U.S.: Fort Hood Update

4 MINS READNov 6, 2009 | 21:01 GMT
Ben Sklar/Getty Images
A gunman opened fire Nov. 5 on soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, at approximately 1:30 p.m. local time, killing 13 and injuring 30 others. Much speculation is circulating as to the motive of the shooter (believed to be Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan), but not many solid conclusions can be reached based on the details known so far.
A gunman on Nov. 5 opened fire in an Afghanistan and Iraq deployment/reception processing center at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and injuring 30. U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of the 10-minute shooting, and civilian base police ultimately shot and disabled Hasan, who is recovering in a nearby hospital. The gunfight between Hasan and first responders reportedly resulted in some friendly fire and ricocheting bullets, possibly contributing to the high number of wounded. It appears that Hasan targeted multiple buildings in the complex, adding to the confusion and delaying resolution. Eyewitness reports indicate that Hasan, who was trained in firearms, was deliberate in his attacks, taking aim at specific targets instead of firing indiscriminately (which is very common in attacks by unskilled assailants and are generally far less lethal and efficient). It is unconfirmed if Hasan was armed with one or two weapons; however, at least one weapon has been recovered and confirmed to be a non-military issued pistol. It is possible that he had brought a backup weapon with him in order to avoid reloading. However, it is unlikely that he was firing two weapons simultaneously, as standard military training teaches controlled, aimed fire from one weapon. Three other soldiers in the area of the shooting were at one point suspected of aiding Hasan, but they have been released. While this does not rule out the possibility that Hasan was collaborating with others for this attack, it would support the argument that he acted as a lone wolf. Emerging evidence will indicate the level of support Hasan had in carrying out the attack. Federal investigators said they had been aware of possible links between Hasan and a user on an Internet forum who went by "NidalHasan." A posting under this name justified the act of Muslims carrying out suicide attacks against "enemies" and compared it to a soldier protecting his fellow troops by jumping on a live grenade. The user has not been confirmed as Hasan and investigators are searching Hasan's apartment and belongings (including his computer) for evidence of such a link. Hasan was an Army psychiatrist and a Muslim — two characteristics that would make him very valuable to the Army. As a psychiatrist during wartime, his services would be in high demand since there is a higher number of soldiers requiring psychiatric treatment. Also, as a Muslim, he would represent a minority group in the military, which brings up sensitivities not only in the military, but in political spheres. These two factors, along with the fact that this occurred within the U.S. Army, may have complicated any previous investigations into Hasan and resulting allegations. The FBI will likely guard information from the case closely, which could create conflicts between the FBI and the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (who also has jurisdiction over this case). Hasan was slated to be deployed on his first combat tour later in 2009 (it is unclear if he was destined for Iraq or Afghanistan), but openly opposed his deployment, complained of harassment from other soldiers, and sought legal assistance to be decommissioned to avoid deployment. Hasan was reportedly selling and giving away his belongings — something that is not necessarily normal for someone to do ahead of a deployment, but also not unheard of, had he planned not to continue to lease his apartment during deployment. At this point, it is unclear if this was a lone act linked to personal reasons, which frequently occurs in cases of workplace violence, if there was an element of radical Islamist influence in this attack, or if there were other factors involved in the attack. The politically sensitive issues at hand and issues of confidentiality surrounding the case will create plenty of speculation.

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