The Treason Virus in Fort Hood
Thursday, November 5th was a dark day for the US Army, for the USA and for peaceful Muslims. On that day, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39 year old military doctor of Palestinian descent, born in the USA, assigned to Fort Hood, a devoted follower of Islam, a vocal opponent of US military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, earned his way to hell. He went on a shooting rampage. Before he was stopped, he had murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers, wounding 40 others, including the brave woman civilian cop who brought him down while taking bullets herself. Under California law, there were 14 dead because one of the homicide victims was with child.
Major Hasan was opposed to his forthcoming assignment to the war theater because he would have to directly participate in a war against fellow Muslims.
A number of Muslim groups, to their credit, have condemned the murders. Many US commentators, to their shame, have attempted to make light of the relevance of Major Hasan’s religious ideas and concerns.
As I have argued in my three previous posts on this subject, all recounted here, this homicidal spree is inexplicable only if you artificially rule out the obvious: Hasan planned and executed a one man jihad against his fellow soldiers. And as I have concluded, his acts (if all this is proven) amount to treason and warrant his execution.
But there is more to consider, including two late-breaking (and, to me, unsurprising) “revelations”:
[ONE] In an AP story, dated 11-11-09, we learn that “doctors overseeing Nidal Malik Hasan’s medical training discussed concerns about his overly zealous religious views and strange behavior months before” [the rampage]. Hasan was described “at times as belligerent, defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his Muslim faith”.
[TWO] The LA Times 11-11-09 edition describes how Hasan’s contacts with a radical Islamist cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, was a huge red flag, not acted on. Awlaki is described in the article as “an extremist whose sermons have helped radicalize terrorists from Atlanta to New Jersey to London. He is the leading ideologue for a home-grown generation of young militants who conspire over the Internet”. [The internet connection is important as I will develop.] The contact “with Awlaki in Yemen should have raised grave concern, U.S. officials said.”
From my first post:
FORT HOOD & THE MOST DANGEROUS VIRUS:
HEADLINE: RARE VIRUS ENDANGERS TROOPS.
Another, presumably unrelated headline (my own summary)
ROGUE ISLAMIST SHRINK SHOOTS FIFTY AMERICAN SOLDIERS ON AMERICAN BASE.
The first story (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/06/rare-virus-poses-new-threat-to-troops/ ) describes a biological pathogen.
The second story, the Fort Hood massacre, (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fort-hood-shootings7-2009nov07,0,1269467.story ) describes a moral pathogen.
It seems beyond reasonable dispute that the Fort Hood shooter/murderer (Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan) was (1) a devout follower of Islam, (2) was not in sympathy with the American effort in Afghanistan. As the other suppressed details emerge it will only get worse.
Dr. Hasan was an educated man. It is almost axiomatic that most mental health professionals don’t become berserk mass murderers, particularly while serving in sensitive positions in American military facilities.
About the Religion of Peace
Karen Armstrong is one of my favorite writer-thinkers. She is a former nun who teaches and writes about religious issues from a profoundly ecumenical perspective. Armstrong wrote a sympathetic account of the Prophet Mohammed’s life (Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet — http://www.amazon.com/Muhammad-Biography-Prophet-Karen-Armstrong/dp/0062508865 ) that I read recently. It was written post-911 with the obvious purpose of tamping down some of the hysteria surrounding militant Islam.
If there ever is to be an Islamic Reformation, books like Armstrong’s will be a good starting point.
There are pockets of enlightened, peaceful Islamic scholarship and teaching, most of which are taking place in safe havens in the tolerant West. All those sparks of tolerance acknowledged, there still is no Islamic Reformation.
After the death of Mohammed in the 7th century, there never again was a single Muslim Voice, no Muslim Pope, no Muslim Martin Luther, no one to lead the faith out of its pre-medieval fundamentalism. The religion remains multi-focal and widely distributed – much like software tied to a common operating system, in this case the Qu’ran.
Software and Viruses
The software metaphor is useful because, like all distributed belief systems, Islam is subject to anti-moral viruses.
An anti-moral virus is an actively malevolent set of ideas, capable of being carried by an ideology or other widespread belief system, much as living organisms carry infections.
I believe that the Islamist virus stems from a siege mentality, a deep sense of grievance and of being under attack from a decadent, profoundly immoral culture. We know that the virus is deadly because of its fruits. One cannot look at the carnage of 911 or the recent incident at Fort Hood without horror and revulsion. Surely, we think, this cannot be sanctioned by a truly moral deity, the ruler of the Universe, the Father of the Abrahamic faiths.
