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.

Khan is on the board of directors for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The ISNA is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood — the movement which spawned al-Qaeda — and was at one time supportive of Palestinian terrorist organizations. The ISNA claims that they no longer have any ties to these groups, but at best, the kind of Islam promoted by many of its members is that of Saudi-style Wahhabism or so-called “moderate” Salafism. In other words, the promotion of political Islam and of the implementation of Islamic law remains a goal for many in the ISNA.

On the ISNA’s action alert website posted right below two condemnations of Hasan, the group asks for provisions of the Patriot Act to be amended to make it more difficult to prosecute those sending “humanitarian aid” to terrorist groups. This is no surprise given that the ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case — a case in which ISNA leaders were key in raising “humanitarian aid” from Muslims and then diverting that aid to the terrorists of Hamas.


Given the incompatibility of the goals of a religious state and that of American liberalism, one has to wonder just what the Hasan’s former imam means when he states that Hasan never gave any indication that he was an extremist.

Of course, many so-called “moderate” Salafis and Wahhabis now toe the official line of their Saudi Arabian financiers and decry terrorism in their pursuit of political Islam. (But of course they define acts of intentional violence against civilians in Israel as “not terror.”) Hasan’s noted Muslim piety and association with what most Americans would consider a radical philosophy might not be sufficient to raise alarms — all other things being equal.

However, several former colleagues now report that Hasan would occasionally voice odd and, in hindsight, alarming opinions. For instance, on Friday morning, NPR reported that at an academic conference Hasan deviated from his topic and:

instead of giving an academic paper he gave a lecture on the Koran. … [I]t seemed to be his own beliefs. … He talked about if you are a non-believer the Koran says you should have your head cut off.

Another colleague recalled that Hasan regularly called the War on Terror a “war against Islam.”

And retired Col. Terry Lee told Fox News that Hasan had once said that “maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor.” Other statements made by Hasan made it clear to Lee that by “aggressors” Hasan meant the U.S. military and not the radical Islamists we were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.


While Major Malik Hasan may have displayed no overt disposition towards violence, he certainly did display a disposition towards a radical political philosophy at odds with core American values, a worldview shared by paranoid Muslims around the world, and support for terrorist tactics deemed outside the rules of civilized warfare. Add to all of this the reports that Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the rampage and it seems fairly clear that at least one underlying motivation was that of jihad.

Those desperately looking for some other explanation for Hasan’s behavior should be reminded that crazy and motivated-by-jihad ideology are not mutually exclusive categories.

Any number of adjectives can be used to accurately describe Thursday’s events (i.e., “horrifying,” “despicable,” “disgusting”), but “shocked” is not one of them. Given the number of terrorist plots uncovered just in the last few months and the number of attacks on soft targets by those with “sudden jihad syndrome” since 9/11, it was only a matter of time before someone was successful in wreaking the kind of casualties that all these jihadists sought. And, even more importantly, until we begin to recognize the underlying ideology of political Islam as one motivating factor for terrorism, then another attack like that which occurred on Fort Hood is virtually guaranteed.



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