WASHINGTON – A group of doctors overseeing Nidal Malik Hasan’s medical training discussed concerns about his zealous religious views and strange behavior months before the Army major was accused of a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead and 29 wounded.
Doctors and staff overseeing Hasan’s training viewed him at times as belligerent, defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his Muslim faith, a military official familiar with several group discussions about Hasan said.
Hasan was characterized in meetings as a mediocre student and lazy worker, a matter of concern among the doctors and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the official said.
The concerns about Hasan’s performance and religious views were shared with other military officials considering his assignment after he finished his medical training, and the consensus was to send the 39-year-old psychiatrist to Fort Hood, the official said.
Fort Hood, one of the country’s largest military installations, was considered the best assignment for Hasan because other doctors could handle the workload if he continued to perform poorly and his superiors could document any continued behavior problems, the official said.
The group saw no evidence that Hasan was violent or a threat.
It was more that he repeatedly referred to his strong religious views in discussions with classmates, his superiors and even in his research work, the official said.
His behavior, while at times perceived as intense and combative, was not unlike the zeal of others with strong religious views. But some doctors and staff were concerned that their unfamiliarity with the Muslim faith would lead them unfairly to single out Hasan’s behavior, the official said.
The revelations about the concerns that Hasan’s superiors had before sending him to Fort Hood come amid a growing debate over what warning signs the military and law enforcement officials might have missed before last week’s massacre.