Update on the Fort Hood Massacre

FortHoodThe picture that is emerging of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the American-born Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at Fort Hood yesterday is of a deeply troubled and conflicted individual:

As authorities scrambled to figure out what happened at Fort Hood, a hazy and contradictory picture emerged of this son of Palestinian immigrants, a man who received his medical training from the military and spent his career in the Army, yet allegedly turned so violently against his uniformed colleagues.

Hasan was born in Arlington and grew up in the Roanoke Valley of southwestern Virginia, a bookish young man who, his father hoped, would go on to significant professional achievement. He spent nearly all of his Army medical career at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, caring for the victims of trauma, yet he spoke openly of his deep opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

[…]

A longtime Walter Reed colleague who referred patients to psychiatrists said co-workers avoided sending service members to Hasan because of his unusual manner and solitary work habits.

[…]

Hasan “did not make many friends” and “did not make friends fast,” his aunt said. He had no girlfriend and was not married. “He would tell us the military was his life,” she said.

The psychiatrist once said that “Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor” and that the United States shouldn’t be fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, according to an interview with Col. Terry Lee, a co-worker, on Fox News.

Press releases today indicate that Maj. Hasan was shot four times, was initially believed to be dead, but is now in stable condition.

Army Col. Steven Braverman said during a morning news briefing that the alleged shooter, military psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, hadn’t been a disciplinary issue since recently being transferred to Fort Hood from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. Col. Braverman declined to elaborate on the man at the center of the rampage, noting that a detailed probe was ongoing.

“We had no problems with job performance while he was working with us,” said Col. Braverman, one of Maj. Hasan’s superiors.

Army Col. John Rossi called Thursday’s shooting a “tragic incident” and said that investigators had spent the night carefully interviewing witnesses. Officials disclosed that one of the 13 killed in the shooting was a civilian, while the rest were members of the military.

As Col. Rossi noted, this was clearly a tragic incident all around. I certainly hope that the military takes steps to identify and head off potentially deadly problem situations such as this lonely, conflicted, probably terrified and angry man obviously (in hindsight) presented. I make no excuses for the perpetrator. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and, if convicted, pay the price whether being committed to a mental institution, a prison sentence for the rest of his life, or greater. As the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, potentially, elsewhere stretch on the strains on individuals and families will become greater rather than less and special care will need to be taken to prevent repeats of this tragedy.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. cas says:

    This individual joined the military to get free college, NOT to serve his country. He had never deployed to a combat zone, so any claim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is false. He was a Palestinian, born and raised a muslim. Almost every American can claim to have been “harassed” because of their ethnic or religious background; do we shoot, reload, and shoot again in a crowded room?
    He performed these hideous acts WHILE on a military post AND as an active-duty member of the US Armed Forces; he is therefore subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 118, if I’m not mistaken. Maximum punishment-death; mandatory minimum punishment-imprisonment for life with eligibility for parole.
    Or should this be considered an act of treason?

  2. Triumph says:

    American-born Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded dozens of others at Fort Hood yesterday is of a deeply troubled and conflicted individual:

    Uh…a more apt description is “liberal moselem terrorist.”

    It is not a coincidence that this terror strike happened on the day of the massive Michelle Bachman event on Capitol Hill.

    This terrorist saw millions of Americans demand the Congress stop its socialist policies and sought to strike at us before we take the country back from extremists.

    Well, both Hasan and Hussein are beginning to get the message.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    No mention of his religious motivation for the attack? I mean come on, ignoring it ignores reality.

  4. John Burgess says:

    This guy was obviously pushed past his breaking point. He had major conflicts between his religious duty and his military duty and tried to resolve them by seeking a discharge.

    He certainly didn’t hide his conflicts; the FBI was watching him after all. But his preferred solution wasn’t coming to him and the pressures were ratched up with his facing immanent deployment to a place where he was going to have to fight (even at a remove) his co-religionists. That meant going against an explicit religious duty to not do that.

    He snapped. His religion certainly had something to do with it, probably most to do with it, but he was acting as a shattered man, not a covert jihadi.

  5. Brett says:

    He snapped. His religion certainly had something to do with it, probably most to do with it, but he was acting as a shattered man, not a covert jihadi.

    We’ll have to see what turns up in the trial and interrogation. Frankly, I still don’t have any sympathy for him – he could have just outright refused to go and been kicked out, possibly with some jail time, but instead he chose to go on a shooting spree (all the while shouting “Allah Akbar!” if the reports are true).

