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Friday, November 6,2009

Relatives say war stories turned shooting suspect against military

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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WASHINGTON — Nidal Malik Hasan, now a suspect in a murderous shooting spree at a Texas army base, spent the last decade being trained by the military as a psychiatrist to treat soldiers with mental stress disorders from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But family members said that the horrors of the stories he heard from Iraq and Afghanistan turned him against the wars even as he was becoming a more devout Muslim. When he recently got orders to report to Iraq, he became distraught, officials said.

He was born in Virginia, and grew up with two brothers in Roanoke. Attending college at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Hasan majored in biochemistry.

Hasan joined the military in 1997 at the age of 27. The Army sent him to the Uniformed Services University of Health Science to study medicine.

He graduated in 2001 and completed his psychiatric residency in June at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. He had served as a psychiatry intern, resident and fellow at Walter Reed from 2003 until 2009.

Hasan was raised a Muslim, although he listed no religious preference on some personnel records.

The deaths of Hasan's parents, in 1998 and 2001, had led him to become more religious, according to a cousin, Nader Hasan.

Nader Hasan told news outlets that the stories Hasan had heard while counseling injured soldiers at Walter Reed had horrified him and turned him against the Iraq war. The subject of harassment, Hasan had tried unsuccessfully to leave the military.

A U.S. official confirmed that Hasan was to deploy to Iraq on Nov. 28. The official said he believed Hasan was to deploy as an individual replacement, not as part of a larger medical unit.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, who was briefed by the military, said that Hasan had become distraught by the news he was being deployed.

A senior U.S counter-terrorism official confirmed Thursday night that Hasan had come to the attention of federal law enforcement officials in recent months, in part due to inflammatory e-mails that he had sent.

The official refused to say whether Hasan's comments and actions were significant enough to prompt an investigation and/or monitoring of him by the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.

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