An anti-moral virus attaches itself to selected precepts from the Islamist tradition (precepts that post-reformation Muslims will say were taken out of context, but for now stand alone as co-equal injunctions from God’s Prophet). Among these precepts are the classification of Infidels as unclean, the religious approval for their forcible conversion to Islam (with a tradition of beheading the resistant-apostate) and the sanction for glorious, violent martyrdom in the cause. Caution: This is a functional analysis, not a critical theological one. My scholarly friends who are deeply familiar with Islam will quickly point out why a careful and enlightened reading of the Qu’ran does not support terrorism, the slaughter of innocents, and so on. But Dr. Hasan was an intelligent, well educated man and there has, as yet, been no Islamic Reformation. The anti-moral virus is active in the Muslim culture. I believe he was infected.
Who ELSE is infected? Just HOW do you tell? What measures are appropriate to quarantine or identify the possibly infected? Clearly, the US military can never again afford to place itself in the vulnerable position that was so blatantly revealed in Fort Hood. Before we jump on our politically correct, high horses, let’s take a moment to reflect on the practical side of this. We need to be able (especially in sensitive locations, time and situations) to make in-depth religious and ideological inquiries about men and women placed in trusted positions. And we need to be able to accomplish this feat without religious bigotry, but also without opportunistic sniping by the politically correct nannies.
FROM MY SECOND POST
We need a new DSM IV* category for rogue mental health professionals suffering with “HME Syndrome”, the Homicidal Martyrdom Escape Syndrome, or “HMES”.
- The vaunted DSM IV is the cookbook diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals to classify mental disorders. [Buy one if you’re curious — http://allpsych.com/books/index.html#r .]
“He was obviously upset,” said Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old who attended the mosque and ate frequently with Major Hasan at the Golden Corral restaurant. “He didn’t want to go to Afghanistan.”
“He felt he was supposed to quit,” Mr. Reasoner said. “In the Koran, it says you are not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christians, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell.”
This excerpt was from today’s New York Times. LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/us/09reconstruct.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=todayspaper
I am convinced that Major Hasan was psychologically trapped and that, having been “infected” with an anti-moral virus, he presented an extremely high risk of ‘going jihad”.
THE MILITARY URGENTLY NEEDS TO RETURN TO ITS WWII TOUGHNESS AND COMMON SENSE.
Consider that what has happened, even in outline, blatantly reveals the negligence of the responsible authorities:
A man with Palestinian Muslim roots, born in Virginia, never-married, predeceased by his parents, was provided a full medical education at Bethesda, with the pay-back proviso that he serve in the uniform of the United States Army for about seven years before he could leave the service. He graduated as a physician in the immediate wake of 911. While assigned to America’s largest domestic military base, Fort Hood (52,000 troops), he manifested increasing agitation about having been forced to serve in Afghanistan, where “Christians and Jews” were fighting Muslims, a scenario essentially condemned by the Prophet. He was in a trap of his own making. He consulted a lawyer. He prayed a lot and kept to himself. He purchased a private handgun and lot of ammunition.
By the way, under the current politically correct rules, soldiers on base (other than MP’s and other limited exceptions) DO NOT CARRY FIREARMS.
Are you counting the red flags here?
This killer acted in a fully calculated manner (i.e., Dr. Hasan put his affairs in order, took the time and care to arm himself, carry extra clips of ammunition and position himself near uniformed targets). Then our rogue mental health professional with the rank of Major shouted “God is Great!” in Arabic and began methodically executing as many infidel soldiers as time, the lack of armed resistance and his supply of ammunition permitted.
If he had attempted this shooting spree in Israel among the IDF, he’d have been cut down in seconds. During WWII on a US base, he’d have been taken out by an armed nurse and three typists. In a Queens New York bar frequented by off-duty cops, Dr. Hasan would have been dropped before he got off the first shot. As it was, he was cut down by a young woman with SWAT training serving a Texas civilian police agency, Sgt. Kim Munley, who took several shots herself, thankfully none of them fatal.
In my moral universe, Sgt. Munley gets nominated for the Nobel Peace Price, if not made a candidate for Canonization.
More about the WWII ethos: The US Army was not run by politically correct fools or governed by wishy-washy civilian overseers. Courage and common sense prevailed. Think about it: A number of heroic Japanese men served this country’s military in WWII. Were they aboard, the Enola Gay or serving in the South Pacific? Of course not. The Greatest Generation’s General officers weren’t imbeciles. These brave Japanese warriors fought the Germans.
