Cousin of Fort Hood Shooter Speaks Out Against Violent Extremism

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Nidal Hasan joined the Army out of high school, and only turned to religion following the death of his mother in 2001. Nader's mom promised her sister she would care for her sons after she died.

"That was his mom's wish. Know God," Nader Hasan said. "And so he started praying more and becoming more pious… And then all of a sudden, four months later, September 11th happens."

"Now that you might see that as your first challenge as to how much do you believe in your faith," Nader Hasan added. "But who knows what was going on in his head."

Later as an Army psychiatrist, Nidal Hasan was assigned to Walter Reed Medical Center to counsel returning combat soldiers.

His family said their traumatic stories deeply affected him. And as he became more religious and isolated from his family, he began to question the war on terror as a war on his faith – dreading his own deployment.

He even gave a PowerPoint presentation to military colleagues which seemed to solidify his evolution of beliefs, writing on one slide, "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims."

"There was this issue of choosing God and country," Nader Hasan said. "And I think that's where his sickness really started to morph."

But Nader Hasan said he is not certain whether his cousin was directly influenced by al Qaeda to commit murder against his fellow soldiers, despite reported email exchanges between Nidal Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda terrorist leader based in Yemen.

While a U.S. Senate investigation later called Nidal Hasan a "ticking time bomb," Nader Hasan said there were few immediate signs that his cousin was a threat. But if there had been, he would have immediately reported him.

"Absolutely. Without question. Without question," Hasan said of whether he would have turned Nidal in to authorities. "That's why we had the FBI come to our house right away" after the shooting. "If there was anybody else out there that we could help, we were happy to."

Nidal Hasan was shot three times during the shooting rampage and is now paralyzed from the chest down. He has since been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder – and could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is set to begin in March 2012.

Nader Hasan does not know whether his cousin will pursue a temporary insanity defense, and said he leaves the final verdict up to the military jury.

"He committed a crime. I don't think there's any question as to who the shooter was. And the question's still why," Hasan said. "He'll get his day in court, and he'll be tried by a jury of his peers and they'll make the ultimate determination."

Some of the Fort Hood families who attended Nidal Hasan's preliminary hearings last year said he showed no signs of remorse. Nader Hasan said he hopes that remorse will come, and that the families impacted have "been in our prayers."

"God bless you. God bless the ones you lost that have been harmed," Nader said to the Fort Hood family members. "And God bless our country to get through this."

"Our family wishes our cousin would come back and accept responsibility and show remorse and try to turn this into a positive thing," Hasan added.

Nader Hasan is hoping the work of his new foundation can be a positive step to spreading a message of non-violence, and his belief that Muslim Americans can be both devoutly Muslim and defiantly patriotic.

"I think the terrorists have really an effective poison that they're putting out there… The terrorists are trying to make it an issue of false choice of choosing God over country," Hasan said. "You can be fully Muslim, you can be fully American and there's no conflict."

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