Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was ‘devout,’ ‘calm,’ stunned friends in Maryland say

If the Army shrink blamed for the massacre at Fort Hood was a Muslim fanatic, he hid it well from his friends and family.A stunned pal at the Silver Spring mosque that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan attended before moving to Texas said the officer gave no hint of being a radical who would shoot fellow soldiers. "When I saw his picture on the news, I refused to believe it was the same guy," said Dr. Asif Qadri at the Islamic Community Center Friday. "He is such a calm, cool guy, soft-spoken, never bothered anybody and anybody who seems to know him liked him." Qadri said the damage Hasan did was incalculable. "What he did to himself and these 30 people, the people he killed, and to his family," he said, pausing at the enormity of the tragedy. "I can only imagine what his family must be going through." Family members said they were mystified and shocked. "Our family is filled with grief for the victims and their families involved in Friday's tragedy," said Nader Hasan, a cousin in 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." Hasan, whose job was counseling shell-shocked soldiers, reportedly was angry about being deployed to Afghanistan. The son of Palestinian-born Jordanian immigrants, Hasan preferred to be called Michael while growing up outside Roanoke, Va., sources said. He grew more religious as he got older. Relatives said being sent to fight in a Muslim country was Hasan's "worst nightmare." Faizul Khan, the former imam at the center, said earlier that Hasan was "devout" and frustrated in his search for a "wife more religious than him." Arshad Qureshi, an official at the Silver Spring center, said Hasan was a "very shy and private person" who kept his opinions to himself. Qadri, a former major in the Army reserves, said that like Hasan, he once worked at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He said they Continue Reading

Obama to feds, Army: What did you know about Fort Hood killer and when did you know it?

WASHINGTON - The heat turned up on the Pentagon Tuesday over revelations that the Fort Hood killer's contacts with an Al Qaeda associate were blown off by a military investigator. The agent was part of an FBI-run Joint Terrorism Task Force. But the bureau didn't have a legal reason to investigate Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's communications with radical Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because there was no threat of violence. The unnamed investigator for the Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service did review the contacts along with Hasan's personnel and academic records - and decided Hasan was no threat and took no action, officials said. The Awlaki communications related to Hasan's job as a stress counselor and his academic research, officials said. But insiders charge a review should have been ordered of Hasan's secret-level security clearance, which might have turned up clues he was dangerous. Communicating with Awlaki, who befriended several 9/11 hijackers in California and Virginia, was "inexcusable" for an Army officer and an obvious "red flag," said Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. "They should definitely have reviewed his security clearance and placed Hasan under intense scrutiny," King said. "I think that's fair," a counterterror official told the Daily News. Defense Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Gary Comerford declined to comment on the agent's handling of the case. It's unclear whether the agent - who represented the Defense Department as a whole on the task force - informed Army officials about Hasan's contacts with Awlaki. A defense official told The Associated Press the Army was unaware of the 10 to 20 messages. Awlaki's replies - all monitored by U.S. spy agencies - were reserved and cautious, as if he were suspicious of the Army officer. But despite calling the messages to Awlaki innocuous, the government has not released them publicly. Army brass have explained Continue Reading

Wounded troops struggle to understand motives behind Fort Hood massacre

WASHINGTON - Wounded troops at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center struggled Tuesday to understand how an officer could turn killer at Fort Hood."It just dumbfounded me," said Marine Sgt. James King, 28, of Marysville, Ohio, who lost his left leg in 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq, to "a station wagon full of C-4 \[explosives\] and ball bearings."King said the troops may not understand Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist who worked at Reed treating troops for combat stress. But Hasan truly failed to understand the soldiers' devotion to duty, the Marine said."To me, he's weak-willed, weak-minded," said King, who served with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment."We're willing to go, and we want to go fight for our country," added King. "That's our right and our privilege. If you don't want to go, don't show up. Don't try to stop those who do."Army Sgt. Anthony Sharar, 32, of Newport, Pa., who is being treated for brain cancer, kept repeating in disbelief: "A major in the U.S. Army, a major in the U.S. Army."The troops earlier were joshing with visiting former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien, who was with the Pizzas 4 Patriots program sponsored by Uno pizzas that delivers thousands of pies to troops worldwide.Tears welled up in the eyes of Army Staff Sgt. Rafael Delgado, 40, of Chicago, who suffered traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb while serving with the 300th Military Police Brigade in Iraq in 2007."It just p----s me off," Delgado said about the Fort Hood shootings. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Nidal Malik Hasan massacre: Fort Hood Army units often in heat of battle – in film or real life

