Muslim leader had troubling talks with suspect

Associated Press Writer

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- An Army psychiatrist who authorities say went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood was so conflicted over what to tell fellow soldiers about fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan that a local Islamic leader was deeply troubled by it, the leader said Saturday.

Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, said he was disturbed by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's persistent questioning and recommended the mosque reject Hasan's request to become a lay Muslim leader at the sprawling Army post.

Danquah said Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence, but during the second of two conversations they had over the summer, Hasan seemed almost incoherent, he said.

"But what if a person gets in and feels that it's just not right?" Danquah recalled Hasan asking him.

"I told him, `There's something wrong with you,'" Danquah told The Associated Press during an interview at Fort Hood on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."

Authorities accuse Hasan of firing more than 100 rounds Thursday in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 29 others in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the U.S. At the start of the attack, Hasan reportedly jumped up on a desk and shouted "Allahu akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" Hasan, 39, was seriously wounded by police and is being treated in a military hospital.

The military has said Hasan was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, but family members suggested he was trying avoid serving overseas.

Hasan's relatives who live in the Palestinian territories have said they had heard from family members that Hasan felt mistreated in the Army as a Muslim.

"He told (them) that as a Muslim committed to his prayers he was discriminated against and not treated as is fitting for an officer and American," said Mohammed Malik Hasan, 24, a cousin, told the AP from his home on the outskirts of Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the West Bank. "He hired a lawyer to get him a discharge."

The Army major also had previously questioned the U.S. war on terror.

A former classmate has said Hasan was a "vociferous opponent of the war" and "viewed the war against terror" as a "war against Islam." Dr. Val Finnell, who attended a master's in public health program in 2007-2008 at Uniformed Services University with Hasan, said he told classmates he was "a Muslim first and an American second."

"In retrospect, I'm not surprised he did it," Finnell said. "I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were."

Danquah said his conversations with Hasan occurred following two religious services sometime before Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that started in late August. He said the soldier, who transferred to Fort Hood from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in July, regularly attended services at the Killeen, Texas, mosque in his uniform.

During his talks with Hasan, Danquah, 61, said he told him that Muslims were fighting each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories and that American soldiers with objections to serving overseas had recourse to voice such concerns.

"As a Muslim, you come into a community and the way you integrate normally - I didn't see that kind of integration," he said. Danquah, a retired Army 1st sergeant and Gulf War veteran, did not tell the military about his conversations with Hasan.

"I didn't think it rose to that level of concern," he said, adding that he thought the military "chain of command should have picked it up" if Hasan had issues.

Most of the wounded from Thursday's attack remained hospitalized, many in intensive care. Hasan was transferred Friday to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, about 150 miles southwest of Fort Hood. Army officials late Friday gave no indication of his condition except to say he was "not able to converse."

The bodies of the victims arrived at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base on Friday night and autopsies were being formed, said Dover spokesman Air Force Maj. Carl Grusnick.

The White House said President Barack Obama would attend a memorial service Tuesday at Fort Hood. Earlier Saturday, Obama said in his radio and Internet address that the training designed to keep U.S. forces safe abroad prevented further deaths and ended the rampage at Fort Hood.

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, visited wounded soldiers Friday night at the post hospital. On Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry also visited the wounded and said the soldiers he met with were honored to serve their country.

"What I heard time after time in those hospital rooms is they're honored to be able to serve our country," Perry said during a news conference.


Associated Press Writers Dalia Nammari in Ramallah, West Bank, and Jessica Gresko in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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