A gunman opened fire today on US soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, the largest US military base in America. Initial reports indicate the attack took place at a readiness center where soldiers prepare to deploy overseas. According to initial reports, 11 people have been killed, and more than 30 have been wounded. The attack was carried out by a soldier named Major Nidal Malik Hassan. Two other suspects were arrested for involvement in the attacks; initial reports indicate the men are US soldiers. Sources report that the shooter was a psychiatrist and that his nickname was “Abduwali.”
The Pentagon is urging the media not to speculate on the motive for the attack. ABC News’ Brian Ross described Major Hassan as a recent convert to Islam. Given that the attack took place at a center where troops go to prepare for deployment to Iraq and was committed by a soldier who is a recent convert to Islam, the obvious assumption could be made that this was some form of an Islamist terror attack. Time, and the two suspected accomplices, if they were indeed involved in the attack, will tell.
Daveed Gartenstein Ross, a Long War Journal/Threat Matrix contributor and the Director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Center for Terrorism Research, said this about the attack:
One important aspect of this case will be assessing whether Major Malik Hassan and his accomplices were acting out of religio-political motivations, or whether there was another cause to the shooting. In Asan Akbar’s 2003 grenade attack on fellow soldiers, he was very upfront about why he did it. Until the motivation is known, we won’t know if this was an act of terrorism; but if it was terrorism, understanding the process of radicalization that they went through will be critical.
Daveed is an expert on the radicalization process, you can read his recent radicalization study here.
Some notes on the attack:
• Initial attacks, which began at about 1:30, appear to have taken place place near the Howze Theater and the Development Center, where US soldiers line up to prepare for deployments. Other clashes were reported near the PX and a softball field.
• Major Hassan, the shooter, was killed; two other soldiers thought to be involved in the attack have been captured. The identities of the two suspects have not been disclosed.
• The gunman apparently used two handguns.
• The base is under lockdown.
• About 500 soldiers have been assigned to support law enforcement.
• Fort Hood has about 65,000 soldiers.
Given the quick pace of this story, there are bound to be errors in the initial reports. Family members said that Hassan was not a convert to Islam, but in fact was born into Islam, is of Jordanian descent, and was raised in the US.
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