Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 6/99
Newsletter for December 2009
Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12
Fort Hood Tragedy, Islam, and America
by Sheila Musaji
Founding Editor, The American Muslim (TAM) Magazine
First I must say that as a Muslim, as an American, and as a human being - I cannot understand how anyone can commit such an act. The “fact” that Maj. Hasan was a Muslim and so am I does not give me any understanding of his action - the fact that we are both Americans does not give me any understanding of his action - the fact that we are both human beings does not give me any understanding of his action. The shooting at Fort Hood was a criminal act. A person who could do such a thing is either mentally unbalanced, a sociopath, or a psycopath. With the information we have so far there is no way to tell what category Maj. Hasan falls under.
If he was harassed because of his religion, if he had an unhappy family life, if he wanted out of the military, if he had had a change of heart and did not want to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq - none of this changes the fact that what he did was criminal. He could have asked for conscientious objector status. Even if the Army was not following their own protocol and refused to let him resign his commission, he could have gone to jail rather than go overseas, or he could have gone AWOL and taken his chances - at least that would not have hurt so many others. Maj. Hasan betrayed his country, he betrayed his military oath, he betrayed his medical oath, he betrayed his religion.
My brother Ray Hanania, an American Arab Christian who served in the military has some cogent observations from experience: “The reality is that thousands of Arabs and Muslims have served in the military, including myself. I served during the Vietnam War and have both an honorable discharge and a Vietnam Era Service ribbon, among other recognitions. Bigotry and racism existed in the U.S. Air Force even when I served in it in the early 1970s. My colleagues called me such names as “sand nigger” and “camel jockey.” Officers and enlisted personnel challenged me: “Who’s side will you be on if we have to go fight in the (1973) Arab-Israeli war?” they would ask. Among my best friends in the military were two Muslim brothers who suffered similar taunts. Yet, those incidents did not discourage me from continuing my service in the Illinois Air National guard for 10 more years.”
At Fort Hood there have been other soldiers who objected to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and refused deployment. Just a few months ago Spc. Victor Agosto refused to deploy to Afghanistan over his beliefs that the war violates international law. He was sentenced to a month in jail, had his rank reduced, and will receive an administrative discharge. Another soldier, Travis Bishop refused to deploy because of his religious beliefs which he said had become stronger over time.
Understanding the “why” of this tragedy may be possible after all the investigations are done, and if Maj. Hasan recovers enough, or is mentally stable enough to be able to explain himself. That being said, I would like to attempt to understand how someone can come to such a place in their life that an action like this seems reasonable to them. I doubt that we can ever fully understand (we still don’t understand any of the other such incidents that have taken place), but perhaps any illumination will help us to find ways to prevent things like this from happening in the future.
In the meantime, I cringe every time someone asks me to explain why Maj. Hasan or any other Muslim criminal has committed some reprehensible act. I don’t know why. I may understand it even less than many non-Muslims think they understand because the Islam that I know has nothing in common with any possible justification they may raise to attempt to connect criminality, violence, hatred, or injustice with Islam. Actually, I am amazed that intelligent people could possibly believe that it makes sense to ask any random Muslim to explain the actions of any one of the other 1.5 billion Muslims on earth, as if we are connected to each other like the Borg.
I am also shocked that so many people seem to believe that if someone commits such a crime, the fact that they are a Muslim becomes the explanation for that. The typical litany goes something like this ... Oh, of course, he’s a Muslim - they are all violent, they can’t be trusted, they lie, they shouldn’t be allowed in the military, they shouldn’t be allowed in this country, stealth jihad, and on and on.
Added to my disgust with the actions of Maj. Hasan for the crime of taking so many lives, and the terrible anguish he has brought to the families of his victims, is anger for the anguish he has brought to all American Arabs and Muslims, and to his fellow Arab and Muslim military members. And, I am angry that so many people seem to believe that if any Muslim commits a crime, or even acts badly in any way, then every Muslim must apologize for their actions. Why is that?
