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November 16, 2009

Fort Hood's Terrorist?

By Spear's

These clues suggest he was a self-recruited jihadist, but there is also widespread concern that worries about prejudice inhibited complaints.

Major Nidal Hasan, the thirty-nine year-old U.S. Army psychiatrist who shot dead thirteen soldiers and wounded a further twenty-six at Fort Hood in Texas last week has been charged with premeditated homicide.

It is now known that the American-born Muslim had been in contact with a radical cleric in the Yemen who had been connected to three of the 9/11 hijackers, and some of his emails had been monitored by the FBI. Indeed his public statements about holy jihad had caused alarm among colleagues, and his posting on extremist websites demonstrated his hostility to the United States.

However, this electronic surveillance did not result in sufficient evidence for the officer to be investigated, even though some concerns about his stability had been expressed when he had undergone training at the Walter Reed Hospital.

A search of his apartment has revealed business cards mentioning the acronym for “soldier of Allah” and a shredder. These clues, together with anxieties expressed by colleagues who thought his incompetent or worse, suggest he was a self-recruited jihadist, but there is also widespread concern that worries about diversity and prejudice inhibited complaints. 

The combination of an Arab-American Muslim being radicalized in the United States, and being placed under surveillance, is one of immense sensitivity and both the army and the FBI will have exercised great caution to avoid accusations of racial profiling and interference with the officer’s rights.

However, following his murderous rampage, the finger-pointing has begun and the agencies involved are naturally anxious to insist they operated within the guidelines established to govern these circumstances. The case raises the spectre of divided loyalties and the fitness of some individuals for deployment to theatres where they wll be engaging their co-religionists.

The Irish Guards underwent a similar experiences during the Ulster troubles, and the decision was taken not to put them onto the streets in Belfast. However, the challenge for the U.S. Army is all the greater because of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The main concern is that some authorities failed to act, when warned about Major Hasan, because of fears stemming from political correctness. What must be disclosed is precisely who knew what, and when.

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