While we’re carefully NOT rushing to any conclusions about the Fort Hood terrorist attack, it’s useful to reflect on the recent indictments of two North Americans for preparing to carry out attacks on a Danish newspaper. They are David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Both are from Chicago; Headley is an American citizen, while Rana, a native Pakistani, is Canadian. They are charged with plotting attacks on the facilities and the employees of the Copenhagen Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, which famously published the famous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, provoking world-wide riots.
Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani three years ago (perhaps to make it easier to “pass” as an ordinary American), was in cahoots with an al Qaeda commander and another terrorist group in Pakistan, and was arrested when he attempted to fly there in early October. Rana was arrested two weeks later. Both were charged with conspiring to provide material support for the attacks, and Headley was accused of planning to participate. Bill Roggio provides the details here.
This story is unusually interesting, because these guys were using the United States as a base from which to stage attacks elsewhere. It’s a man-bites-dog story, the reverse of the usual one, in which foreign terrorists come to America to attack us. Rana and Headley weren’t driven by hatred of America, nor by American foreign policy; they were avenging what they took to be slurs on The Prophet.
In other words, the motivation was religious. I don’t think anyone could say, as some are saying today about Fort Hood, that “it’s not about Islam.” This plot to murder and maim Danish journalists and workers had everything to do with Islam. One could well imagine the terrorists opening fire in Copenhagen and chanting “Allahu Akbar.”
I’m all for waiting until all the evidence is in from Texas before reaching any conclusions, but that should apply to everyone. Notably to the FBI, which seems to have developed a conditioned reflex that requires the Bureau to announce, within seconds of any act of murder, “there is no evidence of terrorism.” Which, in this case, is ridiculous, since it was precisely that.
All of which brings us back to one of the nastiest problems we face: the indoctrination of Americans in this country. If you look beneath the surface of these plots and murders, you will often find that the actual or would-be killers have attended radical mosques. They don’t come to jihad by sitting quietly at home and reading the Koran. They hear sermons, they are guided in the paths of terror, and they choose to become terrorists. And in this country, those radical sermons and that incitement is traditionally treated as “protected speech.” It’s protected by the First Amendment, and its guarantee of freedom of religion.
How are we supposed to deal with that? On the one hand, we can’t permit such indoctrination to go unchecked. On the other, it’s un-American to start censoring sermons and religious texts.
It’s a mess. But we’d better get at it.
UPDATE: As I suspected, Hasan’s mosque has a dark side. As Stephen Schwartz explains here, in a very important article.