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The jihad factor

The jihad factor

Author: Barry Rubin
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 17, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/216216/The-jihad-factor.html

It drove Maj Hassan to kill fellow soldiers

How do we know the attack at Fort Hood was an Islamist terrorist act? Simple, Maj Nidal Hassan told us. He gave a number of clues but nothing's more impressive than this one: Maj Hassan is the first terrorist to give an academic lecture explaining why he was about to attack. Yet that still isn't enough for too many people - including the US President - to understand that the murderous assault was a jihadi attack. Maj Hassan also told us how the tragedy could have been avoided. But no one seems to be paying attention.

Instead of speaking about a medical topic, Maj Hassan's lecture was: 'The Quranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the US Military'. He used 50 power-point slides.

Maj Hassan is very logical. This is clearly not the work of a mad man or someone confused about what he was doing. Three topics are covered: What Islam teaches Muslims, how Muslims view the wars in Afghanistan and Iran, and how this might affect Muslims in the US military. Maj Hassan defines jihad as holy war, of course.

Now here's Maj Hassan's central theme. God forbids Muslims to fight against other Muslims in an infidel army. He quotes the Quran extensively to prove the point. Allah will punish anyone who kills a Muslim. A believer must obey Allah. Those who do enjoy great delights; those who don't suffer torments in hell.

Next, Maj Hassan introduces the concept of 'defensive jihad', a core element in radical Islamist thinking. If others attack and oppress Muslims, then it is the duty of all Muslims to fight them, quoting the Quran he explains, "Allah forbids you…from dealing kindly and justly" with those who fight Muslims."

Consequently, Maj Hassan understood his situation perfectly. To be a proper Muslim given his beliefs, he had to pick up a gun and join the jihad, Muslim side. He was not shooting Americans because he caught battle fatigue from soldiers he treated but because he believed that these soldiers must die at his hands.

The choice to act was forced on him when he received orders to ship out to Iran or Afghanistan. Would he choose the side of Allah and the Muslims, to be rewarded in heaven? Or would he join with the infidels, to be punished with hell? He made his decision.

In practical terms, if not in religious ones, his analysis misses an obvious and important issue: What if two groups of Muslims are fighting, cannot one side with one group, even if it has non-Muslim allies? After all, Americans don't go to Iraq or Afghanistan simply to 'kill Muslims' but to defend Muslims from being killed. The Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Egyptians had no problem with using Western troops to save them from Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1991, for example. The Iraqi and Afghan Governments, made up of pious Muslims, do the same thing.

Arab nationalists who are Muslims can take this position more easily. But Islamists are fighting to seize control of all Muslim-majority states and perhaps of the entire world.

The true problem, then, is not that some Muslims help infidels kill Muslims, but that some Muslims help infidels kill Islamists. Maj Hassan never considered this point, in part and ironically, because he was a native-born American and real Middle East issues were abstractions for him.

But Maj Hassan tells us the possible ways out of his paradox, using quotes from the Quran. First, if the Americans ended the wars, then Muslims wouldn't have to kill them. Second, it would be okay to be in the US Army if the Americans accepted Islam or agreed to become subservient to Muslim rulers (dhimmis).

Third, if the Muslim messiah came, he'd destroy Christianity as a false religion and set off the post-history utopia. He didn't mention that this also involved murdering all Jews.

This brings up a valuable insight into Maj Hassan's character. Although a Palestinian, he never verbally attacked Israel or the Jews. He considers himself American by nationality, neither Palestinian nor Arab. But he has a religion that directs his thinking. That's why he is an Islamist and supports Al Qaeda, not Hamas.

As one moderate Muslim from Canada pointed out, the clothes he wore the day before committing his jihadi attack was not (as some sources put it in a silly manner) some martyr or even Arab garb but the clothing of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is an Al Qaeda jihadi, having changed sides in the war on terror.

His conclusion takes on tremendous significance in light of what would happen at Fort Hood. He writes: "If Muslim groups can convince Muslims that they are fighting for god against injustices of the 'infidels'; ie, the enemies of Islam, then Muslims can become a potent adversary ie: Suicide bombing, etc."

And of course, these groups did so convince Maj Hassan. Why? Maj Hassan tells us: "God expects full loyalty. Promises heaven and threatens with hell. Muslims may seem moderate (compromising) but god is not."

And at the very end, he proposes what might have been his own escape route: "Recommendation: Department of Defence should allow Muslim soldiers the option of being released as 'conscientious objectors' to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events."

The fact that Maj Hassan's lecture has not been the centerpiece of the whole post-massacre debate is a true example of how impoverished are the 'experts,' journalists, and politicians at dealing with these issues.

- The writer is director of the GLORIA Centre, Tel Aviv, and editor of the MERIA Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle-East.

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