An alleged gunman who the military said killed 13 people at Fort Hood on Thursday worshipped with a devotion that was noticed by many at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md.
"It's only those dedicated Muslims who can get up early in the morning from their bed and come for this prayer. Not many people come, maybe 25, 30 people," one worshipper -- who did not want to be identified -- said of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who studied, lived, worked and practiced his faith for years in the Washington, D.C., area.
Another community center worshipper, Iman Mohamed Shmohamed, told News4 he never saw Hasan acting arrogant or saying "something bad that may seem strange."
"I can say he was a calm person," Shmohamed said.
The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist, who lived in Bethesda in April, has 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.
Relatives said he felt harassed because of his Muslim faith but did not embrace extremism. Others were not so sure. A recent
classmate said Hasan once gave a jarring presentation to students in which he argued the war on terrorism was a war against Islam, and "made himself a lightning rod for things'' when he felt his religious beliefs were challenged.
Hasan is the Arlington, Va.-born son of Palestinian parents who ran a restaurant and bar in Roanoke, Va., from 1987 to 1995 and
owned a small grocery store in that city.
His relatives in the West Bank said they had heard from family members that Hasan felt mistreated in the Army as a Muslim.
"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.
"He hired a lawyer to get him a discharge.'' Mohammed Hasan said outside his home in Ramallah that he heard
about the shooting from a relative. "I was surprised, honestly, because the guy and his brothers are so calm, and he, as I know,
loves his work.''
Nidal Hasan is the eldest of three brothers. One brother, Annas, lives in Ramallah with a wife and daughter, and practices law. The
youngest brother, Eyad, lives in Virginia.
Investigators were trying to piece together how and why Hasan allegedly gunned down his comrades in the worst case of violence on a military base in the U.S. The rampage unfolded at a center where some 300 unarmed soldiers were lined up for vaccines and eye tests.
Hasan's family said in a statement Friday that his alleged actions were deplorable and don't reflect how the family was
"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.''
Hasan lived at a townhouse in Kensington from 2000 to 2004, then at the White Oak Towers apartments in Silver Spring from 2004 and 2008. Earlier this year, he lived on the 9300 block of Cedar Lane in Bethesda.
Hasan graduated from medical school at the Uniformed Services University in 2003, said Sharon K. Willis, speaking for the school.
He then entered a psychiatry residency program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which he completed in 2007. He returned to the university for the disaster and military psychiatry fellowship in 2007.
The first phase of that fellowship is earning a master of public health degree, which he completed in 2008. He completed the
fellowship program in June.
A month later, Hasan reported for duty at Fort Hood.