As another dear brother, Robert Salaam, a former marine so eloquently expressed: “The actions of this madman cost us, the many Muslims that have served this country honourably over the years, so much. I, like them, make no secret of my love of my faith as well as my country and my Corps. Like everyone else, young Muslims want to serve even over the objection of their parents: they want to be part of something, they want to do their bit. Many American Muslim military personnel have honourable discharges; some others gave the ultimate sacrifice, and are buried at Arlington Cemetry. I want to say to Christians: this murderer is no more one of us than the paedophile priest, the abortion doctor killer, or the millions of prisoners behind bars are part of you. And yet already our military loyalties, our honour, and our integrity are being questioned. Most American Muslims today are going to get up, get ready for work, send their kids off to school, and pray that nothing stupid happens because of their faith. My hope is that the professionalism of most armed forces units will mean that casual jokes and debate will be the norm. But violence is also possible. Meanwhile, some non-Muslims still believe that an entire religious community shares responsibility for the actions of one guy that we didn’t even know existed until yesterday. No other faith community is taken to task in this manner. I read the blogs and messageboards, and I understand people are upset – but the reaction is disheartening: calls for the expulsions of Muslims from the armed forces, or for a vetting process, or in a few cases for an all-out ban on Islam. So even as I make extra prayers and give Dua, I know that my fellow non-Muslim Americans would love to see me leave my country. I wonder where they would like me to go.”
What we now know (or think we know) about the shooting at Fort Hood:
There are 13 dead and 38 wounded in a shooting attack at Fort Hood, TX. Major Nidal Malik Hasan a physician and psychiatrist appears to have been the single shooter. He is in the hospital in stable condition. The attack went on for about 10 minutes and 100 shots were fired. He was eventually brought down by four shots from the weapon of civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley. He carried two guns, but only one gun was used in the shooting.
Maj. Hasan was born and raised in Virginia. His parents were Palestinian immigrants. He joined the Army right after high school. He served eight years as an enlisted soldier during which time he studied at Barstow Community College in California and Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, where he earned an associate degree in science in 1992. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995, receiving a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors and minors in biology and chemistry. His father died in 1998, his mother in 2001. He entered the Bethesda campus of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 1997 and graduated in 2003 as a medical doctor. For seven years from 2003 through this summer, was an intern, a resident and then a fellow at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. caring for trauma victims. He completed a residency in psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington in 2007 and a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry in 2009. While at Walter Reed he had some difficulties that required that he receive counseling. He was promoted to the rank of Major in May 2009 even though he had had a recent poor performance review from Walter Reed. He was transferred to Fort Hood in July 2009. He had retained a lawyer to help him get out of the military. In August 2009 he walked into Guns Galore near Fort Hood and spent $1,000 on a high-powered, Belgian-made semi-automatic pistol. (Times Online) According to the military he was carrying two guns, but this was the only one he used. He was due to be deployed to Afghanistan in November and had expressed concerns about this. For the past few years he had been asking to be let out of his military duty. People who knew him never saw him as violent, but as quiet and somewhat isolated. He was a religious man who attended the local mosque regularly both in Maryland and in Texas. He gave away most of his possessions to neighbors before the incident, telling them that he was being deployed. He was never married and had no children.
These seem to be the facts of the situation, but anything may change at any time as we have seen from previous reports of two or three shooters, a second shooter cornered, the death of Maj. Hasan, etc. And, there are still inconsistencies in the stories in the media. When this story first broke, there was nothing but conjecture, rumors, and just plain nonsense. But, even after we are beginning to get an actual picture of the events and of the man, there are some things that just don’t make sense. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent listing of many of the errors in the original stories.
Placing the Fort Hood Shooting in Context
Random violence is not a unique event. In the SAME WEEK this tragedy took place at Fort Hood, Jason Rodriguez opened fire in the offices of his former employer in Florida killing 1 person and wounding 5 others. THIS YEAR Michael McLendon murdered his mother and then set off on a 24-mile shooting spree in Alabama during which he fired more than 200 rounds and killed 10 more people, including himself; and, Jiverly Voong opened fire at an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, NY, killing as many as 13 people before shooting himself. This was not the first such event at a military installation this year. Sgt. John M. Russell of the 54th Engineering Battalion killed 5 soldiers at the Camp Liberty military stress counseling clinic in Iraq.
There have been numerous serial killers (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer, Dean Corll, Angelo Buono, Ronald Dominique, Kristen Gilbert, Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, Ed Gein, Juan Corona, Donald Gaskins, Gary Ridgeway etc.)
