FORT HOOD, Texas — There was the classroom presentation that justified suicide bombings. Comments to colleagues about a climate of persecution faced by Muslims in the military. Conversations with a mosque leader that became incoherent.
Some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan as a student said they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist — who authorities say went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded — had no place in the military. After arriving at Fort Hood, he was conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, alarming an Islamic community leader from whom he sought counsel.
"I told him, 'There's something wrong with you,' " Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told the Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."
Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates in a 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 written complaint.
"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan in 2007 and 2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out."
Military authorities continued Saturday to refer to Hasan as a suspect in the shootings, and have not yet said if they plan to charge him in a military or civilian court. His family described a man incapable of the attack, calling him a devoted doctor and devout Muslim who showed no signs that he might lash out with violence.
"I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," said his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Va., in a statement. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen."
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 a quiet man with a strong work ethic who provided excellent care for his patients.
Still, in the days since authorities say Hasan fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the U.S., a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to get out of his pending deployment to a war zone and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist.
Twice this summer, Danquah said, Hasan asked him what to tell soldiers who expressed misgivings about fighting fellow Muslims. The retired Army first sergeant and Gulf War veteran said he reminded Hasan that these soldiers had volunteered to fight, and that Muslims were fighting each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.
Danquah said he was so disturbed by Hasan's persistent questioning that he recommended the mosque reject Hasan's request to become a lay Muslim leader at Fort Hood. But he never saw a need to tell anyone at the sprawling Army post about the talks, because Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence.
"If I had an inkling that he had this type of inclination or intentions, definitely I would have brought it to their attention," he said.