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BREAKING! The Mystery of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s Powerpoint

Charles Cameron, an expert on forensic theology, is doing a series of guest posts here on Islamist extremism. His prior posts can be found here, here and here:

Breaking News on the Mystery of Maj. Hasan’s Powerpoint

by Charles Cameron 

I am in the middle of writing up an extended, contextualized commentary on the 50-slide PowerPoint presentation that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan made to his colleagues at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a senior-year psychiatric resident in June 2007, but wanted to make one data point available to other analysts right away.

In the final bullet point of slide 11 he writes in quotes, “It’s getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims.”

This last phrase is a direct quotation from a statement made by Jeff Hammad, a Muslim in the Marines, reported by the SF Chronicle religion writer Don Lattin in an article in SFGate, the Chronicle website, titled “Muslims in the military walk fine line: War tensions put pressure on rising minority“. A quick search suggests that this is the original source for this particular phrase, which Hasan’s own use of quote marks suggests he was drawing from some source other than himself, although this saying of Hammad’s was also quoted from Lattin’s article in a 2006 Maxwell AFB Research Report by Timothy E. Stenmark, “Language, Cultural Awareness, and the Fourth Generation Warrior“.

The rest of Don Lattin’s article, and the contents of Stenmark’s paper, should therefore be subject to careful scrutiny.

Jeff Hammad’s opening comment in Lattin’s article: “The military has a tendency to demonize the enemy, and Muslims are on the receiving end of that hostility.”


Zen here. Charles alerted me that readers can view the Hasan PPT presentation over at The Washington Post website. No embed option, sorry.

14 Responses to “BREAKING! The Mystery of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s Powerpoint”

  1. zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » BREAKING! The Mystery of Maj. Nidal … « PPT Converter Says:

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  2. Nidal Malik Hasan’s powerpoint « All Things Counter Terrorism Says:

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  3. Muslims Against Sharia Says:

    MASH message for Islamic terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan:

    Mr. Hasan,

    May you be swiftly executed, may you rot in Hell for eternity, and may your family be ashamed of you for as long as they shall live.

    With utmost contempt,

    Muslims Against Sharia

    <a href="http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2009/11/fort-hood.html">http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2009/11/fort-hood.html</a&gt;

  4. Today’s edition of the FM newspaper – excerpts from old-fashioned journalism « Fabius Maximus Says:

    […] “The Mystery of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s Powerpoint“, by Charles Cameron, posted at Zenpundit, 11 November 2009 […]

  5. Lexington Green Says:

    "…extended, contextualized commentary …"
    Looking forward to reading that. 

  6. Charles Cameron Says:

    I alerted Don Lattin to the post above, and he has blogged it without a direct link:    
    "Blogger Charles Cameron alerts me to the eerily disturbing news that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Muslim Army shrink and accused mass murderer, borrowed a quote from one of my articles in the SF  Chronicle in a June 2007 Powerpoint demonstration to his colleagues at Walter Reed Army Medical Center."    

  7. david ronfeldt Says:

    seven slides on rewards and punishment.  quite a preoccupation.  more than for number of slides on any other theme, except defensive and offensive jihad.  mean anything?

  8. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi, David:    
    I don’t find it significant that there are four slides for reward and paradise, and only three for punishment and hell, but I do think he intends the two to be balanced — although in much the same way that Dante’s Inferno gets a wider audience than his Paradiso, I note that his listeners commented notably on the punishments section and not on the section of rewards.  The presentation itself is balanced: the human response is not.     .     Thanks — I’ll add those paras into the mix at the appropriate point in my narration.  

  9. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hah.  Somehow my first para from the post above, which appeared when I posted it (I have a downloaded .pdf to prove it), has now disappeared.    
    So here it is again:    
    I read slide 21 quoting Q 67.1 -2 "that He might put you to the test and find out which of you acquitted himself best" as beginning a series on "the test" (21), whose passing mode is submission (22), introducing Abraham as an example of one who is severely tested and passes the test (23 – 24), then turning to those who lack submission and fail (25), the possibility of mercy (26), the need to fear God for fear of judgment and in hope of Paradise (27), and then into the suite on rewards (28-31) and punishments (33-24). So that’s really a subsection of a larger movement in the text.

  10. Charles Cameron Says:

    Ack.  Make that (33-34) at the end.

  11. david ronfeldt Says:

    thanks, charles.  it’s good to see how you interpet that set of slides on punishment and rewards as a part of the broader flow of presentation.  overall, except in spots, it strikes me as being rather "balanced" and even ordinary.  yet, i spot at another blog that this slide presentation — i assume it’s the same one — may be viewed as "the crystallization of the SJ [Salalfi-Jihadist] ideology, expressed in American English, intended for an American audience" (from http://www.makingsenseofjihad.com/2009/11/american-salafistjihadism-emerges.html ).  really?  i must be missing something . . .

