Daily Archives: November 7, 2009

US Senator: Suspected Fort Hood Shooter was Ready to Deploy Overseas

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says the Army major accused of the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, was about to deploy overseas.

Associated Press | Nov 5, 2009

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says the Army major accused of the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, was about to deploy overseas.

Hutchison says she was told about the upcoming deployment by generals based at Fort Hood. But it was unclear if he was headed to Iraq or Afghanistan and exactly when he was scheduled to leave.

Military officials in Washington say the suspected shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before being transferred to the Texas base in July.

The soldier is accused of opening fire on the base on Thursday in a shooting that left 11 other people dead and 31 wounded. Authorities killed the gunman and apprehended two other soldiers.

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UPDATE @ 5:03pm
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – The U.S. Army says 12 people have been killed and 31 wounded in a shooting rampage on the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

Lt. Gen Bob Cone said at a news conference that one shooter has been killed and two suspects were apprehended on Thursday. He says they are all U.S. soldiers.

The shooting began around 1:30 p.m. Cone says that all the casualties took place at the base’s Soldier Readiness Center where soldiers who are about to be deployed or who are returning undergo medical screening.

He says the primary shooter used two handguns in the attack.

UPDATE @ 4:54pm
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – US Army: 1 shooter killed, 2 others apprehended in shooting at Fort Hood; all are US soldiers.

UPDATE @ 4:53pm
US Army: 12 killed, 31 wounded in shooting rampage on Fort Hood Army base.

UPDATE @ 4:48pm
WASHINGTON (AP) – Army official says 9 dead at Fort Hood, Texas.

UPDATE @ 4:26pm
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – A Fort Hood spokeswoman says one shooter is in custody after a mass shooting on the Texas Army base. Army officials say at least seven people are dead and 20 wounded.

Fort Hood spokeswoman Sgt. Rebekah Lampan says authorities believe at least two gunmen were involved in the attack on Thursday.

She says it is not known whether the shooters were soldiers or civilians.

Lt. Col. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman in Washington, says there was a pair of shootings at the base.

Banks says the first shooting was at 1:30 p.m. and at personnel and medical processing office. He says the second incident took place at a theater on the base.

UPDATE @ 4:16pm
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – Fort Hood spokeswoman: 1 shooter in custody, at least 2 gunmen believed involved in attack.

UPDATE @ 3:54pm
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Army says seven people were killed and 20 wounded in a pair of shootings at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

An Army spokesman at the Pentagon says the shootings began about 1:30 p.m. Thursday at a personnel and medical processing center at Fort Hood.

The spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Banks, says two shooters were apparently involved. There is no word yet on who they were, nor on identities of the dead.

Banks says the second incident took place at a theater on the sprawling base.

He says it is too soon to tell whether there is any link to battle stress or repeated deployments. The Army is suffering a record high suicide rate and other signs of stress from fighting two wars.

ORIGINAL STORY
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) – The U.S. Army has closed its massive Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, after 7 people were killed and 20 wounded in a shooting.

The Web site of the base in central Texas has posted an alert that says, “Effective immediately Fort Hood is closed.” The Web site said that units at the base have been ordered to account for all personnel.

The site says, “This is not a Drill. It is an Emergency Situation.”

Several television stations in Texas say several people were both killed and wounded in the shooting. Officials at the base and in the nearby town of Killeen, Texas, have not confirmed those accounts.

Fort Hood is located halfway between Austin and Waco.

Senator: Question of Fort Hood accomplices is still open

star-telegram.com | Nov 6, 2009

BY DAVE MONTGOMERY

FORT HOOD – The possibility that Malik Nadal Hasan was working with someone else before carrying out his murderous rampage at Fort Hood is “still an open question,” U. S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said Friday.

“That is a question still to be asked,” Hutchison said after arriving at the grief-stricken installation to meet with the base commander. “That is not a question that has been resolved.”

While authorities have identified the army psychiatrist as the lone gunman in the Thursday shooting spree that left 13 dead and 30 injured, Hutchison said investigators are trying to determine if there were “others that were involved in any kind of preparation for this.”

Investigators, she said, want to learn “everything they can about the major?s past and what would have motivated this, who he talked to and was there something more than one deranged person involved here.”

Details that have already emerged, including reports that he was giving away his possessions before the shootings, show that Hasan “was clearly planning to do this hideous act,” she said.

As Fort Hood observed a day of mourning, Hutchison said that “our hearts are with the families and soldiers.”

“Our soldiers are prepared to lose their lives for their mission,” she said. “They’re prepared to face the enemy and even be cut down by the enemy. They’re never prepared to be cut down by one of their own.”

