There are many people that are speculating about the reasons behind the shooting and killing of almost 55 people at Ft. Hood, Texas late last week. The alleged shooter, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, is an American Muslim convert who supposedly hated the idea of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. He also allegedly yelled “Allah-u Akbar,” or “God is Great” in Arabic, before he began shooting Soldiers and civilians gathered at Ft. Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center preparing to deploy overseas later this year.
But what happened that changed the beliefs of a U.S. Army officer, a doctor no-less, that made him decide to attack his fellow military and civilian colleagues, taking the lives of 13? Some accounts, mostly from friends or family members, indicate Hasan joined the military because he wanted to help America after the attacks by violent extremist Islamists on September 11, 2001. However, that does not reflect his alleged actions on November 5, 2009; the worst terrorist attack against Americans since 9/11. If Hasan did in fact hold moderate beliefs when he joined the Army in 2001, he certainly lost them by last week.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph ran an article about Hasan’s ties to the al-Qa`ida mouthpiece Anwar al-Aulaqi who is mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report as a "significant San Diego contact" for two of the 9/11 hijackers. Aulaqi eventually move to the DC-area and served as an imam in the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia. Some of you may remember that this is also the same mosque the 9/11 hijackers from San Diego began attending after their move to Alexandria, Virginia. Likewise, according to the Daily Telegraph, Hasan supposedly attended this mosque around the same time as two of the hijackers and while Aulaqi was the imam, preaching his venomous sermons.
Aulaqi, who moved to Yemen to escape increasing attention from the FBI, continues to run his extremist website where he posts radical sermons inciting violence against the United States and our allies. Other homegrown terrorists, such as the Ft. Dix Five, have been shown to download and share Aulaqi's anti-American sermons as inspiration to further self-radicalize.
Lone gunmen are nothing new to American society. We have had Columbine, the Amish school shooting, Virginia Tech, the DC sniper, and the shooting in Orlando, Florida last week. While no less horrendous, they were all cases of selfish people who just lost their minds, for lack of a better description, and not cases of individuals, independent in action, but unified in belief and bent on subverting America to their bastardized version of Islam.
It may seem that Hasan snapped because he was due to deploy to Afghanistan in the near future; however, it may also have been the culmination of self-radicalization to the point of violent extremism. If it is proven that he in fact had ties, physical or virtual, to Aulaqi and if he continued to self-radicalize using Aulaqi's violent extremist views, this will be the worst terrorist attack on Americans since 9/11 and really the first case of a successful homegrown Islamist terrorist attack in American history.