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It is a few days since the tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas took place.  There are no words that will comfort those grieving.  There are only prayers we can offer to those who have suffered loss of a loved one and for those wounded struggling for recovery.

My son is stationed at Ft. Hood, when stateside.  At this time, he is currently serving in Iraq, again.  His wife, my daughter-in-law and four of my grandchildren, live in Killeen, TX, and frequent facilities on base at Ft. Hood often.  As the tragic events unfolded at Ft. Hood, I along with thousands of others across the country, searched intently for information as to who, what, when, where and why had happened.  The phone at home began to ring with inquiries from various family members as to the safety of our loved ones who may be in the mix of things.  Emails from all over began filling my inbox and I soon found myself on cyber chat lines with acquaintances serving in the war zone overseas asking if I had any information that I could pass on about what was going on at Ft. Hood.  It was a strange twist of events.  Here I was at home in Albuquerque communicating with soldiers in Iraq that are stationed at Ft. Hood asking me questions about what was going on and if all their loved ones were ok.  Those in the war zone were safe, those at home, were in harms-way.  How ironic.


Our commander in chief, President Obama, has cautioned the nation to “not rush to judgment”, concerning the tragedy at Ft. Hood.  I have thought long and hard about this statement and have wondered exactly what is meant by it. Upon hearing the name of the gunman, Nadal Malik Hassan, I must confess, I was very concerned that what had happened was an orchestrated attack by enemies of our country.  Then I learned that the gunman has roots to the middle east, including Jordan and the West Bank region.  And then I learned that the gunman is a life-long Muslim.  As time went on, I heard reports that he is a Major in the US Army, a psychiatrist, and was supposedly about to be deployed to the sandbox.  I then heard that the gunman was dead, and then 12-hours later he was alive.  And so the story begins.  Who is this person, what exactly happened and what is the real story behind all of this tragedy. 

Rushing to judgment.  What does this exactly mean…?

I believe that most people here at home really do rush to judgment on almost everything whether it be trying to understand a tragedy at Ft. Hood or finding a parking space at Wal-Mart.  I am guilty of both.  So, the question has to be asked, “what is wrong with rushing to judgment in the case of the Ft. Hood tragedy?” Maybe nothing, maybe everything.

We have been told by our government that the two wars we are currently engaged in (Afghanistan and Iraq) are not wars against Islam.  I concur.  On the flip side of the coin, our enemies continually announce to the rest of the world that America is at war with Islam.  Of course, this is not true.   Those in uniform, on the front lines of both wars, are not to be concerned with the opinions of the “political spin doctors”.  A good and proper soldier does not concern himself with such affairs.  It does not mean he or she is not aware of them, it simply means that the good soldier keeps a close watch on his tongue.  And rightly so, at least while in uniform.  So what does this have to do with the tragic events this past week in Ft. Hood, TX, one might ask? 

The murderer of the 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, has been identified as US Army Major Nadal Hassan, a Muslim of middle eastern descent who was reported to have yelled in Arabic, “Allah Akbar” prior to opening up on the crowd with his hand guns.  This is a phrase that is used often when Arabic jihadist commit suicide attacks on American troops and targets in the war zones.  It’s been reported in the media that Hassan was “upset” with his impending deployment and other unsubstantiated reports have Hassan supposedly feeling “harassed” by fellow soldiers for being a Muslim.  There is one report of a soldier having keyed Hassan’s vehicle in August and tearing off a Muslim bumper sticker off Hassan’s car.  The incident was reported to civilian authorities and was in the system being dealt with.  It is hard for anyone to believe that a simple act of scratching a car could lead to the murder of 13 soldiers and wounding 30 more.  Either there is more to this story or someone with some authority in Hassan’s chain of command, dramatically dropped the ball in keeping an eye on Hassan and his troubles. It was well known he had made serious statements on various internet postings which at the very least, caught the eye of the FBI, who for some unknown reason, failed to communicate this to military officials in Hassan’s chain of command. 

