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By Micah Halpern

Tuesday November 10, 2009


The time has come to properly define the term terror.

The decision not to call the Fort Hood shooter a terrorist is self-delusional and self-deceptive. Nadil Malik Hassan is as much a terrorist as are those men and women who strap bombs on their bodies and enter crowded malls and restaurants. He is as much a terrorist as the people who drive explosive laden vehicles into marine barracks and through barricades. The only difference is the choice of weapon, the intent is the same.

Deliberately identifying murderous acts like the one perpetrated by Hassan as psychological breaks rather than calling them what they are - lone wolf terrorists, removes the threat from the sphere of security forces where it belongs and places it in the netherworld of law enforcement and forensics. Maintaining that self-delusion will, in the end, hurt the security of the United States and of United States citizens at home and abroad.

Here is the problem: The FBI defines a terrorist as a person who is part of a group or a participant in a conspiracy. That is a bias and the bias impedes investigations and precludes the need to understand individual terrorists who are influenced by the media or by their teachers and mentors.

The ostensible reason for not immediately classifying an act of terror as what it is - an act of terror, is to calm the masses. So, nine months after the El Al airlines terminal at LAX is shot up one July 4th by a lone Egyptian gunman with no links to any organization, the FBI finally classifies the shoot-out as an act of terror. Think about the uni-bomber, about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

To require that a terrorist be a member of a group or a participant in a conspiracy eliminates the lone wolf terrorist. And the lone wolf is the hardest terrorists to stop.

Nadil Malik Hassan did not crack under pressure, just ask one of his colleagues, ask any psychiatrist. His was a premeditated act. He bought his laser sited high tech weapon the first week he arrived at Fort Hood. He plotted and planned his attack. He scoped his target. He knew where to go to wound and to kill the largest amount of people. He prayed early that morning. He said goodbye to his friends, went to the terror site, and prayed again. Then he began his mission of terror.

The Fort Hood shooter did not see his mission as mass murder or as a sin. This was a man who dedicated his life to helping others. And this was a man who saw life through the eyes and mind of a terrorist. The terrorist in him won out. The terrorist in him perceived his action as the fulfillment of his religious duties. That is why prayed and that is why all terrorists pray. They are not praying for forgiveness for murdering innocents and then committing suicide.

They pray that their act will be seen and received as the greatest act of faith. They pray to be accepted as martyrs, to become shahid, martyrs who die while fighting to protect Islam. There can be no doubt that Major Nadil Malik Hassan expected to be killed during his attack. - he began his shooting rampage by shouting "Allah hu Akhbar," God is great. Not dying is the worst indignity of all.

The actions of Hassan come right out of the al Qaeda handbook. They are in the section that deals with what we call Lone Wolf terror attacks. Perhaps he owned a copy of the CD, perhaps he was told about it, perhaps these behaviors come intuitively to a person warped enough to consider and commit an act of terror. The al Qaeda CD goes down a check list that includes saying goodbye to friends and family especially those with whom you pray. It also instructs to make certain that you explain that you will be going away, traveling. And it instructs to be sure to pray before perpetrating the act.

Calling the shoot out perpetrated at Fort Hood an act of terror is not an indictment of Islam or Muslims. It is only an indictment of those who support the act. Calling it terror recognizes the act for what it is and the perpetrator of the act for the terrorist that he is. Those who are offended are those who would justify and explain away terror as an act of rage. Those who explain it away are apologizing for terror.

There is no apology for terror.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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