Fort Hood suspect: Portrait of a terrorist?
Ties surface between chief suspect in the Fort Hood rampage and a jihadist cleric in Yemen, giving impetus to arguments that the tragedy was a terrorist act.
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Awlaki has a website that promotes jihad against US interests. In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan [sic] Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."Skip to next paragraph
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Other reports indicate that US intelligence services had discovered Hasan attemping to reach out to Al Qaeda about two months ago. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan told ABC News that the CIA had, so far, refused to brief congressional intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge the agency had about Hasan's efforts.
The terrorism possibility did not surprise one Fort Hood soldier keeping guard on Monday. He didn't want his name used, but he said the timing of the attack was suspicious, coming as the US considers stepping up the size of its forces in Afghanistan, where Hasan had been ordered to deploy.
Hasan's attack was the third incident this year in which US military installations were targeted by radicals. In September, two North Carolina men were charged for allegedly conspiring to kill US personnel at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, home of the Marines' officer training school and the FBI Academy. In June, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, an American Muslim convert, allegedly fired at two soldiers taking a cigarette break outside a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., killing one and injuring the other. Authorities say the alleged shooter said the attack was retaliation for US military actions overseas.
Extremism expert Brian Levin at California State University says that, if terrorism is defined as an attack on symbolic targets to intimidate people for political or social objectives, Hasan's alleged actions probably don't qualify. Mr. Levin instead points to "the tangled interplay that personal disappointments, traumatic events, and ideology can have" on an individual.
Hoffman, however, notes that a person's psychological state does not necessarily dismiss terrorism as a motive in the attack.
"There is very much this gray area, but at the same time, the decision will be determined with psychological evaluations and then with how Major Husan is charged," he says. "I don't see a nervous breakdown as being mutually exclusive of terrorism.
"It becomes a medical and legal issue," he says, "not one that you can neatly demarcate in a definitional sense."
Fort Hood officials are grappling with the emerging implications of Hasan's motive. Lieutenant General Cone said Monday that he is ensuring the safety of about 100 Muslim soldiers on base. But he also noted that platoon commanders have been ordered to look for abnormal behavior among any of their troops.
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