Major Nidal Malik Hasan skal ha frekventert den omstridte Dar al-Hirjah-moskèen på samme tid som to av terroristene bak angrepet på World Trade Center. Den daværende lederen for moskèen var den radikale imamen Anwar al-Awlaki. Den amerikanskfødte al-Awlaki har bakgrunn fra Jemen, og fikk forbud mot å delta på et møte i London via video-overføring på grunn av anklager om at han støtter terror-organisasjoner og angrep på britiske tropper. Al-Awlaki beskrives videre som en al Qaeda-støtte og tidligere spirituell leder for 3 av 911-terroristene.
I følge en muslimsk offiserkollega skal Hasan ha hatt stor respekt for al-Awlakis læresetninger:
As investigators look at Hasan’s motives and mindset, his attendance at the mosque could be an important piece of the jigsaw. Al-Awlaki moved to Dar al-Hijrah as imam in January, 2001, from the west coast, and three months later the September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour began attending his services. A third hijacker attended his services in California.
Hasan was praying at Dar al-Hijrah at about the same time, and the FBI will now want to investigate whether he met the two terrorists.
Charles Allen, a former under-secretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security, has described al-Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen, as an «al-Qaeda supporter, and former spiritual leader to three of the September 11 hijackers… who targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen».
Last night Hasan remained in a coma under guard at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and was said to be in a «stable» condition. Born in America to a Palestinian family, Hasan, 39, was an army psychiatrist who had chosen to sign up for the US military against his parents’ wishes.
But he turned into an angry critic of the wars America was waging in Iraq and Afghanistan and had tried in vain to negotiate his discharge.
Så langt i etterforskningen er det mye som tyder på at det amerikanske militæret har oversett et økende antall varselsignaler og advarsler fra omgivelsene når det gjaldt Hasan:
What does seem clear is that the army missed an increasing number of red flags that Hasan was a troubled and brooding individual within its ranks.
«I was shocked but not surprised by news of Thursday’s attack,» said Dr Val Finnell, a fellow student on a public health course in 2007-08 who heard Hasan equate the war on terrorism to a war on Islam. Another student had warned military officials that Hasan was a «ticking time bomb» after he reportedly gave a presentation defending suicide bombers.
Kamran Pasha, the author of Mother of the Believers, a new novel relating the story of Islam from the perspective of Aisha, Prophet Mohammed’s wife, was told of the al-Awlaki connection from a Muslim friend who is also an officer at Fort Hood. Using the name Richard, the recent convert to Islam described how he frequently prayed with Hasan at the town mosque after Hasan was deployed to Fort Hood in July. They last worshipped together at predawn prayers on the day of the massacre when Hasan «appeared relaxed and not in any way troubled or nervous».
But Richard had previously argued with Hasan when he said that he felt the «war on terror» was really a war against Islam, expressed anti-Jewish sentiments and defended suicide bombings.
«I asked Richard whether he believed that Hasan was motivated by religious radicalism in his murderous actions,» Mr Pasha said.
«Richard, with great sadness, said that he believed this was true. He also believed that psychological factors from Hasan’s job as an army psychiatrist added to his pathos. The news that he would be deployed overseas, to a war that he rejected, may have pushed him over the edge.
«But Richard does not excuse Hasan. As a Muslim, he finds Hasan’s religious perspectives to be fundamentally misguided. And as a soldier, he finds Hasan’s actions cowardly and evil.»
Fellow Muslims in the US armed forces have also been quick to denounce Hasan’s actions and insist that they were the product of a lone individual rather than of Islamic teachings. Osman Danquah, the co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, said Hasan never expressed anger toward the army or indicated any plans for violence.
But he said that, at their second meeting, Hasan seemed almost incoherent.
«I told him, ‘There’s something wrong with you’. I didn’t get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn’t seem right.»
He was sufficiently troubled that he recommended the centre reject Hasan’s request to become a lay Muslim leader at Fort Hood.
