Cover Story

On our turf

"On our turf" Continued...

Issue: "Homegrown terror," Dec. 5, 2009

Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, blames such official tap-­dancing in part on a largely successful post-9/11 campaign by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to "demonize anyone who speaks out against jihad." CAIR had long styled itself an educational nonprofit and turned up regularly in the mainstream press defending nearly any Muslim who had a brush with law enforcement, vilifying ex-jihadists who had crossed over to speak out against radical Islam, and even consulting with the U.S. government on Islam "awareness" training. Then, in 2007, CAIR was named an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a case that linked the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity, with terror groups, but that case ended in a mistrial. A federal court filing, however, described CAIR as "having conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists."

"The biggest lesson of the Fort Hood attacks is that political correctness kills," Spencer said. "The 13 dead and 30 wounded are the fruit of the CAIR campaign that has so cowed and intimidated ordinary Americans that in this case, even U.S. military personnel who heard Hasan make statements in support of Islamic jihad remained silent because they were worried about being labeled racists, bigots, or 'Islamaphobic.'"

"Now Americans face a hideous choice: Continue to ignore signs of support for jihad out of fear of being branded a bigot or a racist," Spencer added, "or speak up and subject themselves to demonization and civil rights claims, but maybe prevent the next attack."

Feeding jihadi fever

Radical clerics can now reach a new generation of internet-savvy Islamists

By Mindy Belz

Anwar al Awlaki's blog on Nov. 16 read, "The website will be back to normal within a few days time." And an earlier blog post (Nov. 9) titled "Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing" is no longer accessible there. The American-born Yemeni imam may have gone too far even for al-Qaeda jihadists when he called Hasan "a hero" after he allegedly killed 13 U.S. soldiers and one unborn infant and wounded 29 at Fort Hood Nov. 5.

Salman Al-Awdah, a Saudi cleric who helped to shape the early radicalism of Osama bin Laden, called the Ft. Hood shootings "irrational" and "empty of thought," according to a post on his website and recent television appearance in Saudi Arabia picked up by jihadi watcher NEFA Foundation.

The debate among jihadists and teachers of radical Islamic is part of something Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund has called "a war within Islam." Part of that war has to do with a shift in the thinking of potential terrorists who have come of age post-9/11-and could be more erratically violent, if that's possible. "The naive younger guys have been raised and fed on bright-eyed propaganda about the 'Shaykh of the Slaughters' [former al-Qaeda in Iraq leader] Zarqawi, beheadings, and suicide bombings," NEFA senior analyst Evan Kohlmann told Wired magazine's Danger Room blog. The younger generation is more likely to stoke its jihad ideology via the internet, according to Kohlmann, and as a result may follow the "lone wolf" pattern evidenced by Hasan and others. Meanwhile, ideologues like Awlaki hide behind ever-changing blog sites.

The FBI has acknowledged that Hasan came to its attention over communication with Awlaki going back to December 2008. In a statement the FBI said agents "assessed that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center."

But while emails between the two may not have raised alarms, Awlaki published a blog post in July titled "Fighting Against Government Armies in the Muslim World." In it he argued that U.S. armies were "defending apostasy in the Muslim world" and said, "These armies are the number one enemy of the ummah. They are the worse of creation. Blessed are those who fight against them and blessed are those shuhada who are killed by them."

Under such influence, it's not hard to see how Hasan grew more incensed by Army deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Federal authorities charged Hasan, still recovering from gunshot wounds in a Texas hospital and possibly paralyzed by his injuries, with 13 counts of premeditated murder, and military officials did not rule out the possibility he could face additional charges, including an additional count of murder for the unborn child killed along with victim Francheska Velez, who was almost to term with her pregnancy. Under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Hasan may be "guilty of a separate offense" for causing "the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place."

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