Thursday. Some reported this to Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the post commander. Cone said officials had not yet confirmed Hasan made the comment.
Chris McGreal (guardian.co.uk, November 6 2009) said Hasan's parents were against him joining the military, his cousin, Nader Hasan, a lawyer in Virginia, said. "He said: 'No, I was born and raised here, I'm going to do my duty to the country'," he told the New York Times.
Brett J. Blackledge of Yahoo News (November 6 2009) noted that those who knew him personally and professionally said Hasan had argued with fellow soldiers who supported U.S. war policy.
For example, his anger was noted by a classmate, Dr. Val Finnell, who said Hasan "viewed the war against terror" as a "war against Islam." Dr. Finnell had been a classmate of Hasan's at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, where they had attended a master's in public health program in 2007-2008.
Finnell says he got to know Hasan because the group of public health students took an environmental health class together. At the end of the class, everyone had to give a presentation. Classmates wrote on topics such as dry cleaning chemicals and mold in homes, but Finnell said Hasan chose the war against terror as his topic. Finnell described Hasan as a "vociferous opponent" of the terror war. Finnell said Hasan told classmates he was "a Muslim first and an American second." (Yahoo News, November 6 2009)
Jana Winter of Fox News (November 6 2009) stated that a recent classmate said Hasan once gave a jarring presentation to students in which he argued the war on terrorism was a war against Islam, and "made himself a lightning rod for things" when he felt his religious beliefs were challenged.
A former boss, Dr. Thomas Grieger, training director at the time, added, Hasan once required counseling and extra supervision for himself because of trouble he had dealing with some patients. This occurred while Hasan was an intern at Walter Reed. (Yahoo News, November 6 2009)
At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.One official was quoted by the New York Times as saying that the FBI had become aware of the internet postings by a man calling himself Nidal Hasan.
The officials have not publically confirmed Hasan is the author of the postings, and a formal investigation had not been opened before the shooting, said law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.
Federal authorities seized Hasan's computer Friday during a search of his apartment in Killeen, Texas, said a U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Michael Moss of the New York Times (November 6 2009) reported those at Hasan's mosque knew that Major Hasan increasingly felt let down by the military and deeply conflicted by his religion. 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. “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.”
Chris Hawley and Rick Jervis of USA TODAY (November 7 2009) stated the Major Hasan had confessed to his local mosque elder months before that he was conflicted between his devotion to Islam and his allegiance to the U.S. military. "If soldiers come to me and have problems fighting other Muslims, what do I tell them?" Hasan asked Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, in August.
Hawley and Jervis also say Hasan had asked about soldiers changing their minds after joining the military and had inquired about other members of the congregation. His line of questioning sounded so disjointed, however, that mosque officials suspected he might be a federal agent trying to infiltrate the mosque, Danquah said Saturday.
"I told him, 'There's something wrong with you, and if you're here to gather information, we're not here to do anything against the government. We're here to worship,'" Danquah said. (USA TODAY, November 7 2009)
Reihan Salam (www.thedailybeast.com, November 6 2009) confirmed that Hasan had tried desperately to get out of the military, going so far as to hire a lawyer. Samam added, "But, of course, Hasan could have found various other ways to avoid deploying...by conniving his way into a dishonorable discharge, by going AWOL, or even by committing suicide."
A Terrible Impact
The horrible act committed by Hasan has, regardless of his motivation, sown fear and anxiety among millions of Muslim Americans who have served in the years since the 9/11 terror attacks as America's "secret weapon" against Islamic radicalism. The prosperity and religious freedom enjoyed by Muslims in America greatly contrasts against the grinding poverty and violent oppression faced by many of those living under Islamic rule.
Penny Spiller (BBC, November 6 2009) said, "According to the Pentagon, there are 3,572 Muslims in active service. However, some Muslims in the military say the real number is as high as 20,000." The US government has made no secret of the fact that it would like to see more people from Arab and Muslim communities joining the armed forces
"They are a great asset to the army," Lt Col Nathan Banks, army spokesman for the Pentagon, told the BBC.
"When they do deploy they help facilitate a lot of our missions. American Muslims in the army work hand in hand with local Muslims, and we welcome that."
A recent Pew survey found that 58 percent of Americans believe that Muslims face a high level of discrimination, while 64 percent believe the same is true for gays and lesbians. These numbers imply that a majority of Americans are open-minded about Muslims. But, Hasan's other victims are the millions of Muslim Americans who've fully embraced American life and who feel a terrible sense of dread whenever innocent people are murdered in the name of Islam. (www.thedailybeast.com, November 6 2009)
Kamran Memon of the organization Muslims For a Safe America says the subject splits America's Muslim community down the middle. "Those at one end of the spectrum say we should have nothing to do with the U.S. armed forces as they are involved in wars with our fellow Muslims abroad," he told the BBC. "Those at the other end say we should definitely serve and help defend our country against those who wish to attack it. (Jana Winter, Fox News, November 6 2009)
In the end, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, regardless of his United States citizenship, will be convicted of a crime of terrorism. Whether acting alone or with conspirators, the crime was premeditated and calculated to instill fear in the hearts of Americans, and, in particular, in the hearts of all Armed Services families and in all freedom-loving Muslim Americans. Whether the man valued Islam, the military, the medical code of ethics, or his worth as a human being most, he failed miserably in his life mission. In acting cowardly, he personally chose to cause death and destruction to untold numbers of his fellow men. Hasan disgraced his country and his army that had so graciously educated him at their own expense. He had never been deployed and had no plans to ever be deployed.