US gunman 'hated' deployment

US gunman 'hated' deployment

Malik had expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan

US gunman 'hated' deployment

But Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the 39-year-old man accused of Thursday’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, began having second thoughts about a military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.

He had also more recently expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Having counselled scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington and more recently at Fort Hood, he knew all too well the terrifying realities of war, said a cousin, Nader Hasan. “He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy,” Hasan said. “He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors over there.”

The FBI earlier became aware of Internet postings by a man calling himself Nidal Hasan, a law enforcement official said. The postings discussed suicide bombings favourably, but the investigators were not clear whether the writer was Major Hasan. In one posting on the website Scribd, a man named Nidal Hasan compared the heroism of a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to protect fellow soldiers to suicide bombers who sacrifice themselves to protect Muslims.

“If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory,” the man wrote. It could not be confirmed, however, that the writer was Major Hasan.
Though Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas reported that Major Hasan was to be deployed this month, that could not be confirmed with the army on Thursday night.
Nader Hasan said his cousin never mentioned in recent phone calls to Virginia that he was going to be deployed, and he said the family was shocked when it heard the news on television on Thursday afternoon.

Desperate measures

“He was doing everything he could to avoid that,” Hasan said. “He wanted to do whatever he could within the rules to make sure he wouldn’t go over.”

Some years ago, that included retaining a lawyer and asking if he could get out of the army before his contract was up, because of the harassment he had received as a Muslim. But Nader Hasan said the lawyer had told his cousin that even if he paid the army back for his education, it would not allow him to leave before his commitment was up. Nader Hasan said his cousin’s parents had both been American citizens. He declined to confirm reports that they were Jordanian but said the parents, who are both dead, had immigrated from a small town near Jerusalem many years ago.
Records show that Major Hasan received an undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and a medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. He did a residency at Walter Reed Medical Centre and worked there for years before a transfer to the Darnall Army Medical Centre at Fort Hood this year.

Major Hasan had two brothers, one in Virginia and another in Jerusalem, his cousin said. The family, by and large, prospered in the US, Hasan said.

The former imam at a Silver Spring, Maryland, mosque where Major Hasan worshiped for about 10 years described him as proud of his work in the Army and “very serious about his religion.” The former imam, Faizul Khan, said Major Hasan had wanted to marry an equally religious woman but that his efforts to find one had failed.

“He wanted a woman who prayed five times a day and wears a hijab, and maybe the women he met were not complying with those things,” the former imam said.

Hasan described his cousin as a respectful, hard-working man who had devoted himself to his parents and his career.

Hasan said his cousin became more devout after his parents died in 1998 and 2001.

“His parents didn’t want him to go into the military,” Mr. Hasan said. “He said, ‘No, I was born and raised here, I’m going to do my duty to the country.’ ”

‘He cried ‘Allahu...!’ before firing’ 

The base commander at Fort Hood says soldiers who witnessed the shooting rampage reported that the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire, reports AP from Texas. Lt Gen Robert Cone told NBC’s ‘Today’ show that the suspect, Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, made the comment, which is Arabic for “God is great!” before the rampage.