He love us, he loves us not. Mostly “not.” That perversion of a familiar rhyme describes Major Nidal Hasan’s views about the United States and its citizens.
Mesmerized by the vision of the Salafists, among the most radical Islamists, Major Nidal became a domestic terrorist, leaving 13 people dead and two dozen injured in a shooting spree at Fort Hood. This was no sudden eruption. His disaffection had been growing steadily, and there were plenty of signs of it.
Born in Virginia of Palestinian parents, Hasan enlisted in the Army at a young age, went on to Officer Candidate School, then Army medical school and residency, to practicing psychiatry. In recent years, his fellow Army doctors became alarmed at this increasingly anti-American outbursts.
He began sending e-mails to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric now in Yemen who once was imam at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. where Hasan sometimes attended prayer services. Awlaki rants regularly on his web site and, after the Fort Hood massacre, called Hasan a “hero.”
By 2007, Hasan exhibited a fascination in and support for suicide bombings. That year at a medical meeting, instead of discussing medicine, he talked about Islam in general and suicide bombing in particular. He said that American Muslims might be hesitant to be deployed to Muslim countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. (By this year he was doing everything possible to forestall his own deployment to Afghanistan.)
The night before the shootings, Hasan emptied his apartment of most belongings, giving them away, as if he never expected to return. The next day, in a processing center on the base, he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) while firing off more than 100 rounds from two handguns.
Intelligence agencies now report they had been monitoring Hasan for some time and that he had visited numerous radical Islamist websites, some extolling suicide murder missions in particular. The Pentagon insists it was not notified by U.S. intelligence agencies of Major Hasan’s intercepted e-mails to the radical cleric.
Speaking of the Pentagon, why hadn’t the concerns of Hasan’s fellow military doctors been reported further up the chain of command?
There is much “CYA” activity going on right now, but the issue boils down to this: Political Correctness — P.C. — has cowed our intelligence agencies and the military into handling problematic Islamists with kid gloves.
Right after 9/11, various American Muslims expressed concern that their co-religionists would be “profiled” and discriminated against. The Bush administration bent over backward to prove otherwise, inviting Muslim leaders to the White House (incompletely vetted, for several of the attendees turned out to have anti-American connections).
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued, demonstrated and otherwise raised a rumpus at the slightest suggestion that some Muslim in the United States might be anti-American.
The American Civil Liberties Union fought furiously (and still does) to make sure that detained terrorists are treated as if they were upstanding American citizens. The far-left wing of the Democratic Party is their “amen” chorus.
The answer lies not in mustering out all Muslims from the U.S. military. Most are serving honorably, many effectively as translators in Iraq and elsewhere. Nevertheless, when signs of radicalism appear and grow, as was the case with Major Hasan among his medical colleagues, it needs to be reported up the chain of command. Such cases bear careful investigation and, if verified, a quiet but firm mustering out of the person involved should follow.
In Congress, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is planning to hold hearings on ways to prevent similar incidents. Coming out of these should be recommendations and legislation to strengthen coordination between our intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense.
As for the Obama administration, what it needs to do is to stop pretending that homegrown terrorism can’t happen. It can and does happen. The men who sought to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J. are one example. The man who killed a soldier at an Arkansas recruiting station is another. The young Colorado man who was apprehended for gathering materials probably intended to blow up New York subways is yet another. Wake up, White House. Get over your P.C. jitters. We are at war with radical Islamist terrorists. Most Americans know it. Why don’t you?
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