There have been many tragic shooting sprees over the years. For example:
Similar civilian incidents
1966 - Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother and then went up to a tower at the University of Texas in Austin and killed 14 people and wounded 32 others before the police killed him.
1970 - 29 members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia on the Kent State University college campus, killing 4 and wounding 9 others.
1984 - James Oliver Huberty went into a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, CA and killed 21 people and injured 19 others before being killed himself.
1991 - George Hennard drove into Luby’s diner in Killeen, TX and killed 23 people and wounded more than 20 before committing suicide.
1999 - Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold went into their Columbine H.S. and killed 13 people and injured wounded 24 before commitng suicide.
2002 - John Allen Muhammad & Lee Boyd Malvo killed 10 people and wounded 3 people in D.C., MD, and VA.
2005 - Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend on the Red Lake, MN Chippewa reservation, then went to Red Lake H.S. where he killed 7 people and wounded 5 others before committing suicide.
2006 - Charles Carl Roberts IV went into an Amish school in Lancaster County, PA and killed 5 girls before committing suicide.
2007 - Seung-Hui Cho went on a rampage at Virginia Tech and killed 32 people and wounded many others before committing suicide.
2007 - Sulejman Talovic went on a rampage in a Utah mall and killed 5 people and wounded 4 before being shot.
Similar military incidents
The military has not been immune from this sort of incident. Attacks on fellow soldiers were dubbed “fragging” in Vietnam. The Christian Science Monitor reports that: “Between 1969 and 1971, the Army reported 600 fragging incidents that killed 82 and wounded 651.” More recently such incidents continue:
1995 - Sgt. William J. Kreutzer, Jr. killed one officer and wounded 17 other soldiers when he opened fire on a formation at Fort Bragg, NC.
2003 - Army sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar killed two officers of the 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division in Iraq (He was a Muslim convert)
2005 - Two officers were killed at Forward Operating Base Danger in Tikrit, Iraq by a deliberately placed mine. Staff Sergeant Alberto B. Martinez was charged in the killing but was acquitted in a court martial trial at Fort Bragg, NC.
2006 - Pvt. Steven Green raped a 14-year-old girl, and killed her and 3 other members of her family in Iraq
2007 - Master Sgt. John Hatley convicted of the execution-style killings of 4 bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees near Baghdad.
2007 - Olin Ferrier, a Fort Carson, CO soldier killed a taxi driver in Pueblo, CO
2008 - Staff Sgt. Brandon Norris killed Spc. Kamisha Block and then committed suicide in Iraq. The military first reported this as a death by “friendly fire”.
2008 - Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan killed 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett Fletcher at Fort Hood and then committed suicide
2008 - Dustin Thorson, an Air Force technical sergeant killed his son and daughter on Tinker Air Base, OK. (He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Iraq.)
2008 - Edgar Patino, a soldier at Fort Bragg, NC killed another soldier Spc. Megan Touma who was pregnant.
2009 - Jomar Falu Vives a Fort Carson, CO soldier and Iraq war veteran accused of killing 2 people and wounding another in drive-by shootings.
There has also been an increase in the number of SUICIDES among military personnel and according to CNN, this: “… can be traced, in part, to a “stressed and tired force” made vulnerable by multiple deployments. ... Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, vice chief of naval operations, said suicides are the third leading cause of death in the Navy. And the article makes a relevant point that relates not only to suicides, but to the mental state of soldiers “ ... And it wasn’t just the trauma of war that appears to heighten the risk. The suicides were about evenly divided among those who had returned from deployment, those who were still deployed—some on a third or fourth tour—and those who had never been deployed - All of the military leaders said they had too few mental health professionals in their ranks.” The New York Times reports that “military suicides are at the highest level in nearly three decades.”