    On the bright side, assuming he did snap after a long period of drinking the “Muslim Lands are under attack!” jihadi ideology, he was denied his martyrdom. Instead, he’ll be tried, interrogated, and then sent for a date with a needle.

  6. sam says:

    TMan, c’mon, this is not an occasion for your wit.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    He snapped. His religion certainly had something to do with it, probably most to do with it, but he was acting as a shattered man, not a covert jihadi.

    I agree with John’s assessment completely. I have no idea what his motivations were but I strongly doubt any single thing pushed him over the edge.

    As to my post, I stand behind it. In the quotes I selected are mentioned his religion, occupation, ethnic group, personality, marital status, and duty assignment all of which I suspect were stressors that contributed to his horrendous act. My take is that this is a guy who just had more on his plate than he could bear.

  8. PD Shaw says:

    Brett: “We’ll have to see what turns up in the trial and interrogation.”

    I think we should ultimately be cautions on what a criminal says about his/her own motivations. I say this with great suspicion that in the cold, dark cell, alone and alienated from society, most will seek the comfort of a higher power.

  9. Drew says:

    I think its all fine and well to cite in the case of the Ft. Hood shooter multiple stressors like religion, occupation issues, marital status etc.

    However, we now have a shooter in Orlando who obviously was similarly “stressed,” and not acting or thinking rationally.

    There is, however, a key difference, at least so far. The Orlando shooter is not documented to have been a long time and outspoken sympathizer for a perceived suppressed Hispanic (Muslim) population, nor to have shouted “God is Great!!” (Alluha Akbar!!) as he began shooting.

    It seems to me that denial of the Muslim aspect is a head-in-the-sand posture that is dangerous.

    PS – or to lay it off, as the media seems bent on doing, to the military as just crazy.

  10. JVB says:

    What did he think would happen when he enlisted for all the educational benefits and government perks? People like this are rampant in the military but this guy, in the end, couldn’t handle going to war against his own people…the Muslims. We gave him free education, and no doubt thousands in tax breaks…but he would still have rather killed us than fight against his own people. Red flags should have gone up LONG before he was even sworn in.

  11. Why do so many believe that the average American cannot be told that this murderer was an adherent of radical Islamism because they would automatically infer that all adherents of Islam are radical murderers?

    Projection?

    Class consciousness gone nuts?

    Unadulterated elitism?

    All of the above?

  12. John Burgess says:

    Brett: Allahu akbar isn’t Arabic for “Let’s go kill the kuffar,” you know.

    Literally, it means “(The) God is greater (than other gods)”. Contextually, it can mean anything from “God help me” to “OMG, what am I doing?!” It can, of course, also be used as a battle cry.

    In this instance, a meaning closer to existential despair seems most likely to me.

  13. Drew says:

    Charles –

    Did you see my comment at “Efficient Markets?”

    Also, I know its a tease, but: 2000 Vieux Chateau Certan. If your travels take you this way…….. There aren’t that many that would appreciate Pomerol…

  14. Drew, I did see it, but been too busy to comment on it yet (not that it has inhibited other sniping from time to time). In fact, I will be in Plainfield in the days right after Thanksgiving. Perhaps we can continue the discussion then…

    E-mail me at my name at earthlink.net.

  15. PD Shaw says:

    John Burgess: Shouting Allahu akbar! as a battle cry is a common direction in martyrdom operations. The instructions given to the 9/11 attackers are to shout it out loud:

    At the beginning of the confrontation, strike in the manner of champions who are not desirous of returning to this world, and shout: Allahu akbar!, for this shout causes fear to enter into the hearts of the unbelievers.

    I believe there are some hadiths that indicate that this slogan was shouted during the advance of Muslim armies and the fear it generated incapacitated the opposing armies.

  16. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I can just imagine what would be said on this site if the perp was a Christian. At some point the American people will do what is necessary to remove the threat. If one of my kids had been killed by the true believe, I would be visiting his relatives with revenge on my mind. That is something they do understand.

  17. John Burgess says:

    Sure, and Deus Vult! was the battle cry of the Crusaders, for all the good it did them.

    The phrase can be used that way, but that’s not always, or even necessarily usually how it’s used. It’s shouted when a baby is born, when someone narrowly avoids an accident, when somebody passes an exam, when someone is surprised, when good things happen or bad things happen, whenever one wants God on his side for whatever reason.

