A nation in fear of being seen as anti-Muslim
Plenty of people could have stopped Malik Hasan but they were too scared to do so, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
THERE'S a climate of fear in the US among the military, law-enforcers, policy-makers, the media, opinion-formers and many ordinary citizens. A major cause is the intimidating Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is dedicated to Muslim empowerment, receives substantial funding from Arab governments and has been accused by federal prosecutors of funnelling money to Hamas.
So effective and ruthless is CAIR that anyone in authority worries before doing anything that can be misrepresented as anti-Muslim and lead to lawsuits citing religious or racial discrimination.
There were plenty of people who might have prevented the psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan from murdering 12 soldiers and a policeman, but were too scared to do so. FBI operatives, for instance, knew he was exchanging chummy emails with the al Qaeda supporter Anwar al Awlaki, who had been an imam at a Virginia mosque which Hasan attended and who fled to the Yemen after 9/11 because the FBI were investigating his close links with two of the hijackers.
There were the fellow-worshippers at the Muslim Community Centre in Maryland who were perturbed by Hasan's hatred of his country, his rigid Islamic fundamentalism and his insistence that jihad was not about inner spiritual struggle but the killing of those who were a threat to Islam.
Then there were the senior army doctors who 18 months ago sat through a long PowerPoint presentation from Hasan called The Koranic world view as it relates to Muslims in the US Military, in which he called for Muslims to be released from the army as conscientious objectors rather than fight against their co-religionists; he explained that "fighting to establish an Islamic state to please Allah, even by force, is condoned by Islam". After worried discussions, nothing happened. Army psychiatrists concerned about Hasan's increasing preoccupation with religion and war sent him to a university lecture series on Islam and the Middle East .
And how has the army responded to the massacre?
"As horrific as this tragedy was," said the Chief of Staff General George Casey, "if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." Well, I don't think the relatives of the dead are likely to agree. Worship of diversity, fundamentalist political correctness and terror of being accused of Islamphobia has obscured the simple truth that the US army is no place for anyone who believes the Koran should be interpreted literally.
Commentators sought PC reasons for Hasan's homicidal spree. He had had a breakdown because of the dreadful stories his work required him to listen to: this was probably, said one, a "seemingly disproportionate response" to anti-Muslim comments from colleagues and tales of bad things that had happened to Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. That he was being sent to Afghanistan, was scared and just wanted to get out of the army was a common view.
Sadly, despite President Obama's claim that what happened at Fort Hood was "incomprehensible", it's easy to understand: the accumulated evidence is that Hasan was an Islamist fruitcake who swallowed the whole, unexpurgated and unmodernised Koran, right down to the paradise that awaits those who kill and are killed for Allah, which is why he was shouting Allahu Akbar ('God is great') as he shot his comrades.
There have been other dodgy Muslim fundamentalists in the United States army, including Sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar, who in 2003 murdered two soldiers and wounded 14, but -- with CAIR in mind -- the army continues to run from anything that can be described as religious profiling.
A good example of how CAIR has put the fear of Allah into American society is the case of the flying imams. Three years ago, at Minneapolis airport, some passengers and crew on US Airways Flight 300 were alarmed by six imams whose suspicious behaviour included praying loudly, changing seats and two of them demanding seatbelt extensions which they did not use; an Arabic-speaker on the flight heard two of them mention Osama bin Laden and condemn America for "killing Saddam". They were removed from the flight by airport police, detained, questioned and released.
CAIR backed the imams' claim that they had suffered from religious discrimination and underwrote their lawsuits against the airline, the law-enforcers and unnamed passengers who had reported them to the crew. Congress banned the suing of airline passengers who report on suspicious activity, but after a bizarre judicial ruling that no competent law enforcer could have thought their treatment reasonable, the airline and the law-enforcers settled out of court last month. The consequences for airline security are terrifying.
Rather surprisingly, a few days ago the American government had the guts to seize mosques and property owned by a group it claims are a front for the Iranian government. This, said CAIR ominously, "may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide."
The hope is that it may send the positive message that enough is enough.
Ruth Dudley Edwards