There has been an increase in the number of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND MURDER cases among military personnel. CBS News reported that in 2002 alone, 4 wives were killed in just 6 weeks at Fort Bragg, and that three of the husbands had served in Afghanistan. At that time, there were some who questioned whether a malaria drug called Larium that the soldiers had taken before deployment had affected them. “Soldiers at Fort Bragg said they are well aware of mental problems linked to the anti-malaria drug Lariam, which include aggression, depression, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal thinking, even as official military spokesmen dismiss a connection between the drug and the events around Fayetteville this summer which have drawn national attention. ...UPI reported in May that mounting evidence suggests Lariam has caused such severe mental problems that in a small percentage of cases it has led to suicide. In July, UPI reported that scores of Peace Corps volunteers are coming forward saying they have suffered severe mental problems, some of which have lasted for years after they stopped taking the drug.” Ann Jones reported that: “… since returning from Iraq, nine members of the Fort Carson, Colorado, Fourth Brigade Combat team had been charged with homicide.”
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a serious problem
Similar “religiously motivated” incidents
Regrettably, there have also been many “religiously motivated” incidents of violence and terrorism over the years. To give only one equally horrifying example: Baruch Goldstein a 38 year-old American Israeli medical doctor opened fire at a mosque in Hebron during Friday prayers and killed 30 Muslim-Palestinians. This is also called the Hebron massacre - Hebron massacre (Goldstein’s tombstone reads Here lies the saint, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein, blessed be the memory of the righteous and holy man, may the Lord avenge his blood, who devoted his soul to the Jews, Jewish religion and Jewish land. His hands are innocent and his heart is pure. He was killed as a martyr of God on the 14th of Adar, Purim, in the year 5754 (1994). After his death there are annual graveside parties to celebrate Goldstein’s action.) There have been so many such incidents that TAM has one collection of information about Jewish Extremism and Terrorism and another on Christian Extremism and Terrorism. So, the claim that all terrorists or extremists are Muslims ignores history.
What are the key issues that have been raised about the Fort Hood shooting?
1) The criminals religion seems to be the main focus.
Whether or not Maj. Hasan was a Muslim, and if so whether he was a convert or born Muslim was brought up almost immediately, and lots of discussion took place about whether converts to Islam were more likely to be violent. Once it was known that he was a Muslim and born a Muslim, then began discussions about the meaning of - The fact that Maj. Hasan had the word Allah in Arabic on his apartment door. (Actually this is very common among Muslims, just as having a mezuzah on the door is common among Jews. It is a way of asking God to bless and protect this home. We have Bismillah on all our exterior doors.) - The fact that some witnesses reported that Maj. Hasan had said “Allahu Akbar” before shooting. (This is strange only because Islam clearly forbids the action he was about to commit, but no more strange than a Catholic criminal lighting candles in church before a crime). - The fact that Maj. Hasan regularly attended a local mosque. (It is too bad he didn’t pick up even the basic Islamic teachings there - “And fulfill every covenant. Verily, you will be held accountable with regard to the covenants.” (Quran, 17:34)) - The fact that Maj. Hasan sometimes wore “Islamic clothing”. (Really stretching. So do many Muslims, and Jews, and Sikhs, and Hindus, etc. This has no meaning at all.)
Wajahat Ali notes in The Guardian: “Ultimately, this use – or misuse – of fear and rumour over Hasan’s Islamic faith should be moot in light of the record of the thousands of Muslim American soldiers who have served and made sacrifice – such as Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, awarded the prestigious Purple Heart and Bronze Star and praised by Colin Powell, who now rests in Arlington cemetery after giving his life to protect and serve his country in Iraq. ... If Hasan’s faith is ultimately proven to be the misguided inspiration for his violence, then the brave and patriotic service of thousands of Muslim American soldiers renders him an isolated and aberrant exception.”
Media Matters reports that: “Right-wing media figures have used the shooting at Fort Hood as an excuse to attack Islam and American Muslims in particular, with Debbie Schlussel, for example, urging readers to think of the alleged shooter “whenever you hear about how Muslims serve their country in the U.S. military.” ... Fox News host Brian Kilmeade suggesting the implementation of “special debriefings” for Muslim American soldiers to prevent future attacks.” The same articles notes some other comments: “Pamela Geller - Shooter is in the “pious Muslim category,” has “such Islamic bravery.” Michelle Malkin - links shooter to other “Muslim Soldiers with Attitude.”