Hutchison told reporters that that massive press coverage of the shooting and its aftermath “does show these soldiers and their families how much America is grieving with them.”

Senior Officer: Fort Hood mystery suspect whisked away by “men in suits”

Surviving Fort Hood shooting suspect arrested at golf course, officer says

CNN | Nov 5, 2009

(CNN) — A senior officer who was playing golf  Thursday near Fort Hood, Texas, told CNN he witnessed the arrest of one of the two surviving suspects of the shooting at the Army installation.

Shortly after the shooting, the officer said, military police told him to clear the course and he saw other MPs surround the building that held the golf carts, he said.

The senior officer said he ducked into a nearby house for cover as 30 to 40 cars carrying MPs approached.

He said he saw a soldier in battle-dress uniform, his hands in the air. The MPs ordered him to lie on the ground and open his uniform, presumably to ensure he was not carrying explosives, the senior officer said.

He said an MP told him that authorities considered the man to be a suspect in the shootings after having overheard the man say he was with the shooter.

The man was surrounded for 25 to 30 minutes, until a convoy of vehicles arrived, led by a Ford Crown Victoria and carrying men in suits, and he was taken away, the senior officer said.

The golf course is about 2.5 miles from Fort Hood, the officer told CNN.

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Related

Second Gunman In Custody At Army’s Fort Hood -Report

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

A second gunman is in custody after a shooting at the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas in which at least seven people were killed and 12 wounded, reports KCEN-TV of Waco. The report comes about two hours after a first suspect was captured, shortly after gunfire broke out.

Authorities say the gunmen were dressed in fatigues, though it’s not confirmed whether they are militarypersonnel. It’s also not known if the victims were military personnel or civilians.

The incident reportedly began at Fort Hood’s theater and then moved to the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, Killeen City Public Information Officer Hillary Shine told Fox News. A graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place Thursday.

Three gunmen kill 12 at Fort Hood

NBC News

The U. S. Army now confirms at least 12 people are dead, another 31 wounded in a mass shooting at the massive fort hood army base near Waco, Texas.

General Bob Cone confirms one gunman is dead and was himself, in the army, as are two other suspects in custody.

“Shooter was killed…. two additional soldiers apprehended,”  he said.

An army spokesman at the pentagon says the shootings began at a personnel and medical processing center at Fort Hood.

“It’s a terrible tragedy, it’s stunning,”  said Cone.

Neither the identities of the two soldiers in custody nor those of the victims have been released yet.

Major Nadal Malik Hasan is the Main Suspect in Fort Hood Shootings

Associated Content

Interestingly, the major graduated from Virginia Tech, the site of another heinous slaughtering a few years ago. He majored and earned his degree in biochemistry, but became a psychiatric mental “specialist.”

Army: Fort Hood shooting rampage suspect is alive

AP

Authorities said immediately after the shootings that they had killed the suspected shooter, but later in the evening they recanted and said that he was alive and in stable condition at a hospital, watched by a guard. His death is not imminent,” said Lt. Gen. Bob Cone at Fort Hood. He offered little explanation for the mistake, other than to say there was confusion at the hospital.

Muslims at Fort Voice Outrage and Ask Questions

Sgt. Fahad KamalSgt. Fahad Kamal participated in Friday prayers at the mosque of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen outside Fort Hood. Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

New York Times |  Nov 6, 2009

By MICHAEL MOSS

KILLEEN, Tex. — Leaders of the vibrant Muslim community here expressed outrage on Friday at the shooting rampage being laid to one of their members, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who had become a regular attendee of prayers at the local mosque.

But some of the men who had befriended Major Hasan at the mosque said the military should examine the policies that might have caused him to snap.

“When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal,” said Victor Benjamin II, 30, a former member of the Army. “But when a Muslim does it, they call it jihad.

“Ultimately it was Brother Nidal’s doing, but the command should be held accountable,” Mr. Benjamin said. “G.I.’s are like any equipment in the Army. When it breaks, those who were in charge of keeping it fit should be held responsible for it.”

The mosque, the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, sits off Highway 195, near Fort Hood. Major Hasan began attending prayers about two months ago.

The mosque has about 75 families who have lived peacefully with their Christian neighbors.

“After 9/11, nothing happened here,” said Ajsaf Khan, who owns three convenience stores with his brother, Abdul Khan. “We are very cooperative.”

A mosque leader, Dr. Manzoor Farooqi, a pediatrician, when asked if he feared retribution for the shootings, said he hoped good relations would prevail.

Major Hasan was one of about 10 men from Fort Hood who attended prayers in their uniforms, Dr. Farooqi said, and he was shocked to see the major’s face on television identified as that of the gunman. “He is an educated man. A psychiatrist,” he said. “I can’t believe he would do such a stupid thing.”

