Local News

Muslim group reserving judgment on Fort Hood gunman

Posted November 9, 2009 6:52 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2009 11:51 p.m. EST

— Local Muslims are reacting to last week's shooting rampage at Fort Hood, saying they want to educate non-Muslims about their religion and that they will reserve judgment on the accused gunman until more information about the attack is available.

"The large majority of Muslims do not condone acts of violence against innocent people," said Imran Aukhil, a spokesman for the Islamic Association of Raleigh. "The large majority of Muslims have absolutely nothing to do with this."

Authorities say U.S. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a known Muslim, fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at the Texas military base on Thursday, killing 13 people and wounding 29 others.

Since then, a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to elude his pending deployment to Afghanistan and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist.

"We trust that the government and the judicial system will take its course and do a thorough investigation," Aukhil said. "Whenever the information becomes available, then we will have a better idea, but we are not really sure what to expect right now."

Aukhil said the center invites non-Muslims to visit and learn about Islam.

"I take this as a positive opportunity to speak about Islam, to pass along the message," he said. "You would meet Muslims in a large community here."

Meanwhile, authorities won't say when charges would be filed against Hasan, and they have said they have not determined a motive for the shooting.

Sen. Joe Lieberman has also called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs that Hasan embraced an extremist view or Islamic ideology. Published reports indicate Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 highjackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a government official not authorized to discuss the case told The Associated Press that an initial review of Hasan's computer use has found no evidence of links to terror groups or anyone who might have helped plan or push him toward the shooting attack.

The review of Hasan's computer is continuing, and more evidence could emerge, the official said.

Hasan, who was on order to deploy with the Durham-based reserve unit 1493rd Medical (Combat Stress Control) Detachment, was shot by civilian police to end the rampage. He was in critical but stable condition at an Army hospital in San Antonio.

Dr. Bruce Capehart, a former member of the 1493rd Medical Detachment and psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center, said he was surprised to learn that the suspect in the Fort Hood shootings was a soldier.

"I think on some level, anybody who puts on the military’s uniform, you have some expectation that something bad might happen to me someday. But you don't expect anything bad to come from another soldier,” he said.

Capehart served in Afghanistan in 2003. He said watching the events at Fort Hood could trigger stressful reactions for some veterans.

He encourages anyone who needs help to call the Veteran’s suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.