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Was Major Hasan a Jihadi Islamist?

November 10, 2009

Was Major Hasan a Jihadi Islamist?

Tarek Fatah
The Calgary Herald

As dozens of talking heads descended on CNN and FOX TV to give their opinions on the Fort Hood massacre, no one seemed to notice the significance of the attire Maj. Nidal Hassan was caught wearing, the morning of his suicide mission. It was captured on a store surveillance video as Maj. Hasan bought a coffee.




CNN's Arab commentator, Octavia Nasr, incorrectly reported that the major was wearing "Muslim garb" commonly worn in Jordan , and that it reflected his devoutness as a Muslim. However, to Pakistanis and Afghans watching the clip around the world, his clothing reflected something far more significant and sinister.

Maj. Hassan was wearing the "shalwar-kameez," the traditional attire worn by Pushtoons on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Had Maj. Hasan been of Pakistani or Afghan ancestry, it would have meant very little, but for an Arab-American to wear this attire was significant. No Arab male would ever want to be seen wearing this garb. Having said that, there is one particular group of Arabs who did embrace the garb of the Pushtoons. They were the "Afghan Arabs'' who went to Afghanistan to wage jihad alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The question that needs to be asked is this: Where did Maj. Nidal Hasan, an American-born Arab, get a shalwar-kameez? Did Maj. Hasan visit the Pakistan-Afghan region or was he in touch with the Arab Afghans in the U.S. and Canada who wear the Pushtoon attire as a sign of solidarity with Osama bin Laden?

All of this talk about the killer's clothing would be inconsequential, had it not been for what else we now know about the good major.

Col. Terry Lee, a retired officer who worked with Maj. Hasan at the military base in Texas, alleges the mass murderer had angry confrontations with other officers over his views that Muslims should "rise up and attack Americans" in retaliation for the U. S war in Iraq.

Col. Lee was quoted in the London Telegraph saying, Maj. Hasan was "happy" when in June, a Muslim convert killed a U.S. soldier in an attack on a military recruitment centre in Arkansas . Other army officers claimed Maj. Hasan had said "maybe people should strap bombs on themselves and go to Times Square" in New York .

If there was any doubt about the motivations of Maj. Hasan, it should have been laid to rest after what Lt.-Gen. Robert Cone, the commander of the base told NBC News. Gen. Cone said, according to eyewitnesses, Maj. Hasan had shouted the Islamic battle cry "Allah-O-Akbar! (God is great)" before opening fire.

However, all this evidence was not sufficient for Islamic groups. In statements after the mass murder, they tried to manipulate the media narrative by suggesting it was they who were the victims of this tragedy. Instead of denouncing the rise of Islamism and jihadi doctrines among Muslim youth, Islamist organizations once more came out with banal denunciations of violence.

First out of the gates was CAIR, the Council for American Islamic Relations, recently labelled by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Texas terror trial. Without naming or denouncing Maj. Hasan by name, CAIR issued a statement saying, "We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law."

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn , Mich. , issued a similar statement saying it "condemns the atrocious attacks on Fort Hood military base in Texas . Not a word about Maj. Hassan. Moreover, as usual, there was a proviso that said, "Islam in no way accepts such violence and terror," and that, "Islam is a peaceful religion with great reverence for human life."

Missing in these statements was any denunciation of the doctrine of "armed jihad," which is without doubt the force that gives religious validation to such acts of terror and encourages so many young Muslims towards suicide attacks on non-Muslims.

Unless and until Islamic organizations, imams of Mosques and their allies who have penetrated every institution that matters in our public life, say explicitly that there is no room for jihad at any time in the modern nation state, and that the doctrine of holy war is defunct, outdated and needs to be shelved, the rest of North America will not take us Muslims seriously.

If the mosques do not stop spreading the virus of victimhood, there will be more Muslim men willing to waste their lives for a jihad that God never asked them to fight.

We have a window of opportunity. Let us acknowledge what Muslim youth living among us are being fed. If a Muslim man, educated and trained at the expense of the American taxpayer to be a doctor and rise to the rank of major still feels a victim, and launches a suicide attack against America , then those who cry Islamophobia every day also share some blame in this atrocity.

The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.

Comments ( 2 )
Comment By   Mohamed Elbaroudy     - 2009-11-12
This is the most intelligent commentary
Dear Dr. Fatah, This is the most intelligent commentary I have read about this tragedy. Islamic organizations in the United States , self-appointed Muslim intellectuals, and professors of Islamic studies who lie and mislead the American public, are counterproductive to their own cause. They have used every argument – from trying to convince people that he was not a Muslim to saying that his motivations have nothing to do with Islam – all of which are incorrect. There is a movement of political correctness among the left here in the United States that pretends to believe these defensive arguments. But the majority of Americans are not so easily duped. As you rightfully point out in your essay, Muslims need to confront the issue of extremism head on. If you know anything about my work, you will know that I have tried to bring understanding to these issues over more than a decade of publishing books and articles. But I share your frustration. Best regards, Geneive Abdo

Comment By   Mohamed Elbaroudy     - 2009-11-12
this dress
I would rather say that this dress looks like the dress adopted by the different Tablighi Jamaát people, even from non-South Asian origin, Arabs/non-Arabs, visiting the Tablighi Jama't centres in Lahore or New Dehli. You can find such dresses at the market place/Islamic stores in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London to Dewsbury where mostly non-south Asian Muslims buy such dresses, and I think those places would also be in the US. Thing is that this socalled 'war against terror' is also a war of imges: does some body know how many times before this incident was major Hasan weaing this shalwar qameez without notice of anybody? The rest of the story you can built easily around an image that looked 'suspicious' on 'that day'. Amer M. Amer Morgahi PhD candidate University of Utrecht Utrecht, the Netherlands