In the ultimate insider threat, a US Army officer killed 13 fellow soldiers and wounded another 30 at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009.
FORT HOOD, TEXAS – In all the efforts to identify outsider threats it is sometimes the insider ones which are greater.
I would imagine that many of you have a particular concept of who is a terrorist and who is not. If I am correct, most of you picture a swarthy male who shows up unexpectedly in a public venue and starts shooting or stabbing or blows himself up (NB I would bet you all think of a male perpetrator), killing and maiming innocent civilians.
While I do not have any statistics to back this up off the top of my head, it is probable that this depiction is mostly accurate. After all, judging by recent attacks in Europe, Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere, this seems to fit the bill. People just going about their day beset by a random violent extremist.
So what do we do with cases where the terrorist is as close to ‘normal’ looking as possible and is known to his victims? Instances such as these would ‘break the mould’, no?
Take today’s featured incident. On this day in 2009, Nidal Hasan, a major in the US Army, killed 13 people and wounding 32 others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas: it was the worst mass murder at a military installation in U.S. history.
Major Hasan was not some random terrorist who walked on to the military base and opened fire. He was part of the US military and had been giving off signs for years that he was embracing violent Islamist extremism: these signs were ignored. Note that my first book The Threat from Within discusses these signs.
In the end, Hasan was sentenced to death in August 2013 and is housed with five other members of the US military in similar straits in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It remains to be seen when – or if – his execution will occur.
It is acts like these that challenge our assumptions on terrorism. We should always be open to new ideas and new paradigms. That, after all, is what makes a good analyst.