By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
The FBI and the White House have been hesitant to call Maj. Nidal Hasan a terrorist.
At a recent hearing before the House Appropriations Committee in Washington, an FBI official said the agency did not classify Hasan as a terrorist when the Fort Hood shooting happened in 2009.
That came in spite of several intercepted e-mails between Hasan and noted al-Qaida and radical Muslim Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in the 11 months leading up to the shooting.
“If what he did wasn’t terrorism, neither was 9/11,” said Keith Akins, director of Criminal Justice-Graduate Studies at the University of Houston-Victoria.
Officials declined to prefer charges against Hasan that could have used
terrorism as a factor in making him eligible for the death penalty.
Instead, military officials chose the fact that 13 people died as a result of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting on post as the aggravator.
But as the trial has approached, it has become clear that the prosecution will attempt to label Hasan as a terrorist.
Several arguments have swirled around a report created by a noted terrorism analyst that calls Hasan a “home-grown terrorist.” The analyst testified Thursday about a method that uses six criteria to determine if a person is a terrorist.
A military judge may rule today on whether the report is admissible. Hasan is scheduled to be in court at 10 a.m.
Akins, whose work specializes on the study of terrorism and hates crimes, said what separates an act of terrorism from a mass shooting is motive.
The July 20 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., would be classified as a mass shooting, he said.
“The mass murderer is all about himself,” Akins said. “They’re looking for a scapegoat, looking to get attention, looking to make a name for himself.”
A terrorist’s motive is a political agenda, Akins said. Their goal is to make a statement through violence.
Many believe Hasan’s alleged actions were motivated by religious extremism. Hasan referenced suicide bombings in his communications with Alwaki and witnesses have testified that Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the massacre.
“They believe they’re heroes,” Akins said. “They’re fighting for a cause.”
Akins noted that the media and political officials were quick to call the Aug. 5 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin a terrorist act.
A Department of Homeland Security report listed right-wing extremism as the biggest threat of possible terrorist attacks. Wade Michael Page, the shooter, has been tied to several racist hate groups.
“Under the current administration there is this real effort to distance Islam from terrorism in any way shape or form,” Akins said. “To emphasize the threat of right-wing and racist terrorism in the US, the Obama administration has repeatedly called it the No. 1 threat to the country.”