Domestic Terrorism Within the Armed Forces dissertation

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Terrorism and the Military (APA).

Domestic Terrorism and the Military

On Friday June 17th a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve was arrested for trespassing on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. In the man's car, police found Al Qaeda literature. What this Ethiopian-born American citizen was doing, and why he had Al Qaeda literature in his car has yet to be determined, but with the recent wave of attacks by Muslim soldiers against their country the question of terrorists inside the U.S. military has become an issue. Since the United States began it's war on terrorism 10 years ago, the number of incidents of U.S. soldiers committing acts of terrorism against their own country has increased, prompting many to worry about the possibility of more terrorist in the military. However, this is not the first time the possibility of terrorists being in the military has been an issue, in the past the military has been a recruiting ground for right-wing extremist groups as well as race-based hate groups. Because of the type of training received by military personnel, they are a perfect tool for use by terrorists, both domestic and foreign.

As previously stated, domestic terrorism performed by ex-military personnel has been a problem in the United States since the end of the Civil War and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. After the war there were many in the South who were bitter and resentful at the conditions placed upon them by the federal government. In 1865, Confederate army veterans formed the Klan in an attempt to fight the changes being imposed upon the South. These ex-military men targeted freed slaves, federal troops and officials, and all Republicans. As the south was successfully reconstructed, the Klan faded away, only to be resurrected in 1915 with a new emphasis on anti-immigration, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Communist; along with their traditional emphasis on race.

During the 1960's there was a great amount of social and political upheaval in America. As a result there was a significant increase in domestic terrorism, for example in the summer of 1970, California suffered an average of twenty bombings each week. (Presley) Ex-military members were included in some of the groups who committed these acts of domestic terrorism. However, by the end of the 1970's, the social chaos which had rocked the previous decade subsided, as did the acts of organized domestic terrorism. The total number of terrorist incidents per year dropped from 111 in 1977 to just 7 in 1985. (Presley) But the late 1980's saw a rise in the number of domestic terrorist attacks, primarily from extremist groups. Both left-wing and right-wing groups began to use acts of terrorism to promote their agendas. Whether it be the environment or abortion, or any other number of causes, the late 1980's saw another rise in domestic terrorism.

One of the leading recruiters of U.S. military personnel and veterans are the religious and racially-based hate groups. These include the obvious white supremacist groups, which have combined religious and racial ideologies, but also groups like the "Nation of Islam." All of whom actively recruit ex-military personnel into their ranks. The fundamentalist Mormons are another religiously-motivated group within the United States that have begun to concern government officials. "Many of the fundamentalist Mormons are well-armed conspiratorial-minded survivalists who have retreated to the mountains of central Utah to await Armageddon." (Presley)

Since the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Timothy McVeigh and his associates, the federal government, the target of that attack, has been ever vigilant against the possibility that other veterans like McVeigh may want to carry out similar attacks. Therefore one of the main focus of federal law enforcement has been domestic groups which espouse a racial or anti-government ideology. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security confirms their belief in the possibility that veterans are a prime source of recruitment for domestic terrorist groups, especially right wing extremists. It stated, "Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists…DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities." ("RightWing Extremists") The report also asserts that the election of Barack Obama, the first black president, "are proving to be a driving force for right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization." ("RightWing Extremists") The report also notes that "end times" prophesies could motivate individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. (Thornton, 2009) In the past "end times" prophesies have been linked to "the violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement." ("RightWing Extremists")

However, the report also acknowledges that the "Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts." ("RightWing Extremists") However, the report also stated the government's fear that proposed legislation to restrict the ownership of guns would, in most likelihood, lead to an increase in recruitment and radicalization for these groups. In spite of these fears, from 2001 to 2009 studies have indicated that "there were 91 homegrown terrorist attacks" in the United States. (Muhlhausen, 2011)

While the federal government was running around spying on domestic groups, that their own report stated were not making any plans to carry out attacks, there were others, inside the military itself, who were planning to carry out attacks on their fellow soldiers. In March 2003, Sergeant Hasan Akbar took two stolen hand grenades and tossed them into fellow service members' tents. The attack, which occurred in Kuwait, killed two officers and injured 14 others. Sergeant Akbar told his own mother that he killed the officers because he was a Muslim. ("Army" Foxnews, 2003) The American intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan was considered by Akbar as a war against all Muslims, and therefore he was defending innocent Muslims against American aggression.

The following year, 2004, saw the court-martial of Sergeant Abdullah Webster for disobeying a lawful order from a superior officer when he refused to deploy with his unit to Iraq. Webster "told his leaders he would not deploy based on guidance he received from Muslim clerics." (Emert, 2004) The advice he received was that it was immoral for him to participate in a war against fellow Muslims. The sergeant's faith had been a point of friction between him and the other soldiers, who feared an attack similar to Hasan Akbar. One soldier stated in testimony at the court-martial, "This is great, now we can do our job without having to watch our backs." (Emert, 2004) While the U.S. government was focusing on right-wing extremists, Muslim terrorist were recruiting members of the U.S. military, and these members were increasing the number and scale of attacks.

By 2009, the number of terrorist attacks by members of the military, both serving and retired, were increasing. In that year, 24-year-old veteran and resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe before he officially converted to Islam and took the name Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammed, walked into a military recruitment center and began shooting. One soldier was killed, and another was wounded, in this attack which law enforcement officials said was carried out "with the specific purpose of targeting military personnel." ("Suspect arrested" CNN, 2009) Later the suspect told investigators that he was a soldier in Al Qaeda, and that the shooting was a Jihad Attack in retribution for the killing of Muslims by American troops. In a hand printed note, the shooter claimed he was not insane, suffering from post-traumatic stress, or forced to commit this act, and that he was "Justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad- to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims." (Dao, 2010)

One of the reasons stated by many of the Muslim terrorists caught carrying out attacks on other military personnel, is the fact that the U.S. military is currently at war with other Muslims. These terrorists have stated that they committed these acts in order to stop the United States from waging war against what they refer to as "fellow Muslims." The most devastating attack by a member of the U.S. military against their fellow soldiers came in November of 2009 at Fort Hood Texas. In this case a U.S. Army Major, named Nidal Malik Hasan, who was a serving psychiatrist walked into his workplace, the Soldier Readiness Center, where soldiers routinely receive medical treatment, and began shooting his fellow soldiers. Major Hasan was heard yelling "Allahu Akbar," a term which means "God is Great" in Arabic, and is commonly used by Muslim terrorists when carrying out a religious-based attack.

The attack by Major Hasan killed 13, 12 soldiers, including one that was pregnant, and a civilian employee. He also wounded 30 more. It was Hasan's intent to kill only military personnel as he bypassed several civilian to concentrate his fire on other soldiers. But this did not stop him from taking aim at a pregnant woman soldier and shooting her at point blank range,…[continue]

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