It took just hours for England's Prime Minister to say a gruesome knife and cleaver attack on a serviceman in London was likely an act of terrorism. In the U.S., more than three years since a much deadlier domestic assault on American troops -- the 2009 Fort Hood massacre that claimed 13 lives, including that of a pregnant soldier -- a top Army attorney maintains that incident was likely a "criminal act of a single individual."
"...[T]he available evidence in this case does not, at this time, support a finding that the shooting at Fort Hood was an act of international terrorism," Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman said this week in a letter to Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) on behalf of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
The letter, obtained by ABC News, was apparently written in response to an inquiry from Rooney, Rep. Chaka Fatta (D-Penn.), and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virg.) sent to Hagel on May 6, which questioned whether concerns of "political correctness" informed the Army's decision to refer to the Fort Hood attack as an act of "workplace violence." Victims of the shooting have long maintained that calling the attack "workplace violence" instead of "combat related" or an act of terrorism has had a massive impact on the benefits and treatment they've received.
In the case of the London attack, two men armed with a handgun, a meat cleaver and a knife are suspected of brutally murdering a lone serviceman, who was out of uniform, in broad daylight Wednesday. They stuck around after the attack and one of the suspects was caught on video telling a passerby he did what he did "because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day."
In the Fort Hood attack, Maj. Nidal Hasan stands accused of gunning down 13 soldiers and injuring 32 others in November 2009. After the assault, investigators uncovered evidence that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack. Al-Awlaki was apparently such a threat that he has been the only American citizen ever targeted for a drone strike -- though three others have been collateral damage, according to President Obama.
In both cases, witnesses reportedly said the alleged attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar," "God is Great" in Arabic, amid the chaos.
As reflected in Chipman's letter, the Department of Defense has consistently said that in addition to a supposed lack of evidence, it would be irresponsible to call the Fort Hood attack "terrorism" because it "may have a negative impact on the ongoing judicial process" for Hasan.
The letter also denied that the Defense Department had made a decision to classify the attack as "workplace violence" and said, "[N]o benefit has been denied to any of the victims based on any such classification" -- two claims to which the survivors object stringently.
Kimberly Munley, a police officer who was hailed as a hero for her role in stopping the alleged Fort Hood shooter, told ABC News Chipman's letter is "disgraceful" and "another direct slap in the face." Attorneys for Munley and most of the other Fort Hood victims called the letter's claims "counterfactual" and an "insult."
An attorney for several of the victims, Reed Rubinstein, said the Army's new letter is "worse than word games."
"The 'workplace violence' classification has been out there for years, and [the Army] has never walked it back," he said.