, WASHINGTON, Nov 6 – The man who killed 12 people at a Texas military base Thursday is an American Muslim of Palestinian origin who joined the army against his parents’ wishes and was about to be deployed to Iraq, officials and media reports said.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who was shot and wounded after his rampage at Fort Hood, was a military psychiatrist who dealt with troops returning from combat and faced his own imminent deployment, officials said.
But he also battled harassment based on his "Middle Eastern ethnicity," according to his cousin Nader Hasan, and was seeking to leave the military.
"He hired a military attorney to try to have the issue resolved, pay back the government, to get out of the military. He was at the end of trying everything," Hasan told Fox News.
"I don’t think he’s ever been disenchanted with the military," he said of the shooter, who has been identified as Nidal Malik Hasan. "It was the harassment."
Nidal Malik Hasan had specialized in disaster and preventive psychiatry, serving his residency at Washington DC’s Walter Reed military hospital, before being transferred to Texas, and was headed for Iraq this month.
He "was scheduled to be deployed and was upset about that," Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who had spoken to a general at Fort Hood about Hasan, told CNN.
Nader Hasan denied that his cousin was "afraid of deploying to go to war," and said he had not previously exhibited violent tendencies.
"He wasn’t somebody who even enjoyed going to the firing range, you know, this wasn’t somebody who had that kind of mindset," he said.
The army major was born in the United States to Palestinian parents who had emigrated from a small town near Jerusalem, his cousin said, quoted by the New York Times.
He was raised in Virginia, and attended school in Roanoke before going to Virginia Tech university, scene of another mass shooting in April 2007.
He received his medical license on July 12, 2005, according to Virginia Board of Medicine records.
While living in Washington, he attended prayers at a local Muslim community center at least once a day, seven days a week, according to Maryland imam Faizul Khan.
Khan, a former imam at the center, told The Washington Post that Hasan was "very devout," and asked him various religious questions.
"But there was nothing extremist in his questions. He never showed any frustration…. He never showed any… wish for vengeance on anybody," Khan said.
A former colleague of Hasan’s disagreed, saying he had voiced extreme positions in the past.
"He said, ‘maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor,’ at first we thought he was talking about how Muslims should stand up and help the armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but apparently that wasn’t the case," Colonel Terry Lee told Fox News.
Fort Hood base commander Lieutenant General Robert Cone said the attack did not seem to be linked to terrorism.
"I couldn’t rule that out but I’m telling you that right now, the evidence does not suggest that," he told reporters.