The perpetrator, Major Malik Nidal Hasan, appears to be a devout American-born Muslim, who grew up in Virginia. His family originally came from the Palestinian West Bank, according to a Washington Post account. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in bio chemistry and was commissioned an ROTC officer. He was accepted into the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services in Bethesda and upon graduation took his residency at Walter Reed Hospital in psychiatry. According to an NPR report Hasan was put on probation for engaging in ‘Da’wa’ –proselytizing his Muslim faith:
NPR: "A source tells NPR's Joseph Shapiro that Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time.
Allegedly while at Walter Reed he had made statements about suicide bombing and he professed being harassed by his military colleagues for his statements. He repeatedly made statements about not wanting to serve in either Iraq or Afghanistan and allegedly requested a discharge. He apparently hired a military lawyer to fight the alleged harassment and his complaints were deemed groundless. After receiving poor performance evaluation reports he was reassigned to Fort Hood and was within weeks of deployment overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan when he perpetrated the mass shooting which resulted in 12 dead and 31 wounded at a deployment and returnee processing center at Fort Hood. It is alleged in some news reports that he made comments about suicide bombing on a blog that lead to law enforcement investigations. An AP report cited by the Washington Post notes:
The Associated Press reported that Hasan attracted the attention of law enforcement authorities in recent months after an Internet posting under the screen name "Nidal Hasan" compared Islamic suicide bombers to Japanese kamikaze pilots. "To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate," the posting read. "It's more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause."
One disturbing revelation was Major Hasan’s involvement in a Homeland Security panel that was advising the Obama Administration transition team. Note this report:
The gunman who killed 12 people today at Ft. Hood appears, based on current media reports, to be Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan who was listed as a participant in a Homeland Security Policy Institute's presidential transition task force last year.
The task force was not officially affiliated with the White House. It was a project of the Homeland Security Policy Institute, an independent think tank housed at George Washington University, aimed at drafting policy recommendations for the incoming Obama administration.
More could be revealed if Major Hasan, who was wounded and apprehended in the attack, can be interrogated by FBI, and military CID agents. He apparently was the lone shooter who perpetrated the attack with two handguns, one semi-automatic that resulted in a high rate of fire into a medical dental waiting room.
Interesting that Muslim Brotherhood front groups Muslim Political Action Committee (MPAC) and Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) immediately issued a new release condemning these "wanton killings" by Major Hasan to prevent blowback .
This case has similarities to the Camp Philadelphia 'fragging' event in Kuwait that killed two officers in the 101st Airborne and injuring 10 others when several grenades were rolled into a command tent. The perpetrator, Sgt.Asan Akbar, a Los Angeles area Army reservist and Afro American convert to Islam, had alleged that US Forces in Iraq were engaged in ethnic cleansing and rape of Muslim women. He was also brought up on charges of insubordination.
As in the instance of the Kuwait Camp Philadelphia incident several questions are raised by the Fort Hood shootings. How do we determine the loyalty of serving Muslim officers and non-coms? Why Major Hasan wasn’t investigated by the Army for his anti-US foreign policy and jihadist views? Why given his poor performance evaluation reports and his displeasure at being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan wasn’t he recommended for an administrative discharge for the good of the service? There are estimated to be between 4,000 to 15,000 Muslims serving in all branches of the US Armed Forces. The military has made a significant effort to recruit Muslims especially for critical language skills.
By contrast, the IDF does not draft Arab Muslim citizens, the exceptions being loyal Druze, Circassian and Bedouin trackers.
We asked forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner for his insights into the mass shooter, Major Hasan. Dr. Welner is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and Chairman, The Forensic Panel. He appeared on CBS news today discussing his assessment of mass shooter Maj. Hasan.
Dr. Welner noted:
Having examined mass shooters who survived their attacks, I can tell you that these are events long anticipated and contemplated by the perpetrator. One learns a lot, in my experience, from *the location point* where the shooting started, and *when* in the perpetrator’s life he embarked on the killing. Mass shootings kill randomly, but do not start randomly. The point of first destruction is most instructive about the motivating force, be it workplace conflict or ideological.
The Hasan Akbar attack in Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait has important commonality with this Major Hasan tragedy in that both have proximity to deployment to the war theatre. The alienation and contempt of both for America politically, and their difficulty managing a personal conflict of bearing arms against Muslims in the context of the military effort in Iraq, is a psychological burden identified in both men.
The shocking element of yesterday’s crime is that Hasan was a psychiatrist (a profession whose training cultivates empathy) and is also connected to disaster medicine. The latter may be an outgrowth of the very nihilism that guides destructive fantasy into action. However, consider that mass shooters have to feel contempt for *everyone* in order to shoot *anyone*. How he practiced as a psychiatrist with that level of contempt will be informative. Physicians have also been implicated in ideologically driven mass casualty attacks, but more as planners (Ayman al-Zawahiri, Madrid-bombing planner Abu Hafiza) or political thinkers (Franz Fanon) and not in placing themselves in harm’s way.
It is only natural to contemplate the possibility that Hasan’s education and officer status, denoting his higher function, reflect on him as a sleeper terrorist. Two points argue against this, however. Reports of his vocal and impassioned political anti-American rhetoric are anything but the unremarkable comportment of a sleeper, and a person operating under external control would not be taken alive. How Hasan was captured will also be informative; unaffiliated mass shooters sometimes commit suicide, but invariably go forward with their attacks without a plan for the aftermath and may survive, especially because they become quite subdued after their rampage is essentially discharged.
Hesham Hedayet, the Egyptian who went on a shooting spree at LAX on July 4, 2002 is a better example of an activated sleeper. Yes, a symbolic date like Independence Day also bespeaks a calculated activation. Until the symbolic importance of yesterday is identified, the only association we have for the date is Hasan’s impending deployment. An ideologically driven killer operates on the timetable of his own conflict, while the sleeper follows orders.