As H.A. Hellyer expresses so well: “And we also know that people on the far right (and probably on the left as well), will use this sad turn of events to yet again “prove” that Muslim Americans are simply not American. They are merely interlopers on American soil who must be suspected and pulled aside for random checks at airports. Any Muslims who condemn the attacks must have ulterior, clandestine motives for doing so, and be dishonest collaborators with the enemy. There are no moderates: there are only those who believe in Islam – the enemy – and those who are brave enough to leave this evil cult – our friends. There are those who see the Qur’an as revelation, who are our mortal foes, and those who see the Qur’an as the manifesto for world fascistic domination, who are our allies.”
Every major Muslim and Arab organization has condemned this incident and offered their condolences to the families of the victims. The suggestion that Islam is the problem can only be called Islamophobia, bigotry, religious hatred. The danger in this sort of labeling is that it sets off those among us who are only to happy to have a scapegoat on which to vent their rage. It is an irrational prejudice that lumps all Muslims into one category - the “other”, “them”, “those people”. If this anger is towards the criminal actions of some Muslims, then American Muslims are also on your side in the fight against them. If your anger is towards our existence as Muslims and our love for our faith, our book, and our prophet, then that is something else again. It is Islamophobia, and it is Anti-American. I pray that the voices of dialogue and reason prevail and drown out the voices that would tear us apart. By burning bridges with American Muslims we make me and my family, and all other Americans, less safe. This facile “explanation” is an easy out and wastes the possibility of looking for real issues and solutions.
I also wonder, if Islam is the problem that caused this man to go wrong then what about all the other Muslims who have and are serving in the military and those that fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq, Vietnam, World War I and II? Was it in spite of being Muslims - or does religion matter only when a Muslim commits a crime, not when a Muslim is a good and productive citizen? How about Muslims who have shown unusual bravery like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan who was praised by Colin Powell?
Are there more productive questions we need to ask?
What are the important facts about Maj. Hasan that we need to look at more closely in order to attempt to understand the “why” of his criminal actions. Could this tragedy have been prevented. Were warning signs missed?
Was there any friendly fire involved? NPR reports that: “A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that investigators have not ruled out the possibility that some casualties may have been victims of “friendly fire,” shot by authorities amid the mayhem and confusion at the scene.” We now know that he only shot one of the guns he was carrying. How is it possible that one man could have done so much damage using only one gun?
If Maj. Hasan wanted to leave the military, why was this difficult for him to do, and why did he need to hire an attorney? According to the Wall Street Journal: “Army officials at the Pentagon said that Muslim soldiers who felt their religion prevented them from fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan could claim conscientious objector status and seek noncombat assignments in the U.S. But they weren’t aware of any Muslim soldiers who had done so.” Did Maj. Hasan ask for such an assignment? Was he refused? And, if so, why?
Were warning signs ignored by the Muslim community An imam at the mosque Hasan attended in Killeen, Texas - Osman Danqua has told a reporter that Maj. Hasan had come to him a few months ago to talk about concerns that he was conflicted between his faith and his allegiance to the military. According to an article in USA Today, Hasan asked Danqua: “If soldiers come to me and have problems fighting other Muslims, what do I tell them?” ... “Hasan also asked about soldiers changing their minds after joining the military and inquired about other members of the congregation. His line of questioning sounded so disjointed, however, that Danquah said Saturday he suspected Hasan might be a federal agent trying to infiltrate the mosque. 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.”
Were warning signs ignored by the military? It was reported that Hasan was promoted to Major in May although his last performance evaluation at Walter Reed Hospital was not good. Some military personnel have now said that he made statements that concerned them, or even that made them question his loyalty. What did they do about this? According to YNet “However, classmate Finnell said that Hasan made a presentation during their studies “that justified suicide bombing” and spewed “anti-American propaganda” as he argued the war on terror was “a war against Islam.” Finnell said he and at least one other student complained about Hasan, surprised that someone with “this type of vile ideology” would be allowed to wear an officer’s uniform. But Finnell said no one filed a formal, written complaint about Hasan’s comments out of fear of appearing discriminatory.” According to Times Online a Dr. Val Finnell who was with Hasan at Walter Reed said that: “… Hasan had consistently expressed opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars since his early days at Walter Reed. One of his fellow students recalled Hasan arguing that suicide bombers were comparable to soldiers who fell on grenades to protect their colleagues. “I really questioned his loyalty,” If there were colleagues who questioned his loyalty, did they report this to the authorities? If there only reason for not reporting something as serious as justifying suicide bombing, then they were derelict in their duty to protect all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Are there enough mental health professionals in the military, and who is taking care of their mental health? According to the Christian Science Monitor: “There are 408 psychiatrists in the Army, including nearly 300 civilians and civilian contractors, according to Army officials in Washington, for 550,000 active duty soldiers.”
