Countering Violent Extremism in the U.S. Military

The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) gave me an interesting research topic a few weeks ago examining the impact of Major Nidal Hasan’s attack on fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas. The paper is available here at: Major Nidal Hasan and the Ft. Hood Tragedy: Implications for the U.S. Armed Forces.

In the conduct of my research, I noticed several things:

  • Holistic research on Major Hasan’s radicalization and early years is pretty limited.  I hope that someone does a good book or a dissertation sometime soon looking at the entire story.
  • Hasan’s radicalization seemed very familiar to the extremist path traveled by many other former military members that attacked Americans.  I only used three examples in this paper, but I had many others cases I could have added.
  • Many have cited political correctness as the reason for Hasan not being removed from the service.  While this is valid to an extent, Hasan’s superiors also didn’t have many policies or tools for assessing extremism in the ranks.  When I was in the military, I remember having a manual to assess gang and other extremist group tattoos and literature.  There needs to be some focused research, improved policies and associated tools to assist leaders trying to assess extremism in the ranks; regardless of the ideology.

On this note, I have to give a big thanks to J.M. Berger at Intelwire for an interview and his new book Jihad Joe.  J.M. helped me get some perspective on Hasan; a sparsely researched topic thus far.

Also, a thanks to Chris Heffelfinger and his new book Radical Islam in America.  Chris and I have alternated teaching courses on radicalization processes with different law enforcement programs.  His chapter nine is a good resource for those framing the radicalization process.