November 8, 2009

Did Nidal Hasan Act Alone?

Of course not.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan had his parents alongside him. His parents who had compelled him to follow their faith, Islam, and who had opposed his joining the U.S. Army. He had been indoctrinated by them never to question the words of his god, Allah, as relayed by his messenger Muhammad, who too had accompanied Nidal. Above all, their message, Islam, had been with him, always encouraging him and leading him, through every step of his murderous rampage at Fort Hood. However much the apologists for Islam and the politically correct may try to to spin this away from Nidal's religion, the role that Islam has played in the loss of 13 precious lives cannot be ignored.

Facts first. His efforts to be relieved of military duties turning futile, Major Nidal faced imminent deployment to a war that he had vehemently opposed. He did not choose to go AWOL, and escape to Canada or Gaza. Nor did he become a depressed drug addict, and commit suicide in the privacy of his apartment. Instead, he meticulously cleaned out his apartment the day before the shooting, and said good bye to his neighbors, while handing them a copy of the Koran. On the morning of the killing, he was spotted in a local convenience store, wearing his traditional religious attire. He was described by the store owner as calm and collected, nothing out of the ordinary from his other routine visits to the store. Within a few hours, Nidal would take his semi-automatic and mow down scores of his comrades in uniform.

NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported:

Earlier today, I spoke to a psychiatrist who worked very closely with Nidal and knows him very well. And he said... They have grand rounds, right? They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he - Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don't believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You're set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat."

In a statement to Fox News, retired army officer, Col. Terry Lee, who knew Nidal and had worked with him, attested to the latter's opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:

"He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor... At first we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make comments we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."

Hasan had been optimistic that President Obama would start pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Lee said, but when that didn't happen as quickly as he hoped, Hasan became angry.

Note that Nidal did not say, "the people of Afghanistan and the people of Iraq should stand up and fight the aggressor". He said instead that Muslims had the right to rise up and attack Americans. On one side were the people of his nationality sworn to defend its constitution, and on the other side were the men and women sworn to defend his religion of Islam. There cannot be much doubt about on which side Nidal's loyalties had always been.

Nidal seems to have had only praise for those who caused death and mayhem, and in the process, committed suicide, all for the sake of their religion:

Its more appropriate to say [the suicide bomber] is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause. Scholars have paralleled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory.

If Nidal believed that his religion permitted him to murder those who deserved death for being the enemies of Islam, he had formidable company. In Iran, for example,

Article 226 of the Islamic Penal Law and Note 2 of Paragraph E of Section B of Article 295 of the same law, which allows for a person to unilaterally decide that another human being has forfeited the right to life and kill them in the name of performing one's religious duty to rid society of vice.

The Pakistan Penal Code prescribes death penalty for anyone found guilty of blaspheming Muhammad:

295-C. Use of derogatory remarks, etc. in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Much of what has been said in the Koran and the Hadiths is the law in Islamic countries. It is, therefore, disingenuous at best to claim that the religion of Islam has been hijacked by a few who misinterpreted its tenets. There is no misinterpretation of Muhmmad's teachings here. Only a misunderstanding. Rather, a delusion that what Muhammad said or wrote eons ago was the word of god. A delusion that Muhammad was beyond error, and that his teachings had universal and eternal validity. Nidal shared in this delusion.

What emerges from all this is not the picture of a demented mind, but a man with a mission. Nidal was not a peacenik or a 60's flower child. He was not a conscientious objector to all wars, but only those that he perceived to be against Muslims. He did not shout "Stop the war junkies" or "Down with American Imperialism", but only "Allahu Akbar [Allah is great]", as he fired his weapon. Nidal did not share John Lennon's dream of peace, love, and universal brotherhood, but he was a devout follower of his own faith, Islam. Until the day of the attack, he was proselytizing his religion without a shred of doubt in his mind about its superiority over all others.

In the aftermath of Fort Hood, several Islamic organizations were quick to disown and condemn Nidal' action. President Obama emphasized the diversity of the military, pointing out to the "Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers" who served our country honorably. In a liberal democracy such as ours, it would indeed be bigoted to think of every Muslim soldier as a wannabe Nidal, and therefore, suspect. By the same token, though, it's naive to trust every soldier to put their constitutional obligations above those of their religion. President Anwar Sadat's assassin, Lt. Khalid Islambouli, and the bodyguards of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, were testimonies to this. Major Nidal Malik Hasan is another.

As a citizen, Nidal was sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States of America. As a soldier in the army that he had voluntarily enlisted in, he was bound to obey the orders of his superiors, who had been enjoined to conduct the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as authorized by the Congress and the President. He had no recourse in this regard, except one — his religion.

As a Muslim, Nidal had been taught to put one law, that of his god, Allah, above all other laws. And, in his mind he was quite clear what that law said. The enemies of Muslims were the enemies of his god and his religion. They could be and should be slain to defend Islam. Killing a hundred of them, thirteen, even one, would be a "strategic victory", because it would have saved the lives of countless men, women, and and children in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan, who were law abiding citizens of the Dar-ul-Islam, Allah's land.

Make no mistake about this: I expect Nidal to be court-martialled, proven guilty of mass murder, and sentenced to death. Only under the U.S. law, though. Through the eyes of Allah and his law, however, I expect Nidal to see himself not as a murderer, but only as a martyr. Sounds familiar?

  1. Make no mistake - he is a nutcase. No matter if it was over religion or not. Still a nutcase that managed to get through the screening.

  2. So, where does the US army go from here? Will there be more sophisticated and useful profiling?


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