As Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, officially begins his inquiry this week into the disturbing failures that enabled Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to stay in uniform, it must go beyond the normal excuses related to bureaucratic bungling.
With the discussion last week devolving into interagency finger-pointing, lost was the simple fact that the failures were systemic. Although the military has done valiant work fighting in Muslim lands, it doesn’t seem to grasp how to assess when Muslim personnel could pose an internal threat.
It’s easy to rely on hindsight to second-guess after the fact, but based on what we already know, Hasan had openly embraced Islamic jihadist ideology. Apparently no one who learned of his online screeds or his verbal rants to colleagues, however, understood this.
What officials knew about Hasan was neither trivial nor inconsequential.
In spring, Hasan wrote an Internet posting that compared suicide bombers to soldiers who sacrifice their lives by falling on a grenade. His reasoning was that suicide bombers “help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers.”
No more explicit justification could be made for the terrorists who have been targeting U.S. service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet reports indicate there was no formal investigation into a soldier who praised suicide bombers who “save Muslims” by killing the very people among whom he lived and worked.
More ominous is that only mild concern was sparked by Hasan’s repeated contacts with a cleric openly affiliated with al Qaeda. Although the content of the 10 to 20 e-mails has been described officially as related to “religious guidance” and Hasan’s “research,” no rationale could possibly exist for any soldier independently contacting a high-level enemy figure.
Around the time from late 2008 into early this year that the two were in contact, imam Anwar Al-Awlaki issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In January, Mr. Al-Awlaki published a manifesto aptly titled “44 Ways to Support Jihad,” a how-to manual on all the paths available—from violence to finance—for his followers.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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