Official: Major Hasan Awake, Speaking to Medical Staff

Published November 09, 2009

| FoxNews.com

Fort Hood massacre suspect Major Nidal Malik Hasan is awake and speaking to medical staff at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Fox News Radio reports.

A U.S. Army hospital spokesman confirms Hasan is conscious and able to talk.

Hospital spokeswoman Maria Gallegos says Hasan is in critical but stable condition.

Dewey Mitchell, a spokesman at Brooke Army Medical Center, about 150 miles southwest of Fort Hood, says Hasan has been awake and able to talk since he was taken off a ventilator Saturday.

Hasan, 39, was shot during an exchange of gunfire during Thursday's attack.

Of the 29 people wounded in Thursday's attack, 16 remain in local Texas hospitals, with seven in intensive care.

Army spokesman Col. John Rossi expressed his condolences for the families of the victims on Sunday, telling reporters that the Army base is "expanding its capacity to meet the needs of all."

The base is providing "spriritual, emotional, physical support," Rossi said. "We're offering and encouraging anyone who thinks they need it ... to please seek it."

Rossi told reporters he had visited with Fort Hood heroes Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley and her partner Sgt. Mark Todd in the hospital, where they remain in stable condition.

"I would use two words to describe them," Rossi told reporters about the first responders who exchanged gunfire with Hasan. "Strong, the term Army strong, it's not just a motto, it's them," Rossi said.

"And selfless — I cannot tell you how many times they reiterated to me, this is not about them. They are not interested in notoriety," Rossi said. "They just want to move on, and they're so proud of their teammates."

Rossi told reporters that Munley, and others who acted quickly to stop the shooter, saved lives.

"Soldiers are trained to respond, to care for wounded, to move the wounded," Rossi added. "Their training kicked in."

"The surprising aspect, and the concerning one is it didn't happen in Iraq or Afghanistan, it happened in our house."

The bodies of the men and women killed in Thursday's massacre are currently in Dover, Del., Rossi said. The process of treatment and burial of the bodies will be "the same process as for those soldiers who will be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan."

Rossi thanked local medical professionals, local businesses and local clergy for their assistance to all those living and serving at Fort Hood.

"Fort Hood is a community and family that will continue to focus on healing, while focusing on and preparing for our mission," Rossi said.

Suspected gunman Hasan raised eyebrows in the months leading to Thursday's shooting spree, with comments that the war on terror was "a war on Islam" and admissions that he wrestled with what to tell fellow Muslim solders who had their doubts about fighting in Islamic countries.

Military criminal investigators continue to refer to Hasan as the only suspect in the shootings but won't say when charges would be filed. "We have not established a motive for the shootings at this time," said Army Criminal Investigative Command spokesman Chris Grey.

A government official speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the case said an initial review of Hasan's computer use has found no evidence of links to terror groups, or anyone who might have helped plan or push him toward the shooting attack. The review of Hasan's computer is continuing and more evidence could emerge, the source said.

Hasan likely would face military justice rather than federal criminal charges if investigators determine the violence was the work of just one person.

Hasan's family described a man incapable of the attack, calling him a devoted doctor and devout Muslim who showed no signs that he might lash out.

"I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," said his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Virginia, in a statement. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen."

Still, in the days since authorities believe Hasan fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the U.S., a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to elude his pending deployment to Afghanistan and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist.

"I told him, `There's something wrong with you,"' Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."

Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates at the Maryland graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint.

Others recalled a pleasant neighbor who forgave a fellow soldier charged with tearing up his "Allah is Love" bumper sticker. Kimberly Kesling, a superior officer at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood has said Hasan was quiet with a strong work ethic who provided excellent care for his patients.

Twice this summer, Danquah said, Hasan asked him what to tell soldiers who expressed misgivings about fighting fellow Muslims. The retired Army first sergeant and Gulf War veteran said he reminded Hasan that these soldiers had volunteered to fight, and that Muslims were fighting each other in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.

"But what if a person gets in and feels that it's just not right?" Danquah recalled Hasan asking him.

"I'd give him my response. It didn't seem settled, you know. It didn't seem to satisfy," he said. "It would be like a person playing the devil's advocate ... I said, 'Look. I'm not impressed by you."'

Danquah said he was disturbed by Hasan's persistent questioning but never told anyone at the sprawling Army post about the talks, because Hasan never expressed anger toward the Army or indicated any plans for violence.

"If I had an inkling that he had this type of inclination or intentions, definitely I would have brought it to their attention," he said.

Hasan was promoted from captain to major in 2008, the same year he graduated from the master's program. Bernard Rostker, a military personnel expert at the Rand Corp., said a shortage of officers and psychiatrists meant Hasan's advancement was all but certain absent a serious blemish on his record, such as a DUI or a drug charge.

Hasan reportedly jumped up on a desk and shouted "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — at the start of Thursday's attack.

"Hopefully, they can put together the pieces and find out what in the world was in his mind and why he went crazy," Danquah said. "Aaaaah, it's sad. Those soldiers could have been my soldiers."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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