Skip to main content

Why Did No One Report Warning Signs of Fort Hood Gunman Hasan?

There were warning signs that all was not right with suspected Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Malik Hasan before he allegedly went on last week's shooting rampage that left 13 fellow soldiers dead.

But it seems no one reported them. The question now is, why?

The first red flag came two years ago before Hasan was even assigned to work as a psychiatrist at Fort Hood in Texas. He was expected to lead a discussion on medical issues at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July. Instead, his colleagues say, he launched into an extremist interpretation of the Koran. According to the London Telegraph, Hasan said non-Muslims were "infidels condemned to hell," and that "non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats."

Fellow doctors have recounted how they were repeatedly harangued by Hasan about religion and that he openly claimed to be a "Muslim first and American second."

But no one ever reported him. Dr. Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 said no one wanted to file a formal complaint because they didn't want to appear to be discriminatory against a Muslim soldier.

What Finnell says next is chilling: "In retrospect, I'm not surprised he did it," Dr. Finnell said. "I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were."

Then there was Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, Texas, a retired Army sargeant and a veteran of the Gulf War, to whom Hasan came for advice. Hasan wanted to know what to tell Muslim soldiers who might be conflicted about fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I told him, ‘There's something wrong with you,'" Danquah told the Associated Press. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."

Danquah said he was so disturbed by Hasan's persistent questioning that he recommended the mosque reject Hasan's request to become a lay Muslim leader at Fort Hood. But still, he never reported him. He said he assumed the Army knew all about Hasan's views. Plus, Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence.

"If I had an inkling that he had this type of inclination or intentions, definitely I would have brought it to their attention," he said.

But there's more. Hasan actually received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed, according to an official there. And while he was an intern, Hasan had some "difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.

Still, Hasan was promoted from captain to major in 2008. Bernard Rostker, a military personnel expert at the Rand Corp., said Hasan's advancement was all but certain absent a serious blemish on his record, such as a DUI or a drug charge.

"We're short of officers, particularly at the major and lieutenant colonel level because of the war, and we're short of psychiatrists," said Rostker, who served as under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness during the Clinton administration. "There would have had to be something very detrimental in his record before there would have been a banner that would have said, 'No, we don't want to promote him.'"

So the warning signs were there, but they apparently slipped through the cracks along with Hasan. And now 13 soldiers are dead.

"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Finnell, one of many who could have, but didn't report Hasan. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out."


Popular Video