Shooting suspect’s behavior raised red flags to supervisors

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Maj. William McKnight, left, Sgt. Maj. Leroy Walker, Jr., and Com. Sgt. Maj. Ted Pritchard hold candles during a candlelight vigil held in Hood Stadium at Fort Hood, Texas, Friday, November 6, 2009.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

WASHINGTON — Doctors supervising Army Maj. Nidal Malik
Hasan’s medical training discussed several concerns about the Muslim doctor’s
behavior at Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this year, including his
aggressive proselytizing of patients and failure to meet military physical
fitness requirements.

These problems led the doctors to question his fitness for
military service, but no action was taken in the months before the he was
transferred to Fort Hood, Texas, where he was accused last week of opening fire
on military and civilian personnel.

A Department of Defense official familiar with Hasan’s
record as a resident said his behavior was discussed during monthly meetings of
top training officials at Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences. The regular meetings were held to discuss all of the
participants in the Washington-based medical training program. But Hasan’s
behavior — sometimes aggressive and argumentative — caused his name to come up
frequently during the monthly review sessions.

Although he once was known for being bright and having an
aptitude for psychiatry, his reputation deteriorated as complaints about his
behavior emerged from patients and colleagues, the official said.

The official said the residency program supervisors received
complaints about Hasan’s aggressive preachments about Islam to patients. The
source said Hasan was reprimanded and told his job was to treat patients not to
indoctrinate them about religion.

Relatives have said Hasan became more religious after the
death of his parents, who were Muslims but not observant. His parents died in
Virginia in 1998 and 2001. Rafik Ismail Hamad, an uncle who lives in the West
Bank, said he noticed the change during a visit last year, when his nephew
urged him to accompany him to pray at a mosque.

In addition, officials became concerned with Hasan’s chronic
failure to show up for physical fitness training, in which military officers’
weight and condition are reviewed to see if they meet DOD standards.

The official familiar with Hasan’s record spoke on condition
of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the
meetings.

Citing other sources, National Public Radio reported
Wednesday at one point supervisors questioned whether Hasan was psychotic and
mentally fit to be an Army psychiatrist. The network quoted one unnamed
official who worked closely with the committee as saying: “Put it this
way. Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would
not want Nidal Hasan in your fox hole.”

The Department of Defense official familiar with the
proceedings said he was not aware of that thought being expressed nor did he
recall that Hasan was described as possibly psychotic.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.