“Major Hasan was one of a thin line of military therapists trying to hold off a rising tide of need. So far this year, 117 soldiers on active duty were reported to have committed suicide. The Army has only 408 psychiatrists — military, civilian and contractors — serving about 553,000 active-duty troops around the world. As a result, some soldiers home from war, suffering from nightmares and panic attacks, say they have waited almost a year to see a psychi atrist. Many military professionals, meanwhile, describe crushing schedules with 10 or more patients a day, most struggling with devastating trauma or mutilated bodies that are the product of war and the highly advanced care that kept them alive. Some of those hired to heal others end up needing help themselves. Some go home at night too depressed to talk to their children. Others, like Bret A. Moore, a former Army psychologist at Fort Hood, ultimately quit. “I planned for a career in the military, but I burned out” after about five years, he said. The biggest problem, Dr. Moore said, was “compassion fatigue.” (New York Times)
In an article entitled The Forever War of the Mind, Max Cleland, the secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, a Democratic senator from Georgia from 1997 to 2003, and a Vietnam Vet said: “While the authorities say they cannot yet tell us why an Army psychiatrist would go on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, we do know the sorts of stories he had been dealing with as he tried to help those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to life outside the war zone. A soldier’s mind can be just as dangerous to himself, and to those around him, as wars fought on traditional battlefields. War is haunting. Death. Pain. Blood. Dismemberment. A buddy dying in your arms. Imagine trying to get over the memory of a bomb splitting a Humvee apart beneath your feet and taking your leg with it. The first time I saw the stilled bodies of American soldiers dead on the battlefield is as stark and brutal a memory as the one of the grenade that ripped off my right arm and both legs.”
Were the conditions at Walter Reed overwhelming to deal with? Max Cleland in the same article listed above notes: “ ... We know of the recent failures at Walter Reed Medical Center, where soldiers were stranded in substandard barracks infested with rats while awaiting treatment. I was in Walter Reed myself at that time seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, which, ignited by a barrage of Iraq headlines and the loss of my United States Senate seat, had simply consumed me. ... Weeks before the troubles at Walter Reed became public in 2007, my counselor put it to me simply. “We are drowning in war,” she said. The problems at Walter Reed had nothing to do with the dedicated doctors and nurses there. The problems had to do with the White House and Congress and the Department of Defense. The problems had to do with money.”
Rev. Carl Wright, the head chaplain at Hill Air Force Base, who has twice been deployed to Iraq told a Salt Lake Tribune reporter that: “In his view, it’s not Hasan’s faith but his experiences at the Army’s Walter Reed Medical Center that might have brought on what Wright calls “compassion stress”—also known as secondary stress disorder. The shooter would have had patient after patient, soldier after soldier, telling him gruesome stories,” he said. When you’re counseling with people, regardless of the helping profession, to a certain extent you feel what they feel,” Wright said. “You vicariously experience ... not the identical experience, but pretty darn close, especially when you’re a psychiatrist or psychologist.” Such professionals, he said, need to be in therapy themselves, constantly working on their own issues and on self-improvement. “It’s an article of their Hippocratic oath; all healers know that they are themselves wounded people.”
Was Maj. Hasan himself suffering from mental illness? Maj. Hasan’s uncle in Palestine told an LA Times reporter that Maj. Hasan: “...spoke to his uncle of ethnic taunts by Army colleagues. He was haunted by the wartime disabilities of soldiers he treated as an Army psychiatrist, Hamad recalled, and was overwhelmed by a growing caseload he felt unable to manage.” ... “"The whole family is in a state of denial,” Hamad said today. “We don’t believe he is capable of doing something like that. I was amazed and shocked, because it’s not him. He’s very quiet, gentle. Maybe it built up together—the harassment, too many patients, the workload, the tragedies his patients brought to him,” said the 65-year-old retired real estate broker. “Whatever it was, it must have been big pressure, something terrible he couldn’t handle.”
