As was expected by many Americans, following the El Paso (Texas) and Dayton (Ohio) spree killings many within the Democratic Party and the news media blamed President Donald Trump for the shootings. However, following the several mass killings occurring on school campuses, shopping malls and a U.S. military installation, no one blamed President Barack Obama. In fact, Obama was allowed to classify an incident as being a radical Muslim attack or not. And reporters didn’t use one-tenth the amount of vitriol they use on Trump today.
In 2013, during the Obama administration, two lawmakers in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill on the day after the 9-11 memorial that would force the Obama administration to finally classify the Fort Hood attack by an Army psychiatrist. That attack left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded in 2009, as an act of terrorism. according to law enforcement officials who spoke with Jim Kouri, at that time writing for the Examiner.
GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of Texas, formally introduced a new Senate bill, titled, “Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act of 2013,” on the Senate floor on on September 12, 2013, according to Det. Lt. Charles Petrosky, a former counterterrorism task force analyst. Despite a mountain of evidence of found that provided a clear narrative that the attack was the work of a radical Islamist who considered his act to be jihad, Obama refused to discuss the killings as being part of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The Cornyn-Cruz legislation followed the protests from the victims and their families who are connected to U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s rampage. “The Obama administration had labeled the 2009 shooting spree as a workplace violence incident, which deprived victims of the combat-related benefits they would normally receive. In fact, it was years before the wounded soldiers received any benefits or medals.
According to President Barack Obama’s critics, the classification of the Fort Hood as workplace violence instead of a terror attack was done to help Obama save face after telling everyone that al-Qaeda was practically defeated and on the run. “Just to serve his own ego, the Commander-in-Chief allowed heroes and their families to be denied their rightful compensation,” said former U.S. Marine and police detective Mike Snopes.
While at first many believed that the killing spree was the act of a madman, investigators began to discover links between Maj. Hasan and radical Islam as practiced by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
According to documents and emails released, Maj. Hasan believed that at times suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks were acceptable and, in emails sent months before the Fort Hood Massacre, he offered financial support to the radical Muslim cleric with whom he communicated.
One of the most bizarre decisions made by a Commander in Chief was when President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon and his administration to call the Maj. Hasan incident a case of “workplace,” which the news media did as well.
The special report by former FBI director, CIA director, and federal judge William Webster scolded the FBI for not being more proactive when agents were informed that, while serving as a U.S. military officer, Maj. Hasan was communicating with the infamous American jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki. Victims of the Fort Hood mass-killer were denied their rightful medals and other benefits given to soldiers killed or wounded in action. , a radical U.S. Muslim cleric who was under investigation by U.S. intelligence officials for his violent beliefs and pronouncements.
Anwar al-Awlaji eventually fled the United States and took up residence in Yemen, where he served as a spiritual leader for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Webster’s report states that upon receiving initial information about Hasan, FBI special agents should have immediately interviewed Hasan and notified the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) or other military personnel involved in counterterrorism.
Webster also recommended that FBI agents be given special training and guidelines for this type of case involving the radicalization of American Muslims within the U.S. Armed Forces.
In the Hasan case, the FBI did not effectively utilize intelligence analysts who could have provided a different perspective given the evidence that it had, the report also stated.
The FBI’s inquiry focused narrowly on whether Hasan was engaged in terrorist activity as opposed to whether he was radicalizing to violent Islamist extremism and whether this radicalization might pose counterintelligence or other threats (e.g., Hasan might spy for the Taliban if he had been deployed to Afghanistan).
This critical mistake may have been avoided if intelligence analysts were appropriately engaged in the inquiry. Since 9/11, the FBI has increased its intelligence focus by creating a Directorate of Intelligence and Field Intelligence Groups in the field offices and hiring thousands of new and better qualified analysts.
However, the FBI must ensure that these analysts are effectively utilized and that they achieve significant stature in the FBI. The FBI must also ensure that all of its agents and analysts are trained to understand violent Islamist extremism, the report recommended.
Webster’s report noted that the Department of Defense possessed compelling evidence that Hasan embraced views so extreme that it should have disciplined him or discharged him from the military, but DoD failed to take action against him, according to the report.
Evidence of Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism was on full display to his superiors and colleagues during his military medical training. An instructor and a colleague each referred to Hasan as a “ticking time bomb.” Not only was no action taken to discipline or discharge him, but also his Officer Evaluation Reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism.
To address this failure, the Department of Defense should confront the threat of radicalization to violent Islamist extremism among service members explicitly and directly and strengthen associated policies and training. More specifically, DoD should update its policies on extremism and religious accommodation to ensure that violent Islamist extremism is not tolerated.
DoD should also train service members on violent Islamist extremism and how it differs from Islamic religious belief and practices, the report recommended.