Was Fort Hood Massacre a Terrorist Act?

In the wake of what everyone agrees was a horrible tragedy at Fort Hood, there has been sort of a battle of interpretation going on between those who were quick to label it an act of terrorism because the perpetrator is a Muslim and those who urged caution, seeing it as a horrific act of workplace violence which may or may not have a religious or terroristic motivation.  The juxtaposition of the treatment of the Fort Hood story, in which the perpetrator had an Arabic name, and the Orlando office shooting, in which the perpetrator did not stand out ethnically or religiously, was striking.  We are more than OK assuming the Orlando shooter was just a guy who snapped in hard times, but we were less willing to believe that a Muslim American could “snap” without any additional religious or political motivation.  In particular, I would recommend this piece by Eboo Patel, a Muslim American active in interfaith causes.  I agree with Patel’s idea that murder is not a value in any major religion. Murderers are not Muslims or Christians, they are murderers.

However, now that more information is coming to light, the “terrorism” debate is heating up.  It is being reported that Hasan had tried to contact Al Qaeda and the CIA may have known about this months ago, which raises some serious questions about whether or not they reported this info to the military, and what actions could have been taken to prevent this tragedy.  Though I have seen at least one blogger at The New Republic call the reporter who broke the Al Qaeda story’s credibility into question, so I’m not quite ready to accept this as total fact yet.  There was much speculation and misinformation when the story initially broke, and the speculation and misinformation continues in the aftermath.  There is, however, some indication that Hasan was affiliated with more radical views of Islam.

Still, even if Hasan were a religious extremist, is the Fort Hood Massacre terrorism? Continue reading