After writing my last post, I feel compelled to point out that while investigators may believe so far that Ft. Hood shooting suspect Nidal Malik Hasan acted alone, those who knew him say that he did exhibit what in retrospect are warning signs of religious-extremist behavior. Via Andrew Sullivan, this NPR report is a case in point:
They have grand rounds, right? They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he – Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.
And I said to the psychiatrist, but this cold be a very interesting informational session, right? Where he’s educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, excuse me. But I’m a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the Koran, and then I don’t believe what you say the Koran says. And then Hasan didn’t say, well, I’m just giving you one point of view. He basically just stared the guy down.
That’s a case where, as Gen. George Casey pointed out, the Muslim experience is particularly valuable, as the Muslim in the audience challenged Hasan’s portrayal of Koranic obligations. The fact that Hasan didn’t listen only deepens the point that his religion was a pretext for his psychosis.
The Washington Post reports that investigators, who still find more evidence than not that Hasan acted alone, are checking out Hasan’s attendance of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia. Dar al-Hijrah, which I came across in reporting a couple of years ago about possible Falls Church links to terrorism, had an imam with murky connections to the 9/11 attackers. But, as an anonymous ex-counterterrorism official cautions to the Post, tons of people attended Dar al-Hijrah with no connection to al-Qaeda. What seems more important, judging from what’s being reported about the Hasan investigation, is that the accused murderer apparently spent a lot of time on extremist Websites, which might have sharpened his focus.