US gun rampage search leads to extremist websites

A US officer who killed 13 soldiers in a gun rampage at a Texas army base was being investigated for links to extremist websites, security sources said today.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a devout American-born Muslim, was on life support after being shot several times by guards at the Fort Hood base.

Armed with two non-military issue pistols, including a semi-automatic, Hasan, a military psychiatrist, entered a section used to prepare soldiers for deployment overseas and started firing.

Within minutes, 13 soldiers at the base were dead or dying in the worst mass shooting yet at a military base in the US.

At least 30 others - including two civilians - were injured in an attack described by President Barack Obama as an "horrific outburst of violence".

Officials were trying to establish the motive behind the attack.

Retired Colonel Terry Lee, who worked with Hasan, claimed the major was anti-war and argued with comrades who supported operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hasan, a 39-year-old from Virginia, was also due to be sent to Afghanistan, something family members said would have been his "worst nightmare".

Defence sources said at least six months ago Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats.

They included posts which compared suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.

Investigators were not certain whether Hasan had written the posts and a formal investigation had not been opened before the shooting, said the sources.

Hasan was shot four times but survived and was being treated in hospital under armed guard.

Army spokesman Lieutenant General Bob Cone said he was on a ventilator and unconscious, but added: "I would say his death is not imminent."

His cousin, Nader Hasan, described him as "a good American".

He said the family was "shocked", adding: "We just found out on the news that he was being deployed, he never even told us.

"We've known for the last four or five years that was probably his worst nightmare. He deals with stories, he would tell us how he would hear things, horrific things."

Mr Hasan added that his cousin had also complained of being harassed by others in the military.

Hasan transferred to Fort Hood in July from Walter Reed Medical Centre, where he received a poor performance evaluation, according to an official.

Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque Hasan attended in Maryland, said Hasan was a lifelong Muslim and attended prayers regularly, often in his army uniform.

Mr Obama met aides in the White House's Situation Room after being informed of the incident.

The president said his thoughts and prayers were with the wounded and the families of the fallen.

He said: "It is difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil."

The shootings began yesterday at around 1.30pm local time (7.30pm GMT) at Fort Hood's readiness centre.

The Fort Hood compound - the US's largest military base - was declared safe only five hours later.

Soldiers rushed to treat their injured colleagues by ripping their uniforms into makeshift bandages.

Video footage showed police patrolling the area with handguns and rifles, ducking behind buildings for cover.

Sirens could be heard while a woman's voice on a public address system urged people to take cover.

Soldiers at Fort Hood do not carry weapons unless on training exercises.

Hasan, whose family said he was born in suburban Washington, is single with no children.

In 1997 he graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, scene of a mass shooting in 2007.

He was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps at college.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links