WASHINGTON - Fort Hood's Army units have borne some of the heaviest burdens in America's wars - past and present.And its most famous division, the 1st Cavalry, with its iconic yellow shoulder patch emblazoned with a horse's head, has won Hollywood lore. Thousands of soldiers from the 1st Cav and other units at the sprawling fort have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fabled 4th Infantry Division Mechanized had been headquartered at the base until recently swapping places with the 1st Army Division-West at Fort Carson in Colorado. Under then-Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, now the overall U.S. commander in Iraq, the "Ivy Division" saw significant fighting in the early stages of the Iraq war. Its soldiers battled insurgents in the dangerous Sunni Triangle and plucked Saddam Hussein from his spider hole on Dec. 13, 2003. More than 300 members of the division were killed in Iraq. The 4th ID was the Army's first "digitized" division, equipped with the latest in digital communications equipment, night fighting gear and advanced weaponry. Both the 1st Cav and the 4th ID were formed after World War I and have won honors in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The 1st Cav pioneered the Army's air assault doctrine with helicopter-borne troops. The division's fierce battle in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley was the basis of the movie "We Were Soldiers" starring Mel Gibson. And actor Robert Duvall was playing a 1st Cav commander when he uncorked the famous line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," during the iconic film "Apocalypse Now" about the Vietnam War. The division first deployed to Iraq in January 2005 and again in late 2005. On the first deployment, the Cav suffered 168 killed and 1,500 wounded. Fort Hood is also home to III Corps and a host of units including First Army Division-West, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 89th Military Police Brigade. And thousands of soldiers seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress Continue Reading

Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hasan opposed wars, so why did he snap?

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was a soldier who didn't want to go to war, a man of God who defended murder and a doctor who shot up the soldiers he was supposed to heal. As he lay mute in a hospital bed Thursday night, investigators were scrambling to figure out what prompted his rampage. Hasan had been a psychiatrist treating wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington until bad reviews got him transferred to Fort Hood, Tex., in July. He was due to ship out to war, and his family said he did not want to go. "We've known for the last five years that was his worst nightmare," cousin Nader Hasan told Fox News, calling the suspect "a good American." He said his cousin "was dealing with some harassment from his military colleagues." KXXV-TV reported someone keyed the word "Allah" into Hasan's car last week and he reported it as a hate crime. A former co-worker told Fox News the Army major opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He said maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor," Col. Terry Lee said. "At first, we thought he was talking about how Muslims should stand up and help the armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but apparently that wasn't the case." Before being sent to Texas, Hasan, 39, lived in Silver Spring, Md., where a former imam at the Muslim Community Center described him as devout. He attended daily services and signed up for the mosque's matchmaking service. "He wanted a wife more religious than him," Faizul Khan told the Daily News. "She had to pray five times a day. She had to wear the hajib. He was a young, good looking guy and a physician but he couldn't find anybody." Khan said he never heard Hasan express any political opinions. But at least once this year, Hasan apparently went online to defend suicide bombing. Responding to a treatise on whether suicide bombers could be martyrs when Islam outlaws suicide, Hasan compared them to a soldier who Continue Reading

Fort Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan warned of potential inside attacks by Muslims in U.S. Army

 The mad major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood reportedly told senior Army doctors Muslim soldiers should be released as conscientious objectors to avoid "adverse events" in fighting other Muslims. In late June 2007, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, then a senior psychiatric resident, delivered a lecture to supervisors and about 25 other medical staffers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center about threats the military could expect from Muslims fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported. "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims," Hasan said in the presentation. "It was really strange," one staffer told the newspaper. "The senior doctors looked really upset."Walter Reed spokesman declined comment. It is unclear if anyone reported the briefing to intelligence or law enforcement authorities, the Post reported. Hasan's hour-long, 50-slide PowerPoint presentation was part of a regular Wednesday series of lectures by residents. Other residents had lectured on new medications and treatment of specific mental illnesses. Hasan spent six years at Walter Reed as an intern, resident and fellow beginning in 2003. He was transferred to Fort Hood as a practicing psychiatrist in July and reportedly dreaded his upcoming assignment to Afghanistan. Hasan's lecture, was titled "The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military." One slide suggested ways to draw out Muslim troops: "It must be hard for you to balance Islamic beliefs that might be conflicting with current war; feelings of guilt; Is it what you expected." On the conclusions page, Hasan wrote: "Fighting to establish an Islamic State to please God, even by force, is condoned by the Islam," and that "Muslim Soldiers should not serve in any capacity that renders them at risk to hurting/killing believers unjustly..." The final page, labeled Continue Reading

Pentagon inquiry into suspected Fort Hood shooter Hasan: Eight Army officers may be punished

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon inquiry into the case of the alleged Fort Hood shooter could lead to punishment of up to eight Army officers, a U.S. official said late Thursday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to refer findings on the officers to the Army for further inquiry and possible punishment. The report on what went wrong in the case of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused in the shootings, is expected to be released Friday. The official said a Pentagon inquiry finds fault with five to eight supervisors who knew or should have known about the shortcomings and erratic behavior of the shooting suspect. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at the Texas Army base on Nov. 5. The officers supervised Hasan when he was a medical student and during his early work as an Army psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The official described the confidential report on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public. According to information gathered during the internal Pentagon review and obtained by The Associated Press last week, Hasan's strident views on Islam became more pronounced as his training progressed. Worries about his competence also grew, yet his superiors continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks. That led to his eventual assignment at Fort Hood. Recent statistics show the Army rarely blocks junior officers from promotion, especially in the medical corps. Hasan showed no signs of being violent or a threat. But parallels have been drawn between the missed signals in his case and those preceding the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner. President Barack Obama and his top national security aides have acknowledged they had intelligence about the alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but failed to connect the dots. The Pentagon review is not intended to delve into allegations Hasan corresponded by e-mail with Yemen-based radical Continue Reading

Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan permanently paralyzed from chest down, says lawyer

Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood gunman recuperating from the gunshot wounds that ended the murderous rampage, is expected to be permanently paralyzed from the chest down, his lawyer said. Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in the Nov. 5 massacre, "has no sensation from the nipple area down," Hasan's civilian attorney, John P. Galligan, told the Washington Post. Galligan said Hasan has been told the paralysis is permanent. The attorney participated Saturday in an hour-long, closed-door hearing in an intensive care room at Brooke Army Medical Center, where a magistrate ruled that the Hasan will be held until he can be transferred to jail. "In the middle of this hearing, he started to nod off and go to sleep," Galligan said. "When I've spoken with him, he's coherent, but your ability to have any meaningful exchange with him is limited in time and subject." Hasan currently is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting spree, but Galligan said he "fully anticipates that the military will file additional charges. A court-martial date has not been set. Hasan was shot by civilian members of Fort Hood's police force after the attack in a crowded building where soldiers are sent before deployment to finalize wills, update vaccinations and get vision and dental screenings. Galligan said the major has been getting letters and cards, which the government copies before turning over to him. He did not reveal their contents. "I don't know what rights and privileges he had that will now be changed, such as visitors or if they'll open his mail," Galligan said after the hearing. "There are still many issues that haven't been addressed." Galligan said he is concerned about where Hasan will be moved once he's released from the hospital, but he does not know when that will happen. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Army brass promoted Fort Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan even after attempt to contact Al Qaeda

Counterterror agents intercepted messages between the Army shrink who killed 13 at Fort Hood and a radical imam in Yemen with ties to Al Qaeda - but decided they were harmless, U.S. officials said Monday night. Critics want to know whether the feds - and the military - underestimated Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. And FBI Director Robert Mueller has launched an internal probe into whether his agency botched the case. Accused mass murderer Hasan and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki exchanged 10 to 20 "communications," sources said. Hasan caught the FBI's eye in December 2008 as part of another investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Agents pulled Hasan's military records, but the FBI in a statement said his contact with Awlaki was "consistent with research" he was doing "as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center." "There was no indication that Maj. Hasan was planning an attack anywhere at all," a senior investigator said last night. The FBI shared the info with Army brass, who not only refused to boot Hasan from the service but promoted him - even after colleagues were stunned by his views on the wars abroad. Hasan turned a medical presentation at Walter Reed into a rant on Islam in late 2007, The Washington Post reported on its Web site last night. "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims," The Post said he lectured. Yesterday's series of developments had critics steaming that the feds and military brass failed to connect the dots. "The very fact that you've got a major in the U.S. Army contacting [a radical imam], or attempting to contact him, would raise some red flags," Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the use Intelligence Committee, told the Los Angeles Times. Even colleagues at Fort Hood said they had complained to higherups that Hasan was anti-American. Awlaki, who Continue Reading

Army ignored Fort Hood rampage suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan’s red flags: Pentagon review

WASHINGTON - In late December 2004, one of the officers overseeing Army Maj. Nidal Hasan's medical training praised him in an official evaluation as a qualified and caring doctor who would be an asset in any post. But less than a week later, a committee at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that oversees student performance met behind closed doors to discuss serious concerns about Hasan's questionable behavior, poor judgment and lack of drive. Disconnects such this were a familiar pattern throughout Hasan's lengthy medical education in the Washington area, according to information gathered during an internal Pentagon review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and obtained by The Associated Press. The review has not been publicly released, but the emerging picture is one of supervisors who failed to heed their own warnings about an officer ill-suited to be an Army psychiatrist, according to the information. As Hasan's training progressed, his strident views on Islam became more pronounced as did worries about his competence as a medical professional. Yet his superiors continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks and led to his eventual assignment at Fort Hood. Hasan, 39, is accused of murdering 13 people on Nov. 5 at Fort Hood, the worst killing spree on a U.S. military base. What remains unclear is why Hasan would be advanced in spite of all the shortcomings. That is likely to be the subject of a more detailed accounting by the Defense Department. Recent statistics show the Army rarely blocks junior officers from promotion, especially in the medical corps. Hasan showed no signs of being violent or a threat. But parallels have been drawn between the missed signals in his case and those preceding the thwarted Christmas attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner. President Barack Obama and his top national security aides have acknowledged they had intelligence about the alleged bomber, Umar Continue Reading