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Fort Hood triggerman: Muslim, shrink, officer

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

A Muslim U.S. Army officer opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas today, killing 12 soldiers and wounding 31, before he was shot by a base police officer.

The gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, originally was reported to have been killed, but the Army said this evening Hasan is in custody, in stable condition.

The Army Times said Hasan, 39, was a psychiatrist recently reassigned from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to work with soldiers at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.

A cousin, Nader Hasan, told Fox News Malik Hasan has “always been a Muslim” and was not a convert as had been reported.

Nader Hasan said his cousin, of Middle Eastern descent, was born in the U.S., attended high school in northern Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech.

Hasan’s name was on a list of officers who received promotions in May, published by the Army Times.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales told Fox News the massacre did not appear to be the act of a mentally ill or extremely stressed person.

“This was a deliberate act of execution,” he said.

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said military officials told her Hasan was “pretty upset” about his scheduled deployment to Iraq on Nov. 28.

Hutchison said she was informed by officials that Hasan was not shooting randomly but was targeting people he knew.

Lt. Gen. Bob Cone, a base spokesman, said two additional suspects, also soldiers, were apprehended. U.S. Rep. John Carter, whose district encompasses Fort Hood, said the two suspects have been released, but a third has been taken into custody.

Cone, commanding general of the Army’s III Corps, said the gunman used two handguns.

One shooting incident, at about 1:30 p.m. Central Time, took place at a medical processing center, a second took place at a theater on the base, Lt. Col. Nathan Banks at the Pentagon told the Associated Press.

The base, about 60 miles from Austin, and two area school districts were on lockdown. Todd Martin, assistant for communication at the Killeen School District, told the Army Times the district has seven elementary schools and two middle schools on the post.

Greg Schannep, an aide to Rep. Carter, said he was on the Army post to attend a graduation service, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported. As he neared the entrance of a building where the service was being held, he said, a soldier with blood on his uniform ran past him and said a man was shooting.

Schannep told the paper the shootings appeared to have occurred in a complex near the theater where the service was scheduled.

Fight the ‘aggressors’

Retired Col. Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan at Fort Hood, told Fox News the gunman believed Muslims should not be fighting Muslims.

At a conference, according to Lee, Hasan said Muslims should stand up and “fight against the aggressors.”

Lee said that at first, he and his colleagues thought Hasan meant that Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan should join forces with the U.S.

But, based on other comments Hasan made, it became clear he was encouraging Muslims to resist U.S. forces, Lee said.

Hasan told colleagues the U.S. should not be in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Lee, and he expressed happiness about the shooting of two soldiers by a Muslim convert outside an Arkansas recruiting center in June.

Hasan’s comments were reported to Army command, Lee said, but the report fell “on deaf ears.”

Nader Hasan said his family was “shocked” by the news and trying to make sense of it.

The only motive they could imagine was that he was upset about being deployed to Iraq.

Nader Hassan said his cousin had no violent tendencies and didn’t even enjoy going to the firing range.

“The guy was born and raised here, he’s my cousin, a good American,” he said.

‘Horrific incident’

At a scheduled event at the Interior Department today, President Obama called the shootings a “horrific incident.”

“It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas,” Obama said. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

FBI agents traveled to Fort Hood to assess the crime and work with the Army Criminal Investigation Division, which is the lead agency, said Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack, a spokesman for the FBI, according to the Army Times.

Sgt. Major Jamie Posten of the Fort Hood public affairs office said shooting took place “near the soldier readiness processing center, where soldiers cycle through as they prepare to deploy.”

Posten said soldiers go to the center up to 60 days before deployment to begin the process of vaccinations and other preparation.

The massive Fort Hood complex is home to at least 4,929 active duty officers and 45,414 enlisted personnel. Another 9,000 civilians work there.


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