The Fort Hood killings, perpetrated by Major Malik Nadal Hasan, if indeed they have any link to ideology, will be the single largest terror attack in America since 9/11.
This quantitative finding will take into consideration dramatic change in the data released by authorities.
The shooting inside a U.S. military installation that led to the killing of many personnel compels us to ponder. Over the past few years and months authorities have stopped attempts on similar attacks. The Fort Dix jihadi plot, dismantled in 2006, aimed at performing a killing of military personnel inside the base.
Other cells, dismantled in Georgia, New York, and North Carolina also had plans for attacking military installations on U.S. soil. But more importantly a number of lone wolves have also expressed intentions to attack military personnel.
This year, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, shot two U.S. military personnel at the Army-Navy Career Center in a shopping center in west Little Rock, killing one.
In cyberspace jihadi threats against the U.S. military in the homeland and against American cities has been ongoing. Information collected by authorities, including from suspects and indicted individuals, has shown a pattern by the jihadists (militants or propagandists) indicating their intentions to strike at military and security installations.
The incident at Fort Hood, whatever the personal motive, falls in the category of demonization of the U.S. and its military. Meaning, whatever were the causes of the individual aggression, the latter was legitimized by the perception that America is the "enemy."
Investigation will show quickly if the motives are strictly personal or ideological, or a hybrid set of motives.
All depends on the early investigation made available to the public. According to retired Col. Terry Lee, who was interviewed by Fox News and who knew Hasan, Hasan made several statements indicating his ideological attitude including: “The killing of the soldier in Arkansas and any attack against U.S. military inside the homeland is legitimate because of American military involvement in the Middle East.”
Lee detailed remarks made by the killer “against U.S. policy and in support of potential suicide attacks inside the country.” Obviously, these statements by former Lee need to be analyzed and verified.
While waiting for these investigations to be released, analytical projection based on the historical context, on the specific circumstances of engagement between the jihadist propaganda and the United States for the past eight years and the type of attack involving an individual in the military leaves us, at this point, with the projection that the ideological factor is part of the motives leading to the shooting.
Psychological factors are to be looked at seriously but the ideological component, legitimacy of attacking the U.S. military, needs also to be investigated: For the latter element was the alibi fueling the psychological factor, if indeed that was the case.
If ideological, what the world has seen cannot be described just as a “horrific outburst of violence” performed on American military; rather is part of an ideological war, generated by radicalization, and inciting individuals to perform such acts.
Lone wolf or not, organized or not, fully self aware perpetrator or not, influenced by overseas or not, this massacre of servicemen has moved America from stage to another.
Dr Walid Phares is the director of the Future Terrorism at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America.”
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