Meridian Star

National News

November 6, 2009

(8:25 a.m.) Military Base Shooting

JEFF CARLTON,Associated Press Writer

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Soldiers who witnessed the shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire, the base commander said Friday.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said officials had not yet confirmed that the suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, made the comment, which is Arabic for "God is great!" before the rampage Thursday, which left 30 people wounded, including the gunman.

An imam from a mosque Hasan regularly attended said Hasan, a lifelong Muslim, was a committed soldier, gave no sign of extremist beliefs and regularly wore his uniform at prayers.

Cone said Hasan was hospitalized in stable condition and that investigators hope to interrogate him as soon as possible. In the early chaos after the shootings, authorities believed they had killed him, only to discover later that he had survived.

Cone said Hasan was not known to be a threat or risk. He acknowledged that it was "counterintuitive" that a single shooter could kill and injure so many people. But he said the massacre occurred in "close quarters."

"With ricochet fire, he was able to injure that number of people," Cone said. Authorities are investigating whether Hasan's weapons were properly registered with the military.

The motive for the shooting wasn't clear, but Hasan was apparently set to deploy soon and had expressed some anger about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, said generals at Fort Hood told her that Hasan was about to deploy overseas. In Washington, sources said he would be sent to Iraq.

Lee said Hasan had hoped Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars.

Officials are not ruling out the possibility that some of the casualties may have been victims of "friendly fire," that in the mayhem and confusion at the shooting scene some of the responding military officials may have shot some of the victims.

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