The Victims of Fort Hood

Other accounts scattered through the media deepen the portrait of Hasan as a lonely, miserable man who was not performing well at his job and who could not bear the thought of deploying to Iraq.

His family is attempting to establish another narrative about Hasan. A cousin, Nader Hasan, builds a picture of the shooter as a bullied Muslim who was a good person who did not even like weapons, was conflicted about his military service, and  was against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The portrayal he paints is that of a bullied man pushed too far who simply snapped under pressure -- and perhaps some of that is true.

But postings that are thought to be Major Hasan's don't match the portrait of a soldier who was conflicted. They present us with a picture of someone who housed beliefs that established him as a lurking enemy. U.S. Representative Michael McCaul attended a military briefing this morning and found out that Hasan had taken "a lot of extra classes in weapons training, which seems a little odd for a psychiatrist." In retrospect -- and combined with information that Hasan had started yesterday by giving away some of his personal effects, such as furniture -- it appears that his assault at Fort Hood wasn't the result of a man under extreme pressure suddenly snapping. Instead, it looks like a calculating murderer took the time to prepare for his attack well in advance.

We don't yet know what specific factor caused Hasan to attack this group of soldiers among the tens of thousands on base. Unless he talks to investigators, we may never know the exact reason he entered Fort Hood with a pair of pistols and conducted the deadliest ever attack on a domestic U.S. military base. But we speculate. It's what people do, for better or worse.

In one sense, other American Muslim soldiers are also victims of Hasan's murderous attack, as suspicions will be raised about their allegiances as well. Hasan's attack was the third significant "blue on blue" attack by an American soldier on his fellow soldiers in the past 14 years and the second by a Muslim. Sgt. William Kreutzer Jr. fired on a formation of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, killing one and wounding 17 (formerly the most extensive assault on U.S. forces by a peer) in a 1995 stateside assault. He was recently sentenced to life in prison. Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a convert to Islam, was sentenced to death in 2005 for a 2003 attack that left two soldiers dead and 14 wounded in Kuwait prior to the invasion of Iraq. These attacks are remembered, even as Muslim servicemen like Spc. Kareem Khan and Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha are interred in Arlington National Cemetery almost unnoticed.

Marine veteran Sgt. Robert Salaam writes at the American Muslim that Hasan is:

A traitor to both God and our country ... as an American Muslim who like thousands of other American Muslims who serve and have served in America’s armed forces and kept their oaths to God, Country, and in my case Corps, [I] condemn these actions and pray for the victims of this madman.

The American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council has also issued a statement:

[We condemn] in the strongest terms the attack on soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas resulting in the murder of at least a dozen soldiers and the wounding of many others. We express our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We join the Community of Fort Hood, Texas in their mourning.

Major Hasan's attack ended when he was hit by four bullets. The traumatic anguish he caused in that attack will echo for years to come.