After Hasan trial: Spot big religion ghost in this story

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The military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan was never — as a journalism story — really about whether or not he was guilty of massacring his unarmed colleagues at Ft. Hood, Texas. With Nasan representing himself and openly discussing his role as the gunman, the key issues in the trial were linked to his own explanation of his faith-driven motives and the degree to which his superiors knew of his convictions in the months before his rampage.

Now, with the guilty judgment in and sentencing ahead, information continues to trickle out.

Hasan is not hiding anything, to say the least. In fact, he is continuing his drive to receive the death penalty and, thus, martyrdom for his violent actions in defense of his own radicalized Islamist beliefs.

So what is the most obvious GetReligion “ghost” angle in the following story in this new Los Angeles Times report? What is the most crucial information that is missing that is clearly linked to this subject, a gap that could be filled with a paragraph, a few sentences? Yes, you will need to read the short story.

Here is the top of the story:

Months before the Ft. Hood shooting in November 2009, the Army psychiatrist convicted Friday of killing 13 and wounding more than 30 was completing a fellowship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where military supervisors praised his unique interest in Islam’s impact on soldiers, according to documents provided to The Times.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s supervisors had also repeatedly recommended him for promotion, according to documents. … Among Hasan’s “unique skills,” the report listed “Islamic studies” and “traumatic stress spectrum psychiatric disorders,” concluding that “Maj. Hasan has great potential as an Army officer.”

The officer evaluation report, and another from earlier that year, were provided to The Times by Hasan’s civil lawyer, John Galligan, who says he believes they are relevant to Hasan’s sentencing, which is set to begin Monday. He is eligible for the death penalty.

Once again, the key is what Hasan’s superiors knew, in advance, about his frame of mind and his fierce opposition to the U.S. Army’s role in Afghanistan and in the Islamic world.

The story also notes:

The evaluation reports were filed while Hasan, an American-born Muslim, was earning a master’s degree in public health through a two-year fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry. A colleague of Hasan’s at Walter Reed testified that he pursued the fellowship in order to avoid deployment. The other report, completed March 13, 2009, said Hasan had “outstanding moral integrity” and that he had selected a “challenging topic” for his master’s of public health project: “the impact of beliefs and culture on views regarding military service during the Global War on Terror.” …

An Army doctor testified that a month before the attack, Hasan told her that if the military forced him to deploy to the Middle East “they will pay.” He was later ordered to deploy to Afghanistan, and began plotting his attack.

So the first major warning of his radicalized beliefs, of his interpretation of jihad came a month before the attack?

Spot the religion ghost.

Please back your answer with a URL or two, here at GetReligion or elsewhere in major media. They won’t be hard to find.

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • helen

    Among Hasan’s “unique skills,” the report listed “Islamic studies” and “traumatic stress spectrum psychiatric disorders,” concluding that “Maj. Hasan has great potential as an Army officer.

    A terrorist was trained at our expense and nobody could see what they were doing.
    Next he’ll be pleading a stress disorder to get off!

    • tmatt

      Well, that has nothing to do with the journalistic question I asked.

      Anyone else want to try?

  • James Stagg

    How about this, tmatt, for a small glimpse into the ghostly nothingness of the mainstream media?

    http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local-military/hasan-crafts-radical-message-outside-courtroom/nZSB5/

  • Darren Blair

    There are more than just religion ghosts going on in the national media coverage of the event.

    I’ve lived in the Ft. Hood area since 1990, and so as a local I know a few things that outside reporters seem to keep missing.

    One of them is the fact that once a soldier is assigned to a posting here at Ft. Hood, you could safely bet money on the odds of their getting deployed provided that their posting here is long enough.

    The units stationed here are some of the main front-line units for the American military, and so whenever the hammer drops *somebody* is getting sent over to the crisis zone. (The captured Iraqi vehicles on display at the museum? Actually captured by Ft. Hood soldiers during Desert Storm, et al.)

    Given Hasan’s stated refusal to deploy, his coming here to Hood was thus one of the worst things that could have happened.

    As such, this raises some serious questions as to why he was assigned here and why nobody thought to act when he voiced his objections a month before everything went down. I have yet to see the national media even consider handling this question, and the local media is too busy trying to dispel misconceptions about Ft. Hood and the entire Waco-Temple-Killeen Metroplex.

    • tmatt

      A month before?

      Folks, we are still missing the JOURNALISTIC ghost here.


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