From Fort Hood to Las Vegas
Why massacres are more than a matter of numbers.
Last Sunday in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock turned his guns on a country music concert, killing 59, including himself, and wounding more than 500. The mass murder was beyond horrific, an act of pure evil as President Trump said, but it easily could have been worse in several ways.
Stephen Paddock was a mystery man who kept to himself. Suppose he had emblazoned something like “Murder, Inc.” on his business card, an open warning of deadly intentions.
That was the practice of Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major who openly billed himself as a “Soldier of Allah.” If that is not a warning, it is hard to imagine what one would look like.
Imagine if Stephen Paddock had been communicating with a criminal gang or terrorists. That was the case with Major Hasan. The Army psychiatrist was in touch with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Falls Church, Virginia, imam who preached to three of the 9⁄11 hijackers and presided at the funeral of Hasan’s mother.
In emails to al-Awlaki, Nidal Hasan asked about killing Americans and the terrorist encouraged the soldier of Allah to do so. Federal intelligence agencies had picked up these communications but chose to do nothing.
Suppose that U.S. intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies had known about Stephen Paddock’s plans, then done nothing to stop him. That would have placed the Las Vegas massacre in a whole different light.
At Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on unarmed American troops preparing to depart for Afghanistan. Hasan used handguns he had legally purchased, not a military-issue weapon. He shot at point-blank range, yelling “_Allahu Akbar_” as he fired. He chased down the wounded to finish them off.
The soldier of Allah killed 13 and wounded more than 30, more than twice the casualties of the first attack on the World Trade Center. His victims included Private Francheska Velez, 21, who was pregnant. Though the attack took place on a military base, it was civilian police officer Kim Munley who shot and wounded Nidal after taking three bullets herself.
The soldier of Allah had done everything but take out an ad on the Super Bowl to advertise his intentions. He communicated with terrorists who urged him to kill. He yelled “Allah is the greatest” as he gunned down unarmed U.S. soldiers, and Anwar al-Awlaki was orgasmic with joy that Major Hasan had done his duty.
The 44th president, commander in chief of U.S. armed forces at the time, had access to all the intelligence on this guy. The President Formerly Known as Barry Soetoro, who attended a Muslim school in Indonesia, wondered aloud what Hasan’s motivation could have been. The president did not call the attack terrorism or an act of evil. Instead he proclaimed it a case of “workplace violence.”
In his view, Hasan’s murder of 13 unarmed Americans was not even a case of “gun violence,” a favorite cause of his Democrat party. “Workplace violence” implied it was some kind of brawl, perhaps launched by an angry postal worker. The absurd designation did not provoke a firestorm in the old-line establishment media.
Suppose that President Trump, instead of calling Stephen Paddock’s Las Vegas massacre an “act of pure evil,” had called it a case of “recreational violence” or “criminal violence.” The old-line establishment media would have erupted in fury, far beyond anything from the Fort Hood attack.
Calling that murder spree “workplace violence” also prevented the victims from getting the medals they deserved and the medical treatment they needed. Soldier of Allah Nidal Hasan retained his rank of major, continued to get his full salary, and the army took care of his paralyzing injuries. On the other hand, the Army refused to cover operations and treatment for Hasan’s victim Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, an African American.
“We don’t get passes the way major Hasan got passes,” Lunsford told reporters. “Each one of us has gotten a raw deal somewhere down the line.” True to form, the White House denied the request of Lunsford to meet with the president and explain how the government mistreated victims of the Fort Hood attack.
Suppose that President Donald Trump declined to meet with victims of Stephen Paddock’s Las Vegas massacre. Imagine if President Trump had somehow contrived to keep victims from getting the medical treatment they needed. The condemnation would have been universal, and deserved.
Unlike Stephen Paddock, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan did not kill himself. In August of 2013, a military panel handed down a death sentence but it has not been carried out. Instead Hasan remains in prison, inspiring other terrorists just as Anwar al-Awlaki inspired him.
Suppose that mass murderer Stephen Paddock had survived, been sentenced to death, and the sentence never carried out. Suppose that from prison he continued to inspire other mass murderers. Safe to say, nobody would put up with that.
November 5 marks eight years since soldier of Allah Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 Americans. President Trump should immediately fire all those in the FBI and other federal agencies who knew of Hasan’s terrorist ties but did nothing to stop him. They are, in effect, accomplices.
Meanwhile, like Stephen Paddock, mass murderer Nidal Hasan does not deserve to live. On November 5, President Trump should give the order for Hasan’s execution. A squad of the Fort Hood survivors, including the heroic Kim Munley, might do the honors.