Complete and continuing coverage of the fatal shootings at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009

Who is Maj. Hasan?

By Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, Nov 7, 2009  |  Updated 8:54 PM CDT
Email
|
Print
Dramatic Photos: The Fort Hood Tragedy

NBC

Nidal Malik Hasan, the man identified as the shooting suspect at Fort Hood, was an Army psychiatrist preparing to deploy to Iraq. He is in stable condition after being shot by law enforcement during the rampage.

Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

A U.S. Army spokesman says the man authorities say went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood has been taken off a ventilator but still remains in intensive care at a military hospital.
 
Spokesman Col. John Rossi told reporters on Saturday at Fort Hood that he is not sure if Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is able to communicate.
 
Hasan was shot during an exchange of gunfire during Thursday's attack. The military moved him on Friday to Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, about 150 miles southwest of Fort Hood. Army officials have said Hasan is "not able to converse."

WHO IS HASAN?

As if going off to war, the man suspected of killing 13 people and injuring 28 in the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base in history cleaned out his apartment and called another to thank him for his friendship.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is suspected of shooting more than 40 people at Fort Hood before he was shot four times by a civilian police officer.

Investigators examined Hasan's computer, his home and his garbage Friday to learn what motivated the suspect, who lay in a coma.

Current superiors said Hasan wasn't a known risk and that they weren't aware of any performance issues in relation to his job as an Army psychiatrist. But peers from his past paint a slightly different picture and recent allegations of extremist postings on the Internet added fuel to the fire for those who saw Thursday's ambush as a terrorist attack against the U.S. military.

Fort Hood's Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said the 39-year-old Hasan was not known to be a threat or risk.  This sentiment was shared by Col. Steve Braverman, the Fort Hood hospital commander.

"I'm not aware of any problems here," said Braverman. "We had no problems with his job performance."

Hasan's family said in a statement Friday that his alleged actions were deplorable and don't reflect how the family was reared.

"Our family is filled with grief for the victims and their families involved in yesterday's tragedy," said Nader Hasan, a cousin who lives in northern Virginia. "We are mortified with what has unfolded and there is no justification, whatsoever, for what happened. We are all asking why this happened, and the answer is that we simply do not know."

The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist emerged as a study in contradictions: a polite man who stewed with discontent, a counselor who needed to be counseled himself, a professional healer now suspected of cutting down the fellow soldiers he was sworn to help.

Soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" -- an Arabic phrase for "God is great!" -- before opening fire Thursday, said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the post commander. He said officials had not confirmed Hasan made the comment.

Hasan had only been at Fort Hood since July.  Prior to his stint in Texas, Hasan had spent six years at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center pursuing his career in psychiatry. In 2008, Hasan received his fellow in disaster and preventive psychology. He received his medical degree from the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., in 2001.

But his record wasn't sterling. At Walter Reed, he received a poor performance evaluation, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. And while he was an intern, Hasan had some "difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.

Grieger said privacy laws prevented him from going into details, but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan's interactions with patients. He recalled Hasan as a "mostly very quiet" person who never spoke ill of the military or his country.

"He swore an oath of loyalty to the military," Grieger said. "I didn't hear anything contrary to those oaths."

An imam from a mosque Hasan regularly attended said Hasan, a lifelong Muslim, was a committed soldier who gave no sign of extremist beliefs and regularly wore his uniform at prayers.

"I got the impression that he was a committed soldier," said Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque Hasan attended in Silver Spring, Md.

Khan said Hasan attended prayers regularly at the mosque in Silver Spring, Md., and was a lifelong Muslim. Khan said he spoke often with Hasan about Hasan's desire to marry.

Col. Kimberly Kesling, deputy commander of clinical services at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, said Hasan had provided excellent care to his patients.

"You wouldn't think that someone who works in your facility and provided excellent care for his patients, which he did, could do something like this," Kesling said.

She praised his work ethic, saying, "In my personal interactions, there was never any indication he would do something like this." Kesling described him as "a quiet man who wouldn't seek the limelight" and said she was 'shocked' when she heard that he was the man suspected of carrying out the shootings.

To neighbors, Hasan was described as a generous man and a good neighbor.  Citing his approaching deployment, Hasan shared food and possessions with neighbor Patricia Villa, who said Hasan was a very nice man.  Neighbor and retired soldier Edgar Booker said he had spoken with Hasan about his deployment and that, "He seemed OK with it."

Jacqueline Harris, 44, who lives with her boyfriend, Willie Bell, in the apartment next door to Hasan, said he called Thursday at 5 a.m. and left a message.

"He just wanted to thank Willie for being a good friend and thank him for being there for him," Harris said. "That was it. We thought it was just a nice message to leave."

But, there may have been other sides to Hasan as well; a side disenfranchised with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly the military itself. Hasan reportedly had discussions that escalated into arguments with fellow officers over the war.

Hasan's cousin, Nader Hasan, told The New York Times that after counseling young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hasan knew war firsthand and may have been terrified of heading into a war zone.

"He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy," Nader Hasan said. "He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Hasan's aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, Va., said he had been harassed about being a Muslim in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and that he wanted out of the Army.

"Some people can take it and some people cannot," she said. "He had listened to all of that and he wanted out of the military.

As a student, some who knew Hasan said Saturday they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist -- who authorities say went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded -- had no place in the military.

On Friday, Hasan's apartment complex manager, John Thompson,  said Hasan recently had a religious bumper sticker torn off his car. Thompson said a fellow soldier allegedly keyed Hasan's car and ripped up the bumper sticker. Thompson said the soldier had been to Iraq and was upset to learn Hasan was Muslim. Thompson said the bumper sticker read: "Allah is Love." In Arabic, Allah means God. A report filed on Aug. 16 with Killeen police said Hasan's car had been scratched causing $1,000 worth of damage. The report says an Army employee had been arrested. It didn't provide more details about what happened.

Finally, there are the Internet postings that investigators believe, but have not yet confirmed, came from Hasan. At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats. Some postings equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.

A formal investigation had not been opened on the postings prior to the shooting, said law enforcement officials on the condition of anonymity.

Cone said authorities have not yet been able to talk to Hasan, but interviews with witnesses went through the night.  Investigators hope that as he recovers, Hasan can shed some light on what sparked this terrible tragedy in Texas.

The FBI, local police and other agencies searched Hasan's apartment Thursday night after evacuating the complex in Killeen, said city spokeswoman Hilary Shine. So far, officials have not revealed what of significance, if anything, was found in Hasan's apartment.

Friday was designated a day of mourning at Fort Hood. There also will be a ceremony at the air base to honor the dead.

More: Hasan Told "There's Something Wrong with You"

Associated Press writers Jeff Carlton, Mike Baker, Brett J. Blackledge contributed to this report.  As did, Lara Jakes, Pam Hess, Lolita C. Baldor and Brett Zongker in Washington; Alicia Chang in Los Angeles; Sue Lindsey in Roanoke, Va.; April Castro in Killeen, Texas; and AP's News Research Center in New York.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
Email
|
Print
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out