Man attacks Homestead Air Base, or jihad as a mental illness

See if you can make sense of the details here. We have a naturalized US citizen from Kuwait named Tahmeed Ahmad who, on Sunday, tried to attack a US reserve air base in Florida all by his lonesome. According to the story, he was wielding a couple of butcher knives and some bottles of vodka to use as “explosives” (Molotov cocktails?) and he rushed gate guards at the base shouting “Death to America!” and stating that he wanted to kill soldiers. He had tried to buy a gun for the attack, but hadn’t lived in Florida long enough to qualify, so he made do with the low budget stuff.

One of the guards fired at him as he rushed the base gate but didn’t hit him; he was quickly arrested and is now charged with assaulting a US government employee. Also according to the story, the man had long been on a terrorist watch list, but authorities had concluded that he was mentally ill and therefore not a terrorist threat. He had recently been in a mental institution and had told his mother that he wanted to kill himself but “didn’t know how.” He’d also been recruited to teach math at a Miami area high school.

Question: Is it standard practice to recruit mentally ill people who are on terrorist watch lists to teach high school math? Just wondering.

So here’s what else I’m wondering: How seriously do the authorities expect us to treat claims that this guy is mentally ill in factoring out whether this was a loner terrorist attack or just a weirdo trying to end it all? In the Dearborn park case, Hussein Zorkot was quickly described in the media by the police as “confused,” even though the evidence of his life clearly pointed to terrorism. Same goes for the Austrian terror plot that was thwarted — authorities described that guy as “confused” and maybe mental too. I noted the “confusion” rap in a post about the Austrian case earlier this month. He was confused, yet coherent enough to pack a backpack full of explosives and nails that would become shrapnel upon detonation.

It strains credulity to accept that Zorkot and the Austrian backpack bomber were both “confused” or mental. There’s more than enough known evidence to accept them as jihadists, and the authorities undermine their own credibility each time they trot out the “Nothing to see here” shtick when there’s obviously something to see here. This week’s case looks a little more like mental illness may be a factor, but still — the guy was a) on a terrorist watch list and b) tried to attack a US military base after c) loading up on weapons, pathetic though they might be, and d) used the standard Al Jazeera “Death to America” line as his motto.

Sounds like a jihadi to me. Or has the psychiatric profession dubbed jihadism an official mental illness without telling the rest of us?

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