Complete and continuing coverage of the fatal shootings at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009

Muslims in the Military

The family of suspected Fort Hood shooter calls Nidal Hasan's actions "despicable and deplorable"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Flowers adorn the grave marker of a slain Muslim American soldier in 'Section 60' of the Arlington National Cemetery May 27, 2007. Section 60, the newest portion of the vast national cemetery on the outskirts of Washington D.C, contains hundreds of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Family members of slain American soldiers have flown in from across the country for Memorial Day.

    There are many unknowns about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man authorities say is responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base.

    The family of the suspected Fort Hood shooter calls Hasan's actions "despicable and deplorable." 

    But some North Texans are jumping on his Muslim faith, carelessly casting all Muslims in a negative light.

    In an email sent to NBCDFW: "We apparently don't have too many smart people in the pentagon if they would send a muslim to fight muslims."

    To paint all Muslims with the same brush and not allow American citizens who want to fight for this country to serve in the military would go against everything that is American.

    Take a look at the picture above. It is the grave of a soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 60, the newest portion of the vast national cemetery in Washington, D.C., that contains hundreds of graves of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Capt. Humayun Saqid Muazzam Khan, 27, a Pakistani-American, of Bristow, Va., died June 8, 2004, after a vehicle packed with an improvised explosive device (IED) drove into the gate of a compound in Baquabah, Iraq. Khan's unit was charged with the day-to-day security and maintenance of the camp.

    Khan was laid to rest with full military honors.

    According to the Arlington National Cemetery Web site, "His colleagues and superiors remembered him for his courage, honesty, sense of humor and grace while in the field, even under pressure. Khan's colleagues eulogized his exemplary services and praised him for the leadership he provided to his troops."

    Khan was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. The last time he spoke to his mother in Virginia was on Mother's Day.

    Another grave at Arlington honors U.S. Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Ayman Abdelrahman Taha, who died on Dec. 30, 2005. Taha  earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    These slain soldiers were buried, with military honors, in coffins that were draped with the flag of the United States of America. Their ultimate sacrafices are no less great because they were Muslim.

    Those soldiers no doubt lost their lives protecting our country after taking the Oath of Enlistment:

    "I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

    That's right, sometimes our enemies are domestic.

    Speculation will happen in the hours and days after a mass shooting such as this, it's expected. But before spewing hate speech against all Muslims, consider this, there are extremists in all religions, and hundreds of soldiers of Muslim faith go to battle with fellow soldiers of other faiths because they believe in this country.

    MUSLIM REACTION

    The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in the Military, estimates there are about 3,500 Arab Americans serving in the military.

    The group, which was set up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, issued a statement after the Fort Hood shootings:

    "At a time of deep sorrow in the midst of this horrific tragedy, our thoughts are first and foremost with the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. One can only imagine the unspeakable pain and loss they are and will be dealing with in the weeks, months and years to come.

    "It is unfortunate that whatever demons possessed Nidal Hasan, that he chose to deal with his problems in this way.

    "In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, it is more important than ever that we not make the same scapegoating and broad stroke mistakes that were evident in the aftermath of previous tragedies. The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military urges the media, government officials and all of our fellow Americans to recognize that the actions of Hasan are those of a deranged gunman, and are in no way representative of the wider Arab American or American Muslim community.

    "In fact, thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. Additionally, many of us have willingly stepped forward to fulfill our duty with our fellow soldiers in both Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe, including most of the member of APAAM. Indeed, many of us are today currently deployed in both countries, honorably serving each and every day."

    A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group condemned the attack. In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

    "We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured."

    More: Arlington National Cemetery: Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan , Arlington National Cemetery: SSG Ayman A. Taha