Not quite four years ago and not long after I joined Atheist Nexus, the incident with Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood happened.  I wrote about it then and wondered at what motivated Hasan to do what he did.  As the discovery process and the trial unfolded, we learned, about Anwar al-Awlaki and Hasan’s communications with him, about Hasan’s radicalization, at least in part from that association and his decision to become a jihadi agent against his own country.

Initially I was somewhat surprised at Hasan’s behavior during the trial: representing himself, his near lack of any meaningful opening statement, a total absence of defense and closing statement.  Then it became clear – Hasan was falling on his sword.  He wanted to lose the trial, wanted to be found guilty, and while the decision hasn’t been reached yet, there is no doubt in my mind but that he wants the death penalty levied against him.  Nidal Malik Hasan wants to be a martyr.

He may get his wish, too.  The evidence against him is overwhelming, I seriously doubt he’s shown the least bit of remorse or contrition, and those in the US Army, the wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters of the victims will very likely demand the death penalty for Hasan, on the basis of their losses and the heinousness of the crime.  They want blood for blood and they are hardly to be blamed.  The problem is that they’re playing directly into his hands.  They are giving him precisely what he wants: to be a martyr for his cause.

It is for that reason that under no circumstances should Nidal Malik Hasan get the death penalty.  His punishment should be life imprisonment, with absolutely no chance of parole.  Rather than having his way, rather than being able to take the easy way out, the coward’s way out, he should be forced to live out his life, confronted each day with the people he plotted against, placed in a situation where he is utterly impotent and powerless against them, and forced to live a long life in that confrontation.  For Hasan, living is a far worse punishment than death, and it is the utter antithesis of his aspiration to die the martyr’s death, the grandest goal Islam offers its faithful.

I realize this goes against the instinct of those who have had to face the dreadful harm Hasan has brought to those who lost loved ones, comrades and companions.  I fully understand and respect their desire to see the same fate meted out to him as he arrogantly delivered to those they lost.  In this case, though, there is a fate worse than death – the fate of having to live with what you’ve done and face that day after day, helplessly, and in the very hands of those he sought to undo.

Do not give Nidal Malik Hasan what he wants.  Give him what he deserves.

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Comment by Loren Miller on August 25, 2013 at 10:18am

An intriguing thought, Pat ... and worthy of consideration.  Thanks for putting it out there.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 25, 2013 at 10:05am

Frankly, if they do give Hasan life imprisonment, I doubt they would put him in the general population.  I don't think he would last two seconds there.  It would have to be solitary confinement or something very similar.

Certainly what he did was a highly provocative act, though whether it rises to the level of an act of war may be debatable.  The problem in levying the death penalty on Hasan is that the US justice system would, in his eyes, be REWARDING him for that act.  That I cannot countenance.

As for enlightening him to the lie of Islam ... no, I don't see it.  Hasan is a true believer, or something very close to that.  Whether he can think critically about his own beliefs any more or not is, again, a subject for conjecture.  My sense is that he committed himself to the path he was on when he entered that gathering area at Fort Hood with a gun and ammunition.

He's made his bed.  He can damned well sleep in it.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 24, 2013 at 10:57pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly, in spite of my dislike for government sanctioned executions. In this case, and in such actions based on primitive beliefs, life in solitary would be my choice. He should not be in the prison population because if he has been radicalized, he can radicalize other inmates. All some prisoners need is a leader to whom they can pledge their allegiance and and organize their furies. 

I hope Cleveland Plain Dealer prints it, and that others see your point. 

Comment by Loren Miller on August 24, 2013 at 9:20pm

Postscript: the above text, with slight modifications, has been submitted to the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, my local newspaper.  I guess we'll see what they do with it.



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