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Terrorism


Fort Hood Shooting is Praised Online as Act of Heroism

Updated: March 9, 2010

Posted: November 25, 2009

In the aftermath of the November 5 shootings at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, numerous posts expressing support for the suspected shooter have appeared on a range of English-language Web sites and forums. Evidence suggests that the accused shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan, was at least partially motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam, and a segment of the online community has celebrated his attack as retribution against the American military and as inspiration for future attacks.

 

Four days after the attack, which killed 13 people and injured 32 others, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen, posted an entry on his blog praising Hasan as a "hero" who "did the right thing." Al-Awlaki, who targets English-speaking Muslim audiences with radical online lectures that encourage attacks against the West and non-Muslims, had allegedly communicated with Hasan.

 

In the same blog entry, Al-Awlaki depicts Hasan as "a man of conscience" who was conflicted about serving in an army currently fighting against other Muslims. "The only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army," Al-Awlaki explained, "is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal." Awlaki further justified the shooting because "Muslims today have the right – rather the duty – to fight against American tyranny."

 

Al-Awlaki's blog is one of an increasing number of English-language Web sites promoting terrorist propaganda and ideology. In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, support and praise of Hasan has appeared on a number of these sites and forums. The following is a sampling of online reactions to the shooting that have revered Hasan as a hero.

  • In a video released on March 7, 2010, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, an American Muslim convert from California who joined Al Qaeda in the late 1990s, called on Muslims in the West to follow in Hasan's footsteps. In the video, titled "A Call to Arms," Gadahn hailed Hasan as a "hero," a "righteous man" and a "pioneer, a trailblazer and a role-model who has opened a door, lit a path and shown the way forward for every Muslim who finds himself among the unbelievers."  In the video, which was first circulated on Web sites commonly used by extremists, Gadahn also provided advice on choosing high-value targets in America and the West, such as military installments and mass transportation systems, as well as symbols of capitalism whose ruin could cripple the Western economy. Gadahn urged his followers to take action as soon as possible and explained that now is the "golden, once in a lifetime opportunity to reap the rewards of jihad and martyrdom…so unsheathe your sharpened sword and rush to take your rightful place among defiant champions of Islam."

  • The night of the attacks, Yusuf al-Khatab, leader of Revolution Muslim (RM), a New York-based anti-Semitic organization that justifies terrorist attacks and other forms of violence against non-Muslims, posted a "Get well soon" and "we love you" message to Hasan. In the post, al-Khatab justified the attack against the American soldiers, who he described as the "slain terrorists…in the eternal hellfire," and he "apologize[s]" for America's "support of the brutal 'Israeli' occupation entity." Another post on the RM Web site includes a video of "Farfour," a Mickey-Mouse look alike who bears a strong resemblance to a character with the same name featured on a Hamas children's show. In the RM video, Farfour suggests that Hasan weighed two issues before the attack: "Should I go overseas and become a kafr [non-Muslim], or should I die a Muslim?" According to Farfour, Hasan chose the latter. "Didn't work out that way," Farfour says, "but bottom line was, 13 knock outs, like 38 tkos and zero losses!" Farfour further commended Hasan for his alleged attack, explaining that "he went down there, took care of a little business, cleaned up the house a little."

  • Ansar Al-Mujahideen Network, an English-language Web site on which extremists distribute jihad-related materials, included comments about the shooting. A statement issued by the network on November 24, 2009, congratulated Hasan for his "brave and heroic deed" for standing up to the "modern Zionist-Christian Crusades" against the Muslim community. The statement urged other Muslims in the U.S. army to take Hasan "as a role model, instilling fear in the enemies of Allah and taking them by surprise wherever they may be." Additional posts in the forum similarly urged others to follow in Hasan's footsteps, hoping that Hasan would "be an inspiration to us all" and predicting that "these types of incidents will increase in frequency and intensity." One post celebrated both the Fort Hood and the September 11 attacks. "We out smarted the kuffar [non-Muslims] on 9/11 and we did it again today!" it read, "Insha'Allah [God willing] we will see more!" Another post asked Allah to "bring more of these incidents upon the kuffar [non-Muslims]," while yet another called for Allah to "favor us again with a scores [sic] of dead crusaders much more higher than today." Other posts praised the "heroism" of Hasan and celebrated the death of the 13 Americans he is suspected of killing. "13 pigs for fuel in hell fire," one post read, "May Allah destroy them all filthy crusaders apes."

  • On Islamic Awakening, another online Islamic forum dedicated to various topics relating to Islam, including Islamic texts, jurisprudence and jihad, commentators also celebrated the death of the American soldiers. "Muslims all over the world are celebrating," one post read, "Thirdteen [sic] less kuffar [non-Muslims]." Another post read, "Nidals 'treachery' + attack = 13 less soldiers going out to kill more members of our ummah [Muslim community]."

  • A comment on a Web site operated by a North Carolina-based blogger who distributes English translations of Al Qaeda materials, links to videos produced by terrorist groups and provides original commentary in support of jihad, echoed Al-Awlaki's stance that only a Muslim willing to follow Hasan's footsteps should serve in the U.S. Army. "THE ONLY REASON WHY WE SHOULD PARTAKE IN THEIR ARMY," the post reads, "IS TO CAUSE DESTRUCTION TO THEM JUST LIKE THE ACTIONS OF NIDAL." The post concluded with a prayer that Allah "ASSISTS US IN REMOVING THE PIERCING NAILS THATTHE [sic] KUFFARS [non-Muslims] HAVE FIXED IN THE EARS OF THE MUSLIMS THAT HAS MADE THEM NOT TO UNDERSTAND THIS GLOBAL PROCESS OF REFORMATION OF ISLAM."  

Similar expressions in support of Hasan and the Fort Hood shootings have also appeared on Facebook, the popular social networking site. A Facebook group of more than 15 people, entitled, "Major Nidal Malik – True American Hero!" was created in dedication to the "heroism of Brother Nidal Malik Hasan." The description of another Facebook group, "Nidal Malik Hasan Universal Fan Club!" reads, "Glory to Nidal Malik Hasan he's a true hero! Let's hope he survives his wound and get [sic] well =)." Both this and the "Major Nidal Malik – True American Hero!" groups have been deleted. Another Facebook group, entitled, "Praying for the recovery of Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan," was created by those who "pray for the recovery of Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, MD. May Allah see fit to return this loyal son of Islam back to perfect health." The group has since been taken over by more than 500 people who sympathize with Hasan's victims, and its title has changed to "Praying for the Victims of Islamic Terrorist Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan."

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Fort Hood and the Growing Muslim Extremist Threat

Profile: Anwar al-Awlaki

American Muslim Extremists & the Military



 
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