“I have no words to explain what happened yesterday,” Dr. Farooqi said at Friday afternoon prayers, in which about 40 men were led by the mosque’s imam, Syed Ahmed Ali. “Let’s have a moment of silence to bless those who lost their life.”

“The Islamic community strongly condemns this cowardly attack, which was particularly heinous in that it was directed at the all-volunteer army that protects our nation,” Dr. Farooqi said.

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “We reiterate the American Muslim community’s condemnation of this cowardly attack. Right now, we call on all Americans to assist those who are responding to this atrocity. We must ensure that the wounded are treated and the families of those who were murdered have an opportunity to mourn.”

Among those attending Friday prayers at the Killeen mosque was Sgt. Fahad Kamal, 26, an Army medic who wore his Airborne uniform, and later he said he was angered on several levels. “I want to believe it was the individual, and not the religion, that made him do what he did,” said Sergeant Kamal, who returned to the United States last year after a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. “It’s an awful thing. I feel let down. We’re better than this.”

It was Major Hasan, though, who increasingly felt let down by the military, and deeply conflicted by his religion, said those who knew him through the mosque. Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old substitute teacher whose parents worked at Fort Hood, said Major Hassan was told he would be sent to Afghanistan on Nov. 28, and he did not like it.

“He said he should quit the Army,” Mr. Reasoner said. “In the Koran, you’re not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell.”

Mr. Benjamin, who worked as a private contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan after leaving the Army in 2000, said the military should have let Major Hassan resign. “They should take more consideration of the human beings in the uniform,” he said, “rather than simply say, ‘We invested our money in you and need to get our money’s worth.’ ”

Still, Mr. Benjamin added, Major Hassan had overlooked an important, and peaceable, tenet of Islam. “We do have the right to retaliate,” he said, “but he who does not is twice blessed.”

Fort Hood shooting: American Muslims express fear, frustration

The news that the suspect is one of their own brings up familiar feelings. Besides fears of retribution, they’re tired of sensing pressure to apologize for someone else’s ‘maniacal brutality.’

LA Times | Nov 6, 2009

By Duke Helfand and Richard Fausset

The news made Nihad Awad sick to his stomach.

Like the rest of the nation, Awad, who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations, learned this week that it was a Muslim who opened fire at a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people and injuring many more. According to soldiers, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan issued the great, exalting cry of his faith before opening fire:

“Allahu akbar!” God is great.

Hearing the story, Awad, too, would invoke his maker — but with a weary lament that is echoing coast to coast among moderate American Muslims.

“I said, ‘Oh God, here we go again,’ ” recalled Awad. “We know what will come when a Muslim name flashes across the [television] screen. What will come is guilt by association.”

In the wake of Thursday’s shooting, mosques around the country Friday denounced the violence and implemented a range of overt and subtle security measures. In the Los Angeles area, Islamic groups contacted police and sheriffs, who stepped up patrols of mosques and community centers.

Janan Al-Henaid, a USC sophomore, got a call from her mother Friday asking the student to come home to Claremont and to be careful when going out. “And she’s never done that before,” Al-Henaid said.

Muslim groups participated in a conference call Friday with federal agencies — including the Homeland Security and Justice departments — to discuss Muslim Americans’ safety.

Eight years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, mainstream Islam remains a subject of suspicion to some Americans — a perception fueled by prejudice and fear, but also by recent reports of broken-up terrorist plots hatched by homegrown Muslim radicals.

Despite eight years of post- 9/11 education campaigns, the suspicion and the scrutiny remain a source of deep frustration for Muslim American leaders.

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, said that the massacre would be exploited “by groups like Al Qaeda, that will use it as a card to justify more religious extremism and violence, and by Muslim-haters — who will use it to divide our country and foment fear and hatred.”

Al-Marayati said he first prayed for the victims. Then he offered another prayer.

“We prayed,” he said, “that it was not a Muslim.”

Hasan, a Virginia-born psychiatrist, was in many ways a product of the American mainstream. But among some observers, the rampage freshly stoked long-standing fears about the divided loyalties of even moderate Muslims.

The right-wing news site WorldNetDaily argued that Hasan was “just the tip of a jihadist Fifth Column operating within the ranks of the US military.” Lt. Col. Lee Packet, an Army spokesman, called the assertion “total speculation.”

Muslim community leader Maher Hathout addressed such fears head-on in a raw, emotional sermon at the Friday afternoon prayer service at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Speaking to 2,000 quiet worshipers, Hathout told of a call he had received after the shooting. The caller posed a question: Could any Muslims be trusted now?

