psychiatrist kills 11, injures 32 on Texas military base
killing soldiers rare, but not unheard of
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
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
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
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
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.
But Hasan’s actions in the months prior to Thursday’s
shootings are now part of an intense investigation focusing, in part, on
whether authorities had received enough warning signs to stop Hasan, the
“This is going to be a long and convoluted — and messy
— investigation,” said the official
Nader Hasan told Fox News he did not know that his relative
had been told he was going to Iraq, but had been deeply troubled from the
stories he had heard from returning soldiers he had treated. Those stories, he
said, had turned his cousin against the wars.
“He never told us” he was going to deploy, Nader
Hasan said. “We’ve known for the last five years that was probably his
worst nightmare. He would tell us how he would hear things, horrific
While at Walter Reed, Hasan lived in Silver Spring, Md., in
a 22-story brick apartment building that had a sprinkling of military service
members but which catered mostly to people of modest incomes.
Viviane Tchanghan was Hasan’s next-door neighbor there. She
said Hasan taped a piece of paper on his door with writing in a foreign script
that she took to be Arabic. Someone told her it spelled the word
FBI agents interviewing the neighbors on Thursday asked
people not discuss Hasan.
The Washington Post reported that Hasan prayed at the Muslim
Community Center in Silver Spring at least once a day, every day of the week.
Faizul Khan, a former imam at the center, told the Post that Hasan was
“very devout,” and often attended prayers in his Army fatigues.
Hasan also looked for a wife through the center’s matrimonial
seminar, describing himself as “quiet and reserved” but also
“funny, caring and personable.” Khan told the Post that Hasan never
found a match.