Hassan, a Muslim, took it upon himself to declare war on his fellow soldiers, none of whom have been reported to be Muslim, and has opened up a pandora’s box of controversy in the meantime.  Does this mean that every Muslim in the US Army should be put on high scrutiny just in case this type of event is about to happen again?  Absolutely not.  Is it something authorities both civilian and military should be concerned about.  Absolutely yes.  Why?  Because this is war and what happened at Ft. Hood last week was by all accounts, an act of war, whether it be by a deranged person, or a Muslim terrorist hiding behind the uniform of the US Army.  No matter how one cuts the mustard, 13 American soldiers were killed and 30 wounded in the largest mass murder attack on a US Army installation on American soil.

At this point I want to give my personal experience of having dealt with Muslim personnel in the war zone in recent history.  In 2007, I had the opportunity to meet and fly with a US Army helicopter pilot who happened to be a Muslim.  This person was a W-4 and had been in the Army a very long time.  His skills were superior and his loyalty to the US was never a concern of mine.  He took me into extremely dangerous areas and I know first hand from soldiers under his command that he was by far one of the most respected aviators in the particular helicopter community I was embedded with at the time.  On another occasion, I worked hand in hand with a Muslim interpreter from Iraq who went on numerous patrols with myself and US Army infantrymen and put his own life in harms- way every moment he was with us.  At this time, he is in the USA and has been granted a green card.  On a third occasion, I was a guest of a Suuni Muslim in the Sunni triangle region of Iraq during a time when beheadings of Americans were quite the thing.  This man took me into his home and cared for me and made sure I did not get killed.  To this day, he is still working for US contractors in Iraq and his loyalty is never in doubt. 

These three particular experiences of mine all came to my life since 2004.  Prior to that, I would have to confess that I would never thought such a thing to have taken place and that my own opinions were to be subject to change.  I willingly confess that I in times past would have been quite reluctant to have trusted a Muslim person, no matter what country they happen to live in or what life experiences they may have had.  However, I am also glad to admit that I have learned that there is some serious benefit to understanding just what a “diverse” culture means and how to accommodate differences among us all.  This in no way makes me a “bleeding heart liberal” and does not mean that I drop my guard one iota for anyone, especially during war time situations.  What it means is that this particular war on terror, dealing with Muslim extremists is not an easy task to carry out, but it is a task that we all must be involved in one way or another.  This is where I must adhere to what our current Commander in Chief states when he says, “do not rush to judgment” even though it may be quite easy to do so.

Look, I have loved ones that are stationed at Ft. Hood and were actually on the base at the time of the massacre. I was worried and monitored the situation moment by moment.  Each time I hear of any soldier, marine, airman or sailor killed I feel it up close and personal.  I do not take such an incident lightly.  At this moment, I have my flag flying at half staff in remembrance of those killed at Ft. Hood last week.  But I also know that when the President of the United States speaks as the Commander in Chief and cautions all of us to “not rush to judgment” I must at the very least, take heed and see what comes of the current investigation concerning this tragic event.  It is well known that I supported and assisted Sen. John McCain in his bid for the Presidency in 2008.  I believe such a man who has personally experienced suffering in war would offer the same advice.  It may be that Maj. Hassan has deeper ties to a terrorist community network or it may be that Maj. Hassan simply was a deranged person and snapped.  Whatever the case, none of it changes that fact that many, many patriotic families suffered greatly due to his actions. 

Let us all wait and see what comes of those in authority over us and their investigations.  This incident for sure keeps me on a higher guard but it does not change my own experiences with Muslim folks whether they be members of the US Army, citizens of Iraq, or anywhere on the globe for that matter.  What it does is for sure strengthen my own beliefs in my Lord Jesus and tells me that indeed the days are evil and worse has yet to come.  In the mean time, we all must stand steadfast and be strong for this is a time of war.  Those affected by such things know this already.              


Jim Spiri,


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