    Compare, if you will, the various uses to which the phrases, “Jesus Christ!” or “Holy Mary, Mother of God!” or, my grandmother’s favorite, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the Saints!” are put. Then include all the variations that try to avoid blasphemy. They’re all calls for support from the guy above (or his mom).

    My point is that Allahu akbar! is not only, or even usually a battle cry.

  18. Anderson says:

    What I don’t get is why this guy was flashing all the red lights for “potential violent crazy” and doesn’t seem to’ve been caught before he started shooting everyone in sight.

    … Re: his religion, obviously his version of Islam affected *how* he snapped, but the guy was a nut — had he been an atheist or a fundie or an Episcopalian, I don’t think it would’ve mattered much. Except he would’ve been drinking while shooting if he’d been Episcopalian.

  19. davod says:

    We certainly should not jump to any conclusions. After all, he may well be just the same as a number of other Muslims who were declared to have mental problems after killing or attempting to kill Americans.

    “Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time. NPR

    Federal law enforcement officials say the suspected Fort Hood, Texas, shooter had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

    One of the Web postings that authorities reviewed is a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. (more here)

    On his blog is a link to an article “Martyrdom in Islam vs Suicide Bombing”

    He was happy about the Muslim solider who shot and killed a soldier and wounded another at a Little Rock Military recruiting station. Hasan said Muslims should rise up against the aggressors. Maybe we should have more of these…..strapping bombs on and going into Times Square”.

  20. Anderson says:

    Davod makes my point for me. Were all of this guy’s commanding officers agents of the Muslim Brotherhood? Because it’s beginning to look like they practically were pulling the trigger yesterday at Ft. Hood. This guy was an obvious disaster waiting to happen, and if anyone did anything, we haven’t heard about it yet.

  21. Steve Plunk says:

    Perhaps his superiors were afraid to raise objections for fear of being politically incorrect and castigated for it. After all how can the “religion of peace” have anything to do with violence of this kind?

    I don’t want to run down Muslims in this country but we have to face reality. There are those on the margins that will break the wrong way in certain circumstances. Ignoring the religious fervor of those types is ignoring the threat. We still don’t profile these threats the way we should. Law enforcement profiles the young, the poor, and even the minorities yet we still refuse to profile based upon religion or national origin. It’s time for a serious discussion about this.

  22. anjin-san says:

    I don’t want to run down Muslims in this country but we have to face reality. There are those on the margins that will break the wrong way in certain circumstances

    This could just as easily be true of atheists, Jews, Christians & so on. All religions produce murderers and individuals who are unstable and dangerous to varying degrees. Folks who hold no real religious views at all have been known to snap. Playing up the religious aspect of this tragedy is fear-mongering.

  23. PD Shaw says:

    Anderson, listening to many of the people recount their stories on TV today (I was home sick), it struck me that there was a lot of tolerance in their treatment of someone they thought a religious nut. That will probably get lost in the other stories about the slurs he received, but in some ways it was remarkable.

  24. G.A.Phillips says:

    This could just as easily be true of atheists, Jews, Christians & so on. All religions produce murderers and individuals who are unstable and dangerous to varying degrees. Folks who hold no real religious views at all have been known to snap. Playing up the religious aspect of this tragedy is fear-mongering.

    Anjin, you got some good reason here, but fear mongering by bringing up his views, and what he was screaming when he was murdering people? Unarmed brothers in arms that happened to be the people that were doing or going to do the things he was pissed about, those are facts, and mostly facts that show he had changed sides.

  25. anjin-san says:

    but fear mongering by bringing up his views

    We are almost certainly dealing with an unstable, possibly totally deranged individual here. Do we hold all upper middle class white kids as somehow accountable for the Columbine massacre? Do their actions somehow show that Americans are inherently unstable or violent, or that the middle class lifestyle is a failure? I think not.

  26. anjin-san says:

    After all how can the “religion of peace” have anything to do with violence of this kind?

    If you can name a religion that does not hold the love of peace to be a central aspect of its belief system, and does not all too often fail to achieve that lofty idea, I am all ears.

    I did not notice our country, in which Christian beliefs are the dominant cultural force on many levels, turning the other cheek after 9/11.

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    We are almost certainly dealing with an unstable, possibly totally deranged individual here. Do we hold all upper middle class white kids as somehow accountable for the Columbine massacre? Do their actions somehow show that Americans are inherently unstable or violent, or that the middle class lifestyle is a failure? I think not.

    No my friend, accountable for what the preached, believed in, and what they did. you are right that each case is different, but it’s hardly fear mongering to believe or state the truth, take a look at the main effect that this religion has had since it’s conception if you will and the effect it desired.

