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Hasan was ‘mortified’ about deployment

The man accused of the mass shooting at Fort Hood started having second thoughts about his military career after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.
/ Source: The New York Times

Born and reared in Virginia, the son of immigrant parents from a small Palestinian town near Jerusalem, he joined the Army right out of high school, against his parents’ wishes. The Army, in turn, put him through college and then medical school, where he trained to be a psychiatrist.

But Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the 39-year-old man accused of Thursday’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Tex., started having second thoughts about his military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.

He had also more recently expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Having counseled scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and more recently at Fort Hood, he knew all too well the terrifying realities of war, said a cousin, Nader Hasan.

“He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy,” Mr. Hasan said. “He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there.”

Disturbing postings
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had earlier become aware of Internet postings by a man who called himself Nidal Hasan, a law enforcement official said. The postings discussed suicide bombing in a favorable light, but the investigators were not clear whether the writer was Major Hasan.

In one posting on the Web site Scribd, a man named Nidal Hasan compared the heroism of a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to protect fellow soldiers to suicide bombers who sacrifice themselves to protect Muslims.

“If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory,” the man wrote. It could not be confirmed, however, that the writer was Major Hasan.

Image: Malik Nidal Hasan
(FILES): This undated photo obtained from the November 15, 2007 Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences Graduate Student Fall Newsletter shows Major Malik Nidal Hasan, the alleged gunman who opened fire at the Fort Hood military base in Texas on November 5, 2009, killing at least 12 people and wounding 31 people others in the attack. Major Nidal Hasan is still alive and in hospital after undergoing surgery for his wounds, the base commander said November 5, 2009. AFP PHOTO / USU (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)- / USU

Major Hasan was wounded and taken into custody by the Fort Hood police after the shooting spree, in which 12 people, many of them soldiers, were killed, and at least 31 others were wounded. The shootings occurred at a readiness center where soldiers are put through a series of medical, dental, legal and other paces in preparation for being deployed.

Though Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas reported that Major Hasan was to be deployed later this month, that could not be confirmed with the Army Thursday night.

Family shocked at news
Nader Hasan said his cousin never mentioned in recent phone calls to Virginia that he was going to be deployed, and he said the family was shocked when it heard the news on television Thursday afternoon.

“He was doing everything he could to avoid that,” Mr. Hasan said. “He wanted to do whatever he could within the rules to make sure he wouldn’t go over.”

Several years ago, that included retaining a lawyer and making inquiries about whether he could get out of the Army before his contract was up, because of the harassment he had received as a Muslim. But Nader Hasan said the lawyer had told his cousin that even if he paid the Army back for his education, it would not allow him to leave before his commitment was up.

“I think he gave up that fight and was just doing his time,” Mr. Hasan said.

Nader Hasan said his cousin’s parents had both been American citizens who owned businesses, including restaurants and a store, in Roanoke, Va. He declined to confirm reports that they were Jordanian, but said the parents, who are both dead, had immigrated from a small town near Jerusalem many years ago.

His mother’s obituary, published in The Roanoke Times in 2001, said she was born in Palestine in 1952. It described her as a restaurant owner “known for her ability to keep sometimes rowdy customers out of trouble and always had a warm meal for someone who otherwise would not have anything to eat that evening.”

Successful family
Records show that Major Hasan had received his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech University and his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

He did his residency at Walter Reed Medical Center and then worked there for several years before being transferred to the Darnell Army Medical Center at Fort Hood earlier this year.

Major Hasan was not married and had two brothers, one living in Virginia and another in Jerusalem, his cousin said. The family, by and large, had prospered in the United States, with various members working in law, banking and medicine, Mr. Hasan said.

Nader Hasan, 40, a lawyer living in Northern Virginia, described his cousin as a respectful, hard-working man who had devoted himself to his parents and his career.

He said his cousin had been a practicing Muslim who had become more devout after the deaths of his parents, in 1998 and 2001. But he said he had not expressed anti-American views or radical ideas.

“His parents didn’t want him to go into the military,” Mr. Hasan said. “He said, ‘No, I was born and raised here, I’m going to do my duty to the country.’ ”

David Johnston contributed from Washington.

This article, , appeared first in The New York Times.