No pity for Fort Hood dead, says killer’s friend
18-year-old ‘mentored’ by Nidal Malik Hasan refuses to condemn the shooting spree
Questions were being asked in Texas this weekend about the friendship between the US Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people in a shooting spree at the Fort Hood military base last Thursday, and a young man called Duane Reasoner Jnr. Interviewed by the BBC on Friday, Reasoner said he felt no pity for Hasan's victims because "they were troops who were going to Afghanistan and Iraq to kill Muslims".
A tape of the interview, conducted by Gavin Lee of the BBC, has ended up on YouTube and other sites and is getting an angry response from Americans still shocked by Hasan's deadly rampage.
Reasoner is 20 years younger than Hasan. The pair became friends through the local mosque in Killeen - the nearest town to the vast army camp - where Hasan regularly prayed and where Reasoner, who was brought up as a Catholic, was completing his conversion to Islam.
According to reports in the New York Times and elsewhere, Reasoner is a substitute teacher whose parents work on the Fort Hood base. He was being mentored by Hasan in the ways of Islam. But the older man, who is single, would also treat him to dinner at the Golden Corral steakhouse in Killeen and on two occasions invited Reasoner to his apartment - the second time being last Wednesday night, just hours before Hasan went on his killing spree.
Reasoner was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Hasan had recently been told he would be sent to Afghanistan on November 28, and he did not like it.
"He said he should quit the Army," Reasoner said. "In the Koran, you're not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell."
But when he was interviewed by Gavin Lee of the BBC, he went further.
Reasoner: "I'm not going to condemn him for what he did. I don't know why he did it. I will not, absolutely not, condemn him for what he had done though. If he had done it for selfish reasons I still will not condemn him. He's my brother in the end. I will never condemn him."
Lee: "There might be a lot of people shocked to hear you say that."
Reasoner: "Well, that's the way it is. I don't speak for the community here but me personally I will not condemn him."
Lee: "What are your thoughts towards those that were victims in this?"
Reasoner: "They were, in the end, they were troops who were going to Afghanistan and Iraq to kill Muslims. I honestly have no pity for them. It's just like the majority of the people that will hear this, after five or six minutes they'll be shocked, after that they'll forget about them and go on their day."
Evidence has also emerged to suggest that Hasan himself was not just a "devout" Muslim, but was more extreme in his beliefs than reported on Friday. Several former colleagues have come forward to say he would tell them: "I am a Muslim first and an American second".
The Daily Telegraph claims that when he was still at the Walter Reed medical centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before being transferred to Fort Hood this summer, Hasan once gave a lecture about Islam to fellow doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.
His colleagues had been expecting a discussion about a medical issue when Hasan treated them instead to an hour-long diatribe about the Koran.
As The First Post concluded on Friday, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting spree, questions would be asked as to why no one spotted Hasan's fragile state of mind. The report of the Walter Reed episode suggests that the tragedy at Fort Hood might have been averted. ·