A lot of discussion is being made about the attack on Fort Hood, where a psychiatrist went amok and decided to kill his fellow soldiers.

Here in the Philippines, we sometimes see a quiet guy suddenly go “amok” and machete his relatives or superiors. Usually people can’t understand it, but actually everyone figures he had finally broken under the strain of life in a culture where smiling and getting along with others is the rule, and went crazy.

So when I heard about the attack, I wondered: Was this related to his Palestinian background, his Muslim religion, or was his extreme religiosity a way of coping with personal problems, and made him vulnerable to those who preach hatred?

I suspect it was the latter.

This was a guy who didn’t just join the Army, but joined after High school and worked his way up to being a physician. Yes, I suspect part of his being chosen may have been influenced by quotas and affirmative action, but you still have to be able to pass the examinations.

But why did he chose psychiatry? Some people chose it because of interest; many women chose the specialty because it allows them to raise a family and work part time. But others become psychiatrists because they want to learn about their own psychic problems. This is not necessarily bad (writer Walker Percy comes to mind) but it is something that needs to be kept in mind.

His failure to find a wife–and reports of his description of the “perfect woman” that he wanted to marry–brings up other questions of psychological problems.

Another strange choice was that he chose to work with substance abuse. The papers all assume the work is with soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress syndrome,or that working with soldiers gave him post traumatic stress syndrome.

This ignores reality. In Psychiatry, you see a lot of people scarred by trauma: some stories of childhood abuse are unbelievable and worse than any soldier’s situation.

My question is why would a Muslim physician who is overly pious work with infidels who abuse alcohol, a substance that is forbidden in Islam?

Finally, there is a question: exactly when did his excessive religiosity start?
One really wants to know how this soldier made it through eight years of school plus four years of residency without anyone noticing…or maybe they did notice, but it was overlooked because of political correctness.

NPR has an interesting interview from someone who knows stuff about the shooter’s time at Walter Reed:

ZWERDLING: I want to add something else about Hasan at Walter Reed. The psychiatrist I talked to today said that he was the kind of guy who the staff actually stood around in the hallway, saying: Do you think he’s a terrorist, or is he just weird?

and notice that when he gave a “lecture” on the Koran, it was another Muslim doc who told him he had things wrong…

Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat…

And I said to the psychiatrist, but this could be a very interesting informational session, right? Where he’s educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, excuse me. But I’m a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the Koran, and then I don’t believe what you say the Koran says. And then Hasan didn’t say, well, I’m just giving you one point of view. He basically just stared the guy down.

All of this was echoed by one of the local kids who knew him at his Texas mosque:

“He said he should quit the Army,” Mr. Reasoner said. “In the Koran, you’re not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell.”

None of this is routine in Islam. Heck, even in strict Saudi Arabia, they have alliances with Christians, and the Saudis are right now fighting “Muslim jihadis” in Yemen.

So where did these ideas come from? Was it via the radical Arab media? Or on conspiracy/jihadi sites on the internet? Or did he hear them in one of his  mosques?

From military analyst Ralph Peters:

Al Qaeda was merely the instrument of 9/11. Saudi bigotry, fanaticism and hate-mongering fostered it. Saudi funding made those attacks possible. And Saudi money continues to spread hatred wherever there’s a Muslim community.

This is what needs to be looked into by the FBI: a “conspiracy” to radicalize mosques.

Yet, one wonders why no intervention was done when the perpetrator’s rants were posted on the internet. True, there is freedom of speech in the US: But under Army regulations, there is no such thing as “freedom of speech”, and he could have lost his job and his commission for such writings. And if those working with him were aware of the problem, why wasn’t this problem addressed?

Again, one suspects political correctness as part of the problem.

As for the “jihadi” aspect:

If one wants to start trouble, one finds a person with a certain mental problem and aims them, and waits for them to go off.

But hate speech alone is enough to “set off” an unstable person.

Indeed, that is one of the lessons that had to be learned by the mainly peaceful anti abortion movement: That using overly inflammatory speech leads to violence, not by the majority, who reject that type of rhetoric, but by the mentally unstable who are vulnerable, and who become paranoid and project their psychological problems onto others.

So in my opinion, the attack was indeed more an “amok” attack than a jihad.

But I suspect the causes of the attack have more to do with his own problems making him vulnerable to the cult like jihadi propaganda that is poisoning the Arab world with hate speech than with Islam per se.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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