How could no one have noticed inconsistencies such as:
Most sources say he was never married and had no children, and had unsucessfully tried to find a wife through Muslim matrimonial services. However one Wall Street Journal article mentions that a Mr. Cook, a former neighbor of Maj. Hasan in Virginia in the 90’s said that Hasan was a single father and that two sons were living with Maj. Hasan at that time, and they attended local schools. Who are these children, and what happened to them?
“While an intern at Walter Reed, Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time. Grieger said privacy laws prevented him from going into details but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan’s interactions with patients. He recalled Hasan as a “mostly very quiet” person who never spoke ill of the military or his country. “He swore an oath of loyalty to the military,” Grieger said. “I didn’t hear anything contrary to those oaths.” (MSNBC) How serious were these “difficulties” and should they have kept him from pursuing a career path that would focus on patients with PTSD?
Is there a problem with harassment of minorities (sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.) in the military? And, if there is, what is being done about it? Military Religious Freedom Foundation is working with about 100 Muslims in the military who have lodged discrimination complaints. Mikey Weinstein, the director of MRFF said his phone was ringing Friday with complaints from Muslim troops that the Fort Hood shooting was being used by comrades to ridicule their faith. He has also received at least one email from an American-Muslim military wife who has been harassed over the last few days on a military base here in America, and whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan. These folks are also “collateral damage” of Maj. Hasan’s criminal act. What a shame that Arab and Muslim soldiers and their families must suffer doubly. Muslim soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan often use fake last names to prevent being targeted by insurgents, who also may threaten their families especially if they live in other countries. Do they also have to hide right here in America?
Mikey Weinstein has (a hero whom I am proud to call a friend): “called upon President Obama to immediately issue a statement as Commander-in-Chief making it clear that there would be a zero tolerance policy against any member of the US military “inflicting harassments, retribution or reprisal against an Islamic member of the US military.” President Obama issued a statement earlier Thursday condemning the shootings. Weinstein, whose civil rights organization was recently nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace prize, said Obama must state, unequivocally, that the US does not judge the worth of a “service member based on his or her religious faith.” Weinstein’s group has exposed the meteroric rise of fundamentalist Christianity within the US military and has called attention to the fact that military personnel have sought to cast the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as a crusade between Christianity and Islam. Weinstein, an honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, former White House counsel during the Reagan administration and former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot, said religious intolerance within the military is widespread and continues to get worse. ... Weinstein noted that MRFF has about 18 active cases at Fort Hood involving soldiers who allege they have been subjected to non-stop fundamentalist Christian proselytization. “Fort Hood is one of our worst hot spots of the nearly 1,000 US military installations scattered around the world in approximately 132 countries,” Weinstein said. “We’ve had a particular problem with the public elementary school that’s actually situated on the installation where children of soldiers have been continuously proselytized to.” Maj. Hasan, according to the New York Times, had allegedly been harassed by fellow soldiers because he was Muslim. “It’s obviously too early to know what all the salient facts are,” Weinstein said. “But MRFF is the only subject matter expert on planet earth that can speak authoritatively with regard to the effects that religious persecution has on members of the US military, particularly those of minority faiths like Islam. It would absolutely strain credulity to presume that this clearly sick perpetrator’s actions had nothing at all to do with the fact that his faith may possibly have been Islamic.”
Had Major Hasan taken the malarial drug Lariam and could it have brought on some sort of psychotic state?
Are there any commonalities between previous similar incidents and this one? Religion, ethnicity, immigrant status, race - none of these seems to be a common thread.
What happened to other two (or three) suspects? What had they done to be suspected, why were they released, who were they?
11/8/09, an Army chaplain, Col. Frank Jackson led prayers in Killeen, Texas. He “exhorted parishioners to pray for meaning in the worst massacre on a military facility in the United States.” He also asked them to pray for suspected shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and his family “as they find themselves in a position that no person ever desires to be.” God bless this man who is a true representative of his Christian faith.
