On November 5, 2009, at Ford Hood, Texas, U.S. soldiers were getting their final medical checkups before deploying to Afghanistan. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist began gunning down the soldiers. His victims, all unarmed, included Francheska Velez, a 21-year-old private from Chicago who pleaded for the life of her unborn child. The Muslim major killed two other women that day along with 10 men, more than twice as many victims as the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
Hasan also wounded 33 others, including Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford, who played dead then fled the building. Major Hasan chased down Lunsford, an African-American, and shot him seven times, including one bullet in the back. Firing a high-capacity handgun fitted with laser sights, Major Hasan shot Sergeant Shawn Manning in the chest and pumped four rounds into Sgt. Patrick Zeigler. Hasan would have killed and wounded more if civilian police officer Kim Munley had not wounded the assailant, who yelled “Allahu akbar,” as he killed. That familiar cry was hardly the only indicator of Hasan’s motives.
Hasan had been emailing terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about the prospect of killing infidel American soldiers, and the “Soldier of Allah,” as he called himself, did everything but take out an ad on the Super Bowl to announce his jihadist intentions. The U.S. security establishment was well aware of the communications but did nothing to stop Hasan, who claimed to be acting on behalf of the Taliban. Anwar al-Awlaki was orgasmic with joy that Hasan had done his duty.
President Barack Obama’s first response to Hasan’s mass murder was brief, low key, and failed to ascribe any responsibility to Islamic terrorism. “We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” the president said. Such breathtaking denial soon became official policy. The Obama administration’s Department of Defense issued Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, which contains not a single reference to jihad or jihadists. Its only mention of “Islamic” is an endnote reference to “Countering Violent Islamic Extremism,” a 2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
The United States Army and federal government did not call Hasan’s attack terrorism or even gun violence. Major Hasan killed African Americans, hispanics and non-Muslims, but the government did not call the attack a hate crime. Rather, the government proclaimed the murder spree a case of “workplace violence,” an absurdity for the ages with consequences for the Hasan’s victims. The refused to classify Hasan’s attack as terrorism rendered victims ineligible for medals and other benefits related to combat.
Hasan remained in the Army, retained his rank of major, and the Army continued to pay his full salary. The Army also took care of the paralyzing injuries Hasan sustained, but Alonzo Lunsford told reporters the army refused to cover an operation to remove a bullet still in his body, and docked his pay when he was undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. “We don’t get passes the way Major Hasan got passes,” Lunsford told the New York Times. “Each one of us has gotten a raw deal somewhere down the line.” In April, the White House declined Alonzo Lunsford’s request to meet with the president and explain how the government mistreated victims of the 2009 attack.
In August of 2013, a panel of 13 military officers handed down a death sentence for Major Hasan, but the sentence may never be carried out. The U.S. military has not executed an active-duty soldier since 1961, a span of more than half a century. The appeal process is lengthy and the final call goes to the President of the United States. The current incumbent is Barack Obama and Major Hasan showcases the opportunities for “Soldiers of Allah” under the Obama administration.
They can join the U.S. Army and still get promoted. They can correspond freely with the most bloodthirsty foreign terrorists, and those conducting the surveillance will do nothing to stop them from killing 13 American soldiers on a U.S. Army base. The Army, government, and president will provide cover by calling this workplace violence instead of terrorism. So the Soldier of Allah escapes with his own life and in prison continues to inspire other jihadists.
The month before Major Hasan’s trial, Rudy Giuliani said, “you can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge.” The next president, who will also be Commander in Chief, will have an opportunity to acknowledge the enemy, recognize Major Hasan’s massacre as terrorism, and execute the terrorist on day one. As one of his victims said, he doesn’t deserve to live.
Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Exceptional Depravity, a new crime book, and Hollywood Party: Stalinist Adventures in the American Movie Industry. He has written for City Journal California, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and many other publications.