Home-Grown Terrorists

shahzad-muhammad-hasanWhile I can’t get inside the heads of the likes of Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square would-be bomber, or John Allen Muhammad, the DC sniper, I can at least intellectually grasp why they did what they did.  A combination of mental instability, a skewed belief system, and a lifetime as losers can make people do wicked things.   Yes, there’s an ideological element to the whole thing but, ultimately, I put them in the same box as Charlie Manson.

But, as Pat Lang points out, Malik Nadal Hassan, the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre, is altogether different.

I heard Brian Williams talk about this man tonight.  What he said was utter nonsense. He claimed that Hasan’s problem had something to do with a fear that he would not be promoted. What nonsense!  The Wiki article about Hasan contains an inconsistency about when he joined the US Army. In fact he joined as an enlisted man after he graduated from high school in Roanoke, Virginia.  He was  stationed at Ft. Erwin, California where he attended after hours  classes in an on post program by a local community college paid for by the government.  Following some years of service as an enlisted man in an MOS that I have not so far determined, he was sent to Virginia Tech as a degree completion student by the Army at public expense and then commissioned as an officer.  Then he applied to the armed forces medical school to which he was accepted and attended as an officer with all pay and allowances.  After being awarded the degree of MD at public expense, he received a fellowship in psychiatry.

As Chico Escuela would have said, Hasan’s country has been berry, berry good to him.  It’s amazing that he managed to harbor such white hot rage against the United States after years and years of receiving so many of its blessings.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Not that amazing if other research is to be believed. The second generation are susceptible to radicalization. Not immigrants like their parents, but not fully accepted as a member of the larger culture. This seems to occur regardless of the economic success of these people. We have been lucky compared with Europe where they do not have the history of accepting large numbers of immigrants. I have to wonder if our recent anti-immigrant sentiment in the country will affect our rates of self-radicalization.

    Steve

  2. It’s amazing that he managed to harbor such white hot rage against the United States after years and years of receiving so many of its blessings.

    But is often where rage is directed. Like the people on Medicare who hate the federal government. Rage finds convenient targets, not necessarily accurate ones.

    The whole “radicalization” paradigm is badly, badly flawed. In most case “radicalization” is essentially a random manifestation of underlying psychological problems.

    Real radicalization is what you see in some of the madrassas in South Asia and elsewhere, where people are systemtically indoctrinated in violent ideology. But the “self-radicalized” are often just run-of-the-mill disaffected individuals who happen to gravitate to “jihadism” because it is culturally available.

    I really don’t quite know what to do about it.

  3. steve says:
  4. PD Shaw says:

    Have any of these “home-grown terrorists” been completely isolated from communicating/visiting overseas jihadists?

    Michael Finton, a WASPY looking crook who converted to Islam in prison, seems like the kind of guy who didn’t need foreign assistance to screw up blowing up a building. But he sought it out and went to Saudia Arabia the year before his first planned terrorist attack.

    So I’m not seeing lone nuts acting in isolation, but people who have adopted a “we’re at war with the U.S.” world view and seek out and try to become involved with other fighters.

  5. Juneau: says:

    But the “self-radicalized” are often just run-of-the-mill disaffected individuals who happen to gravitate to “jihadism” because it is culturally available.

    How about if we make it culturally UN-available ? The first step to this is to start treating those that preach it as being clearly unacceptable in a society of free people. The media has absolutely no problem castigating the Christian religion for real or perceived “intolerance.” Why is the muslim religion given a pass? Please tell me it’s not because everyone is terrified of violent reprisals to criticism…that would put a lie to the whole “peaceful religion” meme, no?

  6. GS says:

    Or, you know, it could just be a major part of Islamic theology, going back to the Kharijites (a group started about 10 years after Mohammed’s death) who began attacking other Muslims for not being Muslim enough. Malik ibn Anas codified this in his works, compiled in Al-Muwatta. This was in the 8th century, hardly a product of imperialism, sick minded individuals, and whatever else you’d like to ascribe the situation to. Essentially, Malik (who founded one of the four main schools of Islamic jurisprudence) wrote on jihad as a personal obligation, not simply a group obligation. That is to say, that if Muslims anywhere are threatened, it is the obligation of every able-bodied individual to fight their enemies. This requirement is not fulfilled by any Muslim fighting back, which in the Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi’i schools of thought, fulfills the obligation of the umma (community of believers). Not only is Maliki jurisprudence founded upon hadith concerning the Medinan followers of Mohammed (thus giving us a fairly good idea of what he and his “apostles”, as it were, thought of the subject), but it is also the basis for modern jihadi movements. It also happens to be, like I said, one of the four main accepted schools of Islamic legal thought in Sunni Islam. If Samuel P. Huntington was right about anything, it is that Islam has bloody borders, and most of this has been due to Islam’s inability to coexist peacefully with other cultures.

    [39:4] Hearken, it is to Allah alone that sincere obedience is due. And those who take for protectors others beside Him say, ‘We serve them only that they may bring us near to Allah in station.’ Surely, Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Surely, Allah guides not him who is an ungrateful liar.

    You have to understand the depth of commitment that Islam requires. “Moderate” Islam is a Western innovation, as any Muslim scholar will tell you. And unfortunately, bid’a is a cardinal sin. There are many Muslims that don’t blow themselves up, for example, but how many do you see roundly condemning it? Some groups in America, Canada, and Europe, though many of those are apologists that obfuscate when forced to discuss jihad. The simple fact is that war against the polytheists and atheists is very much a part of Islam, as is the eventual conflict with “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews). Read up on your Qu’ran, Joyner.

  7. James Joyner says:

    The simple fact is that war against the polytheists and atheists is very much a part of Islam, as is the eventual conflict with “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews). Read up on your Qu’ran, Joyner.

    It may theoretically be the case, although many scholars dispute that interpretation of the text. Regardless, the reality of the thing is that the overwhelming number of Muslims don’t engage in such violence. Let alone American Muslims.

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  9. GS says:

    Certainly, though as you can see, I agree with you there.

    There are many Muslims that don’t blow themselves up, for example, but how many do you see roundly condemning it? Some groups in America, Canada, and Europe, though many of those are apologists that obfuscate when forced to discuss jihad.

    My point is that most Sunni and Shi’a “mainstreamers” are not very vocal in condemning these things, and many of the scholars that hold to less violent interpretations, from Averroes in the Medieval era to Ahmadiyya in modern times, are broadly considered heretical by orthodox theologians, which is in itself a bit of a misnomer considering the fact that orthodox is the standard for the vast majority of Muslims on Earth.