Bad news, unlike wine and chicken soup, does not get better with age. The murders at Fort Hood will haunt our collective consciousness for some time to come. Make no mistake, our enemies are pondering how to use the tragedy for their own purposes and we need to be ready with counter PSYOP, in fact we need to be sending messages right now. Photo credit: AP via Washington Post
Hasan’s links to ‘radical cleric’ (see Washington Post, 18 November 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/17/AR2009111703830.html?wpisrc=newsletter) is one of many Monday morning quarterback articles across the media. I won’t concern myself with the law enforcement aspects but point to the PSYOP aspect - -word of mouth, especially from credible (to their audience) religious leaders is a powerful recruiting tool and a means to keep their followers engaged against the perceived enemy.
From an enemy PSYOP perspective let’s honestly reflect on what they have to work with. First of all there is an incredible wealth of video and photographic imagery of the carnage at Fort Hood and pictures of MAJ Hasan in uniform. There is also a wealth of information on his alleged beliefs and even a PowerPoint.
The enemy is more than likely going to employ some of these on the Internet and perhaps even orchestrate the spider webbing of word of mouth showing how the jihad’s righteousness has been accepted by Muslims even in America and even by those who have mistakenly taken up the cause and worn the uniform of the infidel.
What do we need to do about it? First of all we need to reemphasize the message that we are not at war with Islam, but with terrorists. However, while there needs to be direct USG messaging from President Obama and Secret Clinton on down the line, American sources are not enough. We must enlist the aid of credible Muslim religious leaders to speak out against the atrocity and reiterate the criminal, anti-Islamic and abhorrent nature of the act.
We need to show that the defendant is assumed innocent until proven guilty. If appropriate messaging concerning his medical care after the incident along with the on-going story of the criminal prosecution may be of value.
It might also make sense to have messaging from Muslim Chaplains and individuals currently serving in the US military to underscore the fact that Hasan is an aberration and that serving in the US military is consistent with Islamic beliefs.
The point is we know the enemy is resourceful and employs a high degree of information agility – we need to launch an information offensive before we are caught flat footed once again.