It was a terrorist attack, pure and simple.

While thousands gathered at Fort Hood, Texas, yesterday, where a memorial service was held for the 13 people who died and the 29 others who were wounded last week, officials searched for answers to the shooting rampage conducted by Army Major Nidal Hasan.

We don't want to hear that Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, just "snapped" and went on his shooting spree, killing and wounded unarmed military personnel at the sprawling military base. That would be too easy to justify. Early evidence shows otherwise. Evidence surfacing as the investigation continues indicates his was a cold, calculated attack that he planned for some time.

It's a fact that Hasan had repeated communications with a radical Imam overseas. An investigative official said Hasan had communicated 10 to 20 times with Anwar al Awlaki, an Imam released from a Yemeni jail last year who has used his personal web site to encourage Muslims across the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Somebody dropped the ball when, knowing this information, no formal investigation was opened into Hasan.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Hasan warned his medical colleagues a year and a half ago that to "decrease adverse events" the U.S. military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims.

This hardly makes sense being that we are an all volunteer army. Nobody forced Hasan or other Muslims to join our military. They did it out of their own free will. And many of them benefitted from it. Hasan, himself, received much of his education while in the military.

Officials said Hasan will be tried in a military court, not a civilian one, a choice that suggests his alleged actions are not thought to have emanated from a terrorist organization.

We think the history of his actions over the past few years indicate otherwise.

This wasn't the actions of some crazed killer. It was the workings of a man who chose to be an enemy of this nation. And he acted under the guise of a U.S. Army officer.

And a lot of good, dedicated soldiers died as a result.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com