MAJOR UPDATE: news outlets are reporting that the shooter is not dead as previously reported, but alive and in custody. This means we may indeed get some answers… and justice.
MAJOR UPDATE 2 – Hasan is reportedly conscious.
Who is Major Malik Nadal Hasan?
A few hours ago, Major Hasan allegedly opened fire at Fort Hood, killing 11 people and injuring 31. The local law enforcement responded immediately and killed Hasan, as well as taking two other possible accomplices into custody (UPDATE: the two other suspects have now been released, so it looks like this was indeed the act of Hasan alone).
There simply is no information yet about what Hasan’s motives were, or whether Hasan is indeed muslim or not. Of course, that last bit of information is the one that everyone will want to know about the most, even though in a fundamental sense it matters the least.
Major Hasan was also a trained psychiatrist and was previously working at Walter Reed Medical Hospital. The fact he held rank and had a stable military career prior to the event, suggests to me that a very recent psychological problem or trauma (PTSD?) may be an underlying cause. We just don’t know.
However, something disquieting about the date… It should be noted (as others like Ali Eteraz already have) that today is Guy Fawkes Day – the anniversary of a plot by a Catholic dissident to blow up the English Parliament then dominated by Protestants). If the shootings were motivated by some sense of grievance against US foreign/military policy, then the date is surely significant.
(UPDATE – just to be clear, I am not “blaming Catholics” for the shooting. I was asking if Hasan’s twisted rationale included some kind of anarchist element. I wondered if he was invoking religious grievances and striking out at who he perceived to be the oppressors of his faith. Guy Fawkes is often mythologized as a hero who took a stand against tyranny. The analogy to Hasan’s potential motivations, especially if he fancied himself as acting on behalf of Islam, should be clear).
It should also be noted that this is the second shooting at Fort Hood in about a year. The significance of this fact, also, is uncertain.
Right now, there’s nothing to do but wait for what information there is to be revealed. But it’s frustrating, as an american, and as a muslim. All we can do is pray for the victims and their families.
There’s no better source for following the Fort Hood story than Talk Islam, where the updates are rolling in. You can subscribe directly to the RSS feed for coverage of the incident at Talk Islam, as well.
UPDATE: The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has already issued a press release condemning the attack. What they should have also mentioned was that muslim Americans have served in the US Armed Forces with distinction and honor – such as Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007.
U.S. Muslims Condemn Attack at Fort Hood
CAIR calls shootings cowardly and inexcusable
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/5/09) – A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group tonight condemned an attack on Fort Hood military base in Texas that left at least 12 people dead.
In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
“We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured.”
Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an online anti-terror petition drive called “Not in the Name of Islam,” initiated a television public service announcement (PSA) campaign against religious extremism and coordinated a “fatwa,” or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com