, Texas, Nov 11 – US President Barack Obama has vowed justice as he eulogized the dead of the Fort Hood shootings and warned that even twisted faith could not explain such "craven" mass murder.
As intrigue deepened around Major Nidal Hasan, the army psychiatrist and practicing Muslim accused of killing 13 people in last week’s shooting spree, Obama lauded each victim and said their legacy was America’s future freedom.
"It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy," Obama told 15,000 sometimes tearful mourners under the bright Texan sky on Tuesday.
"But this much we do know: no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts.
"No just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice, in this world, and the next."
On the podium, a photograph of each victim flanked by a helmet, a rifle and an empty pair of boots paid sad tribute to the 12 service personnel and one civilian cut down in the massacre.
"Their life’s work is our security, and the freedom that we too ofte n take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is their legacy."
Obama built his address around the terrible irony that the victims could not "escape the horrors of war" even though they died at home, not on the battlefields where many of them had served.
He said Thursday’s rampage, which also wounded 42 people, came at a trying time for America, as it struggles through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This is a time of war. And yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great American community.
"It is this fact that makes the tragedy even more painful and even more incomprehensible."
In a military tradition rarely witnessed by the public, a roll call highlighted those now departed as the calling of their names went unanswered. A procession of families walked slowly past the photographs of their dead loved ones, many of them weeping. Related article: Obama as mourner-in-chief at Fort Hood memorial
Applause as Obama came to the podium belied the grim nature of the event but showed the significance Americans placed on him making the trip after an attack that hit right at the core of US military pride.
Today is "very important, especially with President Obama being here. It shows people around the world that we stick together," said Jenni Yucub, a civilian from New Jersey who has worked at Fort Hood since 1994.
"He is our commander in chief, it shows the world that he cares for soldiers," she added.
Intrigue over the injured suspect, Major Nidal Hasan, mounted after the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed he had contacts with a firebrand Islamic cleric in Yemen and it emerged he had voiced doubts over the role of US Muslim soldiers.
Defense and law enforcement officials meanwhile said Hasan would likely face a court martial for murder in a military court.
The FBI said Hasan, a devout Muslim, came to its attention in 2008 after he communicated with the target of a counter-terrorism investigation. Related article: Fears US army missed warnings over base gunman
"The JTTF (joint terrorism task force) concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning," the FBI said, adding that "the investigation to date indicates that the alleged gunman acted alone and was not part of a broader terrorist plot."
The Washington Post reported investigators were examining possible links between the army psychiatrist and Anwar al-Aulaqi, who is now in Yemen but was a spiritual leader of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. Related articlr: Suspected shooter likely to face US military court: official
Hasan, who was born in Virginia to Palestinian parents and raised in the state, had attended the mosque in 2001.
The imam was said to have met Al-Qaeda associates, including two September 11 hijackers, and is now believed to have become a supporter of the terror network, the paper said, citing a senior US official.
The Post also said Hasan had shocked fellow army medics more than a year ago by saying Muslim soldiers should be allowed release as conscientious objectors rather than being ordered to go to war against fellow Muslims.
After regaining consciousness, Hasan has been able to talk for the first time since Thursday, but he has declined to discuss the day’s events with investigators.