Hasan had, in fact, already come to the attention of the authorities before Thursday’s massacre. He was suspected of being the author of internet postings that compared suicide bombers with soldiers who throw themselves on grenades to save others and had also reportedly been warned about proselytising to patients.
At Fort Hood, he told a colleague, Col Terry Lee, that he believed Muslims should rise up against American «aggressors». He made no attempt to hide his desire to end his military service early or his mortification at the prospect of deployment to Afghanistan. «He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there,» said his cousin, Nader Hasan.
Yet away from his strident attacks on US foreign policy, he came across as subdued and reclusive – not hostile or threatening. Soldiers he counselled at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington praised him, while at Fort Hood, Kimberly Kesling, the deputy commander of clinical services, remarked: «Up to this point, I would consider him an asset.»
Relatives said that the death of Hasan’s parents, in 1998 and 2001, turned him more devout. «After he lost his parents he tried to replace their love by reading a lot of books, including the Koran,» his uncle Rafiq Hamad said.
«He didn’t have a girlfriend, he didn’t dance, he didn’t go to bars.»
His failed search for a wife seemed to haunt Hasan. At the Muslim Community Centre in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, he signed up for an Islamic matchmaking service, specifying that he wanted a bride who wore the hijab and prayed five times a day.
Adnan Haider, a retired professor of statistics, recalled how at their first meeting last year, a casual introduction after Friday prayers, Hasan immediately asked the academic if he knew «a nice Muslim girl» he could marry.
«It was a strange thing to ask someone you have met two seconds before. It was clear to me he was under pressure, you could just see it in his face,» said Prof Haider, 74, who used to work at Georgetown University in Washington. «You could see he was lonely and didn’t have friends.
«He is working with psychiatric people and I ask why the people around him didn’t spot that something was wrong? When I heard what had happened I actually wasn’t that surprised.»
Indeed, many of the characteristics attributed to Hasan by acquaintances – withdrawn, unassuming, brooding, socially awkward and never known to have had a girlfriend – have also applied to other mass murderers.
Hasans familie hevder at han skal ha blitt mobbet i militæret for sin tro etter 9/11. Imidlertid sier visedirektør Abdul-Rashid Abdullah i American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council at organisasjonen ikke har mottatt noen nylige rapporter fra muslimske soldater om trakassering på bakgrunn av religiøs tro:
A Muslim veteran affairs organization says it has not received reports of harassment from Islamic soldiers, contrary to claims by a relative of the man authorities say is responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base.
Abdul-Rashid Abdullah, deputy director of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, told FoxNews.com that the nonprofit group has not received a single report recently of a U.S. soldier being harassed «simply because he was Muslim.»
«That kind of report is inconsistent with what we’ve heard,» Abdullah said prior to a press conference in Washington to denounce Thursday’s shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 38 wounded. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Army psychiatrist who was reportedly due to be deployed later this month, is accused in the mass shooting.
Abdullah said his organization, which condemned the «unspeakable» attack, serves «several thousand» Muslim soldiers.
Doktor Val Finnell studerte sammen med Hasan i 2007-2008, og klaget formelt til adminstrasjonen ved det militære Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda på det han mente var Hasans uttrykte anti-amerikanske holdninger:
«The system is not doing what it’s supposed to do,» said Dr. Val Finnell, who complained to administrators at a military university about what he considered Hasan’s «anti-American» rants. «He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out.»
Finnell studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 in the master’s program in public health at the military’s Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., where Hasan persistently complained about perceived anti-Muslim sentiment in the military and injected his politics into courses where they had no place.
«In retrospect, I’m not surprised he did it,» Finnell said of the shootings. «I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were.»
Danquah assumed the military’s chain of command knew about Hasan’s doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates at the Maryland graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan’s «anti-American propaganda,» but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint.
Others recalled a pleasant neighbor who forgave a fellow soldier charged with tearing up his «Allah is Love» bumper sticker. A superior officer at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Col. Kimberly Kesling, has said Hasan was quiet with a strong work ethic who provided excellent care for his patients.