Born in Arlington County, Virginia, on September 8, 1970, Nidal Malik Hasan attended Barstow Community College (in California) and Virginia Western Community College in the city of Roanoke. He then transferred to Virginia Tech University, where, according to military records, he served in the ROTC as an undergraduate and earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in 1997. (School officials, however, reported that Hasan had graduated in 1995, and that there were no records of his having served in ROTC.)
After leaving Virginia Tech, Hasan went on to obtain a doctorate in psychiatry from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2001. Early in his postgraduate work, he was put on probation and was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues.
Hasan, who served eight years as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army, worked as a staff psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC from 2003-09. During that period, he was known to be a very devout member of the Muslim Community Center (MCC) in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he made daily visits. On a form that he filled out at the MCC, the Virginia-born Hasan identified his nationality not as “American” but as “Palestinian.” A mosque official was puzzled by that, saying: “I don’t know why he listed Palestinian. He was not born in Palestine.”
In April 2008, Hasan earned the rank of Major in the U.S. Army. In early 2009 he was transferred to Fort Hood, a U.S. Army post located outside of Killeen, Texas.
Hasan opposed America’s military ventures in Afhganistan and Iraq, objecting to U.S. forces killing Muslims on foreign soil. Sometime in 2009, he learned that he himself would be deployed either to Afghanistan or Iraq at the end of the year, and he told colleagues repeatedly that he did not want to go. According to one former colleague, Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, Hasan was hopeful that President Barack Obama would pull U.S. troops out of the Middle East entirely. Lee further reported that Hasan had frequently argued with other military personnel who supported the wars.
On May 20, 2009, a man giving his name as “NidalHasan” posted this defense of suicide bombing on the Internet (all spelling and grammar appears as it did in the original):
“There was a grenade thrown amongs a group of American soldiers. One of the soldiers, feeling that it was to late for everyone to flee jumped on the
grave with the intention of saving his comrades. Indeed he saved them. He inentionally took his life (suicide) for a noble cause i.e. saving the
lives of his soldier. To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. Its more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause. Scholars have paralled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan. They died (via crashing their planes into ships) to kill the enemies for the homeland. You can call them crazy i you want but their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam. So the scholars main point is that ‘IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE’ and Allah (SWT) knows best.”
On November 5, 2009, Hasan, armed with two handguns, went on a shooting rampage inside Fort Hood, killing 13 people and wounding at least 31 others. According to eyewitnesses, he shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is Great!”) while he was shooting.
In the aftermath of the incident — which ended when Hasan himself was shot by a police officer and rendered permanently paralyzed below the waist — Col. Terry Lee, a former colleague of Hasan, recalled that the gunman had previously made statements to the effect of: “Muslims have the right to rise up against the U.S. military” and “Muslims have a right to stand up against the aggressors.” Lee also remembered an occasion when Hasan had spoken favorably about people who “strap bombs on themselves and go into Times Square.”
After his arrest, Hasan continued to collect military pay. By the end of July 2013, he had received nearly $300,000 in pay since his arrest.
In early August 2013, on the eve of his military trial, Hasan released seven pages of handwritten and typed documents to Fox News in which he provided insight into his worldview. Most of the documents bore the acronym “SoA,” meaning “Soldier of Allah.”
Recalling Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been killed by a U.S. drone attack in Yemen in September 2011, Hasan wrote in August 2013: “He [al-Awlaki] was my teacher, mentor and friend. I hold him in high esteem for trying to educate Muslims about their duties to our creator. May All-Mighty Allah accept his martyrdom.”
Hasan acted as his own defense attorney at his trial, after twice dismissing his legal team. On August 28, 2013, a military jury sentenced Hasan to death. He was then incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to await execution.
In October 2014, Hasan — using the acronym “SoA” (“Soldier of Allah”) to describe himself — sent a six-page, handwritten letter to Pope Francis emphasizing the fact that his mass murder at Fort Hood was not an act of “workplace violence” (as the Obama administration was continuing to characterize it), but rather, of “jihad.”