Politics

Fort Hood victims’ families seek $750M from feds

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran

More than 80 family members and victims of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s jihadist shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009, have filed a claim seeking $750 million in damages from the United States government.

Under federal rules, the agencies have six months to resolve the claim, filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or they can face public lawsuits in civil courts.

Neal Sher, a New York attorney representing the claimants, said the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice and the FBI all possessed “substantial knowledge and warning signs that Hasan posed a grave danger” to the soldiers and civilians he worked with, but  “did nothing to eliminate the known risk he posed.”

Even though the U.S. government was aware Hasan was in contact with known al-Qaida terrorism recruiter Anwar al-Awlaqi, the Palestinian-American officer “was promoted to higher ranks within the Army, virtually assuring that he would be in a position to commit the murderous terror attack at Fort Hood,” Sher said.

Maj. Hasan came to the attention of officers within his hierarchy in the Army’s medical corps some 18 months before his shooting spree, when he made a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation explaining the Quran and the implications of Islamic ideology for Muslims serving in the U.S. military.

Although he was scheduled to make a presentation relating to his specialty — psychiatry — Major Hasan instead hectored an audience of 25 Army medical officers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a presentation entitled “The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military,” the Washington Post revealed a few days after the shootings.

In it, Maj. Hasan cited instances where Muslim soldiers had turned against their fellow soldiers in the U.S. military, and argued that to avoid such “adverse effects,” the Department of Defense should allow Muslims “the option of being released as conscientious objectors” rather than be forced to fight fellow Muslims on the battlefield.

Hasan’s presentation of the Koranic concepts of jihad, abrogation and fatwas were steeped in Islamic orthodoxy, says Steven Coughlin, a former U.S. military jurist who specializes in analyzing Islamic legal texts.

“A review of the briefing Major Hasan gave to fellow officers reveals that his open declaration of jihad accurately tracked with Islamic legal principles as they have been presented and interpreted over many centuries by Muslim jurists,” Coughlin told The Daily Caller . “There was nothing that wouldn’t pass the smell test of Islamic orthodoxy.

Despite a wealth of “solid credible information demonstrating Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism,” the U.S. government did nothing to stop him, Sher said. “On the contrary, bowing to political correctness, the agencies utterly ignored the threat he presented.”

That “political correctness” did not end with Hasan’s shooting spree. The 86-page official U.S. Army investigation never once mentioned the words “Islam,” “jihad,” or “Muslim,” even though he shouted “Allah-u Akbar” as he opened fire on his victims. The report referred to him as an “alleged perpetrator.”

The report’s authors call “Islamic extremism” — a phrase that occurs only once in the entire report, in a footnote referencing an FBI publication — a “trend” in U.S. counter-intelligence “research,” not a motivator to Maj. Hasan’s killing spree.

Islamist ideology is “like a rope,” says Tennessee state legislator Rick Womick, a former U.S. Air Force F-15 pilot, referring to the act of twisting strands together. “You cannot separate the religion from the ideology. If you are a true Muslim, you believe in all of it.”

The fact that Hasan based his jihadi massacre at Fort Hood on Islamic ideology should teach U.S. military leaders a lesson, Rep. Womick told a Nov. 11 Nashville, Tenn., conference on stopping the influx of Sharia law.  “We cannot allow Muslims to serve in our military because we cannot trust them,” he said.

“If they truly are a devout Muslim and follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then I feel threatened because they’re commanded to kill me,” he said.

The Tennessee chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) predictably called on the entire Tennessee legislature to apologize for Rep. Womick’s remarks.

The Army’s whitewash report of the Fort Hood massacre and Major Hasan’s Islamic motivation was too much for the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, and his Republican co-chair, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

The impressively detailed staff investigation they ordered into the Fort Hood massacre concluded that Major Hasan was “a ticking time bomb.”

Sher says he drew heavily on that report in drawing up the sealed administrative claims he filed against the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies.

The Senate report found that the Department of Defense “possessed compelling evidence that Hasan embraced views so extreme that it should have disciplined or discharged him from the military by DOD failed to take action against him.”

After laying out all the evidence, the Senate reported concluded, “the officers who kept Hasan in the military and moved him steadily along knew full well of his problematic behavior. As the officer who assigned Hasan to Fort Hood (and later decided to deploy Hasan to Afghanistan) admitted to an officer at Fort Hood, ‘you’re getting our worst.’”

Twelve service members and one civilian Defense employee lost their lives because Hasan was still in the U.S. military, Sher said.

“It is a sad commentary on our avowed war on terror that the government deliberately refused to take even minimal steps to neutralize the clear threat posed by Hasan, who made no secret of, and actually boasted about, his anti-American and Jihadist views.”

Hasan’s attacks resulted from “the wanton and gross negligence of our government,” the claim asserts.

The Department of Defense has acknowledged the administrative complaint, and has six months to resolve it through negotiation or face a lawsuit, Sher told TheDC.

Sgt. Kimberly Munley is one of the claimants. She is the civilian police officer who ultimately helped bring Hasan down, after the Muslim officer shot her in the leg and the hand.

“I brought this claim because I strongly believe this tragedy was totally preventable and that the Army swept under the rug what they knew about Hasan,” Munley said in a statement released through her attorney.