  12. david ronfeldt Says:

    also, charles, i keep reading that hasan was reacting to stories he heard in counseling sessions.  but i’ve not seen whether he was conseling only muslim soldiers, or soldiers from other faiths, or all of the above.  do you know? 
    if all of the above, it also remains unspecified whose kinds of stories may have upset him the most — e.g., those of conflicted muslims, or those from folks of other faiths (or none at all) who expressed anti-muslim views during counseling sessions.  again, does anyone know?

  13. Charles Cameron Says:

    As you know, my full commentary is now up here on ZP and I suggest we continue our discussions there or over at SWJ.     .     Bill Nagle My impression is that he would be counseling anyone whose trauma seemed to require psychiatric attention, and he’d be a natural choice, perhaps, for Muslim soldiers in particular — unless someone higher up was having doubts.  But I don’t know for sure who he was counseling or at what point exactly supervised and/or unsupervised counseling began.  I imagine a lot is under wraps, between him and his attorneys, medical personnel, etc, and that some may come out at trial, perhaps some before…    
    As to the blog post you link to from Marisa Urgo, I think the slideshow is ambiguous precisely because it shows both sides of a conflict, between the concern of a Muslim in the American army that what he recognizes as possibilities and twice calls "adverse events", and the concern that same Muslim American has to grapple with, that his faith — interpreted along jihadist lines — might set him in severe conflict with or even at war with his own fellow soldiers and countrymen.     .     In that sense, I’d say Urgo’s blog post is reading one of the two strands that are present — not the one that is dominating his presentation as he speaks, but the one that will emerge definitively as his choice as the events at Fort Hood unfold.  Naturally enough, his actions at that point receive acclaim from the folks that Jarret Brachman, Jihadica and others are following.    


  14. DP Says:


    Many thanks for your post. I have been searching for a larger network of professionals who recognize the growing consciousness and need to gather minds together to counter violence of this magnitude. All intellectual and societal resources need to be employed to do so.

    I certainly agree with Jean Rosenfeld that religiously-based "methodology, typologies, and frameworks" can formulate "provisional conclusions" and a "database" by isolating phenomena like a medical doctor. Religion needs a scientific method in light of the historic trends of motivation witnessed in AQ; or, to the very least, needs to add a "religious-centered paradigm" with similar meaning as David Ronfeldt at RAND has with a "tribal paradigm" presented in "AQ and Its Affiliates."

    My logic is simple: scientific method uses an example of experimenting with two separate but similar growing plants. The objective, of course, is to use variables as well as placebo effects to measure several factors and draw a plausible conclusion. How I think we need to move forward is to begin to measure vertical ideologies (i.e. dawah) with horizontal trends (i.e. population growth). This, I think, can be done structurally and systematically by utilizing systems theory as well as chi-square analysis.

    The difficulty ahead is precisely what Marc Sageman exposed in his book, "Leaderless Jihad": there is a progressive movement not hierarchically connected to AQ but linked to its ideology(ies). My colleague, Pat Ryan, asks the tipping-point question: [But] how do we track Hasan-types? I add: By what variables that are quantifiably binding; i.e. legally?

    This is exactly why I commented that religiously-centered analysis, at least at the stage it is in currently, is not holistically accepted by officials who are bound to policy which dictates they must present measurable activity which is justifiable in a court of law. Our individual and collective reason, experience, tradition, and/or authority (i.e. leaders) may affirm terrorist ideology and activity is abnormal, unethical, immoral, or unprecendented, but if the conclusions are merely anecdotal evidence than it may be rejected, dismissed, or thought of as a pilot-program/tentative model of inquiry.

    The method, as it stands now, is being used to understand suspected terrorists mainly in sociological and psychological terms. It is "out of bounds" to the extent that some officials [I have come in contact with] think it is quality-based in this sense and holds limited or no quantifiable value all-the-while agreeing that it holds deep meaning.

    I wish to note – in good manner – that I and my colleagues on al Sahwa fully recognize that your efforts as well as the hard work of your colleagues and the blogs, centers, and entities which you are connected to/affiliated with are substantial, worthy, and legitimate. Simply, my singular comment recognizes that some officials and scholars dismiss this analysis as not holding weight. It does not speak to all officials and scholars in our growing area of study. If it did, I would find every way to ensure that my arguement would be stronger.

    In conclusion, Sageman is right to ground his inquiries in data and statistics, but I am continuing to attempt to flesh out – as you, Rosenfeld, Ronfeldt, and Hall are – the exact particulars of how a religious study can be empirically natured in order to a) identify and differentiate between insane, abnormal, "lone-wolf" according to persons like Evan Kohlmann, and/or terrorist as well as b) provide further insight into the ideological teachings – such as those I mentioned; sahwa, shariah – inherent in their motivations.

    I would like to be more apart of the team, and will maintain active communication through blogs and other avenues in the future, as this is all in attempt to counter the extreme jihadi movement and strategically plan for proactive and preventative intelligence.

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