By Mark Silinsky
Recently, Nasser Jason Abdo, US Muslim soldier intending to slaughter US Army personnel at Fort Hood, Texas, was nabbed before he could spray fire on anything that moved at Fort Hood. This is an improvement in US Army security. In 2009, MAJ Nidal Hasan was arrested after he enthusiastically murdered his fellow US soldiers at Fort Hood. For these reasons, both MAJ Hasan and PFC Abdo have been much in the news lately. The common threads connecting the officer and the enlisted man are Islamic alienation, anger, intended murder, and hatred of America. Both are US soldiers who, as Muslims, felt doctrinally compelled to kill the main enemies of Islam- US Army soldiers.1 One of them succeeded and one failed.
Does Abdo’s early capture indicate an improvement in US Army force protection procedures, policies, or plans? Currently, there is scant evidence to support this. It appears that the credit for his capture should go to a small-town gun salesman named Greg Ebert, who was working at Guns Galore in Killeen, Texas. He operated on common sense and intuition to alert security officials. According to the press, it happened something like this:
Pfc Abdo had become a minor celebrity in the US Muslim community. Featured on al Jazeera, Pfc Abdo had twice petitioned for conscientious objector status, the second time with success.2 Then came charges of illegal pornography, which clouded his easy exit from the US Army.
Abdo entered Guns Galore, the store with the dubious distinction of selling MAJ Hasan some of the ammunition he used in his Fort Hood shooting spree, and asked to buy ammunition and smokeless powder. Abdo asked Ebert what smokeless powder was and stated he wanted to buy many cans. But Ebert had suspicions and asked himself why Nasser Abdo wanted buy smokeless powder if he didn’t know its purpose. Ebert then called authorities.
But what if Ebert, a retired policeman, didn’t act on his instinct and common sense? Rather, what if he observed Nasser Abdo’s weapons’ purchases through a multicultural prism? This would not be new. When asked about the odd, angry behavior of MAJ Hasan years before his carnage, several people who knew Hasan confided that they had strong suspicions but kept quiet because they did not want to be labeled as an “Islamophobe.” They didn’t want to make waves in the Army.
But Ebert wasn’t concerned about making waves last month. By acting on experience and education he probably saved the lives of many soldiers. US Army security and counterintelligence officials can learn much from this. In addition, larger issues regarding Islam and the US Army emerge for debate. These ideas include:
Different religions present different challenges to US Army security and counterintelligence personnel. While many Muslims in the US Army are patriotic, others see their primary identity as being Muslim, not American. Hasan and Abdo are just two of several cases of Army-affiliated persons who asserted that a Muslim cannot fight other Muslims. Christianity and Judaism do not require analogous prohibitions. In World War II, US Christian soldiers battled German Lutherans and Italian Catholics. Some men became conscientious objectors because of their ethical opposition to killing anyone. Abdo was granted conscientious objector status, and he didn’t have to kill anyone. But he, like Hasan, felt morally and religiously compelled to kill US soldiers as an Islamic mandate.
A Muslim filling out forms to purchase weapons at Guns Galore or anywhere else may not feel obligated to reveal his true intentions . Under the Islamic doctrine of deception, or takiyaa, a Muslim may disguise his true intentions if it furthers the cause of Islam. This is well established in Islamic doctrine and has not been sincerely renounced by any credible leading Islamic theologian.
The US Army does not address takiyya in its force protection doctrine, and this author is at loss to identify any official US Army counterintelligence or security document that warns against takiyaa in sufficient detail. To do so would contradict the loadstone of contemporary Army culture that teaches that all religions are ethically similar.
Islam is a religion of peace...on its terms. Hasan and Abdo brought their political grievances to light initially peacefully, if sometimes ostentatiously and bizarrely. Hasan gave a lecture on Islam to an auditorium of physicians expecting a lecture on psychiatry. Abdo prattled on about his Muslim allegiance and world peace to viewers on al Jazeera. Both men demanded a peace based on Islamic values and then turned to violence only after their demands as Muslims were not met. These were not two lone cases. Theirs is the rhetoric of millions of Muslims around the world.3
Soldiers must be given accurate sources of information to understand Islam If there are two schools of popular thought surrounding Islam and the West, they could be called the Karen Armstrong and Daniel Pipes schools.4 Both Armstrong and Pipes are widely read and respected by their audiences. But their audiences are very different, as are the tone and focus of the authors’ texts. Armstrong markets a feel-good approach to Islam and to its purported messenger of God, Mohammad. Celebrating the perceived beauties of Islam, Armstrong underlines warmth, inclusion, and respect for women and girls in the Islamic faith. Pipes does no such thing. He warns against Islam law, Sharia, and how it is being insinuated into the fabric of American life. Those in the Army today who propound the Pipes line are often seen as troublemakers and are dissuaded from becoming public in their views. Some leaders in the Army today do not want the negative attention that might come from the very active Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Some Army leaders have actively tried to silence analysts and activists in the ranks who have tried to raise the awareness of political Islam.
Soon, more facts will emerge from the Abdo case. But there is much we already know. Abdo, like his self-stated hero MAJ Hasan, wanted to leave the US Army because he could not kill fellow Muslims. He voiced no similar objections to killing Jews, Christians, Hindus, Voodoo cult adherents or any religion other than Islam. Hasan’s and Abdo rhetoric is similar, often identical, to that of millions of Muslims around the world who quote the Koran as justification for killing American servicemen.
But this sordid story, so far as it goes, does have a hero. It is not a US Army security or counterintelligence operator or analyst, though one may emerge. Rather, it is a salt-of-the-earth salesman who operated on common sense. As a retired policeman, he understood suspicious behavior. His knowledge was based on experience and education.
And what if Mr. Ebert did not call the police? Would Army security or counterintelligence personnel have alerted the police or provost martial out concern for Abdo’s hostile intent? There is no way to know. Because Abdo was AWOL, Army personnel would have tried to catch him, though maybe too late. We do know that there is no comprehensive educational program to warn against political Islam in the ranks. What will US Army counterintelligence and security personnel learn from Abdo’s would-be carnage? This author hopes that it will learn much, but fears that it will learn little, and suspects that what will be learned will probably be ignored. Too many leaders in US Army intelligence do not want to make waves.
Mark Silinsky is a senior counterintelligence analyst for the US Army. His views do not represent those of the US Army. He is very interested in hearing from service members or national security personnel with similar concerns of Islamism in the military or US government. He can be reached at Silinsky@yahoo.com.
1. Koran 5:51 literally warns Muslims against "taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies ... whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them," i.e., he becomes an infidel; 58:22 states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims -- "even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin."
2. He said early in his fight to be released from the Army, “I don't believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims. I don't believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of a Muslim. ... I can't deploy with my unit to Afghanistan and participate in the war -- I can't both deploy and be a Muslim.”
3. While fighting for his "conscientious objector" status, he pointed to "the peace that Islam preaches  221;; he claimed  that he wanted to fight "Islamophobia" and "put a good positive spin out there that Islam is a good, peaceful religion."
4. When this author delivered a beta version of a counter-Jihadist security briefing to a leader in the Army counterintelligence community in 2003, he was ordered not to deliver it but to read Karen Armstrong to understand Islam.