    If you can name a religion that does not hold the love of peace to be a central aspect of its belief system, and does not all too often fail to achieve that lofty idea, I am all ears.

    When did Christianity ever promise that this would be achieved, my religion, if you will, tells the truth about such things.

    But we can try:)

    I did not notice our country, in which Christian beliefs are the dominant cultural force on many levels, turning the other cheek after 9/11.

    Yes well we are founded on the laws of God and in his name but it’s been a long time since his teachings on the ways of personal conduct were taught in most schools and in many many families.

    And I’m hard pressed to see how you keep getting that trying to stop from happening again or understanding why it happened again or explaining why it happened again, is a bad thing or some how wrong,or is some how un Christian, and has anything to do with what Jesus was teaching that day my friend,
    you know when someone blows up or guns down a mass of bystanders going about their daily business in the name of their god because it’s the way he tells his worshipers how to use terror to spread fear while conducting his holy war.

    And if you do not think the we did not turn the proverbial other cheek in this country as nation, I say to you that you should count your blessings that it was a fair a decent man like George Bush in charge with his Christian principles and not someone like me right after 9/11.

  28. Mike says:

    I don’t see how indicting a religion is the answer. I have met a number of muslim soldiers in my time in the army who have done great things for the army and our country; they in no way support this guy’s actions and would be the first to take him down if they were there and had the opportunity. There were a number of warning signs that this guy had serious issues and something should have been done. It was the same as Akbar before he was deployed in the initial invasion. All the warning signs were there and ignored. The issue needs to be how to better screen the true crazies and better read the warning signs.

    Arguing which religion is more peaceful gets you nowhere. Arguing what religion this country was founded on won’t get you much further. Don’t forget what is written on Jefferson’s tomb about the separation of church and state.

  29. Anderson says:

    it struck me that there was a lot of tolerance in their treatment of someone they thought a religious nut

    I suspect people in the Army are better able to understand than we civilians how easy it is for someone to snap. That’s not excusing it, but they can understand it.

  30. anjin-san says:

    When did Christianity ever promise that this would be achieved, my religion, if you will, tells the truth about such things.

    So are you saying that you follow the teachings of Jesus sort of when you feel like it, but don’t take them literally?

    you keep getting that trying to stop from happening again or understanding why it happened again or explaining why it happened again, is a bad thing or some how wrong

    I am not saying our response to 9/11 (at least in Afghanistan) was wrong, in fact I supported it, I am saying that it is pretty easy to argue that if we interpret some of the central teachings of Christianity literally, we should have acted differently. “Turn the other cheek” is not ambiguous.

    And if you do not think the we did not turn the proverbial other cheek in this country as nation, I say to you that you should count your blessings that it was a fair a decent man like George Bush in charge with his Christian principles and not someone like me right after 9/11.

    And what would your response have been? Wholesale slaughter of people who just happen to practice the same religion as the terrorists? How many women & children were killed in Mr. Bush’s “shock & awe” bombings? What did they ever do to us?

  31. G.A.Phillips says:

    So are you saying that you follow the teachings of Jesus sort of when you feel like it, but don’t take them literally?

    No I’m saying I wish we did, and how your using it is not what I think he meant.

    I am not saying our response to 9/11 (at least in Afghanistan) was wrong, in fact I supported it, I am saying that it is pretty easy to argue that if we interpret some of the central teachings of Christianity literally, we should have acted differently. “Turn the other cheek” is not ambiguous.

    True if thats what he meant, but how many people can do what you say? And to get a whole nation to is quit clearly stated by Him if I interpret that right, is impossible.

    And what would your response have been? Wholesale slaughter of people who just happen to practice the same religion as the terrorists? How many women & children were killed in Mr. Bush’s “shock & awe” bombings? What did they ever do to us?

    Two part Question My Friend,fist part: I’m not for wholesale slaughtering anyone, but I would fight to win and not to the dictates of politicians who undermine their country for votes or a U.N. made up of many of our enemy’s, but like you I would have went after the terrorists, but I also would have went after the nations who harbor them, and The places of worship that indoctrinated them.

    Second Part: If you want two ignore that fact that we fight the most humane wars in the history of world now and get many of our people killed that don’t have to be killed because of it, and that we were still at war with Iraq, and that their government ignored teens of U.N. resolutions, Ill never change your mind, And my friend War sucks, but it is a fact of life.