Questions of motive

The flags are back to full staff all over Texas, but the shooting that occurred a month ago on Fort Hood still leave many grieving and wondering why.

The Army has charged Maj. Nidal Hasan with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder.

Reports that the now paralyzed Hasan shouted “Allahu akbar” – God is great – have caused many to speculate at Hasan’s motives.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn wrote a letter to President Obama about the attack.

“As more and more facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack surface, it looks increasingly probable that the alleged attacker, Major Nidal Hasan, heeded these terrorist calls to violence, compelled by a fanatical religious ideology,” he said. “If Islamist terrorism was the driving force behind the senseless violence at Fort Hood, as it seems to be, this attack must serve as a call to action for the federal government.”

Cornyn stressed the need for strong action.

“(F)ederal agencies must follow every lead and look into every possible

Members from the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, Texas, spoke at the close of the memorial service at Fort Hood Nov. 10. The representatives stand with soldiers while the press waits to hear their comments about the tragedy.

Members from the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, Texas, spoke at the close of the memorial service at Fort Hood Nov. 10. The representatives stand with soldiers while the press waits to hear their comments about the tragedy. Photo by Matthew Peterson

threat, regardless of whose particular sensitivities might be offended in the process,” he said.

As Hasan awaits trial, many American Muslims fear backlash from communities where they reside. However, nothing major has happened according to Time magazine.

While Hasan’s actions may have been terrorism, Professor of New Testament, Greek and world religions Dr. Tony Martin stressed they are not a reflection of Islamic practices.

“It’s not right to judge an entire religion upon the basis of its worst examples,” he said. “It is true that Islam stresses the value of what it calls jihad. But in Islam, the main jihad is the struggle for inner submission to Allah and the struggle for purity in life. That is a struggle that does not involve violence,” Martin said. “It is very similar to the Christian idea of
sanctification.”

Martin emphasized the unhostile nature of most Muslims.

“They want peace. Most Muslims want peace with one another and with (others),” he said.

Army Pfc. Kyle Caffas has become familiar with Muslims after serving 12 months in Iraq.

“They are normal people that are working to support their families,” he said. “They were very sociable, and I became good friends with many of them. They’re really no different than us. Their culture is different, but they still hold the same core values as us.”

His wife, junior Christian studies major Kelsey Caffas, was in class at UMHB when the shootings took place. He did not know that initially.

“I felt helpless because my wife was in the vicinity, and I couldn’t be there to protect her. I couldn’t even call her until later on in the day to make sure she was OK.”

Caffas returned home over the Thanksgiving holiday, thankful to be reunited with his wife.

As soldiers return home, the shooting is another trauma for the already weary war fighters.

According to Time magazine, Fort Hood has the military’s highest rate
of suicides, many influenced by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hasan himself spent much of his military career as a psychiatrist working with mentally impacted soldiers.

“Of course, disgruntled and angry Muslims who are lacking in a sense of
personal identity are quite vulnerable to the appeal of al-Qaida … to find
fulfillment in life,” Martin said. “It shows how little they understand Allah.”

Director of UMHB’s Marriage and Family Christian Counseling Program and retired U.S. Army Chaplain Dr. David Howard is familiar with military life.

“The tragic shooting at Fort Hood adds another stressor to the stressor
pileup of our soldiers and their leaders by adding concerns for their
well-being and safety even within formerly safe places stateside,” Howard said. “They are already facing the hardships and stressors of frequent deployments and ‘no front’ battlefield conditions with an elusive and ever-present enemy.

“The incident reminds us all that the men and women in uniform in our current military forces are in a dangerous profession where they are risking, and often sacrificing, their lives, whether stateside or deployed,” Howard said.

The university’s proximity to Fort Hood provides students many opportunities to share their gratitude.

“They deserve our deepest appreciation and respect for the service they render us every day and every hour,” he said. “Next time you see a man or woman in uniform, let him or her know that you are appreciative and thankful for his or her dedicated
service and sacrifice.”

Christians and Muslims alike are turning to their faith after the tragedy.

Caffas emphasized the importance of his religion.

He said, “In a situation like this, all you have to depend on is prayer.”

Author: Evan Duncan

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