Understanding Fort Hood: Nothing 'Sudden' About 'Sudden Jihad Syndrome'

"Shock" and "horror" are the words being used to describe the massacre at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hasan. But while the events were "horrible," they should have come as a "shock" to no one -- at least if by “shock” they mean “surprised that Hasan would turn so violent."

Hasan was a devout Muslim who, prior to his transfer to the Texas base, attended a conservative mosque on a daily basis and was known by associates to occasionally rant about U.S. involvement in the War on Terror. Press accounts also claim that Hasan had at one time been the subject of an FBI investigation because of an internet posting bearing his name which justified suicide bombings.

No one should be shocked that Hasan would turn to murder and terror. The only thing shocking about Hasan’s actions is the amount of carnage. Who would have guessed that a man armed only with handguns could kill and injure so many?

Radical Islamists -- or those who believe that Islam offers a total legal and political system rather than just a moral guide for individual lives -- have been engaged in a holy war against the United States for decades. Luckily, most plots involving groups of would-be terrorists have been detected early and disrupted. Like all criminal conspiracies, the more people involved, the more likely detection becomes.

Since 9/11, only individuals have successfully carried out acts of violence in the name of political Islam against domestic targets. Daniel Pipes has used the term “sudden jihad syndrome” to describe, somewhat facetiously, individual Muslims who suddenly turn violent and, in the name of Islam, go on a killing spree.

I say "somewhat facetiously" because it is the mainstream press that usually creates a narrative in which no one could have seen this coming, and therefore these individual acts of jihad seem"sudden." But scratch the surface of these reports and one finds a pattern in which these acts of jihad are not so sudden. Sure, there may have been an event which set off the violence -- in Hasan’s case, he was set for deployment to Afghanistan -- but underlying this trigger is a deeper commitment to an ideology, to a total political program and a worldview which sees America as an aggressor and Muslims around the world as victims.

For instance, reports in the press claim that Hasan had been under investigation for posting about suicide bombings on the internet. A person with a name matching Hasan’s wrote the following in refutation to moderate Muslims who condemned suicide bombing:

Scholars have paralled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan. They died (via crashing their planes into ships) to kill the enemies for the homeland. You can call them crazy i you want but their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam.

And if this is what Hasan is writing under his own given name, one is left to wonder just how extreme any other thoughts belonging to him but written under a nickname -- the norm on the internet -- would be.

Ironically, one person being quoted repeatedly in media reports as “shocked” at Hasan’s behavior is Faisal Khan, the former imam at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Springs, Maryland, where, the imam says, Hasan attended mosque on a daily basis. I say ironic because while there is no indication that Khan condones violence as a means to an end, there is evidence that Khan is an Islamist who shares the same political goals as the most notorious of terror organizations.