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Fort Hood: How Nidal Malik Hasan's path turned more radical

New details suggest the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was a misfit who was self-radicalized. The Army is looking into how red flags raised by his earlier behavior were missed.

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Hasan irregularly attended services at the local Islamic Center, and once asked the local imam: Can a Muslim fight other Muslims? The imam said Hasan acted strangely, making him think at the time that he was an Army informant angling for intelligence.

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Hasan apparently had few friends, but they included an American Muslim convert named Duane Reasoner, who told the BBC after the rampage that he would not condemn Hasan for his actions. ABC News has reported that Hasan was often seen with Reasoner and an older, bearded man in Muslim dress at the local Golden Corral. Other reports say he was also seen at a local adult lounge drinking beer and tipping dancers.

Buying a gun and ammo

In the days before the shooting, Hasan gave his furniture away to neighbors, and several Korans. He bought a quantity of ammo clips at a Killeen, Texas, shop called Guns Galore and practiced at a range in a nearby town. That's not unusual for a soldier deploying overseas, but it's evidence that military prosecutors will likely use to show premeditation.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut has called the Fort Hood attack the biggest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. Hasan faces a military court martial and is likely to face a death sentence.

Meanwhile, the Army is facing a culpability problem.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said Tuesday he will convene a special review to understand how behavioral clues to Hasan's unraveling were missed or glossed over. A broader Pentagon review was also announced Tuesday that will look into how all the military services watch for problems in their ranks.

The US Senate will hear testimony about the Fort Hood rampage Thursday, though the White House has asked the committee not to question investigators directly.

Homegrown radicals

The Army's investigation may reveal to what extent red flags around Hasan were overlooked because of worries about offending Muslims.

Ultimately, Hasan's potential radicalization indicates the continuing threat of homegrown terrorists, says Mr. Ruffini: "If we think he's the only one out there, then we're really delusional."

In the past two years, researchers have pinpointed new variants of radicalization, where the typical group jihad gives way to what terror expert Jonathan White calls "virtual radicalization." That can include "a person who through a series of negative social and psychological contacts simply goes down the path of radicalization," Mr. White says. "Then their new social reality can become violent and deviant."

See also:

Fort Hood: If Nidal Malik Hasan talks, will he live?

Fort Hood shootings: US Muslims feel new heat

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