An alleged gunman who the military said killed 13 people and wounded as many as 30 at Fort Hood on Thursday studied, lived, worked and practiced his faith for years in the Washington, D.C., area.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before being transferred in July and got his undergraduate education at Virginia Tech. He apparently also was a regular at a Maryland mosque.
Hasan's family has met with the FBI and answered all their questions, according to his cousin, Nader Hasan, of northern Virginia.
"We are mortified and there is no justification, whatsoever, for what happened," Nader Hasan said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "Everyone is asking why this happened, and the answer is that we simply do not know. We can not explain, nor do we excuse or understand, what happened yesterday."
He added that the family will not make any more statements to the media but will continue to cooperate with authorities. He said his family is filled with grief for the victims and their families.
Earlier, Kim Fuller, a spokeswoman for the family, said relatives in northern Virginia were reaching out to law enforcement to offer insight. Hasan's family said in the statement that his actions don't reflect how they were raised in the U.S.
Military officials are still trying to piece together what may have pushed Hasan to turn on his comrades.
Fort Hood Shooter Has Local Ties
Hasan was promoted to major in May, just a couple months before the Army transferred him to Fort Hood, MSNBC reported.
Soldiers who witnessed the shooting rampage reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire, the base
commander said Friday. Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said officials had not yet confirmed that Hasan made the comment, which is Arabic for "God is great!"
The alleged gunman, first said to have been killed, was wounded but alive and in stable condition under military guard, Cone said. Authorities said Hasan remains in a coma but is expected to live.
"I would say his death is not imminent," Cone said. Col. Ben Danner said Hasan was shot at least four times.
In the early chaos after the shootings, authorities believed they had killed him, only to discover later that he had survived. In Washington, a senior U.S. official said authorities at Fort Hood initially thought one of the victims who had been shot and killed was the shooter. The mistake resulted in a delay of several hours in identifying Hasan as the alleged assailant.
Military officials told Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, that Hasan was about to be deployed to Iraq and was upset about it. No motive for the shootings has been confirmed, but Hasan's aunt gave the Washington Post a glimpse of the shooter's mindset.
"... his aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, said he had endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had sought for several years to be discharged from the military."
Nader Hasan, told The New York Times that after counseling soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hasan knew the scars of war well.
"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."
Hasan had come to the attention of federal law enforcement officials at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats, the Associated Press reported. The postings appeared to have been made by Hasan, officials said. They are still trying to confirm that he was the author. An official investigation was not opened.
One of the Web postings that authorities reviewed is a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a
grenade to save the lives of his comrades.
Hasan was born in Virginia, raised in northern Virginia and got a bachelor's degree in biochemistry at Virginia Tech.
According to Virginia Tech records, Hasan first enrolled at Virginia Tech in 1992, and completed coursework in 1995. He minored in biology and chemistry. Prior to enrolling at Virginia Tech, Hasan was at Barstow Community College in Barstow, Calif., and at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, Va. According to Roanoke City Schools, Hasan attended Fleming High School for one year, his senior year, and graduated in 1988.
Hasan was not a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, nor was he a member of any ROTC program at Virginia Tech, according to the university.
Hasan received his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine in 2001.
He completed a residency in psychiatry at Walter Reed in 2007 and a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry, also at Walter Reed, this year. He also did his internship there.
Hasan received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because military records are confidential, the AP reported. Sources said Hasan was unhappy about the evaluation and questioned the U.S. military's presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hasan argued with fellow soldiers who supported U.S. war policy, said some of those who know him professionally and personally. He was a counselor who once required counseling for himself because of trouble he had dealing with some patients, said a former boss.
While an intern at Walter Reed, 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."
Dr. Val Finnell, a classmate of Hasan's at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, attended a master's in public health program in 2007-2008. Finnell said he got to know Hasan because the group of public health students took an environmental health class together. At the end of the class, everyone had to give a presentation. Classmates wrote on topics such as dry cleaning chemicals and mold in homes, but Finnell said Hasan chose the war against terror. Finnell described Hasan as a "vociferous opponent" of the terror war. Finnell said Hasan told classmates he was "a Muslim first and an American second."
A former Silver Spring, Md., neighbor of Hasan and a roommate, someone believed to be a relative, was surprised to hear of the shootings.
"It's creepy because you think somebody's really nice and you think somebody's really calm, and I don't know what led him to do that, what triggered it, but honestly, they seemed like really calm, cool guys, you know, and religious guys," she said.
She said they moved out three or four months ago.
Hasan reportedly attended prayer services at the Muslim Community Center mosque in Silver Spring -- often in his Army uniform.
"A very nice, humble educated person," said a member of the mosque who did not want to be identified. "He told me he was a doctor. I didn't know he was a psychiatrist. But I talked to him maybe three, four years ago. But after that I've been seeing him here until maybe a year ago, coming to the mosque early in the morning. ... He used to come here every morning. That's all I know."
The mosque member said Hasan not only prayed there, but also volunteered, helping to plant flowers.
Imam Faizul Kahn said he knew Hasan for more than 10 years and that they first met at the Muslim Community Center. Kahn said Hasan was quiet and reserved. They mostly discussed religious matters, but Khan said Hasan never seemed controversial.
They rarely discussed politics.
Kahn said they spoke often about how Hasan wanted to find a wife. He said Hasan never married.
On a form filled out by those seeking spouses through a program at the mosque, Kahn said Hasan listed his birthplace as Arlington, Va., but his nationality as Palestinian. Khan said he doesn't know why because Hasan was born in the United States.
On Friday, people at the center said they were shocked. They described Hasan as soft-spoken but said he expressed pride in his military service and was grateful for his Army medical education.
Imam Mohamed Abdullahi told worshippers at a noon prayer service Friday, "One of the brothers who used to pray here did what you heard on the news."
He urged worshippers to tell their non-Muslim neighbors that Islam was not responsible for the deaths.
Neighbors of a Cedar Lane address in Bethesda, where Hasan reportedly rented a room, said they didn't recognize Hasan from his picture.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., condemned the shootings and asked the public not to retaliate with violence against the Muslim community, with some saying there have already been hate calls and e-mails. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, said they don't know anything about the suspect, according to the AP.
CAIR issued a statement condemning the shootings as a "cowardly attack," saying no political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such violence. American Muslims stand with their fellow citizens in offering prayers for the victims and condolences for their families, the group said.