Some saw warning signs ahead of US Army shooting

Some saw warning signs a

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November 8, 2009 08:24
Nidal Malik Hasan 248.88

Nidal Malik Hasan 248.88. (photo credit: )

 
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Some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan said they saw clear signs the young US Army psychiatrist, who authorities say went on a shooting spree at the Army base Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded, had no place in the military. There was the classroom presentation that justified suicide bombings. Comments to colleagues about a climate of persecution faced by Muslims in the military. Conversations with a mosque leader that became incoherent. After he arrived at Fort Hood, Hasan was conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, alarming an Islamic community leader from whom he sought counsel. "I told him, 'There's something wrong with you,'" Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right." Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates in a graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint. "The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out." Military criminal investigators continued late Saturday to refer to Hasan as the only suspect in the shootings, declining to say when charges would be filed. "We have not established a motive for the shootings at this time," said Army Criminal Investigative Command spokesman Chris Grey. A government official speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the case said an initial review of Hasan's computer use has found no evidence of links to terror groups, or anyone who might have helped plan or push him toward the shooting attack. The review of Hasan's computer is continuing and more evidence could emerge, the source said. Hasan likely would face military justice rather than federal criminal charges if investigators determine the violence was the work of just one person. But Hasan's family described a man incapable of the attack, calling him a devoted doctor and devout Muslim who showed no signs that he might lash out with violence. "I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," said his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Virginia, in a statement. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen." Others recalled a pleasant neighbor who forgave a fellow soldier charged with tearing up his "Allah is Love" bumper sticker. A superior officer at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Col. Kimberly Kesling, has said Hasan was a quiet man with a strong work ethic who provided excellent care for his patients. Still, in the days since authorities believe Hasan fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the US, a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to get out of his late November deployment to Afghanistan and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist. "He told (them) that as a Muslim committed to his prayers he was discriminated against and not treated as is fitting for an officer and American," said Mohammed Malik Hasan, 24, a cousin, told the AP from his home on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. "He hired a lawyer to get him a discharge." Twice this summer, Danquah said, Hasan asked him what to tell soldiers who expressed misgivings about fighting fellow Muslims. The retired Army first sergeant and Gulf War veteran said he reminded Hasan that these soldiers had volunteered to fight, and that Muslims were fighting against each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories. "I'd give him my response. It didn't seem settled, you know. It didn't seem to satisfy," he said. "It would be like a person playing the devil's advocate. ... I said, 'Look. I'm not impressed by you.'" Danquah said he was so disturbed by Hasan's persistent questioning that he recommended the mosque reject Hasan's request to become a lay Muslim leader at Fort Hood. But he never saw a need to tell anyone at the sprawling Army post about the talks, because Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence. However, classmate Finnell said that Hasan made a presentation during their studies "that justified suicide bombing" and spewed "anti-American propaganda" as he argued the war on terror was "a war against Islam." Finnell said he and at least one other student complained about Hasan, surprised that someone with "this type of vile ideology" would be allowed to wear an officer's uniform. But Finnell said no one filed a formal, written complaint about Hasan's comments out of fear of appearing discriminatory. Hasan received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. And while he was an intern at the suburban Washington hospital, Hasan had some "difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time. Both military and civilian investigators have yet to talk with Hasan, who reportedly jumped up on a desk and shouted "Allahu akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" - at the start of Thursday's attack. He was seriously wounded by police and transferred Friday to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, and officials said late Saturday he was no longer on a respirator.

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