“This is the question on the minds of your co-workers, on the minds of your neighbors — this is the trust and we have to do something about it,” Hathout said.

Hathout implored fellow Muslims not to hide in the aftermath of the shooting, but to speak with their neighbors about any lingering misperceptions.

Muslim groups who say they represent the mainstream rushed to denounce the Texas shooting in the most forceful terms — much as they did after Sept. 11 and after the breakup of other foiled terror plots.

Awad’s Washington-based group, known as CAIR, noted that it had launched an anti-terrorism petition drive and a TV ad campaign against religious extremism, and coordinated an anti-terrorism fatwa, or religious ruling, condemning extremism and terrorism.

Full Story

Fort Hood shooting: Nidal Malik Hasan ‘was not a terrorist’ Palestinian cousin says

Mohammad Hasan, cousin of U.S. Army Major Malik Nadal HasanMohammad Hasan, cousin of U.S. Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan, watches the news about his cousin from the family home in Ramallah, West Bank  Photo: DEBBIE HILL

Maj Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people at a Texas military base, had become increasingly devoted to Islam following the death of his parents but was no terrorist, his cousins in the West Bank said on Friday.

Telegraph | Nov 6, 2009

By Adrian Blomfield in Ramallah

Speaking from their home in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Hasan’s relatives painted a picture of a man cornered into an act of “lunacy” by the repeated discrimination of his peers and an attempt by the army to force him to serve in Afghanistan.

“They discriminated against him because he was a Muslim,” Mohammed Mohammed, one of Hasan’s cousins, told the Daily Telegraph. “We’re not trying to make excuses for him but what we were told was that he was under a lot of pressure.

“What we imagine is that he could not take this bad treatment and gave vent unfortunately.”

Another cousin, Mohammed Hasan, said he was unable to match the relative he knew and loved with the images he was seeing on a television in the dilapidated living room of his West Bank home.

“A relative called me at 2am and told me what had happened,” he said. “The moment I turned on CNN, I found the details.

“I was dumbfounded. I could not believe we were talking about the same person. I tried to believe it was someone else’s name I was hearing but unfortunately it was indeed the person they were reporting. It was my cousin.”

In the house next door, Hasan’s brother Anas had locked himself indoors with his wife, refusing to speak to anyone, including his relatives.

According to his cousins, Hasan was badly scarred by the deaths of his parents in 1998 and 2001. Along with his two brothers, he became increasingly devout, they said.

“They became very religious after their mother died,” Mohammed Hasan said. “They were very observant. They prayed a lot.”

Yet the two cousins insisted that the major’s religion was not tinged with political fanaticism, although they said he had become increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative in recent years.

Even so, they had little reason to believe that he was a man on the edge.

“Nidal is a very stable minded person,” Mohammed Mohammed said. “Why would he kill? He was against violence.

“His actions could have been in self defence – we don’t know. Maybe they angered him to the point of cornering him and he felt he had no option.”

They angrily rejected suggestions that their cousin’s shooting spree had been motivated by a hatred for America or as an act of terrorism.

“My cousin is not a terrorist,” said Mohammed Hasan. “He was born in America, he graduated from Virginia (Tech) University. He was proud to be graduate. He was always preaching about the US education system. He was an optimistic person. He loved life.”

Although he had always wanted to follow other members of his family into the army, Hasan was shocked that he was never accepted as a true American, the cousins said.

He was constantly taunted and provoked until six months ago, he hired a lawyer to sue the army, the cousins said, explaining they kept in touch with developments in Hasan’s life either through telephone calls to him and his family or from Hasan’s brother, who returned to the West Bank four years ago.

They heard that he had become increasingly unhappy, both at the treatment of his peers and also because he had been ordered to deploy “in Iraq and Afghanistan”. But the two cousins insisted that Hasan’s opposition to being sent abroad was as much because he was planning to marry.

The two men also denounced the attention being given in the media to Hasan’s religion.

“Had Hasan been a pure American, there wouldn’t have been such a fuss about it,” said Mohammed Mohammed. “There has been a lot of stress in the media about how he was an Arab, a Palestinian, a Muslim.”

“If he had been someone else, he would immediately been identified by the government as a lunatic and the subject would have been closed.”

“Our religion does not support violence, as the West believes.”

Fort Hood shootings: FBI given gunman’s name six months ago

nidal_Malik_Hasan

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is the suspected shooter at Fort Hood U.S Army Post where according to authorities 12 people were shot and killed and 31 other were wounded  Photo: EPA

The US Army major who killed 13 people in a shooting spree at America’s biggest military base had come to the attention of the FBI six months earlier over possible links to extremist comments posted on the internet.

