Troubling history of man arrested for massacre at army base
WASHINGTON: His name appears on radical inter net postings. A fellow officer says he fought his deployment to Iraq and argued with soldiers who supported US wars. He required counselling as a medical student because of problems with patients.
There are many unknowns about Nidal Malik Hasan, the man authorities say is responsible for the worst mass killing on a US military base. Most of all, his motive. But details of his life and mindset, emerging from official sources and acquaintances, are troubling.
For six years before reporting for duty at Fort Hood in July, the ar my major, 39, worked at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre pursuing his career in psychiatry, as an intern, a resident and, last year, a fellow in disaster and preventive psychiatry.
While an intern at Walter Reed, Hasan had “difficulties” that required counselling and extra supervision, said Dr Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.
Grieger said 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.”
But, more recently, federal agents grew suspicious. At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.
They had not determined for certain whether Hasan is the author of the posting.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Hasan’s aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, Virginia, said he had been harassed about being a Muslim in the years after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and he wanted to leave 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.”
She said he had sought a discharge from the military for several years, and even offered to repay the cost of his training.
Noel Hasan said her nephew “did not make many friends” and would say “the military was his life”.
A cousin, Nader Hasan, said that after counselling soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hasan knew war firsthand.
“He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy,” Nader said. “He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there.”
Federal law enforcement agents ordered an evacuation of the apartment complex where Hasan lived in Killeen, Texas, on Thursday night and conducted a search of his home, said Hilary Shine, director of public information for the city. She didn’t say what was found during the search.
Officials said earlier that federal search warrants were being drawn up to authorise the seizure of his computer.
Retired Army Colonel Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan, told Fox News that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hasan attended prayers regularly when he lived outside Washington, often in his uniform, said Faizul Khan, a former imam. He said Hasan was a lifelong Muslim.
“I got the impression that he was a committed soldier,” Khan said.
‘DIFFICULTIES’: Nidal Malik Hasan.