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Suspect in Fort Hood shooting, a Muslim, asked Army to discharge him, aunt said

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Members and leaders of the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, where Maj. Nidal M. Hasan used to pray, speak out the day after the tragedy. They describe him as a devout Muslim, quiet but friendly.

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Benyedder said there was no signs of anger or frustration from Hasan during his years at the mosque, but recalled that Hasan sought the advice of a few Muslim brothers regarding a presentation he had been preparing to give to his superiors in the Army. Part of the presentation included the argument that the Army should release a soldier from duty if his religion prevented him from actions and orders by the army, Benyedder recalled.

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Co-workers saw another side of Hasan.

A longtime Walter Reed colleague who referred patients to psychiatrists said co-workers avoided sending service members to Hasan because of his unusual manner and solitary work habits.

But 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, who was treated by the psychiatrist at Walter Reed while recovering from a gunshot wound suffered in Iraq, said Hasan was polite and respectful.

One Walter Reed co-worker said Hasan would not allow his photo to be taken with female co-workers, which became an issue during Christmas season when employees often took group photos. Co-workers would find a solo photo of Hasan and post it on the bulletin board without his permission.

However, the deputy commander for clinical services at Fort Hood and Hasan's boss said that Hasan went through a peer review in which his fellow doctors found no fault with the care he was providing.

"He was a dedicated hard-working provider who did really care his patients," said Col. Kimberly Kesling, the deputy commander. "Sometimes people have demons we don't know about and make bad choices . . . People who take care of people with problems can develop problems of their own. " Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995 and earned a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. From 2003 through last summer, he was an intern, resident and then fellow at Walter Reed, where he worked as a liaison between wounded soldiers and the hospital's psychiatry staff. He was also a fellow at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda military medical school.

His aunt said he had been affected by the physical and mental injuries he saw while working as a psychiatrist at Walter Reed for nearly eight years.

"He must have snapped," Noel Hasan said. "They ignored him. It was not hard to know when he was upset. He was not a fighter, even as a child and young man. But when he became upset, his face turns red." She said Hasan had consulted with a lawyer about getting out of the service.

On the rare occasions when he spoke of his work in any detail, the aunt said, Hasan told her of soldiers wracked by what they had seen. One patient had suffered burns to his face so intense "that his face had nearly melted," she said. "He told us how upsetting that was to him."

Hasan "did not make many friends" and "did not make friends fast," his aunt said. "He would tell us the military was his life."

Hasan's father, Malik, immigrated to the United States at age 16 from a Palestinian village in the West Bank, an area controlled by Jordan until 1967 but occupied by Israel since then. There, the family tended to an olive grove, neighbors said.


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