Telegraph | Nov 6, 2009

By Gordon Rayner and Nick Allen in Fort Hood, Texas

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a devout Muslim who was trying to buy his way out of the Army, was suspected of being the author of postings which compared suicide bombers to heroic soldiers who throw themselves onto grenades to save others.

It also emerged that Hasan, 39, had described the US Army as “the aggressor” in Iraq and Afghanistan and was resisting a planned deployment to Afghanistan, raising questions over whether the military missed warning signs which might have prevented the massacre.

Witnesses said Hasan shouted “Allahu akbar”, Arabic for God is great, as he opened fire – a phrase commonly used by Islamic militant suicide bombers – though investigators said there was no evidence he had been recruited by al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremist organisations.

Hasan – who was initially thought to have been killed – is being kept alive on a ventilator after being shot four times by a civilian policewoman who was the first officer on the scene of the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Officer Kimberley Munley, whose actions were described as “amazing and aggressive”, is one of 30 survivors who were shot by Hasan, of whom 28 remain in hospital.

Six months ago the FBI was alerted to postings by a blogger called Nidal Hasan on the Scribd website. The author wrote about a US soldier who had died smothering a grenade blast, saying: “Scholars have paralled (sic) this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers.

“If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory.”

Law enforcement sources said that before the shooting no formal investigation had been launched into the internet postings and Hasan had not been confirmed as the author, but his apartment in Killeen, Texas, has now been searched and his computer seized.

“This is going to be a long and convoluted and messy investigation,” the source said.

The gunman, a psychiatrist at the Darnall Army Medical Center on the base, whose job is to help soldiers deal with combat stress, was said by his family to be “mortified” at the prospect of being sent to Afghanistan, which they said would have been his “worst nightmare”.

A neighbour who lived in the same apartment block as Hasan said he had told her he was due to leave for Afghanistan yesterday, just 24 hours after the shooting.

Patricia Villa said Hasan had given her frozen food, T-shirts, shelves, an air mattress, briefcases and a new copy of the Koran, and offered her $60 to clean his flat after he left. Investigators have not given details of whether Hasan had been due to leave so soon, or whether he was putting his affairs in order knowing he was about to go on the rampage.

Hasan, who prayed every day at his local mosque, had begun Thursday, as he did every day, by visiting a 7-eleven convenience store on the base to buy groceries. A CCTV image from the store showed him at 6.20am local time wearing a long white dishdasha and skull cap, the traditional Arab dress he often wore when off-duty.

“He looked normal,” said the owner of the store. “He came in and bought coffee and hash browns.”

Around 300 soldiers had assembled at the Soldier Readiness Center on the base, where they were to have inoculations before being sent to Afghanistan, when Hasan, dressed in his military uniform, entered at 1.30pm and opened fire at close range with two privately-owned handguns.

None of the soldiers were armed and some barricaded themselves into rooms off the main hall of the building while Hasan repeatedly reloaded his weapons and fired indiscriminately for 10 minutes, killing 12 soldiers and a civilian.

Survivors described how Hasan had “a very calm and measured approach” as he fired scores of rounds. Lt Gen Bob Cone, the base commander, said one soldier had told him “I made the mistake of moving and I was shot again”. Others “would scramble to the ground and help each other out”, he added.

Officer Munley and a colleague were on the scene three minutes after the first shots were fired, but it took several more minutes before they could stop Hasan as he carried on firing.

Once the gunman had been brought down, soldiers rushed to treat their comrades by ripping up their uniforms into makeshift bandages.

The dead included Private Michael Pearson, 21, from Chicago. His mother Sheryll said: “His father is still in shock and very angry. We’re all very angry.”

Captain Reis Ritz, 30, a physician working in the emergency room at Fort Hood when the dead and dying came in, said: “It was just unreal. When I heard there was a shooting I thought initially it might be a drill. But when I saw the wounds and the number coming in I realised what was happening.

“There were gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomens. They seemed like random shots all over the place. Some of the guys were unconscious, others were talking when they came in but we had to put them under,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“I was trying to resuscitate people, clearing airways, replacing blood, inserting chest tubes. It was frantic, chaotic but controlled. We are a close community and we wanted to do our best for these guys.”

Nadar Hasan, a cousin of the gunman, said: “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today. We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies. We are filled with grief for the families of today’s victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country, and saddened by today’s tragedy. The actions of our cousin are despicable and deplorable.”

President Obama met FBI director Robert Mueller to discuss the investigation but said the motive was still uncertain.

“We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,” said Mr Obama, who ordered flags to fly at half-mast on federal buildings across the country.