The Army psychiatrist suspected of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, is a devout Muslim who had been harassed since Sept. 11, 2001, and desperately wanted an Army discharge, his aunt says.
Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, 39, of Arlington, Va., had endured constant name-calling Sept. 11 because of his Islamic faith, said his aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, Va. He had consulted with an attorney about obtaining a discharge, she said.
An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. George Wright, told The Washington Post he had no record that Hasan had requested a discharge.
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Hasan was reported in stable condition Friday after a civilian police officer shot him to end the incident, in which 30 people also were injured Thursday.
Hasan reportedly spent most of his career at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he cared for trauma victims. Co-workers usually refrained from sending patients to him because of his manner and solitary work habits, said a colleague who referred patients to psychiatrists.
He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997 and went on to get his doctorate in psychiatry from the Uniformed Services Health Center in Bethesda, Md. Between 2003 and last summer, Hasan progressively served as an intern, resident, and fellow at Walter Reed, where he was the intermediary between wounded soldiers and the hospital’s psychiatric staff.
His aunt said the horrific physical and mental injuries of some of the patients scarred him deeply.
“He must have snapped,” she told The Washington Post. “They ignored him. It was not hard to know he was upset. He was not a fighter, even as a child or a young man. But when he became upset, his face became red.”
Hasan first drew law enforcement’s attention in recent months after posting something on the Internet under his screen name “NidalHasan” comparing Islamic suicide bombers with Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II, according to the Associated Press.
The posting read: “To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. It’s more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause.”
Hasan frequently spoke of his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was posted at Walter Reed. Col. Terry Lee, a former Walter Reed co-worker, told Fox News that Hasan once said: “Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor,” and the United States shouldn’t be fighting in Iraq of Afghanistan.
Hasan hoped President Obama would pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Lee said, but when things didn’t go the way he wanted them to, he became agitated.
Hasan, reportedly prayed every day at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md., where those who knew him described him as a loner with few friends.
“He was a very quiet and private person. I can’t say that people knew him very well other than attending prayers,” said Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the board of trustees at the center. “You didn’t see him attend anything — school for children or celebrations. He did not go out of the way to engage people. We have thousands of people who come through to pray; he was just one of them.”
Hasan also avoided contact with female colleagues and listed himself as having no religious preferences despite his devout religious practices.
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