11/9/09 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) today announced the launch of a special fund for the benefit of the families of the victims of the senseless Ft. Hood attacks that killed 13 soldiers and injured over 30 others. Recognizing the important sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families, we feel it is imperative for all Americans to join hands in supporting those affected by this tragic incident. ISNA is collaborating with various national Muslim and interfaith organizations on this humanitarian initiative and mosques throughout the country are expected to join fellow Americans in contributing to help the families of the victims. Donations may be made to “Fort Hood Family Fund” and sent to ISNA headquarters (P. O. Box 808, Plainfield, Indiana 46168), or donate online: http://www.forthoodfamilyfund.com
11/9/09 According to the New York Times “Intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of shooting to death 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., and a radical cleric in Yemen known for his incendiary anti-American teachings. But federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages warranted no further action, government officials said on Monday.” The cleric is Anwar al-Awlaki who is reported as posting on his personal site that Maj. Hasan was a “hero”. Note: The NYT gave the url for Awlaki’s site, but when I attempted to go to the site I got an “internal server error” message, so the site seems to be down. If is true that this individual has said the things he is reported to have said, then hopefully the site will remain down. Although I would have loved to have left a comment telling him just how little I think of his “scholarship”. Just received an article by Aziz Poonawalla that exactly describes my feelings: “What is there to say about al Awlaki? He’s a radical extremist islamist. On his website, he accuses those muslims (like myself) who have condemned Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood of “treason” to Islam and the Ummah - frankly I am proud to be labeled a traitor by the likes of scum such as he.” And, Omar Mozaffer has written a letter to Al-Awlaki to which I would love to see the answer. Inayat Bugglawala has also weighed in on Al-Awlaki’s incitement to violence.
11/9/09 American Muslim organizations (including CAIR, MPAC, and the Dar al Hijrah mosque) have repudiated al Awlaki’s statement.
11/10/09 The Washington Post reports that in 2007 Maj. Hasan “warned a roomful of senior Army physicians a year and a half ago that to avoid “adverse events,” the military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims.” (You can click on the Gallery link in this article and see the full presentation he made.) The article quotes some of those in attendance as finding his choice of topic “really strange” and the article itself seems to suggest that it was a strange topic. It seems to me that for a psychiatrist specializing in treating military members with psychological issues, this was not strange, but an attempt to point out a particular problem that might be an issue among some military members. A Daily News article further notes that other psychiatrists who worked with him were “troubled by his work”, and that he “underperformed” and yet, “It is unclear if anyone reported the briefing to intelligence or law enforcement authorities”. This article further notes that: “One source says the Policy Committee also discussed that it might be a bad public relations move to remove one of the few Muslims from their program.” That is absolutely unacceptable - as an American and a Muslim, I would hope that not only the military, but also any medical reviewing bodies would not allow someone they felt was not qualified, or was unstable to remain in a position just because of their minority status.
11/10/09 FBI Agents Search Trash At Killeen Mosque Attended by Hasan http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/feds-search-hasan-nidals-mosque/story?id=9044669
11/10/09 BBC interview by Gavin Lee with people at Killeen mosque (only for 3 days, so will attempt to get some transcription) includes a mosque member identified as “a young American Muslim called Duane” who says he will never condemn Maj. Hasan, and appears to justify the shooting. I hope the local community talks to this fellow and attempts to straighten out his thinking.
11/10/09 Today in Tampa, FL, a Marine reservist attacked a Greek priest he claimed he thought was a terrorist, according to the news report: “Bruce pulled out a tire iron and attacked the priest, police said. He then called 911 as he chased Marakis, saying an Arab man was trying to rob him. When officers arrived, Bruce told them the man was a terrorist. Bruce also told police he heard Marakis yell, “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great,” according to Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Marakis, however, does not speak Arabic, McElroy said. He speaks Greek. Police are working to determine if the offense meets the standard for a hate crime.”
11/10/09 According to TPM, yesterday: Dave Gaubatz, the conservative author of the new book Muslim Mafia, the foreword of which was penned by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), explicitly called for a “professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders” in response to the Fort Hood shootings. They further quote him as saying: “"If Muslims do not want a backlash, then I would recommend a ‘house cleaning.’”
11/10/09 Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Frequented Local Strip Club according to Fox News. It seems as if he must have had a split personality.
11/16/09 We have put a number of new articles about this tragedy on TAM including Anti Muslim Rhetoric Reaching a Dangerous Level and Muslims Must Condemn Religious Extremists. You can access these updates at the following link:
courtesy: The Americam Muslim Journal (TAM), November 02, 2009
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