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Investigators seek clues, motives for US army base shooting

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-06

A day after US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly went on a shooting rampage, gunning down 13 of his colleagues at a Texas military base, investigators have been looking at possible motives for this shocking crime.

As investigators examined motives for the deadly shooting rampage at a Texas military base, allegedly by a US army psychiatrist, US President Barack Obama cautioned against jumping to conclusions and ordered all flags at federal buildings to fly at half-mast Friday.

Speaking to reporters a day after a suspected gun attack by Major Nidal Malik Hasan left 13 dead and about 30 others wounded, Obama told Americans that “we don't know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts”.

Obama’s remarks came after the US president met with investigating officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller on Friday.

The US military has ordered bases across the country to tighten security as army officials paid tribute to their slain comrades and declared a day of mourning.

Spotlight on US military pressures

Thursday’s incident, which occurred at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, has shocked the nation and turned the spotlight on the pressures facing US soldiers fighting in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reporting from Washington, FRANCE 24’s Guillaume Meyer said the shooting had sparked some soul-searching by many Americans.

“The American population realises that the pressure on the military is extremely high with two wars abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Meyer. “This shooting incident is really another blow to the US military.

An upcoming Afghanistan deployment

Major Nidal Malik Hasan was working at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center at the Fort Hood military base.
A US-born Muslim whose parents are American citizens of Palestinian origin, Hasan was due to be deployed soon to Afghanistan, according to US military officials.

On Friday, Fort Hood commander, Lieutenant-General Robert Cone told reporters that witnesses had said Hassan shouted “Allah-u akbar” - or “God is great” in Arabic - before opening fire.

US officials said investigations into the incident had continued overnight Thursday into Friday and have repeatedly warned the media and average Americans against jumping to conclusions before investigators release their official findings.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “It would be premature to speculate what the motivations behind it were. So, I think right now, we need to let that investigation run its course.”

Picture of the suspect gradually emerging

A day after the shooting, a picture of Hasan is beginning to emerge.

The Observers: "I knew the shooter"
In interviews with US media organisations, the suspect’s cousin, Nader Hasan, said the army psychiatrist was opposed to a deployment abroad and had called it “his worst nightmare”.

Nader Hasan also told some US media organisations that his cousin had complained of racial harassment due to his Middle Eastern origins.

In a written statement on behalf of the family, Nader Hasan, said the family was stunned and saddened by the tragedy.

Hasan's aunt, Noel Hasan, told US daily newspaper The Washington Post that her nephew had repeatedly sought to be discharged from the military.

Surveillance video aired by CNN showed Hasan buying coffee at a base shop dressed in traditional Muslim garb apparently just hours before he reportedly went on the rampage.

Hasan was working at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, a complex within the base where soldiers receive medical checkups before overseas deployments when he opened fire on his colleagues Thursday.

He was shot four times on Thursday and is receiving treatment at a Texas civilian hospital. Medical officials have described his condition as stable.

Date created : 2009-11-06

  • USA

    US army major shoots 13 dead and injures 30 at Texas military base

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  • USA

    Army Major goes on killing rampage at Texas military base

    Read more