On Tuesday, the trial of accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan commenced in Texas, reopening the wounds from an act of terrorism that shocked the nation and the entire U.S. military community.
Given Hasan’s decision to represent himself—and thus directly question many of the same individuals that he is accused of having attempted to murder—the trial will no doubt prove to be an emotional spectacle.
Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is accused of having engaged in a shooting rampage at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, nearly four years ago that left 13 people dead (12 soldiers and one civilian) and over 30 severely injured.
Eyewitnesses and victims described the scene as dozens of military and civilian personnel worked in the processing center assisting soldiers returning from or preparing to deploy overseas. In an instant, Hasan began indiscriminately shooting his victims with a semiautomatic pistol. The carnage lasted for nearly 10 minutes before federal police officers were able to subdue the assailant in an exchange of gunfire.
Major Hasan’s trial comes in the same week as Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev entered a federal court in Boston and pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the April 15 bombing that left three dead and scores injured.
Legal proceedings against Hasan and Tsarnaev bring back into media focus the continuing threat of homegrown radicalization and domestic terrorism, a focus affirmed by the recent arrest of two Canadians suspected of attempting to commit a grievous act of terror in their homeland.
Just over one week ago, officials from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported the arrest of a Canadian couple after they attempted to detonate two pressure-cooker bombs at British Columbia’s provincial legislature on Canada Day, a national holiday.
Although under surveillance for several months, and with the public purportedly never at risk, the arrest of the couple nonetheless brings into focus the extent to which Western nations continue to deal with self-radicalization and its potential fallout.
“This self-radicalized behavior was intended to create maximum impact and harm to Canadian citizens at the British Columbia legislature on a national holiday,” stated Royal Canadian Mounted Police superintendent Wayne Rideout. “They took steps to educate themselves and produce explosive devices designed to cause injury and death.”
Although the suspects in the thwarted attack against the British Columbian provincial legislature attempted to use pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used by the Boston Marathon bombers, there appeared to be no link between the parties involved other than their respective predilections toward violence and fanaticism.
Homegrown self-radicalization and domestic terrorism continues to plague the West. Over 50 acts of terror have been foiled since 9/11, and only through continued vigilance will the majority of future plots be similarly prevented.