Because in Islam, the Fort Hood jihadi is a hero, a warrior.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood Shooter And Lone-Wolf Jihadi, Celebrated And Lionized By Terror Groups And Leaders – Al-Qaeda, AQAP, Taliban, IMU, And More – As Well As Top Online Jihadi Forums, Media OutletsBy: Steven Stalinsky*, MEMRI
The trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, sole suspect in the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood shooting, is set to begin August 20, 2012; he is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
The following report, which comprises documentation by the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor project, presents jihadi media interviews with Anwar Al-Awlaki, radical Yemeni-American sheikh and leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who was killed in a drone strike on September 30, 2011, in which he discusses his relationship with Hasan and the Fort Hood shooting; reactions to the shooting from jihadi media outlets; recent remarks by online Al-Qaeda activists about the shooting as a model for future attacks; and reactions of other Al-Qaeda leaders: American Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, AQAP leaders, the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and other jihadi groups.
The shooting by Hasan threw Al-Qaeda leaders, its main media outlets, and its followers online into paroxysms of ecstasy; as a U.S. Army serviceman carrying out a lone-wolf attack against other U.S. servicemen, he has been lionized by prominent jihadis of all stripes. Al-Awlaki called him a "hero" and a "man of conscience"; American Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn characterized him as a "pioneer, a trailblazer, and a role model"; Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its leaders praised him as a "hero" and an "heroic fighter," and the Taliban called him "courageous." The attack itself was termed "heroic" by Al-Qaeda's American spokesman Adam Gadahn, Al-Awlaki, and others.
Al-Qaeda and jihadi groups worldwide are continuing to point to Hasan as a role model and the Fort Hood attack as a paradigm. Articles about Hasan have been turned into music videos, posted on YouTube and jihadi forums; his face is used for avatars for jihadis' Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media accounts, and in media by the Al-Qaeda media company Al-Sahab and articles about him have been published in Inspire. In short, Maj. Nidal Hasan has become a jihadi legend.
Anwar Al-Awlaki On Maj. Nidal Hasan And The Fort Hood Attack
Al-Awlaki Article States Hasan Is His Student, Expresses Support For His Deeds – And Is Transformed By Online Jihadi Follower Into Jihadi Music Video
Four days after the Fort Hood attack, Al-Awlaki stated in an article he posted on his now-defunct website Anwar-alawlaki.com that Hasan was a "hero" and "a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn't exist. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a U.S. soldier."
Justifying Hasan's attack, Al-Awlaki continued: "The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges. Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact, the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal. The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community..." Al-Awlaki concluded his posting by offering prayers for Hasan, "May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance, and steadfastness, and we ask Allah to accept from him his great heroic act. Ameen."
Anwar Al-Awlaki's article praising Nidal Hasan has been set to music and distributed via various jihadi websites and YouTube. One such video, titled "Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki Exposes the Truth," posted on YouTube on February 4, 2010, was produced by YouTube user and London-based Islamist "dcfnfb," shows Al-Awlaki's words scrolling across the screen: "Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people... The fact that fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today the right – rather the duty – to fight against American tyranny. Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims... May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance, and steadfastness, and we ask Allah to accept from his great heroic act. Amen."
Al-Awlaki Tells Al-Jazeera About His Personal Relationship With Hasan
The month after the attack, in Sana'a, Yemen, Al-Awlaki told jihadi forum member Abdelela Haidar Shayie, in an interview posted December 23, 2009 on Al-Jazeera, that he had first been contacted by Hasan a year earlier. Almost as soon as the interview was posted, it was picked up by numerous jihadi forums, where members added their praise for both Al-Awlaki and Hasan. On the Al-Falluja forum, to which Abdelela Haidar Shayie belongs, members praised the latter and also asked Allah to heal Hasan and grant him patience.
Along with the interview, Al-Jazeera reported, "Before carrying out the operation, Major Nidal was in touch with Al-Awlaki, and asked him about the religious legitimacy of the [planned] operation and about his role as a Muslim in the American army." The article also quoted Hasan in his communication with Al-Awlaki: "You are the only Muslim Imam who lived in America and who understands Allah's words and knows well how to address people with a Western mentality.'..."
