We ignore Nidal Hasan’s trial — and continue to underrate the Islamist threat — at our peril.
The idea that America has been so successful in its war on terror that we have not been attacked since 9/11 is a lie. If the past few weeks should have taught us anything, it is that. Of course, we cannot blame people for buying into this lie — how much has been reported on the trial and conviction of Army major and psychiatrist Nidal Hasan? Very little, indeed. America’s attention has been elsewhere.
It’s not that the media doesn’t know how to cover what it deems an important trial. Recently, our national media and culture could not get enough of the George Zimmerman or Jodi Arias trials. The Zimmerman case received 96 stories in the New York Times and Jodi Arias received blanket coverage (along with George Zimmerman) on cable, radio, and television news. According to the research service LexisNexis, Jodi Arias was the subject of almost 1,800 stories on cable and network television this year while George Zimmerman rated well over 3,000. The Hasan case? Just about 400 since January. As for Hasan and the New York Times? A grand total of 23 stories up until his conviction.
But while Hasan’s trial may be deemed of less consequence by the media, it should not be. Indeed, the Hasan case, including his entire biography and modus operandi, should be taking up at least the same amount of media attention as the Zimmerman and Arias trials. The Hasan case should also have Americans marching in the streets. Beyond the horrific events of November 5, 2009, Hasan’s case contains within it a microcosm of the entire domestic and global threat we face from jihadism and Islamism.
First, the idea that America hasn’t been attacked since 9/11 is, as we stated, a lie. There have been over 45 planned terrorist attacks against the United States that have been thwarted. Second, there have been a handful of successful ones as well, with killings from Arkansas to Boston to Los Angeles and near misses from Times Square to Detroit and Toronto. But the Hasan story is the most egregious, and the least appreciated. If 9/11 did not wake Americans up to the lethal dangers of radical Islam once and for all, Nidal Hasan should have. If Americans cannot be kept safe from a Muslim terrorist inside an Army fort in Texas, they cannot be kept safe anywhere.
In the early morning of November 5, 2009, Hasan left his apartment in Killeen, Texas, to attend morning prayers at his mosque. Several hours later, he walked into the Soldier Readiness Center at Ft. Hood, he sat down, he bowed his head, and then he stood up and shot to death 13 of his fellow Americans and an unborn child (he also wounded 30 others). As he emptied 100 rounds into his fellow Americans, he shouted “Allahu akbar,” Allah is great. There was so much blood on the floor, according to one first responder, that those trying to get to the victims to help them had a hard time doing so without slipping and falling.
But a lot took place before that morning that should have kept Hasan from even being in Texas, or in the military at all. During his time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, before he was transferred to Ft. Hood, Major Hasan was exceedingly vocal in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He openly opposed those wars based on his religious views. But nothing was done.
Two years before the Ft. Hood attack, Major Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation at Walter Reed titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam.” But nothing was done. Some of his fellow officers complained about him to their superiors. But nothing was done.
The PowerPoint contained statements from Hasan such as, “It’s getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims.” It contained violent excerpts from the Koran. And Hasan’s PowerPoint concluded with a quote from Osama bin Laden: “We love death more than you love life.”
The following year, a group of fellow Army physicians met to ask themselves if they thought Hasan might be “psychotic.” “Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your foxhole,” said one. But nothing was done . . . except to transfer Hasan to Ft. Hood.
And just as Hasan didn’t keep quiet at Walter Reed, neither did he hold his tongue at Ft. Hood. Hasan’s record at Ft. Hood includes telling his medical supervisor there that “she was an infidel who would be ‘ripped to shreds’ and ‘burn in hell’ because she was not Muslim.” But nothing was done. Nidal Hasan made personal business cards; they mentioned no affiliation with the United States military but underneath his name on the cards, listed his profession as “SOA,” or “Soldier of Allah.” But nothing was done. And, finally, Hasan was in frequent e-mail contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Muslim cleric who, even then, had been implicated in at least two other terrorist plots in America and had since fled to Yemen. But nothing was done. Indeed, taking all of this into account, it is difficult to imagine just what more Nidal Hasan could have done to broadcast his lethal views and intentions. According to an L.A. Times report, documents indicate that “months before the Ft. Hood shooting . . . [Hasan’s] military supervisors praised his unique interest in Islam’s impact on soldiers . . . repeatedly recommending him for promotion.”