There was a time when we Americans, all flaws accounted for, were governed by a sterner part of the moral order. A hint to the naïve: Those virtues weren’t “just made up” or adopted as a “life style choice”. Check your survival manual. Without them, we’d be a part of the Third Reich and all our Jewish friends would be dead.
FROM MY THIRD POST:
FORT HOOD III, PERFIDY & TREASON
Connecting the Dots
Why I think Hasan was a 21st century “Manchurian Candidate”
The reference is to the famous Cold War movie, starring Frank Sinatra, who was a brain-washed veteran programmed by Chinese Communists to become an assassin when a code word activated him. There was a remake starring Denzel Washington.
Islam is a complex belief system that, in its current pre-reformation iterations, is like an operating system fully vulnerable to malware, viruses and trojans, because of the compete absence of a firewall security software protection. The vulnerable features of this belief system don’t need to be sound Muslim theology, they just need to be “out there”. They include the notion that infidels can be killed in the name of God. And they are saturated with the current context – Islamic societies under duress, threatened with modernity, and humiliated by the successes of the West.
I believe that this particular anti-moral virus was employed in the service of a malevolent ideology, a perversion of the carrier religious belief system. The virus is a scripture-derived violent-terror jihad motivator. The virus transmission system is the media, the internet and person to person contact.
I note that there are jihadist websites that are specifically designed to stimulate so called “lone wolf” terror agents, without ever having to formally recruit them. I note that Hasan had contact with a fanatical imam who has used the internet as a jihad recruitment tool.
Clearly, Major Hasan was a susceptible member of the faith. Having voluntarily placed himself in the US military with no easy exit, he was being told that he would go to hell for cooperating with the US Army as it fought fellow Muslims in Afghanistan. His path to “redemption” was increasingly clear: He would go out as a jihadi martyr, taking out infidel soldiers before they could get to Afghanistan and kill fellow Muslims.
The fateful day of November 5th was to be the day Major Hasan earned his path to HELL. He thought he was shooting his way into heaven. I am not describing the theology of peaceful followers of Islam, but I believe this description accurately captures the theology running in Hasan’s head. Redemptive suicidal jihad-homicide was an anti-moral virus penetrating a defenseless belief system – there no virus protection in the form of family or friends with a contrary view, no alternate source of religious authority.
In this opportunistic Manchurian scenario, Hasan was “run” as a remotely stimulated “agent”. His ensuing violence (“craven acts”, to quote our president) was the hoped for outcome.
Let there be no confusion here. I am not describing a cognizable criminal defense or a moral excuse. I am describing an ongoing threat, one that we, as a society (and representatives of peaceful Islam), urgently need to address. There are thousands of men like Major Hasan out there, men with weakened moral immune systems, all too many of them occupying positions of trust. No one can prevent the virus from getting to them.
The remaining questions boil down to their resistance and our trust.
Of course, my virus analysis is allegory. I believe that Major Hasan was legally sane. And in my legal opinion, he is fully accountable for his acts. In my moral opinion, his acts were more than illegal or merely “sinful” – they were classically evil.
Was this “terrorism”? That is beside the point. Major Hasan turned on his own troops in a time of war. I would charge treason. Allow me to explain.
Treason was important enough to deserve direct mentioned in our constitution.
US Constitution, Article 3 , Section 3.
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. …. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason…”
And the congress has specified the appropriate penalty:
US Code Title 18, Part 1 Chapter 115
§ 2381. Treason
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death…”
Of course, murder in aid of treason is a death penalty case anyway. See18 US Code 1111 and following.
A treason prosecution, coupled with the murder charges (assuming that Major Hasan recovers as expected) may provide the catalyst needed to shock the bureaucrats whose politically correct timidity, ineptitude or both allowed this threat to mature in the very heart of our military.
A treason trial will focus laser attention where it belongs: on loyalty vs. disloyalty.
The men and women we ask to go armed into harms way (or in the Fort Hood case to go unarmed in harms way) need to know that all of their fellow soldiers have their back. There won’t always be a gutsy young woman from a civilian agency to save them.
Consider how this problem plays out when we actually deploy brave Muslim males in conflict situations where they or their fellow soldiers are to kill Muslim brothers.
I don’t doubt for a minute the loyalty and courage of hundreds and hundreds of Muslim American soldiers who go into battle with their comrades in arms against the Taliban. But which ones are they. Who vetted them? How do we tell? Is their deployment worth it?
Major Hasan operated from behind a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mask that prevented timid authorities from officially “noticing” or acting on his simmering jihad sympathies.
Enough already! It’s high time to get real.