The following are excerpts from the Aljazeera.net interview with Al-'Awlaki:
Question: "What is your connection with Nidal Hasan, and when did it begin?"
Answer: "Nidal Hasan prayed at my mosque when I was imam at the Dar Al-Hijra mosque."
Q: "When was your first meeting?"
A: "About nine years ago, when I was imam of the Dar Al-Hijra mosque in the capital Washington, a mosque which is one of the biggest Islamic centers in America."
Q: "[There are] reports that there was more than that."
A: "Brother Nidal used to contact me via email last year, until the middle of this year."
Q: "When did the correspondence with Nidal begin?"
A: "I got the first message from Nidal on December 17, 2008."
Q: "Who initiated the correspondence, you or him?"
A: "He initiated the correspondence with me."
Q: "What did the correspondence contain?"
A: "He was asking about killing American soldiers and officers. [He asked] whether this is a religiously legitimate act or not."
Q: "So he asked you that question about a year before the operation was carried out?"
A: "Yes. And I wondered how the American security agencies, who claim to be able to read car license plate numbers from space, everywhere in the world, I wondered how [they did not reveal this]."
Q: "What did Nidal want from you in his messages?"
A: "Naturally, as I told you, the first message was asking for an edict regarding the [possibility] of a Muslim soldier killing his colleagues who serve with him in the American army. In other messages, Nidal was clarifying his position regarding the killing of Israeli civilians. He was in support of this, and in his messages he mentioned the religious justifications for targeting the Jews with missiles. Then there were some messages in which he asked for a way through which he could transfer some funds to us [and by this] participate in charitable activities."
Q: "There are other indications to your connections with Nidal, one of which is that you blessed what he did three days after he did it."
A: "My support to the operation was because the operation that brother Nidal carried out was a courageous one, and I endeavored to explain my position regarding what happened because many Islamic organizations and preachers in the West condemned the operation. So it was necessary for me [to raise] a voice that is [myself] connected to the Muslims in America and the West, while at the same time is independent and explains the truth regarding what Nidal did, especially since the media tried to connect him to me from the very beginning."
Q: "Why did you bless Nidal Hasan's act?"
A: "Because Nidal's target was a military target inside America, and there is no question about this. Then, also, those members of the military [i.e. the victims] were not regular soldiers; rather they were prepared and preparing themselves to go to battle and to kill downtrodden Muslims and to commit crimes in Afghanistan...
"So how can I or any other preacher be silent after he hears that some of those who belong to the shari'a jurisprudence declare that Nidal's action was a crime? While there is an argument about operations in which non-combatants die, what religious argument do these religious people have when the target is absolutely military?"
Q: "How can you support what Nidal did, when he was betraying his American homeland?"
A: "It is more important that he not betray his religion. Serving in the American army in order to kill Muslims is betrayal of Islam, and the America of today is the Pharaoh of the past. It is the enemy of Islam, and a Muslim must not serve in the American army, except if he intends to go in the footsteps of our brother Nidal. Allegiance to Islam means allegiance to Allah, his messengers, and the believers, and not to a piece of soil that they call homeland. The allegiance of the American Muslim [must be] to his Muslim nation, and not to America. Brother Nidal proved that with his blessed operation, and Allah rewarded him the best of rewards."
Q: "Do you have a direct connection to the incident?"
A: "I did not recruit Nidal Hasan to this operation; the one who recruited him was America, with its crimes and injustice, and this is what America refuses to admit. America does not want to admit that what Nidal did, and what thousands of other Muslims do against America, is because of its unjust policies against the Islamic world. Nidal Hasan is a Muslim before he is an American, and he is also from Palestine, and he sees the oppression of the Jewish oppression of his people under American cover and support. True, I may have a role in his intellectual direction, but nothing beyond that, and I am not trying to absolve myself of what he did because I do not support it. No, but because I wish I had had the honor of having a bigger role in what happened than the role I really had."
Q: "You told me before about your correspondence with Nidal, and you gave me an original copy of it. Reading it, I found that he trusts you and respects you, and now you are telling me that [you have] no direct or strong relationship with him?"
A: "I told you about the correspondence, and I explained it, and I even gave you [those original copies], so that you can publish it, because the American administration forbade its publication. Why don't they want this correspondence out? What is the reason? [By banning it from publication] do they want to cover up their security failure, or is it because they do not want to admit that Nidal Hasan is a man of principles, and that he did what he did in the service of Islam? They want [the operation] to be viewed as individual, unexpected behavior, that has no connection to the conduct of the criminal American army."
Q: "Do you believe that Nidal will face the death penalty?"
A: "It is possible, and in any case we pray for him that Allah will direct him to the truth and to what is good."
Q: "What will you feel if he is executed?"
A: "I pray to Allah to receive him in the ranks of the martyrs, since when he did what he did, he was expecting to be a martyr, and if he is executed, good for him."
Another Al-Awlaki Interview On Hasan Posted On Leading Al-Qaeda Forum
On May 23, 2010, online jihadi forums released an interview with Al-Awlaki on Hasan and his support for him and the attack. The following are excerpts:
Interviewer: "You are accused of involvement in 14 cases [of terror] in the U.S., Canada, and Britain. Is there any truth in these allegations, which have been spread by the media, and what are the reasons for this onslaught?"
Anwar Al-Awlaki: "This onslaught is because I am a Muslim who calls to Islam. They are accusing me of incitement. Nidal Hasan, Umar Farouk, and the other cases that you mentioned – the common denominator between them is incitement. Incitement to what? Incitement to jihad, and to the Islam revealed by Allah in the Koran and in the Sunna of His Prophet. That is the accusation."
Al-Awlaki stated explicitly in the interview, "Nidal Hasan is a student of mine, and I am proud of this. I am proud that there are people like Nidal Hasan among my students. What he did was a heroic act, a wonderful operation. I ask Allah to make him steadfast, to protect him, and to free him. I support what he did, and I call upon anyone who calls himself a Muslim, and serves in the U.S. army, to follow in the footsteps of Nidal Hasan."
He added: "I call upon [all] Muslims to follow in his footsteps, and to wage jihad by speech or by action. Nidal Hasan set a wonderful example, and I ask Allah to make it a beginning, and that many other Muslims will follow in his footsteps. How can we possibly oppose an operation like Nidal Hasan's?! He killed American soldiers on their way to Afghanistan and Iraq. Who could possibly oppose this? There is a consensus about this issue, not only among humans, but even among domesticated animals. If you push a cat into a corner, it makes its fur stand on end, and it bares its teeth and its claws in order to defend itself. Yet we say that a Muslim does not have the right to defend himself? Nidal Hasan is Palestinian in origin. He was defending his nation. We are dealing with an infidel country, America, which is at war with us. The image of ourselves that we want to convey to America is: Oh America, if you attack us, we will attack you, and if you kill us, we will kill you."
The interview ended with Al-Awlaki stating: "They shut down my website following Nidal Hasan's operation. I had posted an article of mine in support of what Nidal Hasan did, and so, they shut down my website. Then I read in the Washington Post that they were monitoring my communications. So I was forced to stop these communications. I left that region, and then the American air strikes took place. But it is not true that I am a fugitive. I move around among my tribesmen and in other parts of Yemen, because the people of Yemen hate the Americans, and support the people of truth and the oppressed. I move around among the Awlaki tribe, and I get support from wide sectors of the people in Yemen, whether in Abida, Daham, Waila, Hashed, Bakil, or Hawlan, whether in Hadhramawt, Abyan, Shabwa, Aden, or Sana'a.
"Nidal Hasan used to be an American Muslim, the way the U.S. wants them to be. Nidal Hasan used to pray, fast, and give zakat, but at the same time, he was a soldier in the U.S. army, whose loyalty lay with America. Then, as a result of America's crimes, he turned into a mujahid for the sake of Allah. From being an American soldier, Nidal Hasan turned into a mujahid who killed the soldiers with whom he served. If America"s crimes continue, we will see a new Nidal Hasan. There are also mujahideen from the West, or from America, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and this phenomenon will grow, due to the Western and American crimes in the Islamic world. [...] If that small band of mujahideen have managed to defeat America, imagine what would happen if the Islamic nation rose up. America cannot withstand this Islamic nation. It is too weak. America's cunning is weaker than a spider web